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Philip Schultz

Why


is this man sitting here weeping
in this swanky restaurant
on his 61st birthday, because
his fear grows stronger each year,
because he's still the boy running
all out to first base, believing
getting there means everything,
because of the spiders climbing
the sycamore outside his house
this morning, the elegance of
a civilization free of delusion,
because of the boyish faces
of the five dead soldiers on TV,
the stoic curiosity in their eyes,
their belief in the righteousness
of sacrifice, because innocence
is the darkest place in the universe,
because of the Iraqis on their hands
and knees, looking for a bloody button,
a bitten fingernail, evidence of
their stolen significance, because
of the primitive architecture
of his dreams, the brutal egoism
of his ignorance, the purity of sorrow,
the sanctity of truth, because of
the original human faces of his wife
and two boys smiling at him across
this glittering table, because of
their passion for commemoration,
their certainty that goodness continues,
because of the spiders clinging to
the elegance of each moment, because
getting there still means everything?


Editor's Note: This is the easiest poem to write and a very hard poem to write well. It's a bad mood without a clear reason for it or a way out, without a burst of insight or optimism or even much beauty. This sounds like self-pity, but the poem does not feel self-pitying. I don't really understand why — I think it has to do with the easy candor of the lines and the surprising moments of precision, which feel like rewards — but in any case I'm grateful for the poem.Adam Plunkett

Posted in: Poetry

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