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 diskette from the drawer.
Typing with a steady hand, I then invoked the SAVE command,
And waited for the disk to store:
Only this, and nothing more.
Deep into the phosphors peering, long I sat there wond'ring, fearing,
Doubting, while the disk kept churning, turning yet to churn some more.
"Save!" I said, "You cursèd mother! Save my data from before!"
Just one thing the phosphors answered; exactly this, and nothing more:
"Abort, Retry, Ignore?"
Was this some occult illusion? Some maniacal delusion?
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,
Among "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"
With my 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,
Repeating just, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"
I tried to catch the chips off-guard — I pressed again, but twice as hard.
I pleaded with the cursed machine: I begged and cried, and then I swore.
Now in anxious desperation, trying random combinations,
Still there came the incantation, just as senseless as before.
Cursor blinking, madly winking, blinking nonsense as before,
To wit: "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 flashed through the night!
A gasp of horror overtook me, shook me to my very core.
The lightning zapped my unsaved data, lost and gone, forevermore,
Without so much farewell as even, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"
I think that only Heaven knows the place to which lost data goes.
What demonic nether world is wrought where data must be stored,
Beyond the reach of mortal souls, beyond the ether, in black holes?
But sure as C, Pascal and Lotus, Ashton-Tate and many more,
You too will someday be left stranded on some God-forsaken shore,
Lamenting like an idiot, "Abort, Retry, Ignore?"