Field Effect

By Joshua Clover b. 1962 Joshua Clover
For 8 months he lay in bed over the
difference between “the bell rings” & “he rings
the bell.” Did those 2 “rings” SOUND
DIFFERENT? The invisible disturbance which
is the bell’s vibration beating at the air—a
FIELD EFFECT—does it shift with the
ringer’s will? This, he thought, was the
smallest difference between things which the
human mind could hold (or almost hold, the
thought-of-it falling away from the thinking,
a penny rolling to the horizon & so to
sleep . . .). He couldn’t get up. It became clear
that he was the murderer. Everyone knows. A
man standing at a podium reads from notes.
In the audience people nod in immaculate
suits, women & men. When I am done
someone will transcribe what I say into speech.
It will not resemble my notes. He is just THE
THING between his notes & his speech. This is
only fair, that he be the air. Some of the
women wear hats with feathers in them, wild,
candescent. In the audience is a boy named B,
not the letter, not the note. Another sound,
neither letter nor note—

Joshua Clover, “Field Effect” 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


Subjects Living, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Poet, scholar, and journalist Joshua Clover was born in 1962 in Berkeley, California. An alumnus of Boston University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Clover has published three volumes of poetry: Red Epic (2015), The Totality for Kids (2006), and Madonna anno domini (1997). His poems have also appeared three times in the Best American Poetry series. He has written three books of cultural and political . . .

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SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Poetry & Poets


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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