Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

The Inner Life of a Carpenter’s Tools

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob at 8:54 pm on Saturday, June 10, 2023

by Robert M. Katzman © June 10, 2023

In the silence of his garage

In the Northwest corner

Where essential tools dwell

Are they conscious of him?

Do they tremble in anticipation

As he once again becomes active

Ready to do his carpentry?


Years have gone by

Can they hear the mice

As they silently munch

Yet another of his unsold books?

If he doesn’t check the boxes

He is unaware of any damage

Tho’ his food for thought

Has now also become food


He stares at his many tools

Some worn, some seemingly snoring

Some with the lovely patina of age

All assembled and… waiting

Anxious in their innerness

Will he choose me?


The hammer reigns supreme

Most used, honored as a weapon

Once upon a time

Fearing no neglect

The electric saw

As bulky as a bulldog

Snores, sounding so similar

To its usual aria when cutting

High-pitched through soft woods

Growling in annoyance when

Confronting a knot


The jumbled crowd of screwdrivers

Petite enough to repair eyeglasses

Strong enough to open a heavy, sealed

Can of new paint

The spread of those in between

Both Flathead and Phillips

One Tribe ascending and one descending

Yet as compatible as intermingling

Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals


Crowbars are best left sleeping

So brutal in their necessity

The smaller tools tremble

Lest they awaken one

Even hammers bow to crowbars

One’s savage abilities

Overwhelming the other’s

This metallic purgatorial society

Forever awaiting their call

Accepts that it is divided into castes

Each hoping to be part of something

Larger than all of them



If tools have a religion

Their God might be

 A sky scraping Sequoia

The largest tree in the world

And what would Tools

Collectively believe?

That fresh wood will

Be here forever

And never ever

Will the last tree

Be chopped down


The pounding, clanging hammer

The nails screeching as they sink

The sound of a mis-hammered

Ten-penny nail

Like a bullet’s ricochet

As the bent nail

Soars away to oblivion

The saw’s high-pitched bite

The paint slapping onto wood

The drill chewing selectively

Slowly sinking into hardwood Oak

Singing like a robin through soft Pine

The crowbar’s ripping

The chisel slicing with a tap-tap-tap

The bite of the wire-cutter

As sharp and deep

As a rattlesnake’s fangs


All of them a silent choir

As the old man surveys them

Squinting through thick glasses

In the dusty air of his tool-shop

Deciding if he has

The will

The energy

The strength

To build one more set of bookcases

The Carpenter, wondering

If he can still count on his old friends

To do what must be done

To allow him to create

One last time


The sort of plan which may employ


Each tool trembling in glee

No matter how old

No matter how rusty

Each tool sending

The same message


A vivid symphony of

Hopes and dreams

Awaiting a man’s

Worn, yet warm hands

Clutching them yet again

Even if for the last time


The Hammer is the best gauge

Of a Carpenter’s age:

A young one hammers


Frequently missing his mark

He must strike

Many times

To sink his nail into wood


A grown man

Hammers with authority

No wasted motion

No missing targets

Nail after nail after nail after nail…

Besides quality

His goal is quantity

Finish the job


And the old Carpenter


He spends more time




As he begins his work

With no energy to waste

Each blow must succeed


It takes him longer

To complete his



A Child’s Castle

His aged muscles have

Only so much

And no more

To give

But at his age

The work becomes art


Maybe the Carpenter feels this

Yearning of his tools

Maybe his weathered steady hands

Send back the same emotion

Only an aged Carpenter might

Tell you if any of this

Could really be true


But men like that

They will never tell

The intense relationship

Between a man

And his tools


Too sacred to share









Comment by bruce matteson

June 10, 2023 @ 9:56 pm


Comment by bernard white

June 10, 2023 @ 10:08 pm

so achingly beautiful.

the words as useful as the tools and man they celebrate. . .

Comment by Brad Dechter

June 11, 2023 @ 7:04 am

As one who doesn’t own any tools and doesn’t understand how to use them, the sounds they make or their functionality, this in many ways was a poem that didn’t capture my interest. As a guy getting older, as well as more sentimental, , I feel that old guy!

Comment by Robert M. Katzman

June 11, 2023 @ 7:35 am

All of us: Hammer, Pliers, Saw, Crowbar, Nails, Drill, Screwdrivers, even Wire, Sandpaper and Hinges are deeply crushed by your unawareness of our existence in your daily life. But, we will carry on, animate beings indifference disregarded.
Love, regardless,
The Committee Representing the Inner lives of Tools

Comment by Charlie Newman

June 11, 2023 @ 8:36 am

One of your very best, Amigo! Going in for a 3rd read as soon as I send this…

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