Archive for March, 2018

The Folksinger

The best evening I’ve experienced as a songwriter/poet/folksinger in 10 years took place at The Pharmacy, an art gallery in Springfield, Illinois, Saturday, March 24. I’ve made a promise to anyone who will read or listen, that I will write a new visual arts-related song for every gallery event that invites me to play and sing. I find validation playing at gallery receptions because I believe most of those who attend these events are as intelligent as I hope they will be because they are more likely to understand what I write and share than most audiences.  Being understood matters to me.  The reception delighted me to my core. Here are the lyrics I to the song I sang Saturday.

How I Paint
by Job Conger

In the light of dawning morning
With a palette on my knee,
I engage a primal passion
That’s as old as history.
To a dry base coat on canvas
Strokes come slowly at the start.
Realistic and abstract they flow.
I paint with my heart.

How I cherish pensive hours
When the world does not intrude
With its angry, brash cacophony
Into my interlude.
Shaping colors of my visions
From the honey-sweet to tart,
Brushes are my soul’s extensions.
I paint with my heart.

When I feel persistent calling
To reveal what burns within,
I return with glad alacrity
To my easel once again.

Blessings from the gentle journeys
From an idea to a frame,
Give a sense of satisfaction.
Nothing else is quite the same.
And the gallery visitors provide
With smiling eyes their part
Of the jubilee of worlds on walls
I paint with my heart.
– – – – – – – – – – –
A stranger, a violin player of traditional east-country mountain songs, called it a poem as much as a song. I am validated by remarks like that. I am MADE by reciting my poems, Vachel Lindsay’s poems, singing my songs and other good songs. I hope you liked this sharing also.
Live long . . . . . . . . . . . and proper.


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Thanks to a persistent, anonymous friend whose recent encouragement inspires this update.

Last June, a long-time friend (I will call him Al) explained he was being evicted from the house where he and family had lived for 11 years. He could not continue repairing damages to my upstairs duplex made by previous residents because they were rushing to find a place to stay. I invited him to occupy the vacant upstairs while looking for another place. I would discount his rent in trade for his contributions with hammer, saw and etc. He agreed and in less than a week moved in, not only to the upstairs, but to my basement which he filled almost to the hilt with 11 years’ accumulation of possessions. I was aghast. I should have invited them to find another place before the week was out. My likely-fatal (to me) error at this early stage was my assumption that Al and (I will call her) Di were employed. As long as I had known them, Al had worked for a living, but he wasn’t working last June. He said he was looking. Given his consistent work history, I anticipated a month — MAX — before he reconnected with a regular paycheck. It didn’t happen. And then Di quit her job!  They also were unable to establish utilities because their name was no good with CWLP the local water and electric company. I would pay for those services. NO ONE was working as winter approached to Al/Di said they were looking for work.  Two months after moving in, their car was re-possessed “by the loan sharks,” they said. I could not — as a man with a humanitarian sense of conscience — FORCE them into the street with winter on the way.  Since they moved in, I have lost more than the discounted rent they promised to pay. I have lost THOUSANDS of dollars in utilities I’ve been forced to pay because I needed a warm upstairs to prevent the water pipes from freezing, bursting, and flooding the house.  Nine months into this debacle, I informed Al/Di that they MUST vacate the premises. I CANNOT AFFORD to pay their utilities and to deal with my many overdue bills without the income previously provided by upstairs residents. After deducting the few hundred dollars they’ve paid me since last June, they still owe me almost $8,000! Their electric bill for January alone was $500! And not a whisper from a dollar to me since mid-January!  I would more productively benefit from farting into the wind than asking them to pay for some of what they have taken from me with sullen impudence. They’re still there. They’re not violating a contract. We HAD NO CONTRACT. They were my friends. We NEEDED no contract. My basement and storage shed are as full of their untouched, unused possessions today as they were last September! I have lost 20 pounds since they moved in, mostly because I spend almost nothing for food.  Lunch is a sandwich and dinner is a can of soup with bread mixed in. I drink coffee, sometimes instant iced tea and often Carlo Rossi Burgundy which I buy by the gallon and it usually lasts a week. I’m not going nuts with boozing. I can’t AFFORD to! Is there any mystery regarding why I can contemplated exiting this excruciating WOE by eating a bullet or drinking poison? I’m a long way from doing either one.

Wheels are in motion with the courts system to repossess my house. But because the way the courts system works, I will not be don’t with Al/Di until late May at the earliest. THIS is why I’m not “the man I used to  be. There’s a shadow hanging  over me.” (Thank you Paul McCartney.)

I  am NOT doing well. I make eye contact and smile and speak with fewer than three people most days. I am not confident this will all work out, but to opt out of the effort is also out of the question. As I told a distant friend a few weeks ago, “I am made of sterner atoms.”



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