At the peak of a lofty precipice
A noisome stench wafted high in the air,
And yet my guide commenced to reminisce
As if there was no mirksome foulness there.
It was ever so at the cycle's peak,
He said with a rueful shake of despair.
Greed, whispered words, and an air of mystique
Brings the innocent lambs to the slaughter.
They hope to catch on to the winning streak,
Doomed, from the start, come hell or high water.
But justice they'll have, for here it is found,
Payback for each duplicitous fraudster.
He showed me a path that led further down,
Deeper into that corpse-scented chasm.
O Guide, do warn me what we'll find here bound,
What sort of odoriferous phantasm?
I know not how I shall hope to bear this
For much I feared an internal spasm.
Was imminent, given the foul abyss.
But I soon forgot my sense of affliction
As we looked upon the flowers of Dis.
For there was planted without restriction
An orchard such as none have ever seen,
Nor will see outside of hell's jurisdiction.
Displayed in a form well beyond obscene
The bodies of men, dead, yet living still.
Everywhere faces of treacherous mien
Staring at us with palpable ill will,
Flippers of mortgages, sellers of stocks,
Feeders of hedge funds, and then, the great shill.
I saw the mastermind, Ponzi's fox
Buried to his waist in the stinking mire,
His skin all covered by a weeping pox.
Is that who I think it is, my good sire?
Indeed, acceded the wise with grim smile,
Be glad we pass when the tide is higher
You would not fain see beneath the muck vile
Below is where the worms them devour.
We walked over stones along the defile,
Dark was the sky and late was the hour.
We passed chasms filled with human debris
Hearing screams of those in evil's power,
And still I shed no tear of sympathy
Nor did the master once slacken his stride.
Who could ever feel any empathy
For those accursed with such towering pride
Beyond we saw a great red-golden glow
Downward we strode and downward did we slide
Toward a gleaming pit through which did flow
The river of Midas in full advance.
Bubbling, boiling, burning and so
Scalding the servants of debt and finance
That they shrieked, and wept, and shamelessly cried.
The archaic current took its vengeance
On politicians from every side.
A fitting reward I had to admit
For the predicament they'd caused worldwide.
In silence we walked on past the dread pit
Sublime, it was, verily to behold,
And a prodigious heat did it emit.
Leaving behind that great river of gold.
Beneath my feet was no more stone but ice
Darkness descended and also the cold.
I shivered and hoped the guide would suffice
To ensure we were permitted to pass
This Fimbul-winter of devil's device
That Zero Kelvin would hardly surpass.
Then I saw two shades held in ice confined
A frozen embrace thus holding them fast.
Their eyes, tormented, showed madness of mind
And snow on the beard of one could be seen
Their arms were locked and their fates intertwined.
As none could hope to ever intervene.
Freezing though I was, colder my blood ran
Upon realizing that icy scene
Was Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan.
Entrapped in cruel bonds of hard liquidity
My guide gestured round with expansive hand
They damned themselves by their cupidity.
Live by the target, then die by the rate,
This is the consequence, naturally.
They sold for credit the soul of the state.
Finance first and foremost was their belief
Thus they encouraged assets to inflate
While withholding from the public relief.
Then we left the maestro and the scholar
In ongoing committee of boundless brief.
Not far now was the king of the dollar
Toward him, my guide urged. If your eyes avail
To espy him, go and see the squalor
Ere the last Trump and the epic fail
Of the king of the kingdom of despair
And out of the ice, at such mighty scale
I saw a giant beyond all compare
His ghastly visages were thricely florid,
Although mayhap they were once passing fair
Afore his constitution fell morbid.
Entrapped was he, by that which held the two,
Central bankers caught on that plain horrid,
Liquid flowed down causing ice to accrue
And held that monster fast about the waist.
Each of his three mouths endeavored to chew
What turned out to be an awful repaste.
Three great sinners now great evil endured.
The first called schoolmaster, now in poor taste,
His legs dangled as his head was tortured.
The second was once a president too,
Twelve long years a thief, his fate was assured.
The third morsel managed to so construe
A crisis as to hold nations hostage,
Arrogance such as the world never knew.
Look well on them, for this is the knowledge,
The fruit of the tree of economy
Which will in the end human action judge.
Man is not born into man's slavery
Nor may he be ruled, even in defeat,
Through the will of another's knavery.
Ergo the reliance upon deceit
By those who dare think to control the land,
Theirs is no more than the fatal conceit,
Oft shattered by the invisible hand.
Thus ends the second canto.