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This superb Pulitzer Prizewinning collection gives voice to failure with a wry, deft touch from one of this country’s most engaging and uncompromising poets. In Failure, Philip Schultz evokes the pleasures of family,marriage, beaches, and dogs; New York City in the 1970s; revolutions both interior and exterior; and the terrors of 9/11 with a compassion that demonstrates he is a master of the bittersweet and fierce, the wondrous and direct, and the brilliantly provocative. Filled with poems of "heartbreaking tenderness that [go] beyond mere pity" (Gerald Stern), Failure is a collection to savor from this major American poet.
be let loose when Louis Philippe died, and Garibaldi, hiding in South America, returning to liberate Italy, and Metternich, counting the hours until the Parisians ousted their king and the patriots of Italy and Hungary were unleashed— how all the privileged sons wanted the kind of revolution and hungry vision America had (whether or not their countries or anyone else wanted what they did), so that in the end, everyone, to quote Cosmo, got fucked but good... "I stuck a
In the psych ward in San Francisco, as everyone slept, I went to the window to see if the moon was made out of papier-mâché, like Cosmo said it was. Behind me, men turned inside their dreams, a pale hand reached for something in the dark and vanished. The night tasted of lilac and spring. Beyond Golden Gate Park I could hear ocean waves. My hands were shaking. What was I doing here, in this public pain? Everything I loved I feared. Was this what failure was— endless fear? My
fiction, he said. Why? "Because writing fiction makes me happy." Didn't he want to be? "Sometimes it's more tyranny than I can tolerate." Was that the idea of California, to be happy? Around us tiny explosions of clouds, ebullient sapphire light, wounded curves, and the sunken emerald ocean. "Byron would've thought so," he said. We read love stories, our only subject, we agreed. Later, in a bar, after margaritas and all that opulent light, we wrote a poem, he one line, I the next.
the beach, carefully stepping over tire ruts, glancing about, stepping into the surf, sighing, whispering, lagging behind, not wanting to impose, my lovely dead, still distracted, surprised by eternal exile. My Dog His large black body lies on his bed across the room, under the French doors, where he used to sleep, watching me. The vet said to cover him with a blanket, but I can't. Two hours ago he moaned loudly and let go of his life. My wife dreamed of his death in Paris
before something in whose name millions have been sacrificed. I want nothing to do with a soul. I hate its crenulated edges and bottomless pockets, its guileless, eyeless stare. I hate the idea of paradise, where the souls of Socrates and Machiavelli are made to live side by side. If I have to believe in something, I believe in despair. In its antique teeth and sour breath and long memory. To it I bequeath the masterpiece of my conscience, the most useless government of all.