Archive for January, 2016

They Will Never Know — new poem

They Will Never Know
by Job Conger
written 3:09 pm, Tuesday, January 19, 2016

They will
never know
who I love.

Revealing a name
would be a brutish invitation
from me, with strings attached,
implicit obligation
to welcome my ardor’s surging tide.
I cannot bear and nevermore will taste
the empty loneliness,
the dust of desire denied.
So I will take the telepath
of nods and prayers
and make LIKE.
I will speak platitudes:
Have a nice day!
You look great.
Sleep warm, sleep well
May you embrace the passions of all
your dreams come true
and often, too.

And, thus, shall I eschew
the whispered hopes
and dis-engage
encumbering awkward twists,
the convoluted agonies
for a soul as it resists
under a dreamy
moonlit, starry sky.
They will never
never know
who I love.
And neither
More than once over the years, I have vowed that I will not attend an organization’s open mic event on third Thursdays of the months — and really, I mean of the months because there is only one third Thursday in every month: to meet more than one third Thursday, a group must meet more than one month. And yes, it bothers me that some of you reading this post will say “wtf?” — or words to that effect.  I digress.
. . .  and because I wanted to tell people about my new aviation book entitled John Thornton Walker: The Hero Who Didn’t Come  Home I was vow-bound to write a poem.
Here’s a confession that won’t help my cause, and that’s okay. Poetry has seemed to be — to me — as socially significant as magic tricks. One reason is that I’m not smart enough to wrestle with, and appreciate, poems I don’t understand after reading them three times. And I have a happy proclivity  for creating and appreciating simple poems. This is not to say that simple poems are easy to create. Most of my poems and songs/song lyrics come easy, like learning how to reach behind my ear and open my palm with a shiny quarter in it to an amazed seven-year-old nephew. My poems do take effort and revision before I consider them “finished.” The poem shared here began when I asked myself, “What is the most important thing I have to  SAY to friends and strangers at this time in my life?” I KNEW I didn’t want to write a funny poem because fellow poets and lay people don’t take humor seriously. I had the nugget of the poem in the course of two hours of thinking about what I wanted to write. I changed it in minor ways, and the final four words weren’t added until the fourth minor revision. I revised it two more times before I read it at the poetry gathering January 20.

I’m happy with the poem. I hope you are too. And if not, that’s okay too.

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 small Ford pickup or a big Land Rover,
I’m not inclined — though people say it’s 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 wide
and the afterglow 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,
and we’ll be true-blessed and satisfied —
yes, oh what fun it is to ride.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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I probably write better songs than poetry — John Lennon and I  have that much in common — and if I didn’t sometimes recite some of  my song lyrics as poems instead of singing them, most poet friends wouldn’t consider me much of a poet at all. Some years ago, I wondered if separate songs would be made from near-consecutive phrases in a song lyric: for example, Jingle Bells Jingle Bells . . . . . Oh What Fun It is to Ride . . . . .In a One-Horse Open Sleigh.  And I did. The melodies for the title phrases are very similar to the classic traditional song. I will try to follow this post with parts 2 and 3 in the next few days.

Jingle All the Way
by Job Conger

It’s that season of the 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.

soooooooooooooo (chorus is same melody as traditional song)
When time to wash my dirty clothes
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.

The temperatures bring forth
cold Faces dour and grim,
the ennui of long 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.

soooooooo (chorus)
When I go shopping  for my friends
I jingle all the way
because a writer’s time is nickel and dime
if they don’t like what you say.
To heck with  Halloween and Turkey Time —
Kris Kringle all the way!
At least until I over-drink the swill
and I revive on New Years Day.

The dreaded winter angst
from saturating freeze
brings introspection’s truths
and renewed resolve to  please
the icons of what;s right —
whether Yaweh, Muhamed or your wife.
May the bleak of winter nurture
sweet renewed resolve for life.

(chorus) Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
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

Live long . . . . . . . . and proper!  🙂


Job Conger photo by Jennifer Burke Davis

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Here are lyrics to a song I wrote, completed at 2:15 am, July 8, 2003 at home. It was published in my third book of poems and song lyrics Bear’ sKin .  I’ve sung  it whenever I believed people who had attended SHS in the mid-60s might be present, and even if none were, I believe in the song, the sentiment, and audiences usually seem to like it. I hope you do too.

