The Broker: A Poem of Gothic Horror
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Once upon a morning hairy, as I looked upon the scary Ebitda projections for the business firms that I adore, While I sat there, dread increasing, suddenly I heard a sneezing And a babbling, not unpleasing, right outside my chamber door. "Some consultant, then," I muttered, "out to earn his bucks galore.

Only this and nothing more."

Ah! I knew--and well I oughta--as we neared the second quarter Profit growth in double digits lay beneath in smoky ruin. And yet the Dow, in feats astounding, kept on mounting!

Mounting! Mounting!

Earnings? Cash flow? Hey, who's counting? Something had to give, and soon.

"Come in, visitor," I hollered, "if to me you bring a boon!"

Quoth the broker: "How ya doin'?"

"Pal," he chirped, "you look befuddled, about your choices deeply muddled

As investment options mount, and you try to stay out of hock. Actually, it's very easy. Come on, now! Let's don't be queasy. There is nothing crass or sleazy 'bout the answer we'll concoct, 'Bout the wise and prudent answer we will build on solid rock."

Quoth the broker: "Buy more stock."

"But which?" I cried. "You fatuous boomer! Shall I buy on whim? On rumor?

How to choose among the thousands wanting of my pie a slice?" Then I with passion unencumbered, picked up FORTUNE's great 500

And across my space I lumbered forward, pleading for advice. "Tell me now!" I screamed in anguish. "You won't have to tell me twice!"

Quoth the broker: "Roll them dice."

"Look!" said I, "today and ever, rolling like a huge green river Comes the cash flow of the top four, towering, immutable! GM, Ford, Exxon, Wal-Mart--they stand alone! A breed apart!

So little fat, and so much heart. A good investment? Irrefutable! But will they keep on soaring daily? As a plan, is't executable?"

Quoth the broker: "Sounds indubitable."

"And what," I cried, "of Welch and Gerstner? Procuring these, you could do worstner

At Nos. 5 and 6. Chrysler's at 7! And Mobil? Why, it's 8. Philip Morris, doing fine, is up a notch, from 10 to 9, And all wrapped up in optic twine, ATT rounds out the top-ten slate.

But will they all continue growing? Can you that substantiate?"

Quoth the broker: "They all look great." "Monster!" said I. "Callous booster! Monster still if sage or rooster!

By that Greenspan high above us, by that pundit we adore! Tell me now how things are going. And incidentally, what's with Boeing?

A 25-slot improvement showing double grosses through the door! Not to mention Morgan Stanley, four times what it did before!"

Quoth the broker: "They merged. Buy more."

"Monster!" said I. "Shallow jerk! Monster still, if... How 'bout Merck?

Travelers Group and Bell Atlantic; Microsoft and Dell, good gracious!

Each one's '97 posting, vastly better, cause for boasting! Should we have a purchase roasting? Sate our appetite voracious? A red-hot nugget socked away, as a shogun hides his geishas?"

Quoth the broker: "How bodacious!"

And so the broker, smoking, twitching, still is pitching, still is pitching,

Feet on my credenza perching, nibbling on some wine and cheese.

And, God help me, my portfolio? Well, every day it keeps on growlio;

Where it will end, nobody knowlio. Can someone out there help me, please?

Will he ever leave me, free me, from his greedy, needy squeeze?

Quoth the broker: "Pay my fees!"

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company, where he generally spends his time caught between a pit and a pendulum.