Richard Cory
with apologies to Edwin Arlington Robinson

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Whenever Richard Cory went down town We people on the pavement looked at him; He was smooth, well dressed, and by no means spastic And clad from head to foot in platinum plastic.

And his dress was top-to-toe Brioni And he was always human when he talked, But still he was so awesome when he said, "Whassup," and he glittered when he walked.

So one morning Richard Cory went to town To get a cup of something black and hotte, And then he stood and waited like a droid While six teenagers rustled up one latte.

The bill was nosebleed high. Out came the card! Then, brandishing his lava-hot caffeine, He staggered to the parking lot And saw there was no gas in his machine.

So Richard Cory went to Exxon Mobil Whose revenues were tops in all the land Because they were the best, of all the rest, At squeezing dough from every single gland.

And when his big fat Chrysler was full up The counter stood at $57.10, And Richard Cory, mystified and sad, Was forced to use his magic card again.

"Wow," he muttered as he drove down Main, Thinking how his income came and went, "No wonder that those mothers' revenues Have increased more than 25%."

Reaching town, he parked for 20 bucks And went to wrest some funds from Citibank. (Which remains, of all potential firms That matter to us, fully eighth in rank).

And so he dipped his card and waited there While the ATM it whirred away. Then, suddenly!--a message in his face Informed him that he'd better call Bombay.

So Richard Cory took his BlackBerry (Which from patent trolls is now impervious) And used the built-in telephone to call Citibank customer service.

And while he waited in the parking lot And listened to the options from Mumbai And watched his battery decline and fade Richard Cory's brain began to fry.

And we who liked to follow him about Could see him reeling from this heavy blow, And so we scooped him up and dropped him off At the doorway of his HMO.

And there he sat for 27 hours; No nurse or doctor spoke unto him gently, Until he finally figured, "What the hell. "I'm getting out of Kaiser. Permanently."

So Richard Cory got back in his car, And we who saw him thought he looked okay; We watched him take a left into the mall Where he spent the remnant of the day.

And everywhere he went, he had to wait For automatic checkouts that would fail Or stores whose shelves were incompletely stocked Or salesclerks with the heartbeat of a snail.

And then, as day was fading into night, He hit the supermarket for some eats. Two bags later, Richard Cory reemerged, A hundred dollars lighter on his feets.

"What a guy!" we chuckled to ourselves. And we nohow felt not hint nor rumor, That one with major credit limitless Could get so sick of being a consumer.

And so we worked, and waited for the light, And lived without foie gras, or fresh swiss chard. And Richard Cory, one fine summer night, Went home and put a bullet through his card.

And we thought, Wow! How avant-garde!

STANLEY BING's new book, Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation (Atlas Books, W.W. Norton), is available at finer bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at