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Apr 2013
we gathered in a lighted tower
of a lower Manhattan promontory
seminarians listen
to discursive ramblings
of bank industry experts
on the finer points of
Basel II
Tier Three
op risk

towards a better better
best practice
we pique our ears to hear
the critical
dispassionate annunciations
of expert expertise

a panel of practitioners
a panoply of knowledge
networking opportunities
and hands on insight
we are granted
institutional affirmation
nesting warmly
in a corporate cocoon
13 flights up
off West Street
10 bucks a seat
30 for non-members

we settle
in soulless white rooms
divided by long
horizontal wall panels
bleached of all humanity
visualizing phantasmagoric vistas
of changing regulatory landscapes
in strait backed chairs
resembling the blanco armor acrylics
of Imperial Stormtroopers

on watch for Black Swans
the panel's moderator incants
if one appears
we told you so
if one fails to materialize
risk managers
have earned their dear keep
seminarians chuckle

the dais backdrop
a massive SONY plasma screen
stares down seminarians
with ruminative bleakness.
no digital blips or power points
will convey any meaning
turn a clever phrase
sprout a statistic
paint a pretty picture,
just the plain spoken word
of highly credentialed
speakers with bios
many paragraphs long
confers license to speak

the screens blackness
a perfect counter point
to a rooms spare whiteness
and pedestrian furbishment
save a day glow Warhol Print
of the heroic MTV moon walker
and a predominant majority
of Far Eastern attendees

questions from the floor
drizzle the panel
tied tongues
use tight selective language
of lexiconic colloquialisms
speaking a queer vernacular
of erudite bombastic bunk

questions are mumbled
with increasingly greater acuity
dancing around bank meltdowns
and global economic catastrophes
with a self anointed smug absolution
and poignant failure to acknowledge
a failures paternity
pink elephants and 800 pound gorillas
remain dance hall wallflowers

to be sure language evolves
the moderator instructs
as regulatory guidelines converge
to address market flux.
Is everyone comfortable with
the current acronyms
we devised
to describe our
present situation
best laid plans
and timely initiatives
to safeguard capital adequacy
and institutional solvency
right here in our own
little tower of Babel?

My tie is too tight
to clear my throat
I can't ask my question
of apples to apples
dust to dust
and oranges to tangerines
while the halting speech of others
is broken up
by timely ring tones
from Jeopardy
and Gene Autry's
Don't Fence Me In

every once in awhile
a chuckle is raised
we laugh about the score
in this inside baseball game
of capital requirements
regulatory Nexis
and smart *** traders
plying bold arbitrage strategies
blowing us back to Basel I
after the global bank implosion
oh the hilarity
of credit crises and crashes
the jokes on us
the joke-sters R US

some begin to
urgently finger blackberries
sending confident commands
to be dutifully carried out
by young back office minions
impatiently waiting
hanging on every word
of unintelligible texts
eagerly biding time
to take
the solid senders warm seat
in these cold blanched rooms

Closing the seminar
the moderator's summation
offered the thought
that her fondest hope remains
scenario analysis,
stress testing
and the new
emerging paradigms
will become
embedded in
risk management
best practices
and that fewer regulators
will be needed to regulate
and we will continue
to be employed
(nervous chuckles)
reception for networking
to follow
in the next room

I move quickly
to fill my plate with brie
English tea crackers
and a smoky tangy cheese.
A fellow seminarian
approaches me.
He smiles and asks,
Whats your name?
What do you do?
I tell him
and ask the same.
He says he is 50
and unemployed.
He sounds unsure
and frightened.
I bite into a chunk
of exotic cheese.
******* crumbs fall
onto the lapel
of my freshly pressed
pinstripe suit.

Music Selection:
Miles Davis
Red China Blues

James Bradley McCallum
Written by
James Bradley McCallum  M/New Jersey
(M/New Jersey)   
   Gary Muir
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