Monday, April 28, 2014

Oh Block, why interlock?

If a block in an arch can budge
then it just needs a nudge
for the arch to get weak
you’ll not hear a creak
or some warning snaps
before the collapse.
So what’s to be done?
How safe’s anyone?
If the blocks in an arch interlock
they can’t move, anchored block
no unnerving fragility
the arch itself is stability.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I can’t think of a trade I’d trust
more than the trade you really must
believe in to actually do it right
trust a mason all day and night.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Anchor bricks

Bricks made of clay
have holes or recesses
to anchor the mortar.
It’s the best way
for mortar impresses
itself in the border.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A boy named Mason

He could’ve been a smith
or a sawyer or a cooper
or named for a trade with
skills so super,
he could’ve written apps,
been an Argonaut, Jason
too modest perhaps:
Mom calls him Mason.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mason's line

If you’re laying blocks or bricks
in a straight-lined wall with mortar
there are a few quick mason’s tricks
to keep your blocks and bricks in order.

Rather than place blocks askew
you can line them up just fine
all you really have to do
is guide your bricks with mason’s line.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vesica piscis arch

Two circles of the same size
overlap by their radius
forming a shape like your eyes
known as a vesica piscis.

Half of these almond-shaped things
creates a gothic motif
whose curved elegance brings
masonry stress some relief.

Less mass than a barrel vault
thinner walls support it
closer to a catenary, called
a “fishes bladder” distorted.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The biggest arch ever

St. Louis’ arch is quite airy
although it’s not masonary
at the top it’s kinda scary
but you needn’t be too wary
because it is a catenary.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Compassion for a rock

We take rocks for granted
unearthing them when planted
they get in the way of growing roots
and stop the plant’s precious shoots
but when we use rock for buildings
we don’t need to really kill things
like trees for wood or wool for rugs
before they're killed they get hugs
but rocks and stones on this planet
we just take them for granite.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The masonry of crystals

It’s more covalent,
less ionic
with rows prevalent
on atomic
scale of being and
such small seeing.

Less ambivalent
more ironic
when stacking meant
the sardonic
scale of bricks and
atoms’ tricks.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Watch iron rust
and see wood rot
but brick you trust
that it will not.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Parge coat

To make masonry walls like alabaster
It takes some fussing and some doting
Using a trowel, and mortar or plaster
Squeeze and press that parge coating.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


If a masonry dome is placed on top
of a square or hexagonal or octagonal room
the dome and the room will fit lop
sided, not at  all, not now, not any time soon.

But by making the dome and the room both fit
and being creative and inventive
the mason contrives a dome that will sit
upon a contrivance called a pedentive.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Today, Science tells us that the essence of nature is potential.
You may be ruled by stagnation without realizing it. Do not let it obliterate the richness of your myth. We can no longer afford to live with suffering. Pain is the antithesis of joy.
Reality has always been electrified with messengers whose essences are transformed into freedom. We are in the midst of a karmic awakening of transformation that will enable us to access the multiverse itself. We are at a crossroads of grace and materialism.
Deepak Chopra is not a mason, and I guess he's never laid a brick.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Masonry in nature

Nature’s masons are all around us
The turtle, the tortoise and seahorse
Thor’s Hero shrew’s spine confounds us

Radiolaria and mollusks of course
Coral and the sea anemone
With spikes so tough they do force

Surrender by the attacking enemy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Permanence of the flying buttress

A mechanism must be in place
for an arch to collapse
in both masonry time and space
then failure will perhaps

Occur because hinges form
allowing the arch to fold
the arch’s fate is torn
before it even gets too old.

But a gothic flying buttress
has no such possible way
for arch collapse to fret us
no mechanism any day

No hinge can ever work
it simply isn’t able
for flying buttress to lurch
is the stuff of fable.

