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Musings of an Energy Nerd

Martin’s 2017 Christmas Poem

On a dark December night, a lonely builder feels he’s getting old

Image Credit: Julian Peters -

The Love Song of J. the Builder With apologies to T. S. Eliot   Let us go then, you and I, When the sheathing has been nailed, the roof all capped, The building like a carton ready to be wrapped; Let us go, then, up the temporary stairs To rooms with drywall-bucket chairs, And count the days we framed with 2x4s — The sawdust days weighed down by boring chores, Jobs that linger like a tedious argument Of insidious intent, Leading to an overwhelming question … Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” Let us go and make our visit.   In the room the architects sip wine, Talking of high-R wall design.   By day, the sun pours through the window-panes, Too much heat through south-side window-panes, While backyard puddles linger from the rains, Spreading in the yard, unhelped by drains; The boxed-in metal chimneys, fake hiding fake, Are all reflected in the backyard lake. And on that crisp December night, Engulfed by darkness, wishing for a light, I curse the missing subs. Their vans have fled. Electricians, plumbers — might as well be dead.   And indeed there will be time Before our permit finally shall expire, Perhaps — we’re now down to the wire — Time for punch-list items, twelve or more, And for the smoke test and the blower door. There will be time, there will be time To once again berate the subs — it is no crime — There will be time to murder and create, To lift and drop a question on their plate: “You numbskulls! Dolts! Where were you all these weeks? Who’s going to seal these gaping hole-saw leaks?”   And time for all the work; more days of woe, As clumsy fools drop tools upon my toe; Time for the…

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  1. Paul Eldrenkamp | | #1

    Well done, Martin.
    This is brilliant, world-class parody.

    If I read this in McSweeney's I'd say it was one of their best pieces of the year. Or ever.

    Next year "The Waste Land"?

  2. Rob Myers | | #2

    Great work!
    I always look forward to your Christmas poem and this years offering was superb (plus it was based on one of my favorite poems). I smiled all the way through. Thank goodness it's not autobiographical,,, well at least the retirement part at the end isn't. Have a great (and well deserved) holiday season Martin!

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    The narrator is not the poet
    I'm not a builder; nor am I currently despondent. So everything is good. Thanks.

    I'd like to wish all GBA readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  4. Expert Member

    Best of the season
    Many thanks to Martin, Scott and the rest of the GBA community. I saved this to read on Christmas day as a treat!

  5. dankolbert | | #5

    Like a client etherized by a DER estimate!

  6. PAUL KUENN | | #6

    True to form
    Thanks Martin! Some of this should be scattered among the stones of my favorite Boston cemetery surrounded by TS E and the caring environmentalist of Jamaica Plains. I know there are a few builders in the neighborhood that may look down curiously and pick up a scrap and perhaps learn a thing or two.

  7. LucyF | | #7

    I love this.
    I guess you have been to Folly Beach. I haven't been there in forever, but it was a rundown out of the way beach front when I lived in Charleston in the 80s. Probably seriously yuppified now.

    Great poem.

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