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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 - https://julianpeterscomics.com

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.

2016: Songs for Christmas2013: To Our Coy Leaders2014: The Raven2013: Casey Makes a Bet2012: The Grinch2011: Macbeth2010: Christmas Carols2009: ’Twas the Night Before Christmas


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…

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7 Comments

  1. User avater
    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. User avater
    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. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    The narrator is not the poet
    Rob,
    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. Malcolm Taylor | | #4

    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. Dan Kolbert | | #5

    Brilliant
    Like a client etherized by a DER estimate!

  6. User avater
    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. Lucy Foxworth | | #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.
    Lucy

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