Joshua Clover

Poem Ending With a Line from Niedecker

I keep my mind under my arm
where I hold my
head when I walk
down to market when I
walk when I walk down
to the market
the actions are social
but the mind is private
when I walk down walk
down to the inferno
the mind is private I had
a vision the mind
is privately held
under my arm when I
walk I had a dream had a
Baudelaire had a
Rimbaud the action is
social but Apollinaire walks
he promenades down to market
in the market
walks out walks home
walks through streets named after
market towns
the names are social
but the century is private
the inferno is social
but the mind follows
the head thinks we can leave
thinks we can go
down to the market
and leave just leave thinks we can
be in it but not of it

You know all too well
that the best poetry is not
the least revolution
you know also that poetry
is the best way available to you
to affirm this truth
now we start to see how
the trap is sprung how it was
sprung and all
before you were born
mind under your arm
in the poetry market that exists
despite the spontaneous
wailings of the poets who believe
there must be no
market because they
cannot afford that for which they
should not have to pay
the action is social but the market
exists as the secret
police exist though
it will never send you
to jail for your poems though
we all believed in
private that we were
worth jailing for the terrible
 sedition of our dithyrambs  
believed we deserved this honor
todos somos Pussy Riot
sort of way but the good
reader gear’d for riot
cometh not for us

The world of the poem is
the world the world is abstract
and real the poem
fails just when it is victorious
because one cannot live
the absolute of Victory
over the Sun until
one can and we do and many
will die when this happens
poetry will be renewed
in the blood of the negative
“and dreadfully much else” 

Joshua Clover is a poet, critic, journalist, and author, as well as a Professor of English Literature and Critical Theory at the University of California, Davis. He writes a column of film criticism for Film Quarterly under the title "Marx and Coca-Cola," is a former senior writer and editor at the Village Voice, writes for The New York Times, The Nation, among others. Along with eleven students at UC-Davis, he engaged in a sit-in to protest the campus's financial arrangements with U.S. Bank. Clover and the eleven students, known as the "Davis Dozen," have each been charged with 20 counts of obstructing movement in a public place and one count of conspiracy.

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