With Apologies to Clement Moore


“‘Twas the Night Before Deadline”

‘Twas the night before deadline, when all through the house
Not a writer was stirring, not even his mouse;
The laptop was set on the table with care,
In hopes that the words soon would appear.

Images were nestled too snug in his head;
While visions of page proofs filled him with dread;
A good guy in mischief, and bad guy with a rap,
How to keep the right words, and edit the crap?

When out on the street there arose such a ruckus,
He sprang up, angry at his loss of focus.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Drew back the curtains and peered through the glass.

Red lights swirled on ceiling and wall,
Shattered concentration caused him to bawl.
When what to his curious eyes did appear,
Images of pages, blank and austere.

He wielded a pen so sure and so quick,
He knew in a moment his edits were mixed.
More rapid than eagles his cross-outs they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Bracket! now, Period! now Colon and Slashes!
On, Comma! on, Hyphen! on Quote Mark and Em-Dashes!
To the top of the page! to the top of the wall!
Now erase away! erase away! erase away all!”

Ideas that normally flowed freely and fast,
Now met with obstacles that left him aghast;
So on the pages his cursor stood still,
Hours to deadline and no words to kill.

And then, in a twinkling, he heard in the hall
A shuffling gait of his wife’s slow footfall.
As he drew back his head, and was turning to see,
Into the study she carried fresh coffee.

She was dressed all in flannel, from her head to her foot,
And her clothes were all rumpled, no makeup to suit;
A cup she set on the table with care,
Steam rising and swirling, to drink it a dare.

Her eyes—how they twinkled! her dimples, how merry!
Her cheeks were like roses, her nose like a berry!
Her droll little mouth was pursed up like a bow,
And the hair on her head was as white as the snow.

He wished she’d call his editor to plead
All he wanted was more time to re-read.
His editor he knew would laugh and deny,
He was behind in his contract, he could only sigh.

That editor so mean, so nasty and bold,
“Don’t ask for another second,” his memory so cold,
With a nod of his head and a stroke of his pen,
He showed him the way out of the mess he was in.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Delete key melt down, words appearing right out of the murk,
Finally laying fingers on keyboard with a touch so slight,
He typed and typed well into the night.

He sprang from his chair, the manuscript to send
The deadline met, the last words “The End.”
His editor sent a note full of delight,
“Happy deadlines to all, and to all a good write!”

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