Archive for March, 2014

DSC09473My Empty Room
by Job Conger
written March 19, 2014 at 6:45 am

I have created a plain, empty room
that has nothing but everything in it:
everything made of memories,
everything made of ghosts,
everything that is called “what might be,”
and they share it in dissonance and harmony.

The world I possess here in my empty room
is all mine, only mine, for the taking.
Neither friend nor lost lover can rudely deny me
the pain and the pleasure to sense and to savor
the moments I knew — nothing much, not long gone —
as the days of a century and more linger on

I do not have to enter my stark, empty room
to be there and to behold its ambiance
resonating from walls all the lives it has shared
with the families and all that took place here:
a child’s bed, a place to sew, a rubber ball. . .
With my mind and my heart I acknowledge it all.

As I ponder the future of my empty room,
I declare it: “Shrine To The Departed” —
the dreams nurtured by folks’ loving hopes and long labors,
the sparks fanned, oh so gently, to bright-blazing bonfires
of lives lived. . .  I will leave the room alone.
They had their hallelujah moments. I will have my own.

DSC09474 DSC09476

It’s honest, but it’s an angle. I read the poem without showing the pictures at a poetry and song open mic hosted by Springfield Poets & Writers, March 19, 2014 at Robbie’s Restaurant on the south side of the square in Springfield, Illinois. I wanted to see if the poem works without a picture. The poem is so different from most of my poetry and song lyrics, and the tone of the poem doesn’t deliver much “Rah Rah Rah” to the audience, so it was no surprise that the reaction returned what the poem delivered.

The “angle” is that of my honest sense of wonder at what has taken place in this second, smaller bedroom of the house in which I live. I’ve used the room for many purposes since moving into the house in 1997, but the ways I’ve used it comprise another honest angle. The whole spectrum of a poem that deals with why the room is empty and what led to my clearing it out will probably never be written. At this point in my life, it seems to mean more to my life as an empty room, token symbol of the emptiness of my life, waiting to welcome a new element into my life, like a piggy bank placed on a table that sits by the street curb and the hope that money will somehow find its way into the piggy. The totality of that the empty room means is to MUCH to pack into a poem. I promised myself, committed myself to write a new poem to read on my return to the open mic after staying away for most of a year, getting tired of focusing on developing my aviation museum and having time and interest in little beyond it, and determining to write poetry again. The empty room has been on my mind a LOT lately, I knew I could not share all I felt about it in a poem, and the angle I selected is the angle I shared. I told the audience before I read the poem that I had thought about bringing pictures but decided to leave them. A poem must stand on its own. I also said I’d include them when I shared the poem at Honey & Quinine. It’s important that YOU, the WORLD know the empty room is a real room. And I am a real, honest, angled, poet.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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The following is excerpted from my AeroKnow Museum blog and shared here because a lot of it has nothing to do with the museum and more to do with my state of mind which is not exactly “sunny side up.”

Friday, March 7 —  Spent early morning arranging bedroom into bedroom/office. Into the aviation museum at 7:20, sunny, clear and calm. Three airplanes were on the ramp: a King Air,  Citation II and Citation VII. TOURED the Citation VII at the invitation of the pilot of the charter flight for some medical administrators. Nice fellow. Processed photos and worked on American Aviation Historical Society blog for The Answer Man. Departed 10 am to PC Doctor to pick up repaired laptop. For the second consecutive visit, I had to wait, 10 minutes for them to OPEN, even though posted hours claim 10 am is the start of the day. For the second consecutive visit, I called the owner’s posted phone number and and explained I had intentionally arrived at 10:10 because the place was closed fr0m my 10:00 arrival until the associate arrived to unlock at 10:10.  So I stood waiting by my truck until she arrived at 10:20. Once THERE, she was smiling and courteous . . . . and so was I until realizing I didn’t have my checkbook with me. When I  explained I’d have to go home, get checkbook and come back, she explained they don’t accept checks. Not a big deal; my bank’s two blocks from my home. Departed to get checkbook to take to bank and write a check for cash and also to pay insurance bill I’d forgotten about, but was due. Could not find my current checkbook so took a pack of the next set, wrote a check at home for cash. On way out of house decided to visit bathroom, and on entering, found my current checkbook on the floor. Wrote another check and VOIDED the first. To bank for cash, to nearby insurance agency and paid bill, to PC Doctor, picked up laptop and went directly to work which went okay. Culled more clippings and articles from aviation magazines for AKM between employer-related activity. Was tired on arrival at museum after work but U did a first sort of clips and looked for info requested from AAHS’ The Answer Man. Went home at 6:40. The truck ran rough, and the fuel gauge told me I’d need fuel FIRST THING Saturday morning after leaving home. NOT a good sign.

