Archive for November, 2016

Poem #13

Nine By Friday
by Job Conger

Last Monday, my boss called me in, for  a lecture, I could tell.
She said her supervisor was bothered, the old boy was mad as hell
That my former newsboy’s parents, they had called in to complain
That my payment was past due, and an ultimatum hit my brain.

She said “Nine dollars by Friday or you’re fired.”
It’s called Journal-Register Justice, and it’s a darn good way to rob
A part-time telephone solicitor who can barely afford to eat,
And who doesn’t even have a full-time Job.

See, the whole fiasco started on a typical summer day
When my paperboy said I had stalled enough; it was time for me to pay,
And the kid just went too far with his own gutter-language talk,
So I quit my durn subscription and told the little brat to take a walk.


It isn’t that I tried NOT to pay all of the dollars due.
Heck, I promised the kid I’d send him a check when a full-time  job came through
But in the meantime I had to feed my face on what is called relief
And the hassles that are involved with that are almost beyond belief.


How I got my job at the J-R is  an irony too far out.
In this song I could never explain to you how that  circumstance came about>
But I figured that time working was indeed, good time well spent.
And if nothing else, it netted just enough to pay the rent.


Now my welfare checks are ending because I’m making too much bread.
And the folks at the J-R, they have a better idea: instead
Of getting me off relieve assistance, they want to  fire me and put me back on
Because it’s some boy’s poor whining mom and dad their lives depend upon.


late summer 1978.
I paid the bill, and soon word came that the “higher ups” didn’t approve of my singing “Nine By Friday” and “Seventeen Starts” at a coffeehouse (Positively Fifth Street) where I performed often. I was told I could stop singing those two songs in public or I could become a FORMER State Journal-Register employee. So I did what any red-blooded American songwriter/folksinger would do . . . . I stopped singing those two songs in public. Today I sing them occasionally, and very much enjoy subscribing to the SJ-R. I even pay my bill on time, more ore less.


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Poem #12

Seventeen Starts
by Job Conger

(to  be sung to the tune of “Sixteen Tons”)

I was born one morning when the paper was late.
Mom and dad were in a hurry, and they just couldn’t wait.
Though they missed their Journal, they controlled their rage.
My birth was noted on the next “Day’s Record” page.


You sell seventeen starts, and what do you get?
A voice that’s hoarse and an ear full of sweat.
Then they put you on commission, which is hard to beat,
But you owe your soul to the kid in the street.

When I was young, I went to school where teachers planted the seed
Of learning in me when they taught me to read.
A later Masters Degree proved I learned how to write —
Now I’m a telephone solicitor most every night.


I go to work in the evening to nine from five.
I talk nice to the people, but I don’t take jive.
If you jabber at me nasty,’ cause you don’t think it’s true,
Well I just might be liable to hang up on you.


Yes, it’s that freckle-faced kid whose arm can throw
A person’s paper to the porch or into the snow.
If a customer gets mad and cancels out,
That’s part of what my job is all about.


If you hear me callin’, better listen good
Because I want to see you something made of pulp from wood —
Something for you mothers, something for you dads:
The Ann Landers column and the  classified ads.


summer 1978
My life as a subscription salesman for the Copley Publishers’ State Journal Register began in the downtown building where they originally  had their offices. Pedestrians walking by the big picture window on Sixth Street between Capitol and Monroe could see their large printing press when it was rolling. It was terrific.  My neighbor Wanda Eden, supervisor of the night shift of subscriber sales hired me, and for a kid right out of graduate school, I did okay. People react well to the song, though, the folks at the SJR office got wind of my performing it at a local coffeehouse, and I was told they were not  happy. I sang it anyway and a month later wrote another song about the company which I will share with you tomorrow.

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Poem #11

Cliché Touche
by Job Conger

I’m feelin’ sad like a man done bad
By a woman who he did so good.
Because recently she burned all my B.J. Thomas  records
like most any thinking human would
And since Barry Manilow doesn’t cut the way he used to
To the quick of a love gone sick
I’m turning to the man walking over to that juke box
And I’m askin’ if I can help him pick . . . .

Singin’ Hey, won’t you play
Another sad old tired cliché —
It doesn’t have to be good,
But it has to be familiar

Cliches resemble those frayed, worn-out shirts
That, though they’re frumpy, they’re easy to find:
Yesterday’s fashion but comfortable
When worn in a certain state of mind.
Some minorities wear them backwards to mean the same thing
That they meant when they were new,
But I can’t relate to that, won’t contemplate.
I have more maudlin things to do.


When a gut-wretching feeling becomes di rigeuer
Yet the heart feels so much more
And you’re facing uncharted wilderness
Past the very last metaphor,
Where can you go for validation of self
As the truths come a tumblin’ down?
Well, there’s a God, a beer and a juke box,
And enough banal epithets to go around.

