That house they’re building down the street -- two lots away, no more,
Remember when they began to build, back in May of ninety-four?
Eyes at your bedroom window, see the backhoes begin to grade,
Ears disclose there’s little repose in the scrape of a backhoe blade.
Work unceasing, din increasing, the hours and days rolled by.
They break the ground then wet it down then tamp it down to dry.
With dug up holes, pounded in poles, it hardly made much sense.
Yet there on the spot, around the lot grew a dandy chain link fence.

Time without knowing, the work slow-going, always something to fix.
Nothing goes fast but the days that pass, and soon it’s year ninety-six.
Months beyond number, at last the lumber, finally the framing began.
Each hammered nail, a pain in the tail, you stand there a broken man.
It was surely a trend which boded no end in the year two-thousand-one,
And you realized to your awful surprise, that this house may never be done.
(Feel in your heart, felt from the start, it’s the house that will never be done.)

Time will reveal equipments on wheels will attack with essential piles
Of tars and cement, piping pre-bent, paint, lumber and roofing tiles.
But equipment’s attack is forward and back, and this is a special curse. 
Machines lack a horn, but they must warn, so they beep when in reverse.
The beep, beep, beep, is the vigil they keep when moving to the rear.
They beep you from bed, beep into your head, and deep into your ear.

Keeping beep, beep, time, a Runic sort of rhyme, to the beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.
Rising out of sleep, the ever-present beep, the beeping-aggravation of the beep.
To your unhappy fate, now add to the weight the beeps are in the mix,
Unable to wait, you check the date: Gads! May of two thousand and six!
One day without cause, a terrible pause, all’s mum on the building site.
The silence is worse than the beeping curse and you lie awake all night.
You don’t know when it’ll start again, to return you to previous fun
And feel in your heart, felt from the start, it’s the house that will never be done.
Walls in place, roof keeping pace, still the house seems barely begun.
Feel in your heart, felt from the start, it’s the house that will never be done.
This is the one that will never be done, the house that will never be done.

The House That Will Never Be Done

(from “To Laughter With Questions: Poetry by Shelley Berman”)

To hear Shelley recite this poem, click on the player below right. To return to the Poetry page, click on the “Poetry” link above.

 

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