Thursday, April 30, 2015

150th poem about masonry

I can hardly believe it:
what began as a dare,
still I concede it
caught me unaware -

Here is April's last day
looking back at the mix
of my silly foray
into poems of bricks.

It's been too much fun
but now at long last
my poems are done
they are in the past.

When you see a mason
just please remember
they might be tracing
poet's spark from an ember.

The spark, once lit
can burn with ease
those words will fit
those bricks in these.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


For five years now every April
I've endeavored to write
poems on masonry every day
the result's banal and trite.

Poorly conceived, poorly composed
poorly written and poorly done
thoughtless, reckless and poor
not even read by anyone.

Stilted and derivative
foolhardy and stupid
pretentious and sloppy
even hated by Cupid.

The worst of the worst
all too synthetic
these poems all suck
just plain pathetic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Bridges: they do connect us
their safety is important
Once broken, they wrecked us
their disrepair's a portent

Of ominous things to come
for this country's many millions
Broken bridges have become
A problem worth 52 billions

We need a better way
to make our bridges strong
we need it done today
and they should last quite long

But cutting edge design
can borrow from the past
aqueducts come to mind
those Roman structures last

They've lasted over 2 millenia
civilizations have come and gone
abuse? they've seen plenty o'
and they're still standing strong

The masonry arch is tough to beat
It's simple yet it works so well
it is an engineering feat
and it's really strong as hell

Masonry arches made from block
can be quickly easily made
with cement and sand and rock
New bridges from new masonry laid.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hay(na)ku epiphany

can be
used for roofs.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Seismic support

Masonry built in seismic zones 
must be carefully designed
especially if it's used in homes
the strain must be confined.

For if it's allowed to move sideways
(and catenary thrust will go lateral)
not if but when, on somber days
and falling walls can shatter all.

We've learned it before, and yet again
the danger of inadequate wall
thoughts and prayers do begin
for the people of Nepal.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Clerihew #3

Saint Patrick crossed the border
into Ireland with some mortar
With religion he brought grace in
and became the right first mason.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Block Not Taken

Two blocks replaced some rotting wood,
And sorry I could not lay them both
And be one mason, long I stood
And tamped down one as far as I could
To where it lay in the mortar bed;
Then took the other, as just as level,
And having perhaps the better aim,
Because it was glassy and wanted bevel;
Though as for that the grouting there
Had laid them really about the same,
And both that morning horizontally lay
In scaffold no step had trodden mud.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how lay course on the way,
I doubted if I should ever cut wood.
I shall be troweling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two blocks replaced rotting wood, and eye-
saw the one less mortared by,
And that this mud all the difference.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Good help

Really good help is hard to find
but if you're involved and astute
you'll find a real peace of mind
in Workforce Development Institute.

They're there to help, they really are
They'll look you up and make a visit
just laugh as your dog greets their car
and ask "but what kind of dog is it?"

Friendly is -of course- very nice
yet work costs money, it is true
appropriate help for a quoted price
helps make jobs, for me and you.

Earth Day

By digging clay
locally found
On Earth Day
from the ground

It really should
be consciously fired
with local wood
not alive, but expired

No fossil fuels
no gas or petrol
break the rules
go carbon neutral

Play your part
in this scene
make some art
make it green.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Striking joints
tucking points
mud anoints
the corner quoins.

Monday, April 20, 2015


A brick in the hand is worth two in the
Bush league masons don't stack
Up, up and away in my beautiful
Balloon frame construction is just a bunch of
Sticks, honey we live surrounded by
Rednecks make the best
Moonshine lights up my
Moonlit dome disdains All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human
Veins, so vain I bet you thought this poem's about you
you're so vain.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


You dropped the block as you fumbled
I cried when it hit my toe and the sad block crumbled.

You said "don't worry, it's no trouble"
But tell that to my toe, and tell it to the rubble.

Alone now I lay block in a row
Just me without you, just me and my poor bloody toe.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


An arch is made stronger  with corrugations
furrows and grooves that are parallel
repeated as regular reiterations
keep the arch braced, stiff as well.

Blocks which overlap and interlock
create the furrows and the grooves
herringbone pattern of stacking block
to create masonry arch roofs.

Two receiving grooves are placed
on each block to receive rebar
with these grooves equally spaced
like strings are spaced on a guitar.

The rebar's curved in the diameter
of the arch of the masonry span
to provide supporting parameter
and scaffolding for the masonry man.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Social Masonry

Through facebook, twitter, snapchat and such
I share with the world my news of block
the world just doesn't care too much
Of my instagram views of mud and rock.

Few 'thumbs up' and measured 'likes'
and fewer 'shares' and no re-tweets
this realm belongs to younger tykes
and music made of "massive beats."

