In Competition No. 3306, you were invited to submit a poem about procrastination.
Procrastination looms large in Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s hilarious account of his attempt to write a study of D.H. Lawrence, and it struck me as an excellent topic for a competition. As Samuel Johnson wrote, the tendency to put things off is ‘one of the general weaknesses’ that ‘prevail to a greater or lesser degree in every mind’. The assignment did indeed strike a chord, attracting a large entry that was witty and technically adroit. Commiserations to Alex Steelsmith, C. Paul Evans, David Silverman and Frank McDonald who missed out on a spot in the winning line-up by a whisker. The winners, which include Gail White’s nod to Robert Herrick, are printed below and earn their authors £25 apiece.
You say hither, I say thither,
Time will tell, and wait a while:
It’s in my blood, delay and dither,
Yet I’ll get there, tortoise-style.
No use jumping at each hurdle
While there’s time to shoot the breeze:
Allow the freshest milk to curdle,
Or wait for yoghurt, butter, cheese,
Besides, the thing may never happen,
And surely there is space to chill:
No need to copy Max Verstappen –
Energy is overkill.
Here’s a tangent, bright and glossy;
Move tomorrow down the queue –
Leave the gang and drop the posse –
Bother not with ballyhoo.
When we find we’re in range of an unwelcome change
And decide that it’s wise to procrastinate,
We at once hatch a scheme and assemble a team
To examine the matter, then vacillate.
There’s a Chair, half asleep, and a flock of old sheep
Whose sole job is to wax hypothetical
Forging theories which say that it’s right to delay
While ignoring all truths antithetical.
Our resultant report bleats a reasoned retort
To all clamour for change from the polity,
While the drear status quo it cites perfect to show
Its eternal, conservative quality.