Old Coat

- 1949-2007
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.

More by Liam Rector

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. 

Hans Reading, Hans Smoking


My mother, poised around behavior, would say
You are sitting there reading and smoking, Hans,
And this would describe for her, to her utter

Satisfaction, what it is you are doing.
Knowing you I guess you are stationed there
In grief, reverie, worry--your car broken

Down, the mechanic wanting money, and you without,
For the moment, what it takes--and you thinking
Of love lost as you read that impossible book

Your father last gave you....I see you smoking
And as an addict myself I know this is something
You are barely doing....The habit smokes itself

And you, you are turning the page where the woman
From New Orleans, like your woman, goes to Manhattan.
I suppose my mother, in her mania, could never afford

To think there was anything hovering around, anything
Behind behavior. Unable to sit, to go into that sorrow
Where what failed to happen presses against what did,

She would get up, go out looking for "Something
Different," do anything to keep moving, behaving...
Going. But you, Hans, you are a sitter, and I know

You will not be getting up until you have put this time 
Behind you. And so your friends pass by waiting,
Wanting to know what you will come up with when you rise

From your stationary chair, our Hans reading and smoking.