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The Raven
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Abort, Retry, Ignore?

(To the meter of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven")

Once upon a midnight dreary,
fingers cramped and vision bleary,
System manuals piled high
and wasted paper on the floor,
Longing for the warmth of bed sheets,
still I sat there doing spreadsheets.
Having reached the bottom line
I took a floppy from the drawer,
I then invoked the SAVE command
and waited for the disk to store,
Only this and nothing more.

Deep into the monitor peering,
long I sat there wond'ring, fearing,
Doubting, while the disk kept churning,
turning yet to churn some more.
But the silence was unbroken,
and the stillness gave no token.
"Save!" I said, "You cursed mother!
Save my data from before!"
One thing did the phosphors
answer, only this and nothing more,
Just, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

Was this some occult illusion,
some maniacal intrusion?
These were choices undesired,
ones I'd never faced before.
Carefully I weighed the choices
as the disk made impish noises.
The cursor flashed, insistent, waiting,
baiting me to type some more.
Clearly I must press a key,
choosing one and nothing more,
With fingers pale and trembling,
slowly toward the keyboard bending,
Longing for a happy ending,
hoping all would be restored,
Praying for some guarantee,
timidly, I pressed a key.
But on the screen there still
persisted words appearing as before.
Ghastly grim they blinked and
taunted, haunted, as my patience wore,
Saying "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

I tried to catch the chips off guard,
and pressed again, but twice as hard.
I pleaded with the cursed machine:
I begged and cried and then I swore.
Now in mighty desperation,
trying random combinations,
Still there came the incantation,
just as senseless as before.
Cursor blinking, angrily winking,
blinking nonsense as before.
Reading, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

There I sat, distraught, exhausted,
by my own machine accosted.
Getting up I turned away and
paced across the office floor.
And then I saw a dreadful sight:
a lightning bolt cut through the night.
A gasp of horror overtook me,
shook me to my very core.
The lightning zapped my previous data,
lost and gone forevermore.
Not even, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

To this day I do not know the
place to which lost data go.
What demonic nether world us
wrought where lost data will be stored,
Beyond the reach of mortal
souls, beyond the ether, into black holes?
But sure as there's C, Pascal,
Lotus, Ashton-Tate and more,
You will be one day left to wander,
lost on some Plutonian shore,
Pleading, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?".

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