I should have been cramming for English—reading Macbeth or Candide
and finishing off all my papers on Shakespeare or Becket or Bede.
But I always put off all assignments until the last possible minute,
lugging around every textbook without really looking within it.
When final week came, I was panicked. I studied all day and all night.
Living on No Doz and coffee, my eyes were a terrible sight.
Bloodshot and ringed with dark circles, they read on and read on nonetheless—
Chaucer and Dickens and Somerset Maugham (and Cliff’s Notes, I have to confess.)
My very worst procrastination was ten papers in just seven days—
my mind racing onward and onward as I searched for each insightful phrase.
Biology, German and history, psychology and all the rest
battled to come to the front and be heard when they came to be put to the test.
By the end I was crazed and exhausted, craving only closed eyes and my bed—
putting authors and symbols and figures and facts right out of my overstuffed head.
I could have avoided this torment, the pressure, exhaustion and dread
If only I’d started three months in advance to prepare for each “big day ahead.”
In college I fear I was guilty. I put all things off just a smidge.
I majored in procrastination and minored in marathon bridge!
( This poem is dedicated to Marti, Yvonne, Patty, Ramjet, Karen Rea and all the house hashers, with whom I wasted many a long college afternoon and evening expanding my mind by playing bridge. I must admit that I haven’t played it since, which is why I have the time to write a poem a day and post it on my blog. Sometimes we learn more after college than during!)
The Prompt: Big Day Ahead—It’s the night before an important event: a big exam, a major presentation, your wedding. How do you calm your nerves in preparation for the big day?