Two New Poems

Just more  than a month ago, I promised my friend Thea that although another commitment would keep me away from the September Springfield Poets and Writers open mic she hosts downtown, I would attend the October gathering and share two new poems and recite a Vachel Lindsay poem (as I always do). During the month that followed, I thought a lot about the two poems I had promised to write.  Some travails in my life made it hard to find quiet minutes to think creatively and produce two poems. On October 16, I decided to attend the gathering, but to apologize for not writing anything new. People would understand unforeseen changes and consequences. No money would be harvested from making good my promise. Thea as the only one who knew I’d made it anyway. But my WORD, my INTEGRITY as a poet and hummin’ bean were riding on that promise, and that mattered more to me. Tuesday evening, fresh into my AeroKnow Museum office,after a positive day at my employer,  from 5:20 to about 6:15, I wrote the promised poems and for 45 minutes revised them and called them DONE. I printed  copies and took  them home; revised them: tweaked them here and there. The morning of October 18, at the office, I revised them for the last time before attending the event downtown. The evening went okay.  I read these poems and recited Vachel Lindsay’s “On the Building of Springfield.”

The title of this first poem requires  emphasis on “Not” to better understand the first line. It is significant to me because for the first time in my life, I have written the word “ain’t” into a poem. I’d  love to discuss details of how the poem came together , but face-to-face; not here.

I’ve Not Lived 70 Trips Around the  Sun
by Job Conger
written 6:30 pm October 17, 2017 at the airport museum office

I’ve lived 69 trips and three weeks;
Jeez,  I’ve only just started the 7 – ohs.
Yet, already, I sense, I have purchased, for the last time,
new shoes for to shelter my heels and my toes.
I wonder if I’ll ever buy another shirt
because really,  those I own now fit me fine.
The belts I’ve owned for decades have grown longer,
thanks to help from my retreating waistline.
My brain is as sharp as it was after 19 trips ’round the  sun
though outlook and emotions seem a century old.
It’s harder than hell to stay cool in the heat
and even harder to stay warm in the cold.
I’m looking for comfort from creative wisdom
which, as of today, ain’t arrived.
In this ling’ring last chapter of my life’s epoch-novel
it’s no comfort to say  “I survived.”
At my age it’s too late for straw-fisted alibis;
wan retorts to life tide’s ebb and flow,
too late for anything but harnessing the will
to prevail and to not let go.

As I  wrote “Hello Future” I considered I might never share a poem in public again. I was terribly CRUSHED by an event downtown on the square last July and  concluded there was no point in continuing be beat the funeral drum about that  debacle because people I know and like would not understand, and they would only resent me for sharing my woe.  I was ready to walk away and never come back. Last night I changed my mind. Even so, I meant what I said in this poem.

Hello Future
by Job Conger
written at the airport museum office October 17, 7:00 pm

Dreams cherished and nourished
with hope in my heart
now wither in late wisdom’s dust:
dreams that never again will arise to impart
a bright path to the sun through the rust.
Younger friends once close. . . . . now not . . .
engage lives of their own
with no time to listen to my doubts and fears.
It’s time to be gone
from those who brought me laughs.
Good bye babble and winking and lyrical  gaffs
and imperiously judging the wheats from the chaffs. . . . . . . .
Hello to the good-bye years.

Thanks for reading this poem. Have a nice day.


#112 – I Write Father Halibut

Pure fun and whimsy here.

I Write Father Halibut
by Job Conger

I have a muse.
Her name is Mickey.
When she nuzzles my brain,
I never get a hickey.

Mythically Mickey
helps me focus;
nurtures the perennial
rose or crocus.

Museketeers all sing
Mickey’s phrases,
speshly when  their lives
going to blazes.

Mighty Mickey Muse
is ready for to strike you
poet. Why?
Because she like you!

—  October 21, 1997
I was a big fan of the Mickey Mouse  Club TV show. The last line here is a play on each show’s closing song.

#111 – Blue Winter Sky

The date attributed as the day I  wrote this poem seems illogical. Though it seems possible that  I could have written  after “Blue” in a philosophical rant, this one seems more clear-headed.

