Liam Rector

Old Coat

Volume 16:1, Winter 2015
The Sonnet Issue

The 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.

Reprinted from American Prodigal, Story Line Press, 1994 with permission by Tree Swenson.


Liam Rector (November 21, 1949—August 15, 2007) was born in Washington, DC. He earned graduate degrees from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and administered literary programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Associated Writing Programs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. He founded and directed the graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College. In addition, he taught at Columbia University, The New School, and Emerson College. Rector is the author of three books of poems: The Executive Director of the Fallen World (2006), American Prodigal (1994), and The Sorrow of Architecture (1984). He edited The Day I Was Older: On the Poetry of Donald Hall (1989), and co-edited with Tree Swenson On the Poetry of Frank Bidart (2007). Rector received fellowships in Poetry from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.