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

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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

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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Poem Categorization

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

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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