Archive for January, 2015

pre-poem ramble — I continue to wallow in the woe of winter. I seem blessed with the capacity for mature relationships one would expect to find in a four-year old. I can’t remember the last conversation I had with a hummin’ bean that lasted more than five minutes, and I don’t expect that to improve when weather warms. It’s just that I seem entombed in permafrost. Oh blah dee, oh blah dah, life goes UN.
. . . . This doesn’t prevent me from celebrating a poem I read about a month ago at Amanda’s gallery event at Gallina’s Pizza meeting room in lyrical downtown Springfield. Between tunes, I read YEApetite, which I wrote on July 5, 1999 and published in my first poetry book — Minstrel’s Ramble: to Live and Die in Springfield, Illinois — still available for purchase, by the way: $12 including postage. It was well-liked by an audience member, NOT to the extent he was willing to purchase my book, but the fact he well, liked it was good. I hope you like it as well.

by Job Conger

When I feel a growing HUNGER
for a juicy piece of
When my tongue begins to TINGLE
for a taste of something
I go looking for the WOMAN
who can make my life com

When the fire of DESIRE
rants at apathetic
When answer and fine SUBSTITUTE
converge at restaurant’s
Appetite of mine is SERVICEDwith salvation on a
food hooker

She sells me what she will not give.
I buy what I don’t
in distracted sublimation
to appease a moral
as I search for the connection
that compels my heart to
food hooker

With a sated smile and fast goodbye
I leave two bucks’ gra
and return to the world to joust with hell
in soulful ambi
Wayfaring knight errant reviles
transaction’s incon
food hooker.

– – – – – – – –

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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Keep Them Squirming

—> pre-poem personal
I believe poets get smarter over the years. Maybe everybody do (rim shot! ūüôā ) and that’s why a few words in my original which appeared in my first book Minstrel’s Ramble: to Live and Die in Springfield, Illinois are different here. The poem was intended to be a song, and that’s why I use my “song format” here. Every line begins with¬† an uppercase¬† letter. I will still sing it acapella if asked, but since I was never confident with the best I could do when accompanying with my guitar, I recite it mostly. My poems don’t begin each line in uppercase when a thought from the previous line carries over into the next. That’s how YOU know my poems from my songs.
I wrote the song 10 years and one day ago. I was at the height of my “local fame” time and reaching for my “fame beyond central Illinois” time — STILL AM — when I recited it for the first time at a gathering at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore coffee shop. Those were my best years as a poet because I was reaching ears of customers interested in books and coffee in addition to my friends. Over the course of those years, many customers came to my table and thanked me for sharing. Often I responded by giving them printed copies of the poems they liked. Those were the days of wonderment and delight. I miss those days.

My circumstance re dollars is still damnably static. I’ve not touched the upstairs duplex the former renter, Shannon Smith¬† trashed after reneging on her promise to lease it through winter. The loss of that income is a pain, but I’m not hungry at all, I’ve kept the upstairs plumbing from bursting by keeping it well heated during this terrible cold and light -but-long-lasting snow.¬† And I’ve not run out of fuel (my absent-minded negligence at its distracted worst) in a few months. I continue to contribute to Springfield Business Journal every month. Also on the positive, I met with some “aid agency saints” last week, and we appear to be maybe a month away from the Lasik cataract surgery on eyes that have cobbled my visual acuity, especially at night. By¬† late February, I expect to sing “I can see clearly now . . .”
I DO want to write more new poetry/songs . . . . if not for Springfield, then for you! Stay tuned.

Keep Them Squirming
by Job Conger

George and Melissa were a storybook couple
Til Melissa heard a terrible tale
That George’s cousin, long removed
Robbed a bank of her great grandfather’s
And wound up doing time in jail.
Now she thinks that Georgie owes her
For some craven, gross indignity, and so he plays a losing game
Of repaying her for losses that will never make them equal
And will never lift the stultifying shame.

Keep them squirming, keep them squirming
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or who’s right
When myopia means a good fight
Keep them squirming.

If you behave like the victim, they will always owe you something
For the dignity they stole from sinless cogs
By choosing their crimes carefully, you always will have company:
A chorus of self-righteous underdogs.
If inflated sense of self is what it take to make you happy,
Just go out and grab your demons by the ears
And blame the rest of yourb humanity, entrapped by their banality
Their sense of truth and justice . . . and their fears.

Keep them squirming. Keep them squirming.
The paper tiger of your cause can be real
With teeth of vengeaance and your pompous zeal.
Keep them squirming.

Compromise is uncommon. Give an inch and they’ll get greedy.
Reason is unreasonable today.
Folks with steady moral compasses aren’t all Forrest Gumpasses
And wailing like a banshee will make some of them look your way.
Common sense isn’t common. If it were you’d lose your ticket
To the train where polar differences thrive.
And the truth that’s in the middle wouldn’t be the long-lost riddle
In a world of crazed gorillas  talking jive.

Keep them squirming. Keep them squirming
To atone for the life that you live.
It sure beats learning how to forgive.
Keep them squirming.

written January 17, 1996

Live long . . . . . . . . . . . .  and proper.

