Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over user guides and handbooks piled up on the desk and floor --
As I nodded, after nine or ten straight hours of design,
I finely drew the final line, then pulled a floppy out to store --
Locked and loaded, then, I saved, and waited for the disc to store;
Only this and nothing more.
Ah, distinctly I kept hearing such a sound it set me fearing,
Fearing as I sat there peering at the Saved Percentage score,
Fearing, as the disc kept turning, turning with a grinding, churning
Sound while I was yearning -- yearning as I'd never yearned before,
"Save!" I yearned again, but hopeless, read the words I'd feared before:
Read: "Abort, Retry, Ignore."
"What is this?" I barely muttered, "What's this message you have uttered,
Uttered as my floppy fluttered, fluttered locked inside your door?"
But there came no soothing voices helping me among these choices,
With these unfamiliar choices, just the cursor's either/or --
Just the cursor blinking, blinking for my choice of either/or
From "Abort, Retry, Ignore."
Much I marveled: this repeating cursor like a heartbeat beating
Answered nothing, thus defeating all attempts to re-explore
Whether I'd done something sloppy -- what had happened to that floppy
I'd inserted there to copy all the work I'd done before --
What had happened to the art, the artwork I had done before,
Before "Abort, Retry, Ignore."?
Art, not software, is my calling; it's particularly galling
To be hesitating, stalling, stalling over one key more
When, instead of starkly staring, stunned, at high-tech so uncaring,
High-tech blindly overbearing, I could open up my drawer,
Get my low-tech colored pencils from their matching low-tech drawer
Beneath "Abort, Retry, Ignore."
But no, I had to get ambitious, buy some modern meretricious
Merchandise that leaves me vicious messages that seem to roar,
Well, not really roar, but tease, as, fingers trembling over keys,
I finally choose from one of these atrocious choices I abhor
A choice I know will be atrocious, one I finally must abhor
Among "Abort, Retry, Ignore."
No result! So twice as hard, to try and catch the thing off-guard,
I pressed, but still the same canard appeared until I nearly swore.
Frantically in desperation, pushing keys in combination,
Getting tintinabulation: "Beep beep beep", and nothing more,
Cacaphonous concatenation, "Beep beep beep", and nothing more;
Except "Abort, Retry, Ignore."
Then I thought I heard the thunder, felt the thunder rumble under,
Through, the floorboards, and no wonder! Lightning split the dark night's core!
Lightning piercing lightning slashing through the night like sword-wounds
Darkness deeply, when my flashing cursor flashed! -- then flashed no more;
Flashed a final time and then -- erased itself to flash no more;
Erased "Abort, Retry, Ignore."
The lights went out, then came back on, and in the cold grey light of dawn
Profit and design were gone; gone, returning: nevermore --.
Gone my imitation Titian, like a ghost or apparition,
But gone as well the admonition I must choose and choose once more -
Gone: the price of manumission from demands to choose once more
Among "Abort, Retry, Ignore."
Now my cursor still is blinking; is it winking? Yes! It's winking! --
Winking at me from the screen beside the disc that wouldn't store;
Winking at me from the black, though nothing else comes blinking back
Along the phosphorescent track that throws a shadow on the floor;
And my art, from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be found now -- nevermore!
Copyright; Marcus Bales
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