Digging Under The Floor

A Poem About A Major Quote Unquote Repair To My House's Plumbing

Some seven seasons past we put a new
Half-bathroom in downstairs, atop the slab.
New plumbing, walls, a coat of paint we threw
Upon the cozy space, a fine collab;

Alas! A leak was found beneath it all,
When drainéd we the kitchen sink upstairs
The water bubbled up behind the wall
From out the very ground ‘neath our repairs.

A house has drains, waste water has its home;
It might seem unimportant, but it’s not.
When done with water, where then does it roam?
To oceans, rivers, pipes beyond our thought,

Unseen and pouring, flushing, ‘less it leaks.
A hole carved in a pipe might bite, betray,
Beweaken your foundation, so to speak,
The years its ally, dripping disarray.

Exhaling, houses think their systems clean,
Designed with heartbeats, pushing stressors out.
Unhealthy, then, defective in its mean,
We found the hole, and fixed it roundabout.

Some seven seasons let we leak the house
Into the dirt on which the thing was built;
Unhurried, lazy, scared to trace its routes,
To call a plumber with a plumber’s skills.

When finally they came to fix the crack,
It took the house by storm, its order thrashed,
A hole in the concrete they hammered, hacked,
And dragged concrete to the garage as trash.

The house entirely with dirt was smeared,
And overnight a pit was left downstairs
As if a gopher might at night come peer
Into our cozy half-bath, unawares.

Such tumult, discord, necessary strife!
So later, newer pipe was buried in
And underneath a patchéd slab, new life,
New drains to drain our house, complete again.

Some seven seasons suffered on our home,
Unseen to us, unknown what harm it did,
Its buried dross, we couldn’t just have known; 
Didn’t know how bad things were before the dig.


That photo was actually taken in my house last week. If you’re wondering what’s under the bottom of your house, I can tell you from experience it is dirt. We had a nice little home improvement project going. We put in a little half-bath and were going to refinish this whole big room, which used to be like a mother-daughter half-kitchen, into a play room. You can see the toys in the photo. Fresh paint. Deep pile carpet. Somewhere That’s Green-level shit. Then, the leak.

This poem is also about other stuff, of course. Frost’s ulteriority, and all that. Last week I contracted myself a cold and I took a sick day and did some capital-J Journaling. Soul-searching on paper. I wound up digging through a lot of stuff that was on my mind that I didn’t 100% recognize was on there. You have to dig through a lot of mind stuff sometimes to get to heart stuff, when you’re journaling.

I think i figured some stuff out. BORING ALERT.

I’m driven mainly by two motivators. A high purpose and a base purpose. My high purpose is to delight people. Bring some joy and light into this darkened turd theater we call life. I think I’m good at it. I make my wife and kids laugh. My coworkers, my friends. I just try to be delightful because I really think there’s no higher purpose than making other people smile.

Then there’s the base purpose. I need to impress everyone, is my base purpose. I particularly focus on impressing people who I, myself, am impressed by. This is good if you want to play the game and run the rat race and learn a lot of worky things like JavaScript and Powerpoint and Dressing Like A Square. It’s gotten me pretty far. But, of course, of COURSE, I see that it’s not as pure an impulse as delighting people. It scratches a more selfish itch.

But then also I make people laugh and if that’s impressive to people who I think are super funny, that can feel like the ultimate goal; impressing those funny people with my own delightfulness. And then also there are ways to apply any halfway impressive skill I pick up toward the end of making people happy. I work at basically a puzzle factory, is a good example of that. Really, essentially, I work at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

So I want to do more things to make people happy. I want to step back and ask myself if the things I’m doing are just to impress these people I perceive as mentors, and if my doing them is bringing any light into someone’s life.

Also I want to finish this goddamn play room.

That’s some of the stuff i wrote down in my little journal.

If you’ve read this far, I’m frankly amazed. If you like the poem, share it around, please. Or share any of the poems from the backlog. Recite them on street corners; I don’t mind.

Thanks for reading.

This is Phil.