Purpose ‐ This short poem seeks to encapsulate a cynical view of the value of risk assessment. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The poem was written at the time of the collapse of the banks, despite their elaborate risk assessments. It juxtaposes modern belief in risk assessment with other historical and fallible means of prediction. The poem is a triolet, a medieval French form comprising one eight-line stanza with a regular rhyming scheme and repetition of lines. It is concise, with nursery rhyme simplicity, and a refrain that sinks into the conscious. Findings ‐ The images of runes, the tarot, and astrology counterbalance the scientific language and basis of risk assessment and the hard-nosed, factual business of insurance. Research limitations/implications ‐ The poem reminds us that the greatest risk is the one that is impossible to foresee. Originality/value ‐ The poem is unique in its use of a medieval French form to examine a modern phenomenon.