Money is a Kind of Poetry

Money is a Kind of Poetry is a meditation on contemporary alienation and the processes by which every new technological advance seems to increase our isolation from each other, and the more connected we are the less we appear to know ourselves. Donnelly looks at the symbolic value of money, the dead language of economists and bankers and its shiny promises and slippery meanings. Accompanied by Dante, Rimbaud and Paul Muldoon, he shows us a contemporary and violent vision of Hell in which ‘exchange rates slip like tectonic plates’ and ‘the money is digesting itself’.

Cover image: Wassily Kandinsky, Gegengewichte (1926), Kunstmuseum Mülheim.
Author photo: Ivor Casey

Sample Poems

Slip Rates


Big economy of mind and spirit.

The world economy’s figurations bottom
Out of themselves;

The ripple-effects in the markets
Through display units;

Exchange rates
Slip like tectonic plates.



In the oracular opening in Greenspan’s vision,
Access to the touchstone,
His touch sibylline or golden.

Tenuous stagflation welters in the ether;
Bespoke oblations to figures.


Big economy of mind and spirit,
A god that feeds off belief, and aggresses that feeding:
The money is digesting itself.

Communications trade,
Commodity of metaphor.

The Banker’s Characters

The minute detail of the girders of distressed
Assets photoshopped into my dream
Which was intense, shaky, fast.
And in the superdepths, a ream
Of figures in a boardroom; they were
Represented by two or three figures.
The financial meltdown was a super-dense blur
For me. Was heavy. Was made of weeks
Blowing their memory-rafters with data
From the Dow Jones and FTSE.
I have friends in America;
Undercover and under-fire, they speak to me
Now. I swear, we’ll speak also then,
When all in this country’s in ruin again.

Money is a Kind of Poetry


For you... anything. I am going to go 78 and 92.5. It is difficult to
go lower than that in threes. looking at where cash is trading. In
fact, if you did not want a low one I would have gone 93 at least.

Money is a symbolic thing.

When the banks went
Into meltdown,

And the Bollinger fizzed
From Bob Diamond’s voice;
When we knew

It was fucked beyond all possible
The tricks turned into ICE LIBOR
Spewed outwards in such thick
Swathes we couldn’t count them
Or keep track of them – of who

Wrote or said or clicked what
Or when. When

We sensed the mob mobilizing
In the stirred up brew of
Popular media. Collusion had finally

Spilled over
Into common knowledge,

Into tabloid ire.

The machinations of money,
And metaphor a moving from the literal.


Sliding and
Slipping about meaning



available data do not support the hypothesis that contributor
banks manipulated their quotes to profit from positions based on

The lonely Inferno
Of the stock market floor

Delighted me. Well. Up

To a point.

The moral voices seeped in
As far as there. JP Morgan
Was at it as well,
And this diminished
The fortitude of the guilt,
Had it wilt into

A swish of statistics the brain.
It swishes statistics
Life-seep to death dead,
Day’s sweepage through sea

And blackout.


Hi Guys, We got a big position in 3m libor for the next 3 days. Can
we please keep the lib or fixing at 5.39 for the next few days. It
would really help. We do not want it to fix any higher than that.
Tks a lot.

Confidence in a fiction,
A symbol. It’s all a
Kind of lie anyway:

Rates changing,
Fluctuation based
On collective confidence in
The notional.

Drifting data
From London to New York
Timezones and currencies.

Logarithmic REM
Information on
The London Stock Exchange
In the flickering digits
Renew-flittering changeability.

Symbols sliding and
Slipping about, meaning
An eternal skip ahead
Behind time. Is

It dance or chaos? In the beginning was the.
The symmetry of the Pythagorean,
Numbers, perfection, beauty:

Perfect tuning.

The air nurses it then it falls
Forever into the slip and sleep of silence.
Whose notation resides here?


Time ricochets,
Sound resound-dying out, out . . . out . . .


the motives of the Fed, Bank of England, US and UK banks are
aligned, their policies mutually reinforcing and beneficial. The
Libor fixing is another indication of this collusion.

I blew the rates
Full with hot air on the first
Day of each month


Who was it lied through
Their teeth regarding
Benchmarks? Or
Did we all?
We slipped down the
Slippery slope
Of relativity. Truthfulness
Can’t be measured

In a cosmos of relativity
And digits half-blinking and shimmering.
Small stars pulsating
In a distance of time slowing down,
And of blankness-blackness. And in time
And fixing a conception of a concept.

