Monday, 3 January 2011

CRUNCH Special issue 15

Neon Highway ISSN: 1476-9867

Special Issue Number 15.



Introduction: Pages 3-5

Pages 6-7: Ailsa Cox

Pages 8-10 Andrew Taylor

Pages 11-17: Alice Lenkiewicz

Page 19: Robert Sheppard

Page 20: Patricia Farrell

Page 22-28: Scott Thurston

Page 29-31: Cliff Yates

Page 32: Stazia Morrill

Page 33: Duncan Stewart

Page 34-36: Matt Fallaize

Page 37-38: Biographies

Page 39: Subscription

Images by Alice Lenkiewicz: Front cover, page 1,11.13,18

Images by Alice Lenkiewicz:

Images by Tim Power: Pages 6, 21.28,30,33

Tim Power:


Welcome to this special issue of Neon Highway that includes poems and writings from our performance at Liverpool Tate 5th Floor Project, titled ‘CRUNCH’. Writers read their poems and writings that revolved around the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Credit Crunch.

As a poetry magazine that has run since 2002, I decided to take into consideration the present financial climate, because I felt it would bring forth a variety of viewpoints.

Here is a quick run down of what I have perceived to be some of the main instigators of our present climate.

The so-called ‘New Era’.

The US economy experienced steady growth and expansion after the first world war, during the nineteen twenties. It is quoted as “the first truly modern decade and for better or worse, it created the model for society that all the world follows today.”

There were three main factors that fuelled economic growth.

a. Machines

b. Factories

c. Processing Standardised Mass production

Standardised Mass Production led to better Machinery in factories which then led to higher production which led to higher wages therefore producing more consumer goods which then led back to more standardised Mass Production.

Known as ‘The Great Boom’. The twenties had been a time of fun and partying, hence ‘The Roaring Twenties’. Many people, (although not everyone) during this time were having a comfortable life, able to afford luxury goods. Industry increased, Laws, Science, Arts, Beliefs, and much of social living changed. Americans considered play just as important as work. Confidence in consumers improved. Americans then became brave enough to invest in the market and set up businesses. Factory owners and companies made huge profits. The number of millionaires increased. The negative side was considered the violence, the gangsters, for instance, Al Capone who made money illegally as well as killing mercilessly which then led to the prohibition.

I found thinking about the whole era and how it relates to today quite challenging but also not easy. It conjured up many emotions for me and made me think about the obsessive consumerist that I really am. I am most certainly a victim of what is known as ‘Conspicuous Consumption’ the familiar term that embodies the cultural mindset of Post World War 1. I will never forget my first Ford Car. Henry Ford once said, “Americans can have any kind of car they want, and any colour they want, as long as it’s Ford, and as long as it’s black.” During this time, the relationship between businessman and government had never been closer. Calvin Coolidge, (Silent Cal) once said “Wealth is the Chief end of Man. The Man who builds a factory builds a temple, The man who works there, worships there.” Can you believe that a prominent figure known as Bruce Barton published a book called ‘The Man Nobody Knows’ a biography about Jesus as the ‘founder of modern business’ and the apostles as the ‘greatest sales force in history’? It is no wonder that people have become so turned on by money,(including myself of course). However there were also critics of America’s culture of consumption, including Sinclair Lewis, author of the novel ‘Babbitt’ (1922) who made fun of the businessman labelling him as a materialistic, amoral, superficial conformist.”

So where does that lead us? ‘The Great Crash’ followed ‘The Great Boom’.

Three phrases - Black Thursday, Black Monday, and Black Tuesday - are used to describe this collapse of stock values. All three are appropriate, for the crash was not a one-day affair. The initial crash occurred on Black Thursday (October 24, 1929), but it was the catastrophic downturn of Black Monday and Tuesday (October 28 and October 29, 1929) that initiated widespread panic and the onset of unprecedented and long-lasting consequences for the United States. The collapse continued for a month.

The October 1929 crash came during a period of declining real estate values in the United States (which peaked in 1925) near the beginning of a chain of events that led to the Great Depression, a period of economic decline in the industrialised nations.

At the time of the crash, New York City had become a major metropolis and its Wall Street district was one of the world's leading financial centres. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was the largest stock market in the world.

