Deadline Pressure

At the beginning of 2013, Congress acted after exhausting all other options to avert what was then called the fiscal cliff.

Seeing with considerable satisfaction the way a ticking clock got these deadbeats to finally pass a piece of (imperfect) legislation, I commissioned Schuyler Tyler Wyler, America’s Rhyming Poet Laureate, to write a few lines about the value of time limits.

And of course I told him I needed to have something in hand no later than 20 minutes after the challenge was issued. If he couldn’t deliver, he should just forget it, I said, knowing full well that STW never passes up a commission.

His secret? He becomes a lot less picky as the time grows short.

Many lines will man diminish,
casting shadows o’er his heart.
Like a line emblazoned “finish”
set too far from one marked “start.”

Lengthy lines can form for tickets
Timberlines sit near the tree
Don’t cross lines set up by pickets.
Don’t cross lines prefaced by “fe”.

One line always worth preserving
though he’ll never, ever ask you,
every guy thinks he’s deserving.
it’s the one that follows “mascu”.

An exciting line is “chorus”.
An archaic one is “clothes”.
Lines called “border” can be porous.
Lines with water can get froze.

There are many lines that plague us:
Lines for greeting at a wedding.
And the kind they make in Vegas.
Not for marriage, but for betting.

Tucked behind a velvet curtain
sultry lines designed for “chat”.
In a hospital for certain
please avoid a line that’s “flat”.

One line makes all writers tremble
just one line gets in their head.
Makes their noggins disassemble.
That’s a line that’s clearly “dead”.

For a deadline makes them humble.
Whether genius or a jerk.
It’s the deadline makes them crumble.
And sets them free to do their work.


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