Saturday, March 8 —  Up later than planned because I wanted to be sure the nearest fuel station would be open. Out the door at 6:15. It was obvious from the sound of the engine when I started it that I would NOT make it to the fuel station five blocks distant. I Facebook messaged my neighbor across the street asking that if he was awake, I needed to come over and borrow the lawnmower gasoline in his backyard shed to have enough to get to the station. He called back in less than two minutes that he was in Downers Grove, IL and the gas can still had some.I was welcome to it. Started looking for my checkbook in the rearranged bedroom office that was a pathetic, disorganized mess. Checked all my pants and shirts. No luck. Finally saw it in a corner of my desk. Then I looked for my partial denture and could not find IT. It had fallen off my desk while I was looking for the checkbook and I ALMOST STEPPED ON IT!  —   CHEESES!  –. Brushed teeth and went over to neighbor’s across the street, got fuel jug, back to truck and emptied it into truck’s tank. It was enough to get me to Air Jiffy by the airport. Almost filled the truck tank and refilled the gas can to take back to neighbor at end of day today. As I was paying for fuel, I was recognized by a fellow who had seen/heard me recite poetry at Lincoln Library years ago and heard me play guitar at Jimmy’s Sub Shoppe. He told the clerks I have a great voice for poetry. I realized that THIS is about as famous as I’m ever going to be. Locals will sometimes remember me from 1o or 15 years ago, but that will be the zenith of my success . . . . . . . . . and that’s okay . . . . . . . I guess. He was a NICE GUY. He REDEEMED my morning. Driving to the nearby museum, my “redemption” peaked and descended toward my earlier hopelessness,  sense of impending doom and regret. I MISS reciting poetry and singing.

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On March 1, 2014, Springfield Classical Guitar Society (SCGS) presented classical guitarist John McClellan in concert. I am happy to present pictures taken before and during the most memorable evening. John arrived in Springfield the day before to practice without the distractions he would have had at his St. Louis home.Normally, life at home is pretty routine, and distractions are no bother, but his appearance in the capital city was arranged without lots of advance notice. The guitarist months ago slated to appear March 1 suffered a significant debilitation which required surgery and forced him to cancel the Springfield engagement. John — whom many fans know as half of the amazing Hanser-McClellan Guitar Duo from their regular SCGS concerts in years past — has recorded CDs with Kirk Hanser and as a first class soloist in his own right. John, recently returned from a series of concerts in France and Germany, was a real “trooper” in generously accepting the SCGS invitation to play.
As usual, I arrived with camera well in advance of the 8:00 pm start so I could (with his permission) photograph John during his warmup time before the audience entered the sanctuary of Faith Lutheran Church, Whittier at Outer Park, the performance venue. Below, John talks with SCGS founder, classical guitarist Russel Brazzel . . . . . .
and SCGS board member Mark Pence.
The usually warm warmup room was not warm, so to minimize the temperature change that affects the sound of the guitar and the artist’s ability to play it, John sat in a front row and warmed up in the comparatively warm — but still unexpectedly chilly sanctuary. Here, Russel chats with him as he warmed up and a few audience new arrivals watched.
A few minutes later, Russel introduced the guest of honor to the audience.
The following pictures were taken during pauses in the concert. I’m privileged to enjoy SCGS concerts from the front row and do not use flash with my camera.  I also do not snap pictures when the music starts.
JohMcC-f JohMcC-g JohMcC-h JohMcC-j JohMcC-k JohMcC-m JohMcC-n JohMcC-p JohMcC-Q JohMcC-r JohMcC-s

From the front row (less so from the back rows), John’s repartee with the audience that could hear his voice was unmatched by any other performer I’ve seen in years of attending SCGS concerts. He talked about what he was about to play, sometimes in detail, and parted from the program notes to play tunes more fitting to his downright convivial demeanor. It was a terrific last concert of the four presented during the 2013/2014 season. Kudos and thanks to John McClellan for some terrific classical tunes plus the theme from the movie “A Man and a Woman” and two unforgettable compositions by Nashville’s Jerry Reed. Thanks too to Springfield Classical Guitar Society for another terrific season of marvelous music!

Live long . . . . . . and proper.


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