But still someway I get the word out
Social media for masonry
To make foundation get the dirt out
and build upon it publicly.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Terrazo Terzanelle

Your floor may be marble or terrazo
polished smooth or tiled pattern
on which you eat hummus, even matzo.

You can revel in revelry, just like Saturn
In grandiloquence sprawled on travertine
having spit leisurely in your spat urn.

Living the life of a libertine
luxuriously having things DeLuxe
As featured in Martha Stewart's magazine.

(Ok, so Martha Stewart kinda sucks)
it shouldn't detract from your "Living"
turn on the light: Fiat Lux.

Just take masonry, I'll keep giving
my own opinion of good construction
quality of life concerns good living.

For these points need some reduction
A terzanelle about terrazo
marble needs no introduction
nor does the indulged American fatso.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Self conscious masonry limerick

There once was a masonry limerick
whose second line ended with "brick"
Twasn't Ginsburg's "Howl"
instead it used a trowel
To mortar in words I'd pick.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dialogue between block and mortar

I am block, concrete all through
I am so strong and inexpensive
mortar, why do I really need you?
with your presence so extensive?

Block my friend and my old companion,
You'd be lost without my bonding
Colorado River without Grand Canyon
Or a bloody steak served to Gandhi.

Mortar my old and true acquaintance,
this block is rather disgusted
I almost puked at your reference
To Mahatma's diet entrusted

To mortar's odd whims and all
But together, we should stay
and just keep the solid wall
"block and mortar" for every day.

For ours is an ambivalent art
the question asked is if whether
the mortar keeps the blocks apart
or if it keeps 'em together.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Incessantly filling and leveling action
the mold receives mix from the hopper
then down comes the shoe with compaction
there's just no way to possibly stop her.

Six blocks are made every ten second
the pallets are full of new block
they slide along, and hardly need checking
they move in good time with the clock.

More than a wise man or even an oracle
It takes a good team to make it all work
the ballet of production is no small miracle
with a sharp action, a heave and a jerk.

The beautiful block just slide off the line
the pallets get ordered and stacked
and mechanically handled with a touch fine
and placed gently upon the rack.

The forklift picks up the whole big load
and carries to the kiln for curing
the block spend a night, tucked in their abode
while the block machine keeps whirring.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Under the arch

Even the dark is lighter and the sounds are cleaner
the solid thing has always been, so it seems
all encompassing surrounded by green so greener
the twilight of my once blurry waking dreams.

The weight is lighter and the touch is distinct
the massive sense of surrounding all
the integral speaks from a paper inked
in my mind it begins with a solid wall.

The vertical preamble for what's yet to come
the arch turns in at the top of what's known
knowledge forgotten, from an echoing drum
unconsciously there and subconsciously shown.

In the marrow of my bones, a sense of it
the knowledge wiped clean and rules all broken
The airy arch came from some deep unknown pit
from the wish of my ancestors long unspoken.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

An arch begins

I got there soon, as a matter of fact
they told me "come see these newest block Pete!"
Not only do they work well - in the abstract
but they also worked well in the concrete.

Friday, April 10, 2015

New Block

Brand new mold to the world of masonry
brand new block, but must not hasten we
wait and fine tune it - to dial it in
and then on Monday we'll do it again.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


is a
then the
and then the crest
of the arch at the top of the
dome,  spreading,  elegantly  into  the
haunch of  the  arch - where  thrusting  forces 
begin to push out, fighting gravity by using gravity:
depending on the weight of all the masonry to force the
voussoirs together into a consolidated whole relying on the
weight above it, but with all that weight the walls begin to get
thicker toward the bottom, in order to prevent any cracks from
developing near the bottom of the dome the thickness acts as a 
restraining force, with more thick walls at the base total restraint.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


The last poem made financial projections
based upon rates of production
These estimates are now facing rejections
disregarding the cost of corruption.

Kickbacks and bribes, conflicts of interest
You know how greasy it feels
so your friends will facebook 'like' and pinterest
Gotta grease those squeaky wheels.

The vigilant never quite fully relaxes
adamantly checking financial inspection
any profit is gone to pay taxes
Gotta revise the financial projection.

Did you hear what I said?  Must I re-state?
Over thirty million per year?
I cannot even begin to relate
so clean the wax out from your ear:

Stop the starry-eyed wishful dreamin'
the financial prophets prophesied;
You'll be lucky to just break even
financial projections are set aside.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Masonry Accounting

The patent filing cost eight grand
the new mold: thirty-five thou
production, 14K in hand
13 hundred for half block (wow).

It's expensive to make new block!
These costs bring compunction-
money's time, so check the clock
how does this financially function?