Blue Winter Sky
by Job Conger

My fair true love,
at her best,
will not give all she has
because she loves but hates me
for the manner and the man I  am.

And I, in turn,
most ardent in my esteem for her smile,
will always hold a portion back
to reward vast, vague, tomorrows.

But clear blue sky
in winter
gives me everything,
entices from solemn stupor of gray
my joy for breathing far beyond my merit.

So, when we love
through winter
we create our own
release from muted murk to share
bright, transient truths, enlightening miracles.

Blue winter sky
all giving
but uncertain as
the smile of my true love,
captures warm, my searching heart forever.

— 6:05 pm, December 12, 1997
I like the flow of phrasing here.  I’ve read it a few times aloud to strangers, but I believe it didn’t “register” with people as I hoped it would.

#110 – The Aspirations of a Man

I wrote this poem shortly before I wrote the “Puky” poem during the early evening on the same day. I was trying to sort things out.

The Aspirations of a Man
by Job Conger

. . . Found not in what he asks of others
but what he asks of himself:
the aspirations of a man.

. . . Found not in the song he sings on Sunday
but in the song he sings alone on Friday night:
the aspirations of a man.

. . . . Shared not in posters plastered to the billboard
but in the crib notes he reveals to his own eyes:
the aspirations of a man.

. . . Told not to brain-dead eunuchs drinking coffee
but to those he serves beyond the public light:
the aspirations of a man.

. . . Felt not in status-quo-enamored lemmings
but in those who share the truth of honest dreams:
the aspirations of a man.

—  6:25 pm, December 12, 1997
This was the second of the three poems I wrote that day. I remember nothing about it. I believe I never read it aloud in public.



#109 – Puky Don’t Get Game Boy Tonight

Dark, disturbing doubts about myself have been a near-constant companion  for most of my life. This is a poem that conveys my anguish. It’s a blurt, shared in a form that resembles what probably passes for a poem.

Puky Don’t Get Game Boy Tonight
by Job Conger

In the pervasive quiet of the all-too-fast-coming morning
revelation that your head was on the floor, stuck
to the carpet over by the stereo
by the glue of something thicker than snot or spittle,
did you sense, in bitter contemplation,
the arrival of sunrise on an unforeseen tomorrow?

Did the vague half-tone in your ears
suggest the sound that convicts hear
in the millisecond before the charge of 2 million volts
prematurely obliterates the dream
of the 12-year-old who swore he’d never forget
the shame of tragic, early, adolescence?

Then welcome to the club. Your sing-song litany
to the fates merely amuses circumstance beyond your grasping
as the dirge for your quaint requiem for dreams
enables no one and no thing in others’
treks to triumph in the realm of truths eeternal.
Such bland, myopic quests as yours reflect
denial of reality so Rambo, hey, just bite me.

— 7:40 pm, Friday, December 12, 1997
I had a party at my house the night before, drank a lot of Wild Turkey, my favorite poison, and after saying goodbye to the guests, returned inside to  my  living room and passed out after lying down on the floor. I didn’t fall, I distinctly remember lying down. The next morning, I was permeated with a horrible feeling that I had  made a fool of myself the previous night and that I should be ashamed of myself. I was so ashamed of myself that I didn’t dare call anyone to ask what I had said or done to feel so horrible and depressed. Days later I mentioned the party to a friend, described my shame and writing this poem, and I was told to my great relief that  I had been fine all night; hadn’t insulted anyone or said or done anything stupid. It was a relief to know that, but I still haven’t forgotten how ashamed I felt ALL OF THE DAY AFTER the party.  I’ve also never read this poem aloud to anyone.



108 – Rumination for the Rose

Some of our poetry group arranged to have a poetry reading at our city’s Washington Park Botanical Gardens in their nicely arranged outdoor performance area, and we each promised to write at least one poem with a botanical subject. This is the poem I wrote and read aloud at the event.

Rumination for the Rose
by Job Conger

Exquisite, magnetic array of stem and petals,
with haunting scent that seems sacred, even to unbelievers,
focal point of wonder to babes and sages,
icon of our best and worst intentions,
beauty is but one dimension of the bloom
that the flower called the rose brings to the beholder.

