matt martin


(a microcosm of a long poem)

A bank that controlled less than 10 percent of all US stock market orders was somehow able to satisfy more than half of its customers’ orders without ever leaving its own dark pool. Collectively, the banks had managed to move 38 percent of the entire US stock market now traded inside their dark pools – and this is how they had done it. “It’s a façade that the market is interconnected,” said Brad.

Michael Lewis, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

My smile is worth millions – literally: as I smile there are millions of gradations of movement, whole worthless fortunes in the currencies of Catatonia. I squander them – my teeth sunning themselves on endless beaches, the curvature of the horizon continued in my smile. All power lying in these repetitions, enumerations – the current in a battery racing round and round.

                        Harry Fainlight, The Spider

you stand in the dark pool      in its mud you feel live things crawl across your feet      maybe some feed on you but anaesthetic maws stop you from feeling the drainage of blood      dark pools are private stock exchanges run by investment banks      the notion is that a bank pairs off buyers and sellers of particular stocks from among its own customers before these requests are placed onto the open market      this may sound like it would save customers fees they'd incur by trading through other companies      but in practice many banks charge other entities to swim in their dark pools      allowing these outsiders to predate on investors      maybe you don’t mind if an investment banker loses a few quid      but many victims are state pension funds relied on by vulnerable people      through muck faster than human eyes can register squirm the high frequency traders      computer algorithms that buy stocks rising in value then sell them nanoseconds later for miniscule profit per trade      but profits accrue over millions of deals that each conducts every second      in dark pools these traders lurk waiting for buyers to enter      exploiting high speeds they learn what the customer is seeking      before the customer can act they purchase shares from vendors already present within the pool      they then grant the buyer’s desire at a mark-up      they even reach outside the dark pool to pull in stocks on sale elsewhere      how will you further investigate high frequency trading      abbreviated to h.f.t.

     •    cut open a trader to study its nervous system
     •    plunge your head under the dark water to baptise yourself in knowledge

matt martin's collections of poetry include Spider Bite (2012), Full Spectrum Apotheosis (2013) and the forthcoming Open Parenthesis. His concrete poetry has appeared in exhibitions like Visual Poetics (South Bank Centre, 2013). He is Stuart Hall Research Scholar at Birkbeck, University of London.