by Tom Laughlin

Once, upon a midnight boring, as I sat, alone and poring
Over many a quaint and curious volume of electric bills,
Suddenly there came a thumping, as of someone gently bumping,
Or a gang of gerbils jumping underneath my window sills.

Scant attention was I paying, as my thoughts were gently straying,
And the stereo was playing "Greatest Hits of Ish Kabibble";
All at once, a vast, unpleasant grackle, black and irridescent,
Flew into my chamber window like a wayward dirigible:

Quoth the grackle: "Wibble, wibble!"

All unmoving, all uncaring, long he sat and watched me, staring
'Til I lost all sense of bearing and my lips began to dribble;
Then that grim and grisly grackle looked at me and gave a cackle,
And his hoarse and croaking crackle made my very giblets gibble:

Quoth the grackle: "Wibble, wibble!"

I was taken quite aback, although I knew 'twas but a grackle;
In the face of one so black, alas! my face turned white as chalk,
For though I am not religious, still I felt it was prodigious,
And I cried out to this creature that had learnt somehow to talk:

"Tell me, tell me, cryptic Sibyl, what you mean by 'wibble, wibble';
Could it be some ancient shibboleth for centuries unheard?
Are these words that you have spoken to be taken to betoken
Something else? Or are you jokin'? Are they meaningless? Absurd?"

"Wibble, wibble," quoth the bird.

Then I thought, "A swift attack'll shortly rid me of this grackle",
And I cast about to find myself a poker or a broom;
But the bird, as though denying me the chance of even trying,
Took to fluttering and flying 'round and 'round about the room.

With a burst of laughter ribald, once again he 'wibble, wibbled',
As he settled for a moment on a pallid bust of Trakl.
Then the grackle dropped an oily purple dropping on the doily,
And he set himself to pecking at a random bit of spackle;

"Wibble, wibble!" quoth the grackle.

It would take a block and tackle now to rid me of this grackle,
For the evil hearted jackal isn't lonely anymore;
Now his every kin and sibling comes to join him in his wibbling,
And their nightly noise is nibbling at my spirit's very core.

I am welded to this grackle with a strong and sturdy shackle;
By his beak am I impaled, as was Mercutio by Tybalt;
Since I can not last these pains out, I must blow my silly brains out,
And I'm going to pull the trigger when this final verse is scribble't,

'Ere the final "Wibble"'s wibble't!


(This is the original version of "Abort, Retry,Ignore")
by Marcus Bales

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 bedsheets, still I sat there, doing spreadsheets
Having reached the bottom line, I took a floppy from the drawer.
Typing with a steady hand, I then invoked the SAVE command
But got instead a reprimand:

It read "Abort, Retry, Ignore".

Was this some occult illusion? Some maniacal intrusion?
These were choices Solomon himself had never face before.
Carefully, I weighed my options, these three seemed to be the top ones.
Clearly, I must now adopt one -

Choose : "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, finally I pressed a key --
But on the screen what did I see?

Again: "Abort, Retry, Ignore".

I tried to catch the chips off-guard --I pressed again, but twice as hard.
Luck was just not in the cards,I saw what I had seen before.
Now I typed in desperation, trying random combinations.
Still there came the incantation -

Choose: "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 an awful sight, a bold and blinding flash of light,
A lightning bolt that cut the night and shook me to my very core.
The PC screen collapsed and died, "Oh no -- my database", I cried.
I thought I heard a voice reply,

"You'll see your data -- Nevermore!"

To this day I do not know the place to which our data goes
Perhaps it goes to Heaven where the angels have it stored.
But as for productivity - well, I fear that it goes straight to Hell.
And that's the tale I have to tell -

Your choice: Abort, Retry, Ignore.


(This is the revised version of "Abort, Retry, Ignore")
by Marcus Bales

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 fearedbefore:

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 gashing
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!

Nancy's Homepage

"Still Life with Spherical Mirror," by M.C. Escher
All M.C. Escher works (c) 2000 Cordon Art BV - Baarn - the Netherlands. All rights reserved. Do not copy without permission.