Royal

By Joshua Clover b. 1962 Joshua Clover
They moved across the screen like a computer simulation.
They moved across the screen like complex models & we learned
                                      to call this a nature show.
Animals but set in gray shades for video capture with a lighter area for
     the face.
Almost white they moved across the screen like a compressed
     meditation.
But the song was never familiar.
Because this was the only room this was the only room where we
     undressed—:
                                      that was the plot.
They moved across the screen across the room but it was not happening
     to us.
The image burning in.
Coated with hair & then a lighter area for the face meaning exposed
     skin.
We have learned to wear the architecture despite the sky’s numerous
     advances.
All these things—the speed & the music & the room—happened but
     not enough.
We undressed in the room we could not take off where I handcuffed
     you to the story.
This is the work of the brain—itself a bloody spring or electric wire
                                      wrapped in ripe gray gauze—
                                      you like it.
(2 lobes resembling the holy tablets delivered into the veldt’s dry
     speed—the Laws
                                      prefigured in the neutral network’s burning thicket.)
They moved across the screen howling but the sound turned down.
This happened over & over again—the blue light leaking into the
     room like sand.
Burning into the brain in a finery of filamental fire.
The Laws which do not unravel into noise & make a kind of story of
     kinked plot
                                      which can’t be straightened like a motel wire
                                      hanger looped around your wrists.
The loop like a computer simulation—the thought of the thought—
                                      the image burning in now.
We began to understand what they were—:
                                      the Thou & the shalt & the not

Joshua Clover, “Royal” from Madonna Anno Domini. Copyright © 1997 by Joshua Clover. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

Source: Madonna Anno Domini (Louisiana State University Press, 1997)

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Poet Joshua Clover b. 1962

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, The Mind, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet, critic, and journalist Joshua Clover was born in 1962 in Berkeley, Calif. An alumnus of Boston University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Clover has published two volumes of poetry, Madonna anno domini (1997) and The Totality for Kids (2006). His poems have also appeared three times in Best American Poetry, and he has written two books of film and cultural criticism: The Matrix (2005) and 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This . . .

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SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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