A flying buttress can only fall
from a direct lightning hit
or settling underneath it all
perfect design, sums up it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Elevator Pitch

"Best damn block in all Jersey
Bar None!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cutting a block

To cut a masonry block
with a mason's hammer whack it
along a predetermined line
with a mason's hammer smack it
gently first then harder
with a mason's hammer crack it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Clean your tools

At the end of the day
your hands are beaten
a sore stiff back
there’s no cheatin’
or slacking off
important details:
the mortar left
on tools assails.
You have to clean
all your work
or mortar builds
you cannot shirk
the need to clean
is a real bit
or tools are trashed
just deal with it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Planetary arch

Our planet’s crust
is made of plates
they move around
with seismic traits.
Through plate tectonics
it is quite clear
when they move
they conjugate shear.
An arch arranged
as truly complete
describes the sphere
beneath your feet.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Striking joints

When a mason lays down mortar
and places a block atop it
it squishes out a little bit
this mess, you gotta stop it.

Using the edge of a trowel
you slice off the excess
then you strike it with a striker
and lose the mortar’s mess.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Masonry means solidity
in this world of cheap.
Planned obsolescence
is only obscene.
Worth and merit mean so little
in this world of quarterly returns.
Stand out and make good things

Monday, April 7, 2014

Masonry love sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a wooden home?
Thou art more sturdy and more sound
Rough winds don’t even shake your dome
And summer’s heat doth not confound
Sometimes too hot for standard construction
And often is this old wood blamed
And every wood would rot destruction
By chance, or nature’s course untamed
But thy eternal block shall not fade
Nor lose thy strength to mold or fungus
Nor shall one spray cans of Raid
When inside - spoils the air among us
So long as masons work and build with mortar
So long lives good building: in proper order.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A shameful plug

A mason’s design for a block
creates a shape to interlock
and assemble in a sphere
first described (yes) right here.
On this blog you saw it boy
it could be done as a toy.
Rather than be sad, remorseful
work with folks so resourceful:
high school students, good and smart
elevate the prior art.
Check it out, how they think:
Why work blindly? Just work smarter
to get funding use kickstarter!
You’ll see how left and right goes
snap together the round IKOS!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The symbolic mason's trowel, unused

At the dawn of our nuclear age
nuclear power was all the rage.
“Atoms for Peace” was the catchy phrase
ushering in those brave new days
of unlimited power, it was claimed
safer too than what remained
of nuclear weapons used in war.
Safer than what had come before:
to prove their point they made a trowel
(as if they were a foolish owl)
acting wise in their cranium
a trowel made of uranium.
A symbolic gesture meant to soothe
the fears of those it sought to prove
there would be no nuclear spike
if it’s held by President Ike.
Smarter minds at last prevailed
the uranium trowel was not unveiled.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A lune on lunes

A masonry lune
like an orange peel slice
demonstrates the dome.

Two arch sections
opposite each other support another
countering arch section.

Free body diagrams
analyze a structure's forces displayed
succinctly and easily.

Like a poem
short enough and simply written
called a lune.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A charm against masonry failure

The hardness from a hardhat,
steel from a steel-toed boot,
mixed with "caution" tape that
surrounds the problem's root.
Brewed and stewed in a cement mixer,
stirred with safety charts and maps,
this concoction's a strong elixir:
may it save your arch from collapse.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


The echo in a cave like the memory
of our past bounces off walls
made of stone or brick or block.
Not that long ago we sat
and ate the impala by the fire
using stones to break the bones.
Now the Impala is parked
in a garage made of block,
that baby cost a few bones
and the brakes are anti-lock.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"As hangs a flexible cable..."

It is April.  It is Poetry Month.  Not just poetry month, but National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo! For the past three years I met a challenge posed by my friend Jennifer L. Knox, a very accomplished poet. She double-dog-dared me to write a poem about masonry every day for the month of April.  Can I do it for a fourth year?  I'm gonna try.  I write these very quickly, so I apologize in advance.  Here we go, NaPoWriMo!

"As hangs a flexible cable..."
A clash of great minds, keener than most
duelled in the seventeeth century:
Isaac Newton showed Robert Hooke's ghost
the how and why of arch masonry.

Hooke's contempt for lesser men
hinted perhaps at his own depravity
his anagram showed post mortem when
his cable was hung by Newton's gravity.