Together, the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression was the largest financial crisis of the" 20th century. "The panic of that October day has come to serve as a symbol of the economic contraction that gripped the world during the next decade." The Wall Street Crash had a major impact on the U.S. and world economy, and it has been the source of intense academic debate—historical, economic and political—from its aftermath until the present day.

The "1929 crash brought the Roaring Twenties shuddering to a halt. The crash marked the beginning of widespread and long-lasting consequences for the United States. The main question is: Did the "'29 Crash spark The Depression?", or did it merely coincide with the bursting of a credit-inspired economic bubble? The decline in stock prices caused bankruptcies and severe macroeconomic difficulties including business closures, firing of workers and other economic repression measures. The resultant rise of mass unemployment and the depression is seen as a direct result of the crash, though it is by no means the sole event that contributed to the depression; it is usually seen as having the greatest impact on the events that followed. Therefore the Wall Street Crash is widely regarded as signalling the downward economic slide that initiated the Great Depression.

The poems written in this issue are a response to the past and the present financial climate.


Jane Marsh.


So he says to me, ‘What do you think?’ and I say, ‘Are you proposing?’ We’re sitting in the Beehive, eating two meals for the price of one, fish and chips, sausage and mash, a couple of pints. ‘Well yes,’ I say, though I’m actually thinking: can we run through this again? With moonlight? ‘Yes, if you’re asking, I suppose so.’

On this very weekend, Wayne and Colleen are getting hitched in Portofino. At the moment when they’re declared man and wife, each of the however many guests opens a gilded box, and out comes a butterfly, like Discord released into the world. On Paradise Street, the mirrored city’s open to shoppers. We could hardly get on the trains for the crowds coming in. Stumbling from the dark pub into daylight, I’m dazzled. It seems like I’m dreaming. The street clamour hits me, the din of conversation, the clatter of drills and the over-amplified backing track used by the blind man over on Church Street – dum dum dum dum DUM. Builders clamber over the scaffolding, a bright yellow crane completing a right-angled triangle.

Next to the hoardings – an exciting retail outlet due for completion September - two young guys are playing Purple Haze, playing it hard and for real.

‘Look,’ says Ed.

One of the guitarists has no right hand. He uses his prosthesis like a bow.

The shoppers course past us, heading upstream for John Lewis. We hang around listening, a couple of minutes, but we have urgent business too – Ed’s eye appointment – buy one, get a free pair of prescription sunglasses. And for me, the cosmetics counter - your exclusive beauty bag with complimentary products worth up to £75. We head in opposite directions – Ed to the opticians, me scuttling towards Boots on Clayton Square, passing the empty shops, closed for relocation. Everything’s different, and yet still the same - the blaring outdoor screen with your local news and weather; and the stalls selling Scarface mirrors and Everton scarves - the distances stretched and the geography shifted.

A young couple are bumping a buggy up that line of Odessa steps leading up to Lime St, the buggy loaded with Primark bags, carriers dangling from the handles, the woman clamping the pink baby at her middle. The baby stares out from its mother’s grasp, and everything stops just for a minute. Everything stops and starts over again.

Ailsa Cox

Carts are Objects they are Little Buildings

It is important to heal

and to hydrate

seek scraps fallen from fruit and veg

seller’s barrows

Straight pressed into survival

doorways home to blankets

Royal Mail Street public land

appears private

Behind the Adelphi Hotel

houses were built on wasteland

repayments are not being met

In Winter take on more hot liquid

wear layers

keep one room warm stay in it

venture out if only absolutely necessary

soup is a valid form of nutrition

Been listening to the Palies have you?