The numbers help confirm my loyalties
'cuz rates of production do confirm
the key to the model is found in royalties
if we look at how much it can earn

Twenty one thousand block are made
In one single eight-hour shift
Fity-cent per each block is paid
as a royalty-paying constant gift

One mold working one third of the time
(8 hours out of the day's twenty four)
Creates an income which serves just fine
Hopefully keeping the wolf at the door.

One mold working 48 weeks per year,
working just those 8 hours per day
And soon it becomes abundantly clear
One mold makes over $3 million in pay.

Ten molds rotated, on a global basis
to serve the globe's seven billion
are set to keep the financial pace is
annual income over thirty million.

Monday, April 6, 2015


Dreams of rocks and blocks and bricks
are broken by my aching back
but using some gymnastic tricks
out of bed with a creak, a crack.

Fingers' numbness is replaced
with sharpened pains of flexing them
the cement stings from skin's waste
it's time to do it all again.

The morning sun shows yesterday's
block still freshly placed and struck
Inspection of the joints and ways,
the arch is rising from the muck.

That first bag of mortar ripped
and dumped into the mixer
that first bucket of water tipped
and mixed is my elixir.

To overcome my whole inertia
and pick up block, and set 'em straight
will the paycheck reimburse ya?
When passion for building is my fate?

The work itself is not just all
that is its own just reward
it is, alas - just a wall
built by me, my just accord.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The blocks are better than they were

The blocks are better than they were the snow is getting brown 
The mason's waist is plumper the ice is out of town.
The tender wears one less sweater the scaffold less forlorn 
Lest I sh'd be more chastened I’ll put a tool belt on. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

i carry your trowel with me

i carry your trowel with me(i carry it in
my hand)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my block; and whatever is laid
by only me is your doing,my block)
i fear
no wall(for you are my wall,my block)i want
no wood(for rickety you are my wood,my rot)
and it's you are whatever a lunar base always cement
and whatever a solar wind will always fire this block

here is the deepest mortar nobody sees
(deep in the wall of the mall and the wall of Wal-mart
and the rows of the Lowe's of an aisle called block;which builds
higher than the code can hope or mine can hod)
and this is the mortar that's keeping the blocks apart

i carry your trowel(i carry it in my hand)


Friday, April 3, 2015

Alone in my pursuit

It is hard for me to believe, I still don't quite get it
I work in a field thousands years old, you can bet it.
Masonry arches have been made by man forever
and the ubiquitous concrete block is found wherever.

But somehow, some way, nobody has ever attempted:
to make an arch with concrete block, mortar all cemented.
It is so obvious! I'm not just a parroting fool!
An arch made of concrete block is so strong, and cheap and cool.

I have scoured the country and searched this whole planet,
looked into concrete from cinders, limestone and granite.
But nobody, no one, no single person anywhere,
has dared use concrete block to build arches in the air.

It's a conservative industry, and works well enough
there is no need to contemplate your newfangled stuff
We've done well without any arches, without any art
without any soul, without beauty too, without your part.

And still I pursue it, I can't help but do it, arch block
an unfulfilled, undiscovered unknown way with rock
Yet known too well, for millenia, masonry arch roof:
that I should be the first (and only!) is a humbling truth.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Concrete is made of rocks and sand
glued together with cement
the aggregate you understand
is irregular, with intent.

The intention of irregular shape
is tip-to-face contact all throughout
aggregate packed to reduce the gape
of free space between the grout.

Concrete made into block
has aggregate pressed and jostled
irregular aggregate interlock
frozen into position, fossiled.

The axis of this huge compaction
is the one of greatest strength
energy of vibrating action
aligns the rocks along their length.

When measured strength is the same
in all the measured block directions
"Isotropic" is the name
for equally strong strength detections.

When manufactured block's the topic
It's not so strong in sideways view.
It's known to be anisotropic
and highest strength is vertical too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Blocks on the Kid

Five years ago today, my friend Jennifer L. Knox double-dog-dared me to write a poem every day for the month of April about masonry, for National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo.  This will be my fifth year of participating in NaPoWriMo.  It's tricky to come up with poems every day for a month, and especially so when they are all about a specific topic: masonry.  I beg the reader's indulgence while I try this again.

New Blocks on the Kid
March has left like a lion
April is on the lam
But soon I will be tryin'
To make the best blocks I can

I will because I must
I must because it's there
It's there because I trust
in warming of the air.

With warmth I'll mount the mold
upon the block machine
In with new, out with old
new block never seen.

With contempt we leave you, March
and hope for a new beginning
A new block to make an arch
and April will be winning

All the cold dark winter long
patents filed, mold was made
nothing should really go wrong
as winter too soon shall fade.

As the earth will soon awaken
and I make this new design
the doubts of winter are forsaken
This new block will align

And stack upon itself with ease
into an arch with lovely lines
with facility sure to please
questions in the mason's minds.