Spring 1979
This spoof was inspired by the fantastic satirist singer Ray Stevens (who recorded “Ahab the A-rab”  and “GuitarZan”) who  recorded another song called “We Need Your Help Barry Manilow” that I heard one time and not again. That song was INCREDIBLE, LOVED it! B.J. Thomas was a pop singer at the same time, and I was into the habit of turning offf the radio every time one of his songs started to play. I’ve sung this song maybe twice and learned it seems to fly over the heads or under the keisters to those unlucky enough to have been present. I like it though.

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Poem #10

When Someone Inspires
by Job Conger

I will write for her enchanting form and mind
forms and thoughts
from my pen and heart
lines of inspired imagery
and lilting, lusting, lyricism

Singing of dreams
of times in which I want to capture her
and rush to hot times at the Huatt Regency
predicting ecstasy
surrendering hearts
and good times coming our way,
I will flower the path to love
with roses of words,
and as I do,
I will write
the end
before the beginning.

February 16, 1971
Some of the first poems in this series were “sculpted” with some phrases beginning deeper into the right or moved back. I THOUGHT I could not do that with this blog, but when I tried with this one it seemed to work. I won’t know until I publish  it here Saturday if it did work. If everything looks justified left, we’ll know it didn’t work.

Another MacMurray College “crush poem” which a wrote while sipping coffee solo in the Student Union, I don’t remember her name, but I remember her face. I didn’t date every student I had a crush  on, but I had met and chatted over tables at the Student Union and seemed to be heading toward dinner out and a movie reasonably soon. I gave her a hand-written copy of this poem . . . . and as I did, I gave her the end before the beginning. We never talked again.

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Poem #9

Time to Be Tender
by Job Conger

When it’s time  to be tender with an angel
She tells me with her eyes that she belongs to me
And the joy in my heart knows no bounds
When she’s in my arms
And my love surrounds her.

When it’s time to be tender with an angel
And we hold each other close in our quiet way
We shall share the wonder of each simple kiss
The happiness that’s mine
The heaven that I miss

To each memory of dreams gone bitter, wasted,
She brings joy from dreams unfolding as we’re living.
Her lips are the sweetest lips I’ve ever tasted,
And her heart, it is the warmest and most forgiving.

When it’s time to be tender with an angel,
I will celebrate the true love that is mine
For I know that there could never be a price
That I would not pay
To live in our paradise.

July 15, 1978

I had dropped out of MacMurray College, graduated from Sangamon State University in Springfield, Illinois and fallen pretty totally for . . . . . I can’t remember. I think it was Penney. I actually sang this song fairly frequently because people liked it. Even sang it at a Church variety show I organized and emceed called Singles’ Circus. Looking back on the song, it seem almost too intimate to share in public.  I was the happy songbird in 1978 with songs to share, and I was proud to “crow” in public over my great good fortune in knowing her. I believe I stopped singing it after we broke up in 1979. Would I ever sing it again? Yes, without a moment’s hesitation. The hurting is over, and I believe the song is strong enough to stand on its own.

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Poem #8

Three Horsemen
by Job Conger

Demagogue preacher, so young in years,
spells out a change for worshiping masses,
passes the buck to an antique Bible,
tribal indeed is the search for grasses
still unaltered by sinners’ tears.

“New” politician, whose deeds deceive,
sells his “reform” to anyone buying
lying to advance what put him into power
hour by hour spent feigning trying
to live the the ethics that he claims to believe

Renaissance poet of the classless code
yells out a call for change unending
sending his cry of calloused dreams.
Schemes to be shared with a world unbending
fester as he treks down a lonesome road.

February 2, 1971
Another poem written while attending MacMurray College. I tried to innovate
with the rhyme pattern.  It seemed like a good idea at the time. The rhyme arrangement seems as important as what I said in the poem, which is “not very much.”

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Poem #7

To the  Hurrying Great Ones
by Job Conger

Don’t be “curious.” Can’t you see
I’m as you and you’re as me?
This big division which you claim to feel
is all put on and so unreal.

It’s so laughable, it’s so trite,
self-made piety ain’t too bright.
Guideline axioms show the way
to what’s to say and who’s to pay.

Tell your terrible tale to the crowd.
It’s a mite boring, but you’re quite LOUD
Spin your spider web of hate and soon,
you’ll reside in a cheap cocoon.

Call it a barrier, call it a trap.
It offers protection, but I call it crap:
crap of necessity, born of pride
for times when fear needs a  place to hide.

Hide in make-belief, novocain-neat,
pot-head passionate, Saccharin-sweet,
side-show masquerade not revealing
the slightest hint of human feeling.

I am the poet, feeding a flame.
I am the ego, helping the lame.
Tender for tinder, eyes that are seeing,
I am the voice of a human, BEING!

late 1970
“The hurrying great ones” is a lift from my fave poet Vachel Lindsay. The name of H IS poem, about Edgar Allen Poe, is called “The Wizard in the Street,” and it’s an excellent poem that inspired this one. I was attending MacMurray College in Jacksonville when I wrote this. Mrs. Campbell was an older woman, very sharp, astute and receptive of my attempts at poetry. She inspired no poems from me, shared no advice I can remember, but I thought she  was a terrific person, competent teacher because she raised my  expectations of myself. I wanted to do  well in her class, and I did.