Without the thorns that guard against unthinking gusto
stabbing harsh rebuke to those who seek to own her
she would be trampled by the hordes of mongrel minds
who wear their baseball caps to church,
and her beauty  would pass ephimerally as
the briefly tlad glitter of  May flies at golden sunset.

There is a world beyond our world within her essence,
refined, since the beginning, by her lovers
who in their zeal to understand, impart vain efforts to perfect
this part of God’s rainbow in forest, farm and garden,
the way wive refine husbands and in turn are refined
as loving partners in the name of heaven’s mandate.

I would not risk rose’s rebuke in my embracing,
nor would I seek to share what she does not give willingly
to mesmerized eyes and eager olfactory senses.
Her blooms, gems on stems, reveal one beauty
of many beauties, her scents suggest more love songs
than  God has made voices of joy and solace to sing.

Whether meadow-wild or greenhouse tamed and cultured,
her vivid hues in the panoply of stars on earth
shine like  beacons for the heart’s high aspirations
as petals and  thorns guide my soul in contemplating,
in understanding, the dichotomy of my meager humanity
when I  linger near her silent, sweet profusion.

— May 28, 1997

This is a poem with quiet passion which, when read aloud should be read unhurried and almost whispered, close to the microphone of  course, so listeners may HEAR it. I read the poems twice, I think: at the event and also at Barnes & Noble.

#107 – One Note Mamba

Poems are appropriately shared with listening audiences in many ways. I’ve learned that one of the surest ways to hurt one’s self  among friends and strangers is to comment negatively about a poet’s way of sharing his or her poetry aloud. So I don’t comment about specific poets’ ways of speaking their poems and anyone else’s poems. This poet addresses “the delivery of the package;” not “the package,” and most definitely, not “the  deliveryperson.”

One Note Mamba
by Job Conger

Was a lemon ever so tart
to your tongue
as the pinched persimmon sound
of her poetry
as it reaches your ears?

What a shame —
but not a crime —
that tighTly purs’D liPs
spitting their sorry monotoned staCAto
— or unintentionally —
trap  (WHY?)
the exquisite eloquence
of poetry that sings
in hundreds of joyful,
passionate and pensive notes
to the eyes of those,
including me,
who are blessed;
privileged to read it
in silence!

— 7:50 am, March 29, 1997
I never read this poem in public because those who hear the poem would know who the poem is about if they’ve heard  her read her poems — WONDERFUL POEMS, but the way. And the person who was the inspiration for the poem would be offended most of all. Just to be sure we’re “on the same page” here, I hasten to add that her initials are NOT “tbc.”

#106 – Esau

I wrote this poem 20 years to the day before transcribing it to this page, the day before I post it to this blog. There is no close connection to the Esau of the Bible though in reading about the Biblical Esau there are some similarities. Say the title aloud as a Cockney Briton would and you say “He’s a. . .” and this poem also makes sense. This poem is a self portrait of me 20 years ago as I began to see my  role as a poet going to hell in a handbasket. I saw no future for myself as a poet 20 years ago. Today, I still write poems (not as frequently as before) and I still see no future for myself as a poet. Twenty years ago, there was at least some hope that I would tumble out of that travail and land on my  feet. Today the likelihood of that ever happening diminishes with every sunset.

by Job Conger

Esau: man whose many motions
mask a heart of stone>
Esau: jerker and a tweaker
and he lives alone.
Esau: man who likes his drinking
when the day is done.
Esau: man who goes a-hunting
with an empty gun.

Esau: social activister
when the camera’s on.
Esau: catatonic visage
when the camera’s gone.
Esau: bolt of Indian madras
that’s begun to run.
Esau: man who goes a hunting
with an empty gun.

Esau: picture out of kilter
in a twisted frame.
Esau: man who’ll never win
at what’s a losing game.
Esau: living in the shadow
of “the chosen one.”
Esau: man who goes a-hunting
with an empty gun.

— March 14, 1997

I read this poem aloud for audiences a few times, but it was wasted breath. It was too dang serious coming out of me for any listener to want to understand. I can’t say that I blame them.

