Monday, August 11, 2014

SO STUPID IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE


There was Seymour
and now Robin. Before
those two gents
there was David,
Ernie, Sylvia, Anne,
John & John and,
I'm sure other
John's; & please
don't forget Vinny,
Dino, Marilyn, Amy,
and many lost fools,
like myself, who couldn't
find their way home
with a map.

It has always been
a hard life; work,
love, bread, adulation,
has little to do
with it; it's just
fucking hard.
You can turn over
the rocks & discover
a new enzyme, a new hormone,
a new molecule, insanities
lurking around the corners
of your birth, teachers
with bad breath & dandruff,
mustard sandwiches & Draino chasers,
and would be no closer in discerning
the link and linkages
of how you view yourself
or the world.

Tonight,
if you're not knotting
a rope or loading a shotgun,
if you're not shivering
in your closet more afraid
of the light than the dark;
if there's a pop tart
or a pancake or a cup
of black coffee for
tomorrow morning or
a slice of almost green bologna
for tonight's fare...
that is enough, it is enough
to turn on your radio
& blast yourself away
& into a space
that gives you space
and that will be
good enough--it has
to be.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

ORAL SEX


I learned how to speak,
without stuttering,
when I wrote.
My insides
were so jumbled,
so chaotic,
so poisoned,
so fearful,
that even when I knew
answers I'd never
raise my hand
in school
or offer them
to those around me.
I kept to myself
thinking that as long
as I didn't have to talk,
I was safe.

Writing became my currency,
my art, my ability
to control
without appearing foolish.
It allowed me to try
and identify
what I was feeling
without choking for air,
getting red in the cheeks,
wanting to die.
I practiced and practiced
and practiced putting it down,
getting it out, studying it,
trying to get the words
to stop wriggling
in order to know
who I was
at any given moment.

Without planning
I aimed at writing
those words as if
I spoke them; having
a naturalness
that belied
the alien
I was.
The more I practiced
the better I got
until the page
& my mouth
were one.
My pen became
my dick, my words
as hard as an adolescent's
erection. I managed
to build a life
around an artifice.

That artifice
is deconstructing:
first the body
then the mind.
Janis was right:
get it while you can.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

"DEFORMITY" AS ART


Mirrors were not kind
to me: distortion
stalked my senses:
too fat,
too small,
too ugly.
But then
the obverse:
too handsome,
too smart,
too quick.
Balance
mocked my every step,
every twist,
every turn. And there
were many of each.

I had no real affinity
for anything
having to do
with life or
making a living:
mechanical,
cerebral,
political,
being one
or many, a cog
in the nightmare.
"Work" and me
were not friends.
I did not get on well
with others.
I was fluid, though,
at fantasy.

It was remarkable,
in this Charles Laughton of a life,
when my arrogance
and defenses were
kept at bay,
that so many women
loved me.
They deceived me
in wanting
to stay alive
a little longer:
so many whispers,
so many promises,
so many confidences
that turned ugly pain
and self-abnegation
into words
into an art
of deformity
that soothed
and glued the divided
self from self.

This last one,
though, loved
me in a different way:
deformed as well,
but as a lioness.
Female. A deeper
distortion. Without
an outlet. Imprisoned
by her body,
in her body,
she escaped only
by implosion.
She has a bottomless
distrust of humans.
And still
has to go
into the jungles
of civilization
& stalk the food
& cook it
& feed the children
who wait for her
while being
the same creature
who possesses
no valance
no firm
footing
in this brick
& mortar life.

I am glad
I am older
then her, nearer
the grave.
I will not have
to think of her
nearly as long
as she will think
of me.

"Art,"
like this poem,
is often times
not beautiful.
Our spirits
nearly extinguished
saw
the forms.
And the music
we made--even
the notes
that were
off
--leading up
to this poem
were beautiful.
I've never heard them
sung this way before.
I would believe
they're sung once
by the gods
and then
are gone.

I have nothing,
my dear,
& I want to share it
all with you.
If someone makes you
a better offer--
take it.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014












Monday, July 28, 2014

"THE GYPSY'S CURSE"

"Que encuentres un cono a tu medida!"

Had a buddy, Harry,
who put that curse
in the mouth of Fernando,
one of his characters.
Harry came from the red clay earth
of rickets country, south Georgia,
grew up poor and learned to write
reading the Sears catalogue because
that's all he got of printed material
at his shack & allowed him
to make up stories
of escapes & other lives.
I grew-up in Coney Island, rich
compared to most middle-class folks
and learned to write because
I had to
or go crazy
in my silence.
He was living in Gainesville
and me in the Village
when we ran across each other
in a saloon across the street
from me, The Cedar Tavern.
At the time it didn't matter to us:
either the spike or the shot glass
made about as much sense
as anything else & we shared those
predilections
and our histories
in equal measure.
When the subject came to women,
I listened closely.
We each had more than our share,
but he seemed to have paid some heavy
love dues over a few of them.
I shook my head
pretending I knew
what he was talking about
& feeling, but I was really
just trying to keep up.
He was the better artist
and the better man
and I knew it.
One particular woman
had him upsidedown in love
and wouldn't quit
his system
no matter how many others he'd fucked,
no matter how much dope he shot,
no matter how many drunk tanks
he woke up in & no matter how
much notoriety he garnered.
I listened,
shook my head,
and knew
I'd never let it
get that bad.

