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Philip Schultz

Philip Schultz

Philip Schultz is a poet and the founder/director of The Writers Studio, a New York-based private school for fiction and poetry. He is the author of several collections of poetry: The God of Loneliness:Selected and New Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Failure (Harcourt), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; and The Wherewithal ( W.W. Norton), forthcoming in 2014. Schultz is also the author of a memoir, My Dyslexia (W.W.Norton, 2011). He lives in East Hampton, Long Island.

The Mystery


My fifteen year old son and I saw the movie
about a sadistic serial killer, and tried to guess who
the biggest creep in a family of Swedish creeps was.
My son, intrigued by the heroine's sexual volatility,
her incendiary piercings and tattoos, didn't squirm
as I had at his age sitting beside my father
during the shower scene in Psycho. In fact,
he didn't seem to remember I was there.

Explaining things used to be my job, so I rehearsed
breaking the story into plot lines: the sociology
of abuse, revenge, one's desire to be free of
the family history puzzle—imagine us, I'd say,
in twenty years, him, his brother, Mom and me,
an enigma only he can solve: was he loved enough,
what if fate had placed him elsewhere, leaving out
what for me the movie was most about:
fathers turning their sons into monsters.

Sometimes I speak in anger, put my work first,
forget I'm his introduction to the future.
Even when I want him to be, he isn't afraid of me
as I was of my father. Now seventeen, he's taller,
stronger, more confident, knows the world is pierced
and tattooed, seldom welcoming. The mystery
he's solving is perhaps the most dubious: desire's
pact with consequence—all his theories converging
into a voluptuous and urgent incongruence.

Driving home, my sadness felt deserved, ordained.
Now that he didn't want it, his innocence no longer
belonged to me. Unashamed, bountiful, his eyes
peered into the darkness, dangerously intelligent.

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