NYSE Euronext bulldozed the operation
Anyway. All words

Are symbolic and money...
Well, we believe in money
And language. Faith

And the meaning’s meaning.

The Wall Street Journal ramped
Up pressure and assimilated

Statements and statistics –
Data – into a precision-wired
Information explosives that blew
Our rigging and fixing
Far, far, way out of existence

Then in silence, individually,
Each of us returned to the bent
Logic of the time
When we were flowing,
There was only logic and distortion
And no centre. Is

After wedging the statistics
Apart as far as possible –
Those of practice, and those of

But never so far as to make it snap –
Until the tension achieves its limit,

Clicked through ticker-tape steady
And neat
Gliding through wires.

Swish-glimmer thoughts :)


We’re clean, but we’re dirty-clean, rather than clean-clean.

Numerate wool
Pulled and strung
Out into the incomprehensible.


The rates: it re-verb-verb-verberates

Through the consciousness and deepness of the market,
Its different parts currenting through one another as an ocean
And the broadband cables plastered to the seabed:
Connections cogitate, facilitate dreams and nightmares and
Computations in it
Whirring through speed
And spinning.
Digits spinning in cogitation-whirl,
The poetry of numbers – the symmetry
And rhythm beating; angles closing
In accordance to
Obtuse counterparts
On other sides.

Spooked. The ghost of Boole who
Made. Made
The logarithms swim effortlessly
For us; their meanings oscillated
Freely from one moment to
The broken-off next one, and we

Held and digested
When... when the
Brain of the West awoke for us,
Its cylinders aflow,

I flashed through the ether.
My voice? Us? Silent seas. Ocean drift
And profound salt water heavy, heavy,
Genius gestates,
Angel-wing beat.


This dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the
history of markets.

The zip and skip of communication

And of thought; the flit and flicker
Of his genius quick as the numbers
Splitting like bacteria in fast sync –
Values dancing around and then

The exchange rates swim into a glide. The
Meanings of the text accumulate as

Seconds fluster-fly

Through his knit of nick
And tuck. Nine. A
Quick stitch-click
Sends earthquakes through minds
And markets.

Bolly-hiss. The whiz and whish-pass
Of the banker’s mind and

Can Google narrative-dream?
Does it think and sleep simultaneously?
Nightmares brood from dying markets,
Surfacing, buoying upwards

Thomson Reuters vacuumed up
The stats. And. And there was deflation of rate in the
Strategy. The Libornet


To achieve a new music

From slash-light

Flutters its speed
Through the pixilation of

Monitor dreamscape. Cohesive water.

My brains and vessels haemorrhaging
Sterling and

The currents of currency pass through deltas.

Die Traum

The full fallout of financial meltdown:
the derivatives that bind the world

the dwelling places of awareness and sanity unearthed
to their own trauma:

in die Traum

the macroscopic and microscopic;
a cosmos of digits in disarray.
Money from Frankfurt and New York
(the money system’s central nervous system)

gliding the drift streams, their poly-currenting

through insomnia, through their own sub-drifts and virtual

There is a black hole sucking
into an emptiness;

our language composed of codes


As money vanishes further and further
From the weighted – from gold, coffers –
And thins out into dust motes
And then air, disintegrating through the ether

Skyscraper light through
Glass flash-licks across
The plastic card’s intelligence
And sleek designed-in value.

I, a self-generated verbal pointillist,
Vanish into messages
Within white flashes,
Shape-shifting to process and dart

The messed bowels of an information jungle –
That space void of space.
Seas of memories suffer disappearance
In a click. The gaping blackness is irreversible.


‘Peter Donnelly already shows he has a strong imagination; indeed, a savage one presents itself on occasion when the beautiful and brutal confront and confound each other.’

Frank McGuinness

‘Donnelly creates worlds in which the familiar and the alien have been seamlessly fused together.’

Steven Balbirnie

‘From the rustle of leaves to the abstraction of money, there is life here in all its pulsing mass, an interlocution of cycles, psyche, anima. From ancient tropes to contemporary anxieties, the acoustics are European, the aesthetic space and light; here is abundance, precision, and an utter joy in language.’

Ruth McKee