Why I Am Not an Engineer

By ROBERT BEROLD

thanks, frank o’hara

I am not an engineer. but I studied
to be one. those days, the ’60s, we
went to varsity in shorts and long socks and
threw paper aeroplanes in class. chem.eng.
was a tough course. the theoreticians did well
but the real engineers, the guys who drank beers
and fixed their own cars, failed.
we did a lot of maths
and a lot of chemistry. then in 3rd year the maths
mated with the chemistry, generating monstrous equations,
which we had to solve.
what was insoluble was when
they took our class to modderfontein and sasolburg.
dressed in white coats and plastic hats, we looked at miles
of hissing pipes and bulging orange flames.
so I became a writer.
no, I first became confused.
I remember the day I fainted.
I thought, “I join the universe!” my knees gave way.
my head hit the concrete floor. my being
took off with heavy flapping into a sky
which kept on moving through another sky.

 

 

Robert Berold has published four collections of poetry, a memoir of a year spent in China, and a biography of the pioneering Lesotho farmer JJ Machobane.

Click here to purchase Issue 04

Why I Am Not an Engineer

Related Posts

poetry feature image

January 2021 Poetry Feature: Bruce Bond

BRUCE BOND
I was just another creature crawling from the mausoleum, / and I thought, so this is it, the place in the final chapter / where I am judged for all my cruelties, blunders, failures of attention, / and I waited for the furies to take me, or some such host. / But it was just another morning.

Sky full of comets

Poems in Translation from Bestia di gioia

MARIANGELA GUALTIERI
And he soars / saved, outstretched / untouched by the gravity that pins us / down / we deserters of empty spaces and heights / shadows cast / into modest taverns for a bite. / Heads in capitals / of rust. / A lifetime annuity of darkness. / Only a cry can save us now.

poetry feature image

December 2020 Poetry Feature: Denise Duhamel and Jeffrey Harrison

DENISE DUHAMEL
Where was I / when I was 20? I’d already been accepted / as an exchange student, taking my first plane ride / to London where I’d catch a train / to Wales. On that first flight, I sat next to a woman / in a shawl—how old was she? It’s hard to say.