Tuesday, April 15, 2014



Thursday, April 10, 2014


This poem is for Katsuho--if she wants it.

She helped me see things I saw,
but never took the time to see.

She was subtlety and nuance
amidst my bluster and bluff.

I took her age as leverage
until she turned me over and pinned me.

She left Japan for passion
yet remained passionately Japanese.

I need to see the Cherry Blossoms. Take me
to the park.

I laughed at all things
natural; disparaged beauty,
encouraged chaos and hid
inside a tear.

She knew that terror.

She nurtured those feelings
and raised herself instinctually
while I was busy learning
basic medication
and mendacity.

Look at the flesh,
she said, feel the petals blush.
At first, I pretended I knew
what she meant
until she gave me back
my childhood.

I married her,
then fell in love with her.
Became frightened of her
and what I had with her,
twisted and subverted her
until she became undone
and we became history.

It's been well over a decade
since I've seen, spoken to,
or wrote her.
But I saw the Cherry Blossoms
on the news tonight. And now
I see her books on my shelves
and hear her music in my head
and see her art on my walls.
We spent ten good years together
and shared all manner of things
that make nutty people like us
fall in love with other nutty people:
Monk, Miles, Billie, Dinah,
Nina, Murakami, Roeg, Godard, Andy,
Buk, Selby, deKooning, Pablo, Bach,
Yo-Yo, Bee, Celine, the Yanks, Knicks,
ping-pong...but it was the opening
in our bodies, bodies that bled
into each other
that etched and imprinted, cemented
each to each...

I will go
to Central Park
this weekend.
Winter is finally
in our rearview mirror and
I know where
the Cherry Blossoms are
and how soon they'll fall.
I will allow
my soul to drift
and be slowed
and attuned
to other rhythms
and I'll meander
under the trees,
in the grass,
to their music
and thank you,
my dear,
once again.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I got up this morning
early as usual
after a nighttime of battles
remembered and otherwise...
and nothing ached.
I swung my legs easily
out of bed
& stood up
without wobbling.
Jabbed my finger
with a pen-let
to take a blood sugar test
and it was quite within normal limits
then went to the john
to take a piss
& took it
standing up.
Very strange,
I said to myself,
and glided into my kitchen
& got the coffee started
without the old pot exploding
or shorting another fuse...
jumped into the shower
and regulated the hot&cold
without singing my balls
or freezing to death
with aplomb and sophistication.
Plenty of soap,
plenty of lather,
plenty of shampoo
to do what shampoo does.
Huh? I muttered
as I toweled off.

I fully expected
my pad to blow-up
before getting back to my desk
with coffee in hand,
or disappear
into the cracked linoleum,
but it didn't happen.
Still, there was hesitation
in my hand
as it raised
the bent&broken venetians:
holy shit,
still there,
all of it: New York City's vital signs:
the light the air the buildings the noise;
the cars, the trucks, the buses&trains,
stores open while their industrial ghouls
sucked the blood from a battered and numbed
populace; death
in all its petty permutations
perched like a peacock
preening a black plumage.

I lit a smoke
took a sip
and stared
at a very normal
and banal offering: humans
everywhere going this way
and that, locked
into their own particular dance,
clutching their cells
like ambulatory prisons,
talking, texting, sexting,
listening, surfing, imagining,
hoping, planning, measuring,
mediating something silly
or momentous
on their way
as the sirens wailed,
and bedsprings rattled,
as first breaths
became last breaths,
and fighters ran hills
and butchers cut loins
and Korean grocers shelled
peas while I
am not dead,

but soon

will be.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014


were sung scared
like sparrow chirps
and hung in the air
and strung across
tenement houses
and abandoned buildings throughout
the lower east side
like clothes-lines
from the time I began copping dope
in the nineteen sixties
to the time I finished
in the early two thousands.
"Beware" brother
was sung by pimply-faced adolescents
who were stationed like city-sentries
near the spots that sold "D&C"--
dope and coke
--in nickel and dime bags
in outdoor supermarkets
or hollowed out buildings
They knew when the cops
were about to roll-up on you
for big busts; and they knew
when the plainclothes would sneak
into your ass; and they made sure
you would have time to scurry
into the next hole and,
more importantly, their bosses
to get their ass
and their product out
and gone.
"Cuidado! bro,"
and everybody stopped.
Our bird heads
and our bird brains
attuned for the kind of danger
being caught
Yes, it was nothing less
than "cops and robbers,"
but it was love, too.
We were renegades
living behind
a renegade mask.
The volume pumped
up as the flesh
heated over the Bunsen burner city
melting us on sidewalks, in cars,
on rooftops, in beds in hospitals
and jail cells, in this dance
of death.

I've just finished
another dance.
This one
far more dangerous: love
between humans dripping
with neurosis.
It was a complicated
dance. In this
I wanted
to get caught; I wanted
to be exposed; I would have gladly
served time.
In the year
this dance lasted
I heard the word, "Cuidado,"
often enough,
in a sigh or
in a wail,
but each admonition
in my own voice hard
to discern and so
easily swallowed
and stilled.

