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About this Poem 

“This poem came out of feeling overwhelmed by reading about the endless stream of world tragedies recently. Poetry is often the only place to take this building sense of experiencing the same hopeless dream, in which the future and the past appear to conspire to completely debilitate the present of any forward motion. It doesn’t change the news but I feel a little better.”
—Philip Schultz


everything feels afterwards,
stoic and inevitable, 
my eyes ringed with the grease of rumor and complicity,
my hands eager to hold any agreeable infatuation
that might otherwise slip away.
it’s evening and the lights up and
down the street appear hopeful,
even magnanimous,
swollen as they are with ancient grievances
and souring schemes. The sky,
appears unwelcoming,
and aloof, eager to surrender
its indifference to our suffering.
Speaking of suffering,
the houses—our sober, recalcitrant houses—
are swollen with dreams that have grown opaque with age,
hoarding as they do truths
untranslatable into auspicious beliefs.
our loneliness,
upon which so many laws are based,
continues to consume everything.
regardless of what the gods say,
the present remains uninhabitable,
the past unforgiving of the harm it’s seen,
the future remains translucent
and unambiguous
in its desire to elude us.

Copyright @ 2014 by Philip Schultz. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright @ 2014 by Philip Schultz. Used with permission of the author.

Philip Schultz

Philip Schultz is the author of The Wherewithal (W. W. Norton, 2014) and received the Pulitzer Prize for Failure (Harcourt, 2007). He is the founder and director of The Writers Studio and lives in East Hampton, New York.

by this poet

Grandma climbs a chair to yell at God for killing
her only husband whose only crime was forgetting
where he put things. Finally, God misplaced him. Everyone
in this house is a razor, a police radio, a bulging vein.
It's too late for any of us, Grandma says to the ceiling. 
She believes we are chosen to be

for RJ

You always called late and drunk, 
your voice luxurious with pain,
I, tightly wrapped in dreaming, 
listening as if to a ghost.

Tonight a friend called to say your body 
was found in your apartment, where 
it had lain for days. You'd lost your job, 
stopped writing, saw nobody for weeks.