Of course there is absolutely

nothing wrong with listening

to The Pale Fountains in fact

it should be encouraged

particularly on hot summer days

when the fields sway heavily

and the daylight goes on and on

reflecting shadows long across

motorway verges encouraging


25 years listen on

watch midwinter Manhattan a

temporary writing

room wonder about the futility of

holding onto things that should

be cast off and thought about differently

the pound is worthless against the dollar

they are stripping the Chelsea Hotel

of its history in an effort to make more money

room 211 is partly demolished

How clever

Credit Crunch Hits Toyland as Stores Cut Prices for Christmas

I can’t imagine being

the last person in Lewis’s

Christmas Eve buying Macallan

10 year old though in 1993

that’s exactly what I did

I was drinking to forget that

my marriage was almost over

that the money in my pocket

was courtesy of HM Government

and that my parents were sending

food parcels I scribbled into

notebooks from the Pound Shop

and settled in Bootle library

for warmth and education

This Christmas Eve a payment

will arrive into my bank account

from Liverpool City Council for

work I did talking about my poetry

and I will read an edition of

The New York Times dated 23

December delivered via the red-eye

into Manchester

I will buy flowers take food out of

the freezer and be prepared

Andrew Taylor

After Black Thursday

“The 1929 crash was not a one-day affair. The initial crash occurred on Black Thursday (October 24, 1929), but it was the catastrophic downturn of Black Monday and Tuesday (October 28 and October 29, 1929) that precipitated widespread panic and the onset of unprecedented and long-lasting consequences for the United States. The collapse continued for a month.”

Through the blue yonder

Of a Summer’s sky

I saw a tranquil place

Where shadows

Danced upon the river

Perhaps slumbered

Then embraced the dark

Warm night

Out of all this chaos

I feel a sense of calm

Sitting in the morning light

A place of mirrors

In an instant knows

Virtues though proud

Seem to be near and

Help us repair

The solemn under-wood of

A withering dream

Out of corruption there is

Clarity and possible variety

In all that we produced

To work upon ourselves

Have we lost our way

I force my mind back

And now descend

A silence that made me dream

Of happiness so youthful

And serene

A luminous mist through the

Morning land

Sumptuous as summer’s heat

I search for some greatness

The sky with all its secrets

A quiet sparkling forest pool

Upon my lonely walk

Weaving the cities fates


The far off sun

And the mossy stone

The process of eternal love

The 1929 St Valentine's Day Massacre

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre eliminated Capone's enemies, but outraged the general public. Capone (through his henchman Murray the Hump) orchestrated the most notorious gangland killing of the century, the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood on Chicago's North Side.

we walked the river

land without shadows

everywhere knowing

you’ve lost all sense of shame

the sun unfastens a still

cafe triggers the "raid."

for hooch as the mob fired

seven victims at 2122

not a word spoken

each time returning

footsteps come into our lives

in the view of streetlamps

my eyes weeping

snow is falling

there he lies body black

dreaming of strange cities

secrets gather the sleepy

horizon to lose identity

re-enter the real world

to have nothing else to give

as the light fell away

i stood there beside the

wonder wheel

as the sea soothes this first day

The Fire Starters

In 1932

He shed his shoes

Walked past the grey

Drab apartment blocks

And entered the forest

Of rising flames where an unfamiliar

Sky followed a trail of amber smoke

Above the vivid horizon

An eagle watched

The empty silence the good

And safe place smoke

Moving but silent

There was a moment of consideration

As he entered the clearing

Redwood trees

And fragments

Translucent in shadows

Alice Lenkiewicz

Recession Song


It was one of those days when I reached for the sales

Like a pirate craves silver on moon-swept gales

Faces I saw were eager to spend

The Banks apparently reluctant to lend

Church Street sparkled like silver and gold

In Liverpool's January bitter cold

Prices had fallen like leaves in the gutter

This is heaven I heard somebody mutter

It was one of those days

When the shops were warm

And my life should have been tattered and torn

As I walked around with a golden purse

I knew this was my social curse

Don’t stand there and blame the single mum

When it was with her you had so much fun

How can you leave the homeless in the street

To watch their dignity slowly deplete

It was one of those days when I wanted to cry

What’s happened to the trees

And the stars in the sky

And you may say it is forbidden

It’s a mystery where new jewels are hidden

The sun glimmers on a winter tree

Creating new chances

The young girl dances

And let’s build a statue as high as the town

Of nature wearing her green velvet gown

For as I walk up Bold Street and think of my life

Heaven’s forbid there’s been some strife

Let us not forget that we’re not here forever

Love and peace we will endeavour

And although it is easy to create a war

Life is too short so don’t close your door

And remember the banker for all his gloom

Deserves a friend too on this cold afternoon

Alice Lenkiewicz

Robert Sheppard

Sensual Music

‘Don’t write nature poetry,’

shouts the horny black bill.

