Civil Engineering

You’re not the first to ask
Why I stole from someone worthier
Their tax-payer-subsidised
Crème de la crème education
In Civil Engineering,
If all I wanted to do was
Slouch like a pampered prince
Plucking verses out of vapours.

“You could have built bridges,
Given people a warm, secure space
To come to at the end of a day.
You could have helped honest workers
Accelerate along roads of progress.
Instead…,” they shake their heads.

Well, you’re right, you know.
I really didn’t pay much
Attention to my classes, though
Some of the important stuff
Found its way into me
And has stayed stuck. Let’s see:

We surveyed landscapes,
Above and underground,
Mapping eases and obstacles,
Tracing terrains of troubles
That stood in our paths.
And with these measured visions
We found the optimal way forward,
Sometimes boring straight through,
With least effort and collateral damage,
All on paper, before a blow was struck.

We designed form and structure
To survive stresses, inside and out,
To buckle not under bending moments
Twice worse than the worst we dream.
We pre-tested against crises.
When they did strike, all were ready.
They knew what to do. They didn’t panic.

We built with many materials,
From disparate sources,
Of disparate natures,
In disparate proportions
Brought together to found a strength
That isn’t found individually:
A strength that matures with curing.

We championed flow:
Channelling friction out of motion,
Harnessing falls into power,
Sluicing dammed potential,
Treating sludgy viscosities,
Breaking through blockages,
To get everything unstuck.

We trafficked off trajectories,
Preventing collisions and crashes
Of those who come full throttle from
Separate paths to the same crossing.
We told them when to slow down,
When to pause or move on,
And when to let another pass.

But above all, we were there
For those temporarily distressed,
To help them mend and fill cracks.
And for those fractured beyond repair,
We cleaned the rubble weighting them
And built them a new existence.

Yes, you’re right.
Poetry doesn’t do any of this.