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Intro  Ramble

The recent few inches of snow and persistent cold for more than a week have continued to hamstring my attitude. A lot of progress is mired in the slush of Depression and its companion Procrastination that hobble me in cold winter. As I write this, it’s about 7 degrees outside. I look forward intensely to a break in temperatures¬† and daily highs in the 20s again. I feel on the verge of slipping,¬† of crashing or falling if I divert attention from whatever hovers in front of my randomly focused attention and¬† consciousness. I am being interrupted too many times, not completing too many things I¬† want to do. Yet I know what needs to be done. I began a load of laundry as I began this post. I’m functioning as a regular fellow. But there is so much to do. Or as Sinatra sang in “Strangers In the Night,” “do-be-do-be-do.” As for me, I follow The Beatles. “Oh bla dee, oh bla dah, life goes on.”

Here’s the third and final song in my trilogy. The melody is not quite as close to what goes with the tune when the words are sung in the classic song “Jingle Bells,” but it’s close. Do what you like with it.

In a One-Horse Open Sleigh
by Job Conger

In a one-horse open sleigh,
As they snuggled to beat the cold air,
They were holding hands as good friends do,
And he hoped before this day was through
She would be his lover fair
In a one-horse open sleigh.

In a one-horse open sleigh.
Gliding under fir trees so green,
They polished off a bottle of Dom Perignon,
A quart of Bacardi Dark Amber Rum
And a pint of Grenadine
In a one-horse open sleigh

In a one-horse open sleigh
Happy hands began to roam.
She was determined to put the brute in his place,
Hearts began to race as he tagged third base,
And she waved him into home
In a one-horse open sleigh.

In a one-horse open sleigh
At least old Dobbin remembered the trail
Back to the horse garage at the mountain lodge
And the knowing smiles that they had to dodge
And the truth that will prevail
In a one-horse open sleigh,
Love can make a special deigh
In a very  special weigh
And that’s all I have to seigh
About a one-horse, a one-horse open sleigh.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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Oh What Fun It Is To Ride
by Job Conger

Oh what fun it is to ride
In a car with the heat turned on inside.
Whether Lincoln Continental  or a Chevy Nova
A rusty old pickup or a big Land Rova
I’m not inclined — though people say its neat —
To go out hiking in the drizzle and sleet.
You may giggle at the way I show my pride,
But oh what fun it is . . . . to ride.

Oh what fun it is to ride
While pondering pedestrians’ patient stride
In their treks over beautiful, glistening snow
With the perils waiting, hidden, I don’t know
How cross-country skiers can enjoy their sport.
When it’s up to the easily chilled to report
What they do for fun, I”m left tongue-tied,
But oh what  fun it is . . . . to ride.

Oh what fun it is to ride
When the winter panorama ranges far and word
And the after glow of a hearty meal
Fills my heart with a rustic, seasonal zeal.
I will take my cake and coffee in a different way:
With a pretty friend beside me in a one-horse sleigh.
We’ll be truly blessed and satisfied
And oh what fun it is . . . . to ride!

This song was a walk in the park, a winter park. If you begin singing¬† with note you”d sing with the traditional “Jingle Bells” song you will almost FALL into the intended melody. This lyric was not intended to be another “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” If you take it LIGHT,¬† you’ll take it RIGHT.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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December 3, 2014

On the night of December 3, I was in high spirits heading home from AeroKnow Museum where I had¬† welcomed members of the United States Air Force Academy staff who had “dropped in” to Springfield Illinois’ Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, en route home to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Among the travelers was Lieutenant General (3-star) Superintendent of the Academy Michelle Johnson who visited, donated her challenge coin to AKM and posed for a picture.

Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy Lieutenant General Michelle Johnson

Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy Lieutenant General Michelle Johnson

I was hungry, but it was getting late, so I didn’t want much. I stopped at an en-route supermarket and bought a bag of Fritos, and after a relaxing nibble with a glass of wine, took the bag to bed with me and nibbled a few more.

The next day at my employer my¬† employer drove me to¬† St. John’s hospital. I had been having¬† passing periods of faintness, not all the way to loss of consciousness but requiring a lot focus to maintain consiousness, an especially worthy goal when driving 55 on the local beltway. I had told myself that if the symptom became worse, I’d drive myself to the hospital. At about 1:20 December 4, things got worse.¬† If felt a tingling sensation on the top of my tongue,¬† like when I’ve been sitting on one position and I feel a foot going to sleep. I called St. John’s hospital, described the symptom and was advised to come to the Emergency Room pretty quick.

My employer (George Jaworski, bless him) drove me to the ER.¬† The wonderful staff at St. John’s, advised that I had experienced a “small stroke.” It didn’t affect my voice, physical coordination or typing, but it did warrant anti-cholesterol and blood prescription medications.I was admitted to a three-day vacation.¬† It’s been an easy month¬† since I checked out. My doctor’s visit three weeks after resulted in green lights for everything. My blood pressure is looking good, all systems are “go.” The only lingering pain occurs when I have to write a check for $169 to pay for a month’s medication at a time.