R.F. Langley

Cormorant by the lakeside

Where the heron should be

As alert but hanging there

With wings half-unfurled

Like a man slipping a jacket

Down his back

Gulls with false eye feathered

Behind each real eye trot

To the freshwater and hop in

Geese side-step flat-footing

Their shit’s verdure but that’s OK

This isn’t a nature poem

For not all the fowl are real

The Liver Birds cast into myth atop

The life assurance capitol preside

Over acts-of-god and credit-crunch

But the cormorant dived oily

Into saltwater once in imitation

Of its food’s long flight. We

Did this and I found the words

Liverpool 2008

Patricia Farrell

Turned Figure (paperwork enclosed) – Reprise


Too ugly for words

So who paid for his teeth?

She has not half the wit of this fish

I am telling you

Many mouths singing

Body leaves inside over


Watching the monitors

The sadness of seeing oneself seeing

I have burned his clothes

And find the body

Hand pick in those ready

Good hair helps


From behind the screen

Objects seem to desert me now

If they pulled him from the water now

You must shut your ears

Don’t buy selected skin

Load wrong find magic


A land as fine as this

Easier spot says step it

A bird on the windowsill sings

Do not sell me anything

Now close your eyes

Free to field customers


in a skyscraper

pale wood and a glass hedge


insure me to the end of the


I have no time


I want to eat


sell my mortality

so I can buy into

the big one

the big infinite deal

the one

no-one sees coming

but everyone is waiting for

recycle private finance

into public gain or is

it the other way around?

an earthquake devastates California

a revolutionary Marxist government in Washington

insure me for the end

of the world

where fear trumps greed

again and again

or is it the other way around?

I want a private public fact

I can rely on

to credit credit

trust my trust fund

command a sociology of knowledge

an increased proportion of sellers

are desperate

transferring credit risk into

collateralized debt obligations

a special purpose vehicle

tsunami takes out

the Cayman islands

corporate bonds


and mortgage backed bonds

set into the terror tower –

a hierarchically structured set

of investments in tranches thick

as Argentinian steak

impenetrable as water

start me on the equity tranche

where I practically freeze my

assets in fear but bank on

the risk of a high return

if I can penetrate the skin

of delirium I wash up on the next

tranche – the mezzanine trench

suspended above wrecked aspirations

we only hope equity doesn’t

get sliced out of the system

or we can’t hope to reach the

senior tranche

triple AAA

second only in safety

to the super senior

that we can but dream of

the air gets thin at this level

the gains privatized

the losses shared by all

or is it other way

social and cultural capital

so rare you kill for it

the end of high end art –

a diamond skull tops out the prospects

gazing over an oil slick off Cornwall

autonomy, spontaneity, rhizomorphous capacity, multi-tasking, conviviality, openness to others and novelty, availability, creativity, visionary intuition, sensitivity to differences, listening to lived experiences and receptiveness, informality, search for contact

are all fundamental to sound financial management

create fact in your investment grade art


risk of default

recovery rates

extent of linked defaults

work out the correlation of the risks

using a single factor Gaussian copula


the health of the economy

connectedness of risks

the bell-shaped curve

We have no confidence

that this is a good measure

of your art assets

the artist part of the unnamed consortium

buying his own works

for cash

these facts offered to

banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, pension funds

for shedding credit risk

not private individuals

but based on private facts

buy protection / sell protection

trade in correlation

in a huge volume of liquid market

we take off senior and super senior

private citizens and we

work on the mezzanine

everyone now equally, heavily

exposed to risk

where does this leave us

the end of the world

only a few moments away

capitalism feels like crumbling, so what

or is it the other way around?

If the insurer doesn’t survive

who gets the big payout?

But you protect

You book your deal

Even if it would be gone long before

you could ever use it

apocalypse now so built into

the system

it underwrites the whole

as death makes sense of life

and the other way around

Scott Thurston


This poem is indebted to my reading of essays by Donald MacKenzie (‘End-of-the-World Trade’) and Hal Foster (‘The Medium is the Market’) published in the London Review of Books in May and October 2008 respectively.

