The Illegal Operation

– September 23, 2008

Once upon a schoolnight dreary, while I worked, bored and weary,
On many a long and arduous paper of the English kind,
While I toiled, nearly sleeping, suddenly there came a beeping,
As of some device slowly losing, losing its electronic mind.
“’Tis but a battery,” I muttered, “needing a replacement of its kind –
Nothing more, I hope to find.”

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the late of night,
And each separate keystroke rang out like a silenced gunshot.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to delay
The completion of my work – work I could afford not
To lose, work whose final completion I had sought
A whole lot.

And the cold heartless beeping of the unknown gizmo
Scared me – scared me with its beeping, insistent and unkind,
So that now, to ease my nervous mind, I sat repeating,
“’Tis but a battery, only a battery, needing a replacement of its kind –
An old battery needing a replacement of its kind –
Nothing more, I hope to find.”

Now I looked about in search of the insistent beeping,
With each passing moment my mind filling with terror;
Terror that the beeping may not be trivial,
Terror that the error’s wearer
Could be the cruel bearer
Of a fatal error.

I cautiously looked about the debris-strewn floor
To find this beeper, to find its hidden location
And suddenly I saw it; I saw what I had hoped not to admit –
A computer, my computer, the source of all my frustration,
And I saw on its screen a message that caused a curious sensation:
“Illegal operation.”

I suddenly felt quite faint, as though I had inhaled paint;
I fervently prayed this was but a mere aberration,
That my hard work, my essay, had not just seen its final day;
But alas, it was lost, by an act of electronic constipation,
By my computer’s ceaseless and mindless oration:
“Illegal operation.”

“No!”, I cried, “you fiend! I was nearly done when you intervened!”
I was filled with sorrow – there was a great emotional tribulation;
Poetry is not easy, The Raven less so,
And now it was all lost in the electronic devastation –
The fatal aberration – of my computer’s
Illegal operation.