Your Tales of the Suburbs Liam Rector Poetry

local_library Your Tales of the Suburbs

by Liam Rector

Published in Issue No. 44 ~ January, 2001

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     ‘Your Tales of the Suburbs’ – by Liam Rector

for David Fenza

Shopping as a blood sport.
Your father’s middle-aged, dog-like,
Dionysian friend in the suburbs
Who underwent heart attack and realized
None of the rich, high-living, caloric bounties of nature,
Food nor drink nor tobacco,
Could ever be his again,
And so waded
Out into a pond on his property
And shot himself in the head with a .22 pistol.
He, quite neatly–elegantly, even, from my perspective
–Knew that if the .22 didn’t get him
The drowning water of the pond would.

The high-rise in the middle of Beckett impasse
Which advertised The Best Life Money
Can Rent
, and made somewhat good
On that promise, with valet parking
And coffee in the morning, with a little
Putt-putt golf course indoors where one could
Play any time, night or day,
Stoned out of one’s middle-class mind.

You were my friend in youth, you are
My friend in middle-age, and the chemo
We both had last year gave us
A very bad taste of what it will soon be like
To be so old and weak and dizzy
That the younger cows seem to be pushing us
Around on the sidewalks, but we made it back
And settled, for the moment, into Middle-Age.

As it turned out
We don’t live in the suburbs
But live instead in the city.
You came in
From the smelt furnaces of Pennsylvania
And I from the farms of Virginia.

Money is putting the squeeze on us.

You in Washington now, me in Boston,
And both of us over the phone this morning
Wondering where we’ll go for dinner,
Wondering where my daughter might go
For college. With you, childless so far,
And neither of us ever far from thinking
About that guy with his .22,
About up to his chest in water in his pond.

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Liam Rector is the 1998 recipient of the Pen/ New England Award. His first book of poems was The Sorrow of Architecture, and he was editor of The Day I Was Older: On the Poetry of Donald Hall. He has received fellowships in poetry from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he has administered literary programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Academy of American Poets, Associated Writing Programs, and elsewhere. He has taught at Goucher College, George Mason University, and Phillips Academy and is currently the Director of the Writing Seminars at Bennington College. He took graduate degrees from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He now resides in Massachusetts.