#105 – Electric Organ

A phrase which I created with the first line of this poem (acknowledging that others have  also created the phrase; I claim no original authorship of it) has been used OFTEN by yours truly and subsequent emcees of poetry open mics. I especially smile when my friend Thea uses it, often with a subtle nod in my direction. The poem was inspired during my frequent “emceeing” of open mics, an effort to POUND INTO THE BRAINS of new poets, readers aloud of poetry and prose, and singers of same, that BEING HEARD is not only IMPORTANT; IT’S NECESSARY!

Electric Organ
by Job Conger

The microphone is your friend.

When your voice is not your friend,
and you know that your voice is not your friend
because they can’t hear you
and, still, you want to be heard,
when you believe in your message,
and you know that the message that leaves your lips
but is not heard
is like the train that leaves the station
and never arrives,
the microphone is your friend.

Somewhere between the 40 feet that separate your mouth
from ears on faces not yet enthralled by your tentative stance,
are molecules of air
that conspire to confound those honest friends and strangers,
molecules that like to be left in peace
and resent being moved by messages
from poets who care more about
what they have to say
than they care about lazy molecules.

Have your ears shared the convivial repartee
of self-absorbed public preeners
who straighten their hair and shuffle pages
while they stand behind microphones
and talk to ink?

Have you basked in the humanity of eye contact with these people
whose passion seems to be as real
as the humanity of images conveyed
in the glow of a Linda Lovelace movie
that plays on a 30-inch screen?

Did you  learn your passion from the sense of truth
that’s portrayed in a Johnny Wad flick?

There is no doubt: we learn how passion works best for us
at home, where it’s safe —
and that’s all right — it’s fair; we call it practice.
But poetry  passion that is best
is passion that is crafted best.
Many poets learn that passion works best
when sharing it,  with their voices, with humanity
five at a time, 20 at a time, 100 at a time, 3,000 at a time,
and you don’t reach humanity with your voice
by being hard to hear,
by appearing to talk
only to yourself.

The microphone is your friend.
The microphone is your friend.
The microphone is your friend.


— 11:50 am, Tuesday, March 11, 1997

I read this poem often for the first five years. Then I concluded that no matter how I exhort people to learn how to be comfortable with the electric organ (THE MICROPHONE) that allows their bodies to do what they want to do, folks still yawn when I read this poem aloud to them,  I’m not offended. I believe that if they understood what I say in the poem, and are inclined to act accordingly, they’re probably dong — ALL READY — what the poem advised, and those who don’t understand will never understand.  I’m going to revive this poem and start reading it aloud anyway. Miracles can happen.

#104 – Almost Spring

Here’s a “snapshot with words” I created almost 10 years ago to the day I post it here at Wordman’s Ramble.

Almost Spring
by Job Conger

Early evening on the front porch
in the darkness after the 6:00 news,
in sport shirt and jeans and 53 degrees,
I sit with a glass of Burgundy in my hand.
The twinkling lights from nearby homes touch my eyes
as though they are distant constellations of Orion and Ursa Major.
I wallow in my solitude
and wait for spring.

A trace of sunset
fads fast behind western homes and  trees,
teasing my wanderlut
and daring me to chase the last vestige
of dreams that dance alluringly  on the distant horizon.
For now, I have chosen to refuse the dare.
I sit on my front porch in growing gloom
and wait for spring.

The random complaints
from distant barking dogs
in yards behind warm kitchens,
harmonize with the rumble of tires riding the brick-paved street
as headlights tunnel through he black bluster of early evening,
unsullied by sounds escaping from screened doors and windows.
My ears savor the low hiss of the unspeaking atmosphere
that waits for spring.

The fragrances of fall,
leaves and slime in gutters and curbside,
combine with warming earth and
green things peeping through
the untouched detritus of winter,
growing hope as I ruse to survey my domain in the brink . . .
and then return inside
to a warm TV and solitude
and wait for spring.

— 8:30 pm, Saturday, March 8, 1997

I never read this aloud in public because the poem seems so QUIET that reading it with  my speaking voice would spoil the poem.