An economy based entirely on Stolen Valour

If you summon a demon with brute material objects that are an affront to the Lord—if you are animal blood and grotesque candles in a geometry of horns—what happens to free and unsaleable prayer in the market world—if I am an open-source design and a book in the public domain for an altar—my edition of Shakespeare printed from a PDF at home an affront to commerce—who are the devils opposite the gods of capital to summon?

A moment of suspense in The Merchant of Venice: Bassanio—financed by Antonio’s gamble upon the mercantile ocean—gambles for the life and love of Portia—she would delay and distend his time between now and the bet and wait and draw out and yet forbear until routing around choice altogether—but being kept from a wager is

—in this world—torture…

              Away, then! I am enmeshed in it all:
              If there is hope, it will appear very dark.
              Freedom and the rest, stand all aloof.
              Let rain fall while we make our every choice;
              Then, if we lose, we make a cinematic end,
              Fading drop by drop: that there’s some measure
              Of our sick heavens stirred into the waters
              That rise to meet us. We may win;
              What is rain then? Then rain is
              Even as the overwhelming redistribution
              We must have killed for: such it is
              As the calm you feel wading into long grass
              Knowing there are no snakes. Here we go,
              With no less venom but much more breath
              Than smoke, when the technocrats did command
              Sovereign individuals shield them from
              Their own storms: you stand for sacrifice;
              The rest are the boards of directors,
              With nebulous charts, armed to proclaim
              Your world does not exist. Go, assembly!
              Live that you live: it’s true numbers do not
              Exist in the world beyond our thought.

Oh lines wrested from a text I didn’t pay for—as incomprehensible as any incantation—if you’re without a cost are you anything at all—our lives’ work but a little more entropy caused—priceless our very deepest and most productive contradiction?

A moment of resignation in The Tempest: Prospero reluctantly shelves his powers—in the end chiefly outsourcing and labour exploitation over wizardry—already a world where sufficiently great leaps in efficiency are indistinguishable from magic—a world that isn’t quite

there when we’re not looking…

              You sprites of arcades, life, flash games, and fields;
              And you that on the deepest sands lay down
              Your colossal electricity, and do remove
              The tops from mountains; you free thinkers that
              By night shift fill the rivers with metals,
              Until they turn to gold; and you whose sport
              Is that the world hallucinates, swallowing whole
              Your rules like their own blood; by whose example—
              Though incredulous as kin—I have dimmed
              The lights in my eyes, opened my heart to air,
              And with deep joy in both pixels and ink
              Written careless words: to the church of derivatives
              I have admitted, and rent out my whole self
              From the nib down; the fount and foundation
              Is in crisis, broken by the trees that
              Buckle footpaths: graves of capital
              Have become my breath, clipped, and so forced
              I have fuel for now. But this rough magic
              Is only now forever; and, though I may evaporate
              Without afflictions,—which even now I fear,—
              To turn power into just a dream, that
              Spell we all admit reality, I’ll blind myself,
              Never again take in a majestic panorama,
              And letting go the forces that bind all physics
              I’ll drown my book.

About the author
Chris Holdaway is a poet and bookmaker from Te Tai Tokerau / Northland. He directs the poetry publisher Compound Press, and his book Gorse Poems is published by Atuanui Press in 2021.