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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