When I returned home December 6, the bag of Fritos was where I had left it the night of December 3. I left it there.

And there it has remained ever since. I have no intention of moving it again unless my love life takes a turn for the better and she wants me to put it somewhere else. This I would do, gladly.

Yesterday, I took my camera home when I left the airport. Snow was predicted, and I intended to photograph anything interesting. The fluffy white was mercifully less than feared. The only photo-worthy subject was this rather personal view of part of my bed with the Frito’s.

003 (2)

I didn’t touch a thing before taking the picture. I didn’t have matching pillowcases. That’s okay; it’s just me. The other striped one is in the linen closet in the hall. To the right, almost off camera is a radio which I typically keep in or just out of bed in easy reach. The reception for WILL-FM classical music is better when it’s in bed. There’s¬† plenty of room, and it’s easier to tweak the volume down.

I am in no rush to move the Fritos. Since I’ve been warned against sodium, and I’ve not touched a salt shaker since December 4, I KNOW I have eaten my last Frito. That’s okay. The bag is a historical artifact from an earlier time in my life. A valued mimento and tacit assurance that if I every find myself craving a Frito, they will be there for me.¬† It reminds me of the last “YOUNGER DAY” of my life, because when I had that stroke (by the grace of God, the least amount of stroke I could have and still have a stroke) I became a grownup. I became a consumer of prescription medications. I know how lucky I am.

Still, I’ll keep the bag where it is. It will remind me of how luicky I was.


Live long . . . . . and proper.

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a little “catch up” . . . I understand that moving from one day on the calendar to the next is not like moving from New York City to Albany, but the move from December 31 to January has made a difference in my outlook. I still need cataract surgery, I still need to rent the upstairs half of my duplex, I still need to find funding for the aviation museum so I can part company with my sanity-challenging employer for the past five years, but with my engagement to play and sing for a visual arts gallery reception January 8, I’ve again engaged the arts side of me, and that has somehow given me confidence¬† to deal with the rest of it. It is so strange to think that two people (the two that have engaged me for the¬† gig and voiced approval that I’ll be “entertaining” again for the first time since an area festival of sorts last September, can turn me around. I concede that more than that¬† has been involved in the transformation. One element is my catching up with some sorely needed sleep yesterday. I was overwhelmed by the gloomyness of harsh, cold wind and rain that persisted all day at the airport. I had a hard time concentrating, making the most of the hours. So, I went home early and shamelessly napped in the living room recliner with a blanket over my head, listening to AM radio (the Best of the Jim Leach Show, fyi).¬† Then I arose, ate dinner with iced tea and went to bed. And when I awoke this morning at about 3 am, I practiced guitar for the first time in four months.¬† I also decided that I would post again here at H & Q, which leads us to . . . . the first lyric in my thres-song Jingle Bell Trilogy, all of which I will perform Thursday downtown a Gallinas.

Years ago, I considered what traditional winter tune might serve as catalyst to create new winter tunes. I read the lyrics:
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh”
and realized those three lines were the titles for my next three winter songs. They would use as much of the melodies as accompanied the specific lyrics. I wrote the songs in a little more than a day and¬† since, have performed them regularly in succession wherever anyone would let me. I’m pleased to share the first with you now.

Jingle All the Way
by Job Conger

It’s that special time of year
When people wear warm coats
Stocking up on anti-freeze
And growing beards like goats.
Gone is the fragrance of burning leaves
As big brown bags crowd curbs
Air legislated pure by rich
Asthmatics from the burbs.
(chorus)  When I leave home with pocket change I
Jingle all the way,
And oh what fun at the laundromat with the
Quarters that I pay.
If you try to take a shower with a plugged in shaver you will
Tingle all the way,
But you must be clean for a winter scene to go
Riding in a one-horse sleigh.

(Verse) Cold temperatures incite
Long faces, dour and grim,
The ennui of dark nights
And heart-fires growing dim.
The harvesting is done.
Lawn chairs hibernate in the shed.
It’s time to find a consenting friend and . . .
Bake some home-made bread,
(Chorus) When I go shopping for my friends I
Jingle all the way
Because a writer’s time is nickle and dime
When they don’t like what you say.
To heck with Halloween and Turkey Time —
Kris Kringle all the way —
At least until I over-do the swill
And I revive on New Year’s Day.

(verse)  The dreaded bitter angst
From saturated feeze
Brings introspection’s truths
And renewed resolve to please
The icons of what’s right —
Whether Yahweh, Mohammed or your wife.
May the bitter winter’s loss bring sweet
Renewed resolve for life.
(chorus)  We all have things in belfries that will
Jingle all the way,
And the music made in the brash parade
Lends a spark to what we say.
Go get yourself a bob-tail nag
And take him out  to  play
Hitched up to a bridle
And the thing you’re inside ‘ll be
A one-horse open sleigh,
. . . . and you’ll jingle all the way,
you’ll jingle . . . . all . . . . the . . . . . way.
Live long . . . . . and proper.

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