Cliff Yates


Two pain-killers first thing, a black tea

with three sugars and I’m almost human,

the tooth a dull ache and the throat

a mere crackle. Cheer up, says the Express,

forget the economy – temperatures

in the 70s, sales in the High Street…

and my body’s a wire, strung across the Pennines

sat in a draught on the Transpennine Express.

No one talking, just the rustle of paper,

a slate blue sky, shadows getting shorter

as we enter a tunnel, then it’s a mist

and the presence of trees, the sun

inching up the absence of sky…

Telegraph poles are poor imitations of trees

the wires between them, bird flight.

Power hums not sings.

Cliff Yates


Climbing the tree to pick fruit he fell and lost

most of his hearing.

He shakes my hand, talks in Slovakian,

tapping his pockets, looking suspiciously

around him for us to be careful, in the market, of thieves.

We don’t find any thieves, we find a kilo of walnuts

for less than a pound but we can’t eat a kilo of walnuts.

Four thousand crowns on the table, a bag of poppy seeds

in the kitchen and we don’t know what to say or how to say it.

She draws a bath in her notebook and climbs in.

Cliff Yates


Al said he was glad that his wife wasn’t with him

when he watched American Beauty

he’d have been embarrassed.

We’d just got back from Paris.

Best bit was outside the bar, not being able to stop


Such as when the telephone rings at one

in the morning like it did last night

and your neighbour’s just chased your son

off his garden – his daughter’s having a sleepover

and the scallywag climbed his wall

and pulled out the tent pegs

or hire a gipsy caravan in the Outer Hebrides

like the bank manager and his wife

(‘you’ll pass somewhere you can wash on the Thursday’)

who packed three carrier bags with baby wipes.

Stazia Xenia Lenkiewicz- Morrill

There was nothing there

The children playing in the meadows

There was nothing there oh

Oh Oh Oh Oh

There was nothing there

Dancing through streets broad and narrow

There was nothing there oh

Oh Oh Oh Oh

There was nothing there

The grass was green

The sky was blue

There was nothing there oh

Oh Oh Oh Oh

There was nothing there

Above the windows of the houses coloured awnings

Are pulled down

Today’s the day for fun and laughter

For this little country town

There was nothing there oh.

Oh Oh Oh Oh

There was nothing there

Duncan Stewart



It's the capital way,

I've resisted for years,

But I'm ashamed to say

That I'm now - I'm now - I'm now,

Not where I have been,

I wonder where my share is coming from,

Wonder at what it means to me.

So share me your secrets,

Lock them up in a jar,

And I'll throw it as far as I can,

From the point that I stand in your heart.

