Archive for January, 2018

Bear With Me

I’ve intended to post updates three times since the last one, but promised and therefore expected glimpses of light at the end of my tunnel did not happen. A kick to the heart, hope ground to dust like a smoldering cigarette butt crushed under a thick boot heel.

On new year’s eve, at an event called First Night Springfield, a celebration of arts and performing arts in lyrical downtown Springfield, I recited three of my poems and two of Vachel Lindsay’s poems at Hoagland Center For the Arts: Serenading the Wind,  Guns And Drugs, Send in the Cows, plus Vachel’s On the Building of Springfield and his What the Sexton Said.  It was my best “performance” of any poems in more than a year. After the event which lasted an hour and included other good poets who read their creations very well — they were top echelon local talent — I  decided to savor a drink and snack in the Hoagland’s lobby/bar. Since First Night is a non-alcoholic event (no booze available from participating venues) I had a cup of hot chocolate and a Reese’s double Peanut Butter Cup.  As I sat on a stool at an elevated table for two in this area, a woman who has shared her poetry at other venues on other nights, came up. introduced herself (I vaguely remembered her and her solid talent as a fine poet and excellent reciter) and joined me. We talked about poetry.  She pulled a small chap book (she had published) from her purse and read a poem she had written about her watching ME recite a few years ago. I was truly touched by the poem.  It was clear we were of one mutually respectful, appreciative mind regarding sharing poetry via spoken words.  I recited, at the table, reasonably quietly to avoid bothering others at tables nearby, a Vachel Lindsay poem and one of my own, and I gave her one of my poetry books (Confluence of Legends: Vachel Lindsay and Johnny Appleseed) which she did not have. As great a thrill as it had been to have recited, darn near flawlessly, poetry in a gallery room on the third floor of The Hoagland, I was thrilled twice as much to have shared time with a COMPETENT RECITER of HER POETRY in the ground floor lobby who remembered and appreciated ME. We bade each other fond goodbyes,  I returned to my vehicle on a bitterly cold and windy new year’s even, drove home on almost-traffic-less Springfield streets and talked into my house at 6:57, less than an hour after the third floor event at the Hoagland had concluded.

I’m not a heavy boozer, but my heart was awash in fond appreciation for what had just transpired downtown. On my most recent birthday (I hesitate to say “my last birthday” though I believe it was — more about that in a future post –) I had a birthday party for myself and invited friends at my home. A friend I had met on Facebook, who had visited me at my airport museum and had videotaped me singing some of my songs and posted them on the Internet, came to the party, arrived early and gave me a bottle of premium-quality red wine. “GREAT,” I said. “I’ll share it later with the guests.”. . . “Don’t,” he suggested. “Save it for yourself, later.” And I did. I had briefly considered deinking it Christmas eve or day, but I didn’t . I drank part  of a gallon jug of Carlo Rossi Burgundy, and I was fine with that: appropriate for my ultra-modest special day. So on this special night after a life-altering experience downtown, I drank the excellent red my friend Matthew Penning had given me last September. . . . . . I resolved to send him a note of thanks for the excellent gift, and I kept procrastinating, not taking time to say THANKS.

Two days ago I learned Matthew Penning had just died. It was sudden, no hint of it coming in his Facebook posts.  I was FLOORED,  CRUSHED. I posted my memory of his giving me the birthday wine that I drank new year’s eve.

What I didn’t post was this: Between Christmas and new year’s eve I was INCREDIBLY DESPONDENT. I shared a fraction of my woe on Facebook indicating my genuine intention of checking out of this thing called LIFE. Only one person responded tot hat post. At the time I had 120 friends at my “arts presence” name of Conger Job. He was the only one brave enough, considerate enough, kind enough to respond.

He wrote “Please don’t.”

And I didn’t. The day before new year’s eve at the Hoagland, I decided to make the most of my strictly enforced 10 minute slot at First Night (thus allowing other poets to share for 10 minutes; nothing wrong with that) by PRACTICING what I intended to recite. I knew it would be a major opportunity to connect with people who has not see/heard me recite. I was confident going into the event – not so hog-tied by worries about exceeding the STRICTLY ENFORCED time limits — and I decided what even if I didn’t get to recite the eight poems I practiced, I would DEMONSTRATE MY HAPPINESS at being allowed to share whatever I was given time to share.  And  I was.

Life the first week of 2018 went incredibly well in ways I’ll explain in a future post. Since the end of the first week I’ve felt a moderating “return to earth”. . . . . no joy, but no bitterness and moderate anxiety.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll catch up with you in a week or two with details.

Thanks for reading this post.

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

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