A Poem Against Procrastination

Written for All Hallows’ Eve, though not, in the end, used for its intended purpose (horrifying teenagers).

Once there was a village in the woods, and every night
at sunset they would gather and would make a fire burn bright –
for warmth and roasting sausages, and dancing all around,
but also necessary to protect their little patch of ground;
for hidden in the dark of night were monsters in the woods
in whom was little thought of deeds benevolent or good.

Instead, these hungry monsters loved to feast on little boys
and eat their meat and crunch their bones and tread upon their toys.
They also rather loved to drink the blood of little girls
and make wigs from their shiny hair, all full of pretty curls.
But they hated light, and never came out in the day –
and in the night the fire would burn and frighten them away.

Now there lived an old and nasty crow within the wood.
The monsters went to ask him, “Can you help?” He said, “I could –
For I am not a monster, and of light I have no fear.
But fire is something I don’t really want to go too near,
Unless you pay me – and my price is this: that when you dine
upon their flesh and crunch their bones, their eyeballs shall be mine.”

That night the crow flew out, holding a bucket full of water,
And poured the water on the fire, and cried, “Begin the slaughter!”
The monsters all came running out from underneath the trees,
with forks and ketchup ready, like a swarm of hungry bees,
and ran towards the town hall, where the little children played –
tonight they had a party (for it was some holiday).

But one girl wasn’t at the party; she sat all alone
At home as punishment for breaking windows with a stone.
She’d caused her parents trouble, and half drove them to despair,
and broke a lot of furniture, and never combed her hair.
Her brothers hated her; she called them “ugly, nasty brutes!” –
But she loved her sister, who was small and sweet and cute.

This naughty girl looked out and saw the monsters going by,
And said, “it seems so dark – and all these monsters here! But why?”
She climbed out of her window, and followed down the street
And watched the monsters go in search of girls and boys to eat.
The crow flew in the town hall, and blew the candles out.
The children screamed. The monsters cheered, and charged in with a shout.

One monster grabbed her brother, and then ate him limb by limb –
She watched and laughed, and said “I’m glad! I never did like him.”
Her other brother was chopped up and mixed into a stew –
She laughed still more, and said “Hooray! – I always hated you.”
But then she saw her sister – whom she really rather liked –
Was being chased by something grim whose face was full of spikes!

Off she ran in horror, saying “Oh, what can be done?
Where’s the light to scare away the monsters? I see none!”
She ran towards the beacon, but the crow was waiting there
And flew at her and tried to peck her eyes and pull her hair.
But she grabbed the crow and bashed his head against the ground,
and he went limp, and lay quite still, and made no further sound.

The fire was out, the wood was wet; but here and there were still
some glowing embers, burning orange. She blew on them till
the fire began again, quite weakly; and nearby there stood
(in readiness to feed the fire) some piles of firewood.
And these she threw upon the fire, and blew on them still more
Until the flames jumped up, and burnt her eyebrows, with a roar.

She hurried back towards the hall, a burning torch in hand,
and all the monsters jumped back from the flames, and turned and ran.
The spike-faced monster moved quite slowly – he seemed quite well-fed –
And the girl looked through the hall with quickly-mounting dread –
Until she saw a pile of bones, quite small, and at their side,
Her sister’s new pink shoes, their laces still so neatly tied.

The girl is now a hero – think how many lives she saved!
And all the people think she’s great, and so to her they gave
a medal, to remember how she made the fire burn bright
and killed the crow and made the monsters run away in fright.
But she is not so happy – and now every day she cries
Because she can’t forget her sister’s ketchup-spread demise.

This story has a moral, which is this: you always should
be quick to do your duty, and eager to do good.
She didn’t care to help her brothers – aye, their death was sweet:
she’d laughed to see the monsters eating, toe by toe, their feet.
But if she’d tried to save them, she would not have been too late
To save her sister, whom she loved so much, from the same fate.

My mother read this and commented “it’s very moral”. Indeed. I am always procrastinating, although rarely due to a love of watching family members being eaten, so it reflects my own concerns.

2 thoughts on “A Poem Against Procrastination

  1. That was … totally wicked! In every sense of the word. And very Struwwelpeter-y, which I cannot tell you how much I approve. I am going to go right out and find a child to read this to.

  2. Thanks! I hadn’t read Struwwelpeter till you mentioned it, but now I have, I suspect that my actual inspiration (Hilaire Belloc’s gleefully horrible “Cautionary Tales for Children”) may have owed something to it, so maybe there’s some second-degree influence there.


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