Is happiness possible or a necessary illusion? That's one of the questions raised in Lu
(Norton), the compelling eighth collection by Philip Schultz. Here, he reflects on aging, the passing of time and the "past with/ all its trappings." Yet as he looks back or considers the present, the future seems "unambiguous in its desire to elude me." What does not escape him are the poignancy and humanity all around him — at the grocery store or the Social Security office, at the Women's March. Small details and dramas prompt existential questions about the soul and what is necessary to live "among the relevant,/ the passionate, and the confused." Schultz's language is plain-spoken and the works are replete with insights and nuggets of wisdom. In the long title poem, the speaker recalls the day his father brought home a 1955 Pontiac station wagon and said, "How's that for luxury, kiddo?" A few lines later we learn that the father has had a stroke, months before his son was to go to college. He'd been working too hard, the father's doctor tells the son, "he's killing himself,/ only you can save him now." Those and other memories, woven together with ideas from Albert Camus, Paul Celan and Ernest Hemingway, shape a thoughtful exploration of the philosophical and practical implications of suicide.