Acappella Choir
by Job Conger

(opens with the chorus)

I never sang in acapella choir
Though I wanted to
In the very worst way.
So I bought myself a guitar
To sing my joys and tribulations
And as for now,
I’m doing okay.

I was a lucky boy to know
Mr. Daniel Sprecklemeyer
Acappella Choir leader
Brilliant with the harmonies.
He was more than just a teacher.
He was laughing inspiration
With a song in his heart
Full of sweet melodies.


There was magic in the music
Sweetly singing in the concerts
I was just a first tenor
But I was part of the team
Every challenge in rehearsal
Was a mountain that  we conquered,
And the view from the summit
Was the answer to a dream.


All the Robert Shaw arrangements,The world premiere of Lindsay’s “Congo”
Mormon Tabernacle’s “Battle Hymn”
Blake’s “Songs of Innocence”
Spring’s “Mardi Gras” productiion
Paper snow, “Sleigh Ride” at Christmas
Janet Boosinger’s great parties,
Joys unknown before and since.

(chorus )

I was a kid without voice training.
Others took their private lessons.
And my voice was immature
Like nouveau Beaujolais.
When I had my chance to solo
My voice crumbled like a Saltine,
But I loved that mighty chorus,
And I do to this day.

Invite me to dinner and I’ll trade you a concert of this and more in your living room or auditorium.

Live long . . . . . .  and proper.

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In 7th grade, my music teacher, Miss Virgiinia Broche, had me move next to my friend Randy Rowland so he could hear the tenor line of the music we sang, harmoniously in class and concert. In 9th grade, Mr. Fred Nika choir leader and a great fellow gave an award at our final 9th grade school assembly at Ben Franklin Jr. High before most of us moved on and became high school sophomores at Springfield High. It was given to three singers who had achieved the greatest achievements in choir. It was given to me, I always felt, because in addition to being in the choir, I sang in a “barbershop ensemble” 12 fellows who sang great songs like “The New Ashmolean Marching Society and Students Conservatory Band” and “Lida Rose.” I also sang in boys choir and played  my Sears guitar “in public” for the first time when I played and sang “You’re Undecided Now” and two other songs for our music class. After the first song, Mr. Nika asked if anyone if they had any reaction to share. My friend Nancy Rose — a babe then and a married babe today — said. “Job, I couldn’t understand a single word you sang!” Okay, so my diction needed work.

As graduation approached, music students interested in singing  in Mr. Daniel Sprecklemeyer’s ACCLAIMED Accapella Choir auditioned, one on one, with the legendary vocal director. Of course, I auditioned. It was simply student and teacher, no one else in the choir room. I sang some things and talked with  him, almost as I would talk to a favorite uncle: no tension, but it was pretty —  and appropriately — formal. When he walked away from the piano for some reason, I glanced at his audition notes. Next to my name, he had written “I or 2.” Very close to the final assembly at Franklin, the list of  students who had been accepted as sophomores into TOP choir was posted. My name was on the list along with  another male choir  student who, by 9th grade, was singing bass. His name was Randy Roland.
The most terrific part of high school was singing in Mr. Sprecklemeyer’s choir.  When  I was about 40 years old I wrote a song about it which  I sing in public with my guitar “at the drop of a hint.” I will post the lyrics to that song — and maybe a selfie video of me singing it — when time allows.
I considered enrolling in Springfield Junior College’s music program when I applied for admission in the fall of 1965. Mr. Eldridge was the  music director, a really focused, attentive, nice fellow! At the audition — one on one again, he played a series of scales on the piano and  after each one, asked me to repeat (“la-la-la”) the notes he had just played. I  repeated each one after he played it. To my astonishment, the audition was halted after he said (words to the effect) “Job, I want to go get Sister (and I have forgotten her name, darn it). I want her to hear you. Again he played the scales I had repeated and a few new ones. The variations were more technical than I can explain. A few included shifts from minor to major and back. It was all new territory to me, and it was all a happy breeze. At the end he explained the place he had in mind for me would track with a voice major and instrument minor, both absolutely necessary. Had I played an instrument before?  Yes I had; took piano lessons in second and third grade and played one recital before quitting piano lessons with the MARVELOUS Miss Daigh, who lived in a single story triplex building on South Douglas just north  of Ash near home on S. Whittier.