Things have changed out there:
outdoor drug supermarkets
are gone; abandoned buildings
have been turned to upscale condos;
white drug addicts have delivery services.
They've even tried to sanitize "love."
Handjobs aren't love; blow jobs aren't love;
eating pussy isn't love; monogamy is
optional. "Shell shock" is "battle fatigue"
is PTSD. Give it a different word or phrase
and you put distance between you and the world.
It becomes less
and less real.
Nah, I pass.
I'd rather have the down and dirty,
the rough and tumble, the blood,
the grit, the dirt that's supposed
to clog the veins, gum-up the machinery,
make you unable to get out of bed
the next morning.
I would like a woman
to whisper, "Cuidado"
in my ear

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014


There used to be
a million of em--
cheap Cuban/Chinese joints
in Chelsea,
not too far
from my pad.
The chicken was cut
in small pieces
& deep fried
on the bone
until the skin
gleamed and crunched
when you bit into
its moist white flesh.
You might want to
put a little salt & pepper on it,
or squirt some fresh lemon over it,
but you really didn't need to do nothin
except eat it,
each bite complimented
by the rich yellow rice
& fragrantly sweet black beans
kicked into gear
by their best friend, Tabasco.

The whole deal: $6.95.
You could have a couple of beers
with it
and cafe con leche
after it--
and if you felt like treatin yourself royally,
a little flan
caressing your mouth
and your stomach
like lovers
who knew
where the bones
were buried.

You had to push yourself
away from the table
but not before opening
each other's fortune cookie;
if it was somewhat serious you Oud&Ahd
if it was sexy you looked into the eyes
of your lover playfully
and smiled then walked back out into the world
of horrors and madness
you left only a few hours ago
with your lady--the one you've known
for ten years
or ten minutes
--on your arm
and lit a smoke.
There is a calmness about you.
Your words come out easy...
Pretty good, huh?
you say.
She doesn't say anything,
and doesn't have to; she
just squeezes your upper arm
while bringing it closer
to her breast
and keeps it there;
it feels like heaven's pillow
and you walk
a shuffle really,
a King
despite yourself,
and nothing
for a little while
is going to come between
you, your Queen,
or your Kingdom.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014


I've come to expect
sidewalks to open up
and swallow me
each time I go out
to buy a pack of smokes
or container of coffee.
If I make it
out of the chasm
and into the store,
the tobacco I'm handed
needs to be cured
and the coffee
is left to be ground.

Just the other day
I waited on the tracks
for a train to take me home.
I entered from below
the trestle
to cane-backed seats,
dry heat and shoulder straps.
Everyone was polite.
No one spoke.
It was like an limited truce
among barbarians. A limited peace
between warring lovers
knowing the divorce will arrive
at the next stop.

But I was on the wrong track
and now on the wrong train,
going down when
I should be going up,
staying on
when I should be getting off.
Yet I was home.
Coney Island shone
like it once did
when three roller-coasters
rock 'n rolled into a fireworks sky;
when there were fortune tellers and
do-wop artists giving it away;
when sailors were be hustled
or rolled by gum-cracking dolls
and head-bashing Italians;
there were bumper-cars
and batting ranges, miniature golf
and water-gun races, nickel and quarter
pitches and Baby Doll lounges and smells
of life lived for a minute
around the edges;
when Nathan's was three deep
at every counter
and there were fresh clams
and fried shrimps
for 75 cents and a buck,
a chow mein sandwich,
and barbecue, a lobster roll
with real lobster meat
for a buck and a quarter
and franks were just a quarter
and fries were a dime;
when there were bowls of mustard
and big thick wooden tongue depressor sticks
to slather it on before you were afraid
of disease and saliva and sickness
of intent.
And there was my girlfriend,
her cat's green eyes
narrowing on me in the crowd,
fixing me,
before her demons took aim,
and bringing me to her side
of the day's smile.

I was crazy then.
It's easy
to admit that.
Maybe too easy
because craziness then
was absorbed
into youth's blotter
and forgiven,
and sometimes even prized
mistaken like the gift
of personality and courage,
recklessness and character,
even an intelligence
of despair and defiance
and, in fact, I can argue,
still is...except...
except I knew
I was lost then,
but also knew
I'd always
be found--a contradiction
of convenience. Juggling
became my art.
If I could get there,
if I could just make it there,
any time of the day or night,
in any weather in any season,
a greaser a gangster a Jewish granny
Italian mama or a Jesuit, guinea, mick, nigger
or spick hanging out in a kitchen, poolroom,
Faber's Fascination, cheese box basketball court,
poker action, luncheonette, bar or bagel store,
I'd find somebody
to take me in.

I took comfort
that all the trains
led to Coney Island, a.k.a. Stillwell Avenue,
a.k.a. Norton's Point.
There was even a hotel, The Terminal Hotel,
across from the graveyard
for iron horses; and should I ever stumble
enough there's
a place of red lights
and brown paper bags,
of Kings and Queens fallen
through their own sidewalk's
cracks and fissures
into a Hellish Oz
that would catch me,

But now,
a little bit older
and a little bit crazier,
I have to remember the future
to make it
back to the past
and mistake that
for the present
so I can know it
and rest.

Gimme another,

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


when fire
lit paths
and wheels
were still
to be imagined,
I knew a woman
beneath her bones.
She was a little feral monkey:
took what she wanted;
ate what she wanted;
and shit where and when she wanted.
She was
a Hell of a gal, but
all things considered
is better off--
way better off
--with you.

I'll tell you
another story
I promise.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014