Harry is dead.
And I've come close
a few times before
and since.
I know now
how he felt:
I cannot get
this certain woman
out of my pores.
Haven't seen
or really spoken to
or written her
in six months
& it feels
like six minutes.
Her breath, her body,
her movements, her insanities,
her sound, her inanities
& insecurities &
her beauty are branded
into me like a birthmark.
My pleasures
with others
are fleeting
& boring; my time
spent alone
is spent
talking
to a spirit--
a hollow echo
from church steeples
gone mad,
overthrown by a renegade Christ
& his disciples.
Admittedly, the sin
I committed was a love sin;
too much even I admit,
but love it was.
If you don't believe me
read the poems,
listen to the songs,
count the jelly beans,
the Swedish fish,
measure the ineffable,
read the emails,
eavesdrop on the conversations,
hear how she said my name,
watch her squirt her joy,
experience her laugh,
her wonderment,
her little girl
vulnerabilities & understand
her fears
and still
you'd be dumbfounded,
too.

How you couldn't matter
ultimately didn't matter.
All you know
at the end
is absence.

I've stripped layer after layer
of flabby ego off me
& will carve some more
before I'm done.
Maybe the next one--
if there is a next one
--will allow
the danger inside.
Who knows
anything
about that?
What I do know
is that I'm
as human as Harry now:
I'm paid up
& will,
if asked,
contribute
again.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

THE BLIND MAN


walks with a pretty
yellow Labrador.
The street sizzles
in the July heat.
Late seventies,
I make him out to be,
but neither he
nor the Lab
are fazed by the weather.
He's tall, rather handsome,
thin, wearing a white T,
cargo shorts & sandals;
the Lab wears a jacket:
"Please don't pet me,
I'm working." Her nose
sniffs the ground, her eyes
works the crowd and traffic.
I'm pretty sure
he's not Homer,
or Charles,
or Wonder,
or Milton,
but he might be.
But the kids who jostle past,
or look up just in time
to avoid him do not imagine
anything. The stare into some screen,
screens that tell them where they are
and who they are. For all they know
they might be studying one of his books
or compositions or paintings or theories
in class. He might be able to tell them
the history of their steps and who
they're stepping on.

But they need not stop.
They, too, are only trying
to find a little love,
a little knowledge,
in their time. One
never knows when either one
is going to leap up
and grab them around the throat.
What part imagination
and what part technology
plays in that strange brew
is something for Tiresias
to sort out.
As for me
I'll neither follow
the blind man
or the students--
I've got enough
blind spots
of my own.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

EVEN THE SIMPLE IS COMPLICATED ENOUGH


I take myself out
for a bite to eat
to the same Greek dive
I've been goin to for 35 years
now. Hell,
been livin in my pad for over 40--
but who's counting?
Nick & Paul,
the owners,
have seen me
in many different states
through many decades:
sober, drunk, young, wild,
old, wild, high, low,
indifferent, maniacal, calm,
pensive and apoplectic.
I've sat isolated
and speechless
or boisterous and boorish.
I've littered their booths
with the scents of women
and love and the smell of
defeats; defeats from jobs,
publishers, women, friends,
and body. What I do,
and who I'm with,
no longer raise their eyebrows
or lowers their lids.
I've eaten their eggs & ham,
bacon & sausages & pancakes,
homemade moussaka, bread pudding,
& brisket, drank their coffee
& stirred their little creamers
& watched their children age
& them grow old.
I've seen favorite waiters & waitresses
farmed out to pasture because their legs
cannot get rid of the water & have ballooned
as big as their waist. The only person
who didn't age
is me.
Neurotics don't age
but hold fast
& hold on.

Today,
I had a hamburger, fries, salad.
It was the same bottle of oil,
the same vinegar, the same tomato
& the same slice of onion; the burger
was thinner, the bun bigger; the fries
still frozen & pretty much
as tasteless as ever,
but the price has tripled.
And why not?:
the farms are dry,
crops roasted,
cows suicidal,
the beef chemical.
The half-buck & buck tip
is now two or three.
Nick & Paul tell me
they'll soon retire;
they're tired of working
for the landlord.
But not me. I can't
retire--I'm a poet.
And poets are not supposed to "work,"
they only have to "live"--
which is the harder,
and more complicated,
of the two
I think I know,
but will never ever
say.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

CREASED WITH EXPERIENCE


I like her scar
underneath her chin
from a bicycle mishap
when she turned seven
& her first blind corner.
I like how her ankle
curves into her shoe
when she wears heels
and the way she announces
her shapely calves to the
men
& women who follow
her. I like
how she questions
what she already knows
& expects to be disproved
or challenged.
I detest her poise
but take comfort
in her insecurity.

So far,
we're letting it
unfold like a good mystery
should--a real page turner
we're taking our time with
& savoring. Soon,
I'm sure, we will get up
on the cross
of ambivalence.

Until then
I'll pretend
& so will she--
like this morning:
freshly showered
she stepped from
the steam wrapped
in a towel,
smelling soapy,
hair dripping,
& tip-toed past me
into the bedroom;
we caught each other
from the corners
of our eyes
I'm sure,
small grins
played across
our lips
but kept
our mouths
shut.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014