During school days, Mom or Dad would  pick her up and bring her to  our place with the Chickering upright they had purchased for  my 12-years-older-than-me Dorothy. During the one summer vacation I had between second and third grades, I rode my Huffy bicycle over to Miss Daigh’s home for lessons.  “Dot” was incredible. She played Chopin and Strauss, Debussy, all the greats. As a child I loved listening to her play. Early on I had WANTED piano lessons, but there were problems in the process. Number one was that I relied on my  ears and intuition when getting to know the notes on the page. It was stupid of me, but I was a kid. Miss Daigh drilled me pretty hard over this, and she was smart to do it. I never resented it.  But she talked like a heavily sedated William Buckley (though I didn’t know it at the time) and terribly pontifically and worse, when sitting closely to her on the piano bench, her natural aroma was an impediment to the task at hand. She was probably 70 years old at the time, would not have been a big deal with most students, but was with me. I never revealed this to my  parents, but I reveal it to you because I  am approaching 70 and I KNOW anyone sitting next to me on a piano bench (or a love seat in the living room . . .  or bed) would have the same issue with the “old man”  version of the “old woman” fragrance.  My parents URGED me not to quit, told me I would come to them years later and ask them “Why did you ALLOW me to  quit the lessons?!!” and they were right! I have regretted my decision to this day. I still loved to play piano, but I improvised and wrote son gs. I could play Brubeck’s Take Five and It’s a Raggy Waltz and  others. Pianists Peter Nero and Andre Previn were musical heroes along with Dave Brubeck.  I became a semi-star in junior high with help from Mr. Nika, the pinnacle of which  was a song called Chop Suey which he had taught me how to play, and I played to a large crowd during a break at a state-wide choral event. Their applause was incredible! Bottom line, though was that I told Mr. Elderidge that I didn’t BELIEVE I could become a successful piano player, so I could not confidently enroll as a MUSIC MAJOR at Springfield Junior College. We parted on friendly terms, and I became a Liberal Arts Major at SJC. I have regretted THAT decision ever since!

This musical alibi  will continue with  part two sub-titled How I Almost Became an Also-Ran Folk Singer-Songwriter and a new two-parter I will call How I Almost Became and Also-Ran Journalist. Look for that later this year.

Part two of THIS series will continue late this week. Thanks for reading it.

Love long . . . . . . . . . .and proper.

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On this first day of 2016 I am catching up with a promise to a terrific friend who lives in the historic heart of Chicago. I know there are many “hearts of Chicago,” and Peter Pero knows durn near every one of them. I know this because a few years ago, he shared a few of them with me as a friend and convivial historian. The post I’m writing here is part one of a two part ramble which will add pictures a plenty in part 2 by January 15.

Peter Pero has written a book — Chicago Italians  at Work — produced by Arcadia Publishing, and available everywhere. There are more than 200 pictures of “Chicago Italians” (surprise) from 1890 to 1970, and as someone once said “every picture tells a story.”   If you have even a passing interest in “the town that Billy Sunday could not shut down,” you should buy and enjoy the book.

Chicago is  THE CITY which attracted probably millions of people with stars in their eyes. Consider Second City comedy, the night life, the huge talent incubator for  people like Louis Armstrong and countless others who came to Chi’ BEFORE they went to New York City. A  poet or singer who proved capable in his or her home town — especially any home town between the Alleghenies and the  Rockies — could explore a world horizon in relative security. relatively close to the nest of Wichita or Paducah or Springfield. The city has always fascinated me as it fascinated another Springfield, Illlinois poet: Vachel Lindsay who made a big impression at the Cliff Dwellers Club in Chi’ when he met William Butler Yeats. When I visited Peter Pero and walked with him down Michigan Avenue a few years ago, he showed me where the Cliff Dwellers Club met. Peter showed me a lot: the Hull House that Jane Addams made famous, the incredible art museum, the Chicago Museum, some incredible neighborhoods where I could almost hear the echos of bustling  Saturday street markets, Lincoln Park with its statue of Grant and so much more, as you will see in Part Two later this month.

You should know about his web site —


where you will learn more about Peter Pero and his services as a tour guide. He will not direct you to a bus with 30 adults and 20 crying children and a public address system that was obsolete when McGovern was nominated to run for president on the Democrat ticket. He offers one-on-one  and small group tours. He has contacts who know what he doesn’t, in case you have special interests. And it’s all family focused.

Peter Pero is the man to know when you want to learn about that wonderful city. Don’t wait for this blog’s Part 2. Visit his  web site and get to know this fellow.  You will be the richer for it.

Happy new year to everyone.

Live long . . . . . . .  and proper.

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