"I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it."
– Poe 


THE RAVEN (with apologies to E.A. Poe)

by Turner Morgan

Once upon a website dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
O'er many a strange and eerie page with flash and gifs galore,
While I left-clicked, nearly happening on a web-page about rapping,
Came the sound of someone rapping, rapping at my office door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my office door-
    Only this, and nothing more."

Yes, distinctly I remember it was 'fore I was a member
and could only read from senders who had written there before.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
A login, (spelled out as 'D0rr0w') - I had borrowed once before-
>From the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
    D0rr0w there for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling threads on alt.rec.curtain
Bored me- filled me with an ennui I had never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I clicked, repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my office door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my office door;-
    This it is, and nothing more."

Presently, my interest stronger, though the posts became no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
I was reading newsgroups, chuckling at a usenet poster's buckling,
And so faintly you came knuckling, knuckling at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
    Janitor there, and nothing more.

Deep into the blackout peering, long I stood there wondering, peering,
Thinking through a post on topics no-one had posted before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was a whispered "404!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "404!"-
    Merely this, and nothing more.

Now my browser I was booting, all my inner junkie hooting,
Now I'd read of usenet looting anecdotes I'd heard before.
Booting Google, I thought "surely that is something torn from surly:
.com, late not early; let us surf the web, explore-
Yes, the web-page is the same it is nothing new from before;-
     I'll read usenet, as before."

Opening up the usenet window, then, to the usenet group I'd read, though
In there stepped a user- 'Raven'- lurker of the days of yore;
And the shortest posting made he; no paragraph nor sentence said he;
And, with mien of lord or lady, posted URL before-
Posted pallas.com/. just above my post before-
    Posted, sat, and nothing more.

This blank statement then beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the posting that it were.
"Though thy post be short and wordless, thou," I said, "art sure no bird, 'less,
Bird could type with wing fingerless, posting to alt.rec.folklore-
Tell me what thy login name is on the network, to be sure!"
    Quoth the Raven, "404."

Much I marvelled this ungainly lurker to read text so plainly,
Though his answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
You cannot credit reading that man of any breeding
Ever yet was blest with reading posts from birds on rec.folklore-
Bird or beast upon the URL that Raven placed before,
    With such name as "404."

But the raven, silent lurking, watched as I went off websurfing
to the URL, knee jerking, posted to alt.rec.folklore:
No more packets then he uttered- not a single word he uttered-
As my modem strained and puttered, as great Kibo I implored:
    Then Netscape said, "404."

Startled at the whiteness broken by a error page's token,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it's spoken is a prank and nothing more,
Some teasing posting posted so this 'Raven' can have boasted
Of his post; be broadly toasted by the trolls and gimps galore-
'Less my cut-and-paste left spaces that I did not see before
    and brought me this 404."

But the post was still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
So I edited the URL I had tried once before;
Then booting up Explorer, I re-pasted what this snorer
had put up in alt.rec.folklore (as I mentioned here before)-
To see what this ungainly, lengthy, URL before
    Meant by giving "404."

Thus I sat engaged in guessing, where that space might be expressing
as a percent-twenty, guessing that my defaults would ignore;
This and more I sat divining, with my head slowly inclining
T'wards the monitor, all shining, that the error glowed o'er,
But which monitor, all shining, with the error glowing o'er,
    Still it says, ah, 404!

Then methought my mind grown feeble, or perhaps the server evil,
Or perhaps it was slash-dotted, as it hadn't been before.
"Now," I cried, "by God I'll read thee- read the address Raven sent me
Having spied a Percent-twenty that I hadn't seen before!
Now I'll hit the enter key and be tormented thus no more!"
    Quoth the browser, "404."

"DAMNIT!" said I, "What's the matter?!?- After all this keyboard clatter!-
And I've edited the spaces and yet still this 404??
This server must be dreadful, or upstream provider dead-fall-
I may just go to the damned mall- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there any website hosted? Let's go down a folder more!"
    Quoth the browser, "404."

"DAMNIT!!!" said I, "What's the matter- After all this keyboard clatter!
This behavior does not flatter- though I've gone a folder more-
What's been posted to the newsgroup, Something more from this whole sick troupe?
Let me check if there's a posting that I previously ignored-
A posting, perhaps where this Raven, fixed the address from before."
    Posted Raven, "404."

"Be that post your final parting, bird or troll," I typed, upstarting-
"Get thee back into IRC and we clever folks ignore!
Leave no posting as a token of that URL- it's broken!
Leave my newsgroup, I have spoken!- get the hell out! And what's more,
Take thy server, fold it sharply, and stuff it where--" I deplore,
    but a new posting: "404."

And this Raven, never typing, probably is still out there, hyping
URLs and websites, knowing that their service is but poor;
And his words must have the seeming of a mailer-daemon screaming,
And the bandwidth he has streaming just as useless as before;
Though his posts from parent's basement, all those posts I so deplore
    Shall be lifted- 404!



About the Author, Turner Morgan:

Turner Morgan, a long-time cohort of the Sepulchritude editors, doubtless could tell you of his many talents and accomplishments had he supplied his own bio. But as writing up his own bio in a timely manner is apparently not one of his talents (nag, nag, nag), let us simply point out one of our favorites of his accomplishments: 'twas the venerable Turner who came up with the phrase "Suffering is Hip."

Of course, we had to swipe it to use for our 'zine's title. He let us. For which we are eternally grateful.
                — m.b.


Return to POE FEST