Matt Fallaize

it follows

decline, sudden and dramatic

exeunt omnes, bears pursuant

quick words from the wings

quicker words from the gods

no takers for the ice cream in the interval

copy that

central points of information

are as lit windows

or stools

to be caught between

way down in the hole

I attempted to place a commodified

price on the

secret of fire

as stolen

from various gods


they were disinclined

to extend my credit line


make hay while

there’s hay

to be made

I hope you like hay

I have an opinion

It will affect

percentage points

listen to me or you’ll lose your house


as it turns out

hills still exist

the end of history

bin the exhibits

throw out the jars

burn the labels

it’s done, it’s finished

choke the bylines

garrotte the margins

run for the hills

cherish your mattress

we’re all going to die especially you

piss in the wind

write a placard use capitals

imagine some numbers

imagine them gone


Friend, feel some comfort

You’re doing your bit for macroeconomics

Punch and Judy

I wrote this, initially on

a typewriter

somewhere towards

the end of the last century

at which point

I had a clear idea

of how it all mapped out

there would

of course be a period of struggle

but this, naturally

would be followed by triumph

easy to imagine

the gates of a city somewhere

gaping ajar for my open topped bus

adoring kisses blown

by the better sort of blowsy type

a few years of graft

a small price to pay

I could of course

chat cheerfully about

shoulders and noses and grindstones


secure in the knowledge

that when some

unquantifiable amount of dues had been paid

then that would be that

there’d be a tap on the shoulder

and from then on out

well it would mostly be gravy

and occasional emails from regretful school crushes

apologising and wondering if there was a chance

I could liberate them from their middle managers

and area representatives

maybe, I’d reply, you never know

nice to know

I thought as I typed

it all works out for the best


action and promises of action

and acting on intention and the evils

of inaction and the intention to act

and acting due to inattentive actioning

something’s worse than nothing’s

worse than something worse than

his idea is worse

than his idea is worse than his idea

is worse than nothing is worse

than inertia is death to the macroeconomic

flow is a spur to microequanimities

are a blockade to retrenchment

is the spur to advancement is

the fault of defaulters is the damage

of collateral is the easy punchline

readjustment readjustment readjustment

this point goes here

and this point goes here with

concomitant effects on that point there

colloidal and compound and fractal and

prime and ponzi and pounding

percentage and shifted liquidities

this debt is this debt but it’s also that debt

and his debt is your debt I sold it to her


Robert Sheppard studied economics at A Level and though he steals its vocabulary now and then he is careful to leave its specifics out of his poetry – Ezra Pound being the minatory example. He has written about recessions, in the 1930s ‘Empty Diary’ poems, and in many poems written during and against the Thatcherite project to change human consciousness through economic deprivation – all of which are found in his compendious recent volume Complete Twentieth Century Blues (Salt 2008). In his next book Warrant Error (Shearsman, March 2008) he notes the undeliverable lesson on the £20 note but otherwise his attention is diverted by humanity’s need to survive the ‘September 12’ we seem to be living through co-terminously with the credit-crunch. He is also a critic (Iain Sinclair, 2007) and is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Edge Hill University. See his Pages:

Patricia Farrell has had work published in Stride Magazine, Shadowtrain, Great Works, and Shearsman Magazine. Her work is included in the 4-pack anthology New Tonal Language (Reality Street Editions)

Andrew Taylor is a Liverpool based poet. Co-founder and editor of erbacce and erbacce-press, his latest collection comes from Sunnyoutside Press. Poems have recently appeared in Opium Poetry, The Journal of Heroin Love Songs, Eviscerator Heaven and Shoots and Vines. He has a PhD in Poetry and Poetics.

Ailsa Cox’s stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including London Magazine, Metropolitan and The Virago Book of Love and Loss.. Like Ice, Like Fire is published as a story pamphlet by Leaf books. A collection is forthcoming from Headland Press in 2009. She’s also the author of Writing Short Stories (Routledge 2005). Ailsa Cox teaches at Edge Hill University.

Scott Thurston’s most recent book is Momentum (Shearsman, 2008). He edits The Radiator, a journal of poetics, and edited The Salt Companion to Geraldine Monk. Scott lectures at the University of Salford and has published widely on innovative poetry. See his pages at

Cliff Yates is the author of Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop), which won both the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition. He wrote ‘Jumpstart Poetry in the Secondary School’ for the Poetry Society. He lives in Skelmersdale and teaches at Maharishi School, where his students are famous for winning poetry competitions. His new collection of poems is forthcoming from Salt.

An earlier version of ‘Fun’ was published by Smith’s Knoll, and an earlier version of ‘Exchange Rate’ was published by The Slab.

Alice Lenkiewicz edits the poetry magazine, Neon Highway along with ‘Jane Marsh’, Matt Fallaize and Dee McMahon. She is the curator of The Toxteth Art Gallery online. She is also an artist and writer and has exhibited her work as well as having been published in poetry magazines and the small press. Further work and information can be found on: and

Matt Fallaize is a poet and lecturer. He also edits Neon Highway Poetry Magazine.

Duncan Stuart on Music

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Neon Highway, the magazine for experimental and innovative poetry.

Submissions of innovative poetry to be sent to editors:

Dee McMahon: 14, Tower Hill, Ormskirk, L39 2EG

Matt Fallaize: 54, Chapel St. Ormskirk, L39 4QF

Alice Lenkiewicz: 37, Grinshill Close, Liverpool, L8 8LD

Neon Highway is available bi-annually, with 2 issues costing £5.50, or a single

Issue available at £3.00. Order your next issue by sending a cheque to Alice Lenkiewicz, 37, Grinshill Close, Liverpool, L8 8LD.