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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Too Slow for Demolition

For Michael.  From a story in today’s Boston Globe on the Carpenter Poets of Jamaica Plain – 18 men and one woman — and their weekly Thursday night gathering at Jame’s Gate Restaurant to share words on their craft over beers.


Too Slow for Demolition

by William Thibodeau

These days

I still do a bit of the demo work

Though I tell myself I’ve paid my dues

That I prefer construction to destruction –

Reminding myself that most of what I know

About putting things together

I learned by taking them apart.

Truth is …  I’m just too slow to make it pay.

And while I complain, saying:

Who needs all that plaster dust in the face …

The chaos …

The scramble to get it down and get it gone … ?

I still find myself wading into that mess.

Taking my time

I erase the work,

Of those who came before me –

All the detail and sweat

By nameless men –

With their crude tools

And materials I still can’t identify.

Men who’d be dumbstruck to see

The tools I’ll soon be setting up.

I see their spirit in the chalk-white dust

I feel their life force vibrating in each cut nail I pull –

And their hard learned lessons

And subtle chiding through the endless splinters

That come from that gnarly lath.

It all ends up in the truck.

And as if facing one of a pair of opposing mirrors

Looking at once ahead and behind me

Seeing an endless past and future stream –

No trick of light – no mere illusion

I can see them all on down the line

From the Colonial post and beam man

To the very one

Who’ll someday strip

My own work from this job.

Where will I be then … ?

Will I still be … then … ?

Or will I have become another half-heard voice

Murmuring between these rafters and studs?

It’s the movement of time

The skill of past carpenters

And the stories in voices that flow through a steam of generations:

(When heard by the pure of heart)

Voices that thunder like Brahman

Within and without these plastered walls and ceilings

That light my eyes and guide my hands.

No, I don’t make a very good demo man.

I’m just too slow.

I owe them that much.

posted by Adam at 5:38 pm  


  1. I want to meet this guy.

    Comment by anon — December 31, 2006 @ 11:15 am

  2. I think you have.

    Comment by Michael — December 31, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

  3. “I erase the work,

    Of those who came before me ”

    I always think about that. Makes me sad. But then I think about my work removed by the guy after me and I feel relieved.

    Comment by michael — January 2, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  4. I like the part about learning through disassembly. It’s clear from the piece overall that he cares about what he does (and undoes), but that awareness is perhaps unusual.

    Comment by el Kib — January 2, 2007 @ 4:26 pm

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