This City

- 1949-2007
for Bertolt Brecht

This apartment with no furniture,
where no one puts anything up,
where everyone schemes to get out.

This mess, to the right and the left of me,
that equation of garbage wherein matter moves its way,
the magazine sector in glanced-at demise.

This price, and that mind, and nothing to say but "violent."
Nothing but violence in the expensive mind.
Moving from the window towards morning.

These characters at the bottom, so generous
and pathetic. Those abstract things at the top,
so mean, precise and arresting.

That god-abandoned theatre with its three-legged dog.
Staying alone to learn the lesson, the lesson being
DO NOT SPEND NIGHTS ALONE FOR AWHILE.

This program, these organizations, these gatherings
and awards. This sweat that drags it down.
These pagans with large teeth and good eyes.

The profit sector giving us images, the nonprofit
passing out handbills, and worried.
The mind that grabs after information.

The dance changed every week so no one masters
any one dance. Carrying around the little guns
and knives, the bars owned by a friend.

The same economy that binds them together
pulls them apart. The little thems, staring
into the canyon. The all of us.

A sense of proportion, in this dense heat,
hearing the tune of romance behind the psychotic.
The profit sector giving us images.

Elegance, learning, poverty and crime.
Those who smell power must dog these.
The untuning of cement into many moods.

In audacity, in hilarity, this city
plays an unbelievable organ.
How afternoon goes like the movies.

More by Liam Rector

Old Coat

Dressed in an old coat I lumber
Down a street in the East Village, time itself

Whistling up my ass and looking to punish me
For all the undone business I have walked away from,

And I think I might have stayed 
In that last tower by the ocean,

The one I built with my hands and furnished
Using funds which came to me at nightfall, in a windfall....

Just ahead of me, under the telephone wires
On this long lane of troubles, I notice a gathering

Of viciously insane criminals I'll have to pass
Getting to the end of this long block in eternity.

There's nothing between us. Good
I look so dangerous in this coat.

The Remarkable Objectivity of Your Old Friends


We did right by your death and went out,
Right away, to a public place to drink,
To be with each other, to face it.

We called other friends—the ones
Your mother hadn't called—and told them
What you had decided, and some said

What you did was right; it was the thing
You wanted and we'd just have to live
With that, that your life had been one

Long misery and they could see why you
Had chosen that, no matter what any of us
Thought about it, and anyway, one said,

Most of us abandoned each other a long
Time ago and we'd have to face that
If we had any hope of getting it right.

Age Moves


Age moves in the hound
As it was in me moving
Through forest I found

As to dog I went
That year scrounging
Through Manhattan....

The wood opened out,
Unlikely in the city,
As to boy slandering

To leave his fitful home,
Bright he might survive
With his pen-knife only.