Stock Exchange (from Conditioned by the System) 2009
After realising my dream of publishing my first book of poetry in 2007, I turned my attention to writing a new batch of poems that I imagined would make up the follow-up collection. My first book, Still Growing was made up of poems I had written between 1998 and 2007, so I was starting this group of poems from scratch. I wrote a number of new pieces over the following year and performed one of them, Memories from a Train, as part of a reading I did in Swansea, Wales in June 2008.
The subject matter of the poems I had been writing about were so varied and vast, I remember when it came to trying to put together a selection for a book I found it very difficult to find any coherent flow. Usually when selecting poems for a collection, I look for a mood or subject matter that has a narrative thread that weaves them all together. Even with poems of varied subjects it is possible to connect the ends of their threads together to form a book that works as a whole. However, I was relatively inexperienced at such tasks at that time, and soon grew frustrated with the whole endeavour. Little did I know, but one single global event was about to change the direction of my second book of poetry beyond all recognition.
The media labelled “credit crunch” captured the world’s attention with stock markets crashing, banks being bailed out by tax payer’s money, and politicians falling over themselves to score points over each other, while all the while claiming expenses back for moats and second homes and heaven only knows what else. I like many, had grown frustrated with the state of the world and the politicians that were leading it. It has always appalled me how the ones with less end up feeding the ones with the most, and when things go wrong and the markets crash, as they did in 2008, it is those with least that were blamed. With this disgust for a world in disarray, and without any premeditation I did what I have always done, I wrote about it.
For two whole intense months I wrote, sometimes going long periods of time just fixated on an idea. The poems poured from me like water and there was always something new happening to keep the current refreshed. The event had awoken some kind of rabid activist in me and I wrote exclusively about the state of our world; wars organised via reality TV votes, bird-flu, fear, money-grabbing political vampires, the banks, the greedy, the needy, and everything in-between, both in deadly serious tones and lighter hearted rhymes.
Conditioned by the System was published in November 2009, and althoughit was a departure in tone from my first book, it received favourable feedback from those who read it.
For my second poetry profiles selection I have chosen the poem, Stock Exchange from that book. It is a lighter-hearted look at the world of the stock market in these times of financial instability. It focuses in on a fictitious pair of stock brokers who meet regularly for lunch. I imagine the pair to be married, although not to each other. As you will read, the female stock broker is the brains of the operation and knows exactly what she wants.
– Phillip Mellor
The FTSE’s down 15%!
Oh shit I think as I stare
across the tangerine
tinted table cloth while
her footsie runs up and down
my leg. From its positioning
now I would say it is up 90%
on last weeks estimate
and will continue to rise after lunch!
There’s no credit crunch here,
no recession, no fuel price rise,
in fact my heating is on full!
I stare into her eyes and I know
instantly what she expects from
my Dow Jones when the markets close.
Copyright Phillip Mellor 2009, 2017
Taken from Drawing Outside of the Lines: Poems 2007 – 2017 available 1st July 2017
Women operating stock market board and a ticker tape machine at the Waldorf in 1918, during World War I.