Thursday Poem

In an effort to lighten up dark days humans invented gallows humor. Gallows humor is a variation of whistling past the graveyard. Whistling past the graveyard is itself a reaction to looking for silver linings and finding none —not under bank vaults, in the recesses of broom closets in the US Treasury, nor among wisps of pocket lint in the suit of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, nowhere. And looking for clouds with silver linings in the middle of a Class 5 typhoon is either a sign of rank desperation or a futile search for the last shred of the flag of hope straining horizontally in a fierce wind longing to be let loose and put out of its misery.

Anyway, people like to laugh about disaster. Keeping to this tradition, and in this spirit, I've discovered some poetic responses to financial collapse I thought might be appropriate as the U.S. Congress spars with the President in a game of chicken regarding the bailout of the U.S. auto industry. You'll find these below.

(To all poetry purists out there: take a vacation; don't waste your breath on comments about aesthetics or the absence of excellence, or complain that this is not Shakespeare …I know, I know.)

…..The Sound of Wall Street', by Mary Levai, the editor of Bill Fleckenstein's daily Market Rap:

Raindrops on Wall Street and whiskers on nitwits
Bright copper futures and false affidavits
Brown paper stock options tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things.

Opaque financials as layered as strudels
Dead fish as upright as overcooked noodles
Net-income forecasts with phony ka-chings
These are a few of my favorite things.

Funds' window dressing in evergreen sashes
Flaky financials from lax lads and lasses
Fed easing summers, fall, winter and springs
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the Dow bites
When the Sox stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad.

Bailouts for bumblers, and bankruptcy rumors
C-E-O car chiefs stripped down to bloomers
Twenty-five billion to rank ding-a-lings
These are a few of my favorite things

When all graphs slump
As all banks cling
When I'm far from glad
I simply remember my favorite things
Then I go stark, raving mad.

Leverage is… (Part 1), from Cassandra, of Cassandra Does Tokyo:

leverage is
as leverage does
increasing the fizz
as well as the buzz

it has no emotion
keeping no friends
its not magic potion
just what a bank lends

treat it with caution
do treat it with care
else abusing its fractions
might cause you to swear

'course when in a bull
it will certainly yield
buckets more full
wiv wotever you've stealed

but…if in a bear
be you levered and long
the loss that you'll wear
makes you ev'r more wrong

Or how about some verse with a little graphic punch? Here's Broker Joe (very Suessian). Check it out.

And from past busts (so as not to feel singled out by fate), Thomas Love Peacock, 1825:

Oh, where are the regions where well-paid inspectors
Found metals omnigenous streaked and emboss'd,
So kindly bought for us by honest directors,
Who charged us but three times as much as they cost?

Oh, where are the riches that bubbled like fountains,
In places we neither could utter nor spell,
A thousand miles inland 'mid untrodden mountains,
Where silver and gold grew like heath and blue-bell?

Now curst be the projects, and curst the projectors,
And curst be the bubbles before us that rolled,
Which bursting, have left us like desolate spectres,
Bewailing our bodies of paper and gold.

While of the bygone South Sea Bubble Jonathan Swift wrote:

As fishes on each other prey,
The great ones swallowing up the small,
So fares it in the Southern Sea:
The whale directors eat up all.

There is a gulf where thousands fell,
Here all the bold advent'rers came;
A narrow sound tho' deep as hell,
‘Change Alley is the dreadfull name.

Nine times a day it ebbs and flows,
Yet he that on the surface lies,
Without a pilot seldom knows
The time it falls, or when ‘twill rise.

Subscribers here by thousands float,
And jostle one another down,
Each paddling in his leaky boat,
And here they fish for gold and drown.

Now buried in the depths below,
Now mounted up to heaven again,
They reel and stagger to and fro,
At their wits' end, like drunken men.

Meantime, secure on Garraway cliffs,
A savage race, by shipwrecks fed,
Lie waiting for the foundered skiffs,
And strip the bodies of the dead.