Fat Southern Men in Summer Suits

Liam Rector

 
Fat Southern men in their summer suits,
Usually with suspenders, love to sweat
Into and even through their coats,
Taking it as a matter of honor to do so,
Especially when the humidity gets as close
As it does each Southern summer.
Some think men could do better
By just going ahead and taking the damned
Coats off, but the summer code stays
Because summer is the time
For many men, no matter what their class,
To be Southern Gentlemen by keeping
Those coats on. So late in life here I am
Down here again, having run to fat
(As Southern men tend), visiting the farm
Where my grandfather deposited
So much of his own working sweat,
Where Granddaddy never bought into any
Of "that Southern Gentleman crap."
Up north where I landed in the urban
Middle class I am seldom caught
Not wearing a coat of some kind. I love
The coats, and though I love them most
In the fall I still enact the summer code,
I suppose, because my father and I did buy
That code, even though I organized students
To strike down any dress code whatsoever
In the high school I attended (it was a matter
Of honor). And it still puts me in good humor
To abide with the many pockets, including
One for a flask. So whether it's New York,
Vermont, or Virginia, the spectacle
Of the summer seersucker proceeds,
Suspenders and all, and I lean into the sweat
(Right down to where the weather really is)
Until it has entirely soaked through my jacket.
 
From The Executive Director of the Fallen World by Liam Rector, published by the University of Chicago Press. Copyright © 2006 by Liam Rector. Reprinted by permission of the University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Age Moves by Liam Rector
Age moves in the hound
Disgust by Liam Rector
I was well towards the end
Hans Reading, Hans Smoking by Liam Rector
My mother, poised around behavior, would say
Now by Liam Rector
Now I see it: a few years
Old Coat by Liam Rector
Dressed in an old coat I lumber
The Remarkable Objectivity of Your Old Friends by Liam Rector
This City by Liam Rector
This apartment with no furniture


Further Reading

Poems and Clothing
"What Do Women Want?"
by Kim Addonizio
Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
by W. B. Yeats
Black Jackets
by Thom Gunn
Black Nikes
by Harryette Mullen
Borrowed Dress
by Cathy Colman
Coat
by Peg Boyers
Couture
by Mark Doty
Dialect of a Skirt
by Erica Miriam Fabri
Dressmaker
by Éireann Lorsung
Duality
by Tina Chang
My Shoes
by Charles Simic
Ode to a Dressmaker's Dummy
by Donald Justice
Old Coat
by Liam Rector
Red Shoes
by Honor Moore
Shirt
by Robert Pinsky
The Plaid Dress
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Upon Julia's Clothes
by Robert Herrick
Wedding Dress
by Michael Waters
White T-shirt
by Lewis Ellingham
Poems for Summer
Tempest, Act V, Scene I [Where the bee sucks, there suck I]
by William Shakespeare
A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky
by Lewis Carroll
A Boy and His Dad
by Edgar Guest
A Green Crab's Shell
by Mark Doty
A Lesson for This Sunday
by Derek Walcott
A Path Between Houses
by Greg Rappleye
After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard
by Charles Wright
Aftermath
by Tony Connor
Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
by Darcy Cummings
Anastasia & Sandman
by Larry Levis
And You Thought You Were the Only One
by Mark Bibbins
Arms
by Richard Tayson
August
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Back Yard
by Carl Sandburg
Bed in Summer
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Daffy Duck In Hollywood
by John Ashbery
Fall Parties
by Becca Klaver
Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
by Billy Collins
For Once, Then, Something
by Robert Frost
Ground Swell
by Mark Jarman
I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I see the boys of summer
by Dylan Thomas
I, Up they soar
by Inger Christensen
Idyll
by Siegfried Sassoon
If You Get There Before I Do
by Dick Allen
In Summer
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In Summer Time
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
In the Mountains on a Summer Day
by Li Po
Jack
by Maxine Kumin
Jet
by Tony Hoagland
June Light
by Richard Wilbur
Let Birds
by Linda Gregg
Long Island Sound
by Emma Lazarus
Making the Bed
by Burt Kimmelman
Midsummer
by William Cullen Bryant
Mint
by Elaine Terranova
Miracles
by Walt Whitman
Muffin of Sunsets
by Elaine Equi
My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
by Mark Strand
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
On Summer
by George Moses Horton
On the Grasshopper and the Cricket
by John Keats
Poem at Thirty
by Michael Ryan
Poem for Adlai Stevenson and Yellow Jackets
by David Young
Psychoanalysis: An Elegy
by Jack Spicer
Rhode Island
by William Meredith
Sally's Hair
by John Koethe
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? (Sonnet 18)
by William Shakespeare
Solstice
by Ellen Dudley
Sonnet 7 [The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings]
by Petrarch
South
by Jack Gilbert
Summer
by Amy Lowell
Summer at Blue Creek, North Carolina
by Jack Gilbert
Summer Holiday
by Robinson Jeffers
Summer Images
by John Clare
Summer in the South
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Summer Night, Riverside
by Sara Teasdale
Summer Nights and Days
by Rachel Hadas
Summer Past
by John Gray
Summer Song
by William Carlos Williams
Summer Stars
by Carl Sandburg
Summer X-Rays
by Nina Cassian
Swimming in the Presence of Lurid Opposition
by Sawako Nakayasu
The Abduction
by Stanley Kunitz
The Family Photograph
by Vona Groarke
The Fishermen at Guasti Park
by Maurya Simon
The Fly
by William Blake
The Idea of Order at Key West
by Wallace Stevens
The Last Slow Days of Summer
by Phillip Lopate
The Magpie's Shadow
by Yvor Winters
The Philosopher in Florida
by C. Dale Young
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
The White Room
by Charles Simic
They'll spend the summer
by Joshua Beckman
This Lime Tree Bower My Prison
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Three Songs at the End of Summer
by Jane Kenyon
Vacation
by Rita Dove
Vertumnal [excerpt]
by Stephen Yenser
Vespers
by Louise Glück
Warm Summer Sun
by Mark Twain
Wildflower
by Stanley Plumly