The Last Bug

“But you're out of your mind,”
they said with a shrug.
“The customer's happy;
what's one little bug?”

But he was determined.
The others went home.
He spread out the program,
deserted, alone.

The cleaning men came,
the whole room was cluttered
With memory-dumps, punch cards.
“I'm close,” he muttered.

The mumbling got louder,
simple deduction,
“I've got it, it's right,
just change one instruction.”

It still wasn't perfect,
as year followed year,
And strangers would comment,
“Is that guy still here?”

He died at the console,
of hunger and thirst.
Next day he was buried,
face down, nine-edge first.

And the last bug in sight,
an ant passing by,
Saluted his tombstone,
and whispered, “Nice try.”

Plain text version

Thanks to David Larrabee for enabling us to credit the author, and for decoding a sentence that may look strange to younger generations:

This is a great poem. The copy I have (which dates to the early 1970's) credits Lou Ellen Davis with writing the poem in December of 1967: an era of IBM cards, their readers (put the card in face down, 9-edge first), and 9-track Mag tapes…