"The One Truth"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 11 2006 6:17 AM

"The One Truth"

Click here  to listen to Philip Schultz read this poem.


After dreaming of radiant thrones for sixty years, praying to a god he never loved for strength, for mercy, after cocking his thumbs in the pockets of his immigrant schemes, while he parked cars during the day and drove a taxi all night, after one baby was born dead, and he carved the living one's name in windshield snow in the blizzard of 1945, after scrubbing piss, blood and vomit off factory floors from midnight to dawn, then filling trays with peanuts, candy and cigarettes in his vending machines all day, his breath a wheezing suck and bellowing gasp in the fist of his chest, after washing his face, armpits and balls in cold back rooms, hurrying between his hunger for glory and his fear of leaving nothing but debt, after having a stroke and falling down factory stairs, his son screaming at him to stop working and rest, after being knocked down by a blow he expected all his life, his son begging forgiveness, his wife crying his name, after looking up at them straight from hell, his soul withering in his arms— is this what failure is, to end where he began, no one but a deaf dumb God to welcome him back, his fists pounding at the gate— is this the one truth, to lie in a black pit at the bottom of himself, without enough breath to say goodbye or ask for forgiveness?

Philip Schultz's memoir, My Dyslexia, came out last fall. He founded and directs The Writers Studio, a private school for writing, now in its 25th year.

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