The Raven Consultant

This first appeared in Manufacturing Systems  in the October 1994 issue, and is by Dick Morley.  I am posting it for your enjoyment.


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,-
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping on the meeting door,
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping on the meeting door:
Only this and nothing more.”

Then the sad uncertain rustling of his presentation foils
Thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance on the meeting door:
Some consultant entreating entrance on the meeting door:
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, until so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping on the meeting door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”-here I opened wide the door:-
Hallway there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no manager dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word,
“Learn more!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word,
“Learn more!”
Merely this and nothing more.

Back to the meeting turning, carousel of slides still twirling,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “Surely that is something in my software lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore;
Perhaps the mailroom and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a strut and sway,
In there stepped a high-paid bore, he of all the hidden lore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of management, perched upon meeting floor,
Cast a wanton gaze upon my factory floor;
Perched and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fate into smiling
By the grave stern decorum of the countenance it wore,-
“Though thy books be long and winded, thou,” I said, “art sure not craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient soul wandering from the nether shore:
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the consultants’ shore!”
Quoth the Consultant, “Paymemore.”

Much I marveled this ungainly person, to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning-little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing a consultant at his door,
Even less to cast a wanton gaze upon my factory floor.
With such name as “Paymemore.”

But this guru, perching lonely on the meeting floor, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in the one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered, not a finger then he fluttered,
Till I scarcely more than muttered,-“Other friends have gone before;
On the morrow he will leave me, as all others did before.”
Again he said, “Paymemore.”

Startled by the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy client whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore:
Till the dirges of his soul that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Pay-paymemore.'”

“Prophet!” said I, “man of evil!” Prophet still, if man or devil!
Whether Corporate sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, in this plant enchanted, with its LAN much vaunted-
Tell me truly, I implore:
Is there – is there balm in Windows 4? – tell me – tell me, I implore!”
Quoth Consultant, “Paymemore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, friend or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting:
Get thee back into the schools and the hidden shore!
Leave no thick book of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my factory unbroken! Quit the seat up on my meeting floor!
Take thy Pen from out books, and take thy gaze off my factory floor!”
Quote Consultant, “Paymemore.”

And the caven man is sitting, never flitting, still is sitting,
In the meeting room just above my factory floor;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the praise o’er him streaming throws his words upon the floor;
And my soul from out those words lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted-nevermore!

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