by Anonymous

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
Three hours till the deadline. 
(It’s not really a deadline – you know your tutor won’t look at your sputterings 
until at least tomorrow morning,
but it’s an arbitrary point in time by which you need

An unattainable coherence
With original sophistication
And a whole heap of formatting to prove 
Your fumes aren’t just the thoughts out of someone else’s head.)

Your hear the pistons hitting the keyboard,
Disciplined, ordered, and you just wish
You could have thought this quick, functioned this well
When you had a week left.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
Two hours till the deadline. 
(It’s not really a deadline – I mean, who sets one for 9pm anyway?
Who’s working at that time?
Well, clearly, you will be if you can’t decipher

The scrawl of a panicked plan
Bullet points and arrows and colours galore
To make it seem like you knew what you were doing
When you sat down to weld it together.)

You smell… something.
Must be good, if you’re missing out,
Because there’s no way you can take your foot off the pedal now,
You’re in the groove, at peak efficiency,
Hands and mind in perfect harmony – 

No. You come to a screeching halt. 
There’s a part missing – a key component
Without which nothing will hang together.
You scour your workshop for the piece you need
And it’s elusive.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
One hour till the deadline.
(It’s not really a deadline – except it really is. 
It’s looming, unavoidable, undeterred.)
And you’re still searching in vain

For the perfect fit
For some inspiration to stop the cylinders
Pounding out that mechanical rhythm
Over and over and faster and harder 
And five minutes later
You’ve covered the paper

With tiny tyre marks, minutely precise,
Each speck its own little plot device.
The scattered mismatch of misshapen parts,
Slots into a chassis with a beating heart.
No time to check, no time to wait,
Just turn off the engine before it’s too late.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
Stop. Save. Submit.

The Poor Print

The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford, with contributions from members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff. New issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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