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Poem #5

The  Reformed
by Job Conger

He who used to dream
Surrendered to their world of indifference:
Wore the mask of a snail
In a child’s garden of deaf-mutes,
Played the part of a male
In a freak-house of fickleness
And he lied —
Said he  was satisfied.

He who used to dream,
Denying his hope for deliverance,
Joined the game as a joke
Just to see thoughts of theory in practice,
Through the stink and the smokeSang his song without meaning,
And he lied,
And he tried,
Said he was satisfied.

He who used to dream,
Sinking fast in a sea  of irreverence,
Knew he could not promote
Paranoia and wholesale perversion;
Put a gun to his throat
In the name of our Savior
And he lied,
And he tried,
And he died,
Seemingly satisfied.

written October 31, 1970
It’s a song to  a jazz waltz tempo. I haven’t sung it in public, but I practiced it with guitar, published it. At the time I  wrote it, I feared it would be my “poetic epitaph.” I still do.

While it’s on my mind . . . I just remembered that Minstrel’s Ramble is NOT my first book of poems. The first was titled Solitary Man — same as the Neil Diamond hit song. I put the book together with Microsoft Publisher and self-printed and bound 15 copies. I gave them to 15 friends and family. If I am still producing this series of poem posts after the last poem in my third book is posted here, I will go back to Solitary Man and post poems shared there that I did not share in Minstrel’s Ramble. I HOPE I WILL MAKE IT THAT FAR!

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Poem #4

by Job Conger

Hey, girl, let’s go get drunk!
Now darn it, I’m serious.
There’s a field not far from here,
a willow tree, and if I can arrange it,
some sunshine for warmth
for whenever you turn your eyes away from me.

I’ll bring my Rod McKuen if you’ll bring your Zen,
and leaning back against that tree
we’ll muse upon the minds of men.

The wine! Perhaps a Sparkling Burgundy?
Or would you prefer a soft rose?
A good wine is quite appropriate, I think,
as long as you’re sure to let it go to your head!

Climbing in rhyming, sensational, medicational
recreational, co-educational exuberance
for the moment of now,
today we’ll cast a spell on each other
and let the world get along without us for awhile.

And if we keep thinkin’ and drinkin’ and breathin’ high,
composing disjointed poems and monotoned songs of dreams,
if we can stay under that tree
and become aware of our unity
in wine breath  and wind song,
we might fold into each others’ arms and find,
as the sun bites the horizon
some degree of simple tenderness . . . .
and what we’ve wanted all along!

written November 12, 1968
Her name was Nancy Cook. She was my first “crush,” when I began attending MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois. She lived in the Chicago area. We never kissed, never sat under that willow tree either, I don’t think. But we were friends. I attended “Mac”a few years after Springfield College in Illinois (It was re-named my final year there. I didn’t graduate.) Nancy and I were in the top MacMurray Choir which I loved! I had better luck (love-wise)  with JoAnn Walusek, also from the Chicago area.


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Poems of Job – 3

All Over But the Shouting
by Job Conger

There’s a feeling growing stronger
In the passing of a few simple kisses
Between sighs of boredom.
It’s a feeling lasting longer
And the apathy to love I miss
Shows mistakes so great I know we can’t afford ’em.

And it’s all over but the shouting
Shouting epithets so strong our hearts will reel;
All over but the shouting
Of the things we once were so afraid to feel.

You may  say my words are crazy,
But for you it’s only natural to lose the fire
For flames are meant to die.
I can tell we both are lazy.
We’ve forgotten how to feel warm, sweet desire,
And it’s pointless to ask why.

And it’s all over but the shouting
And the words we use to hurt will do their thing.
All over but the shouting
Accusations that despair and woe will bring.

So I’m taking back the ring I gave
When love was ours and we cared enough to care
When tomorrow never came
Because there really isn’t much that’s left to save,
What there is, we cannot share,
We’ll buy the lie: no one’s to blame.

Yes, it’s all over but the shouting
Blazing gross obscenities that come to mind.
All over but the shouting,
And it’s time that I was leaving you behind.

— June 6, 1970
I remember exactly where I was when I wrote this song: at the dining room table of my first “total love,” Carole King who lived in the 1500 block of South Second Street, across from the Sears and Roebuck department store parking lot, a few blocks north of  Lawrence School. Carole was no relation to the fabulous songwriter/singer of the same name. Morning light was beginning to filter through the curtains. The once-considered love of my life was still sleeping. We had been sweethearts through three changes of her residence, from Laketown Apartments to a house on South First, close to Ash to where we were that morning. This was the first “COMING DOWN” song I ever wrote. There would be more. And I sang it often in public. Carole heard me sing it, liked it. Our breakup  went better than the song portended. We didn’t part “dear friends” but we also didn’t part bitter enemies. In the early 90’s, I drove out to visit her in Denver where she had moved, married, had a few kids and divorced,  and she was a terrific person for the four days of the visit. But it became obvious  by day two we had no future together, and I high-tailed it back to Springfield. And it’s pointless to ask why.


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