Friday, February 5, 2016

HUMPTY DUMPTY CATCHES A BREAK


Nearly two years ago
she pushed me
off a perch
in Toronto
and I tumbled
back to NYC
where, like a frozen piece of Bonomo's Turkish Taffy,
smashed upon a marble table top,
I broke
into a million bite-sized pieces.

I was sixty-six
and had never wanted
anyone to love me
so badly. And
even though I knew
it was her own fear,
her own prison and
her own poison
guarding her gate, I felt
old, fat, poor
and powerless.

I hated my job
& now hated it more;
I ducked & bobbed & wove
& didn't care if I sold
& made enough for rent or not--
until I couldn't make rent.
Unemployment carried me
until it didn't; friends carried me
until they couldn't & another half-ass job carried me
until they wouldn't.

I pawned the only things left
of my parents & closed the coffin
from which they screamed; I pawned my books
& numbed my own wails, but still I wrote,
still I listened to music and still I listened
to my shrink who asked I give him
everything I could
except for money.
"Savage is he who saves himself,"
Leonardo wrote. I sent away a hundred resumes,
made a hundred calls. Agencies had closed,
contacts had died or didn't return phone calls;
and I was old for a man
with no money, no certificates, no advanced degrees.
I sought out government agencies,
went through the most demeaning explanations of failures
and accepted handouts and help from every and any anonymous hand.
I sat for hour after hour after hour surrounded
by a living death,
smelling stillbirth dreams,
listening to babies wail,
in halls that held a few hundred of life's satisfied customers
without apartments, homes, money, food, or hope. Filled out
form after form after form went on interview after interview.
Knowing full well that a few scant years ago I sat
on the other side of that desk.

I was luckier than most.
I've always been luckier than most
with jobs, women, and the few friends I allowed
to get close. I met someone at an agency who
liked me who introduced me to someone else
who also liked me. Week after week,
even though I did not have much hope
I hoped and went. A gig opened up
& he pushed & pushed harder after HR told him
I didn't meet certain requirements. He pushed
harder. I met with two VP's of the program
who were impressed and were able to circumvent
some requirements & welcomed me aboard. Which
is what "Getting Another Shot At It" is about.
The city & a private charity
has paid my rent for the past five months.
I feel like a shit heel
but I'll get over it...most of it.

There will be no healing
the fractures I feel
in my soul; no getting over
her or the kind of love
I have for her.
There isn't supposed to be.
But life has its own Crazy Glue.
You stick to it long enough
those crazy bones knit
in their own screwy way. Not
the way they were when you entered
but enough to get you to the exit.
And who knows?
there might be someone
with a flat tire,
or a thumb out,
or a woman splitting
from a convent
along the way.
Who am I
to say no?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

THERE YOU WERE

For J.

stuck
between two copies
of "Changes"
my first publication,
1967. They were yellow
with age, darkened
by NYC's sand-like grime,
musty smelling, brittle,
but not your pages
of poetry. They
leapt & kissed
& fondled memories hot
with the quivering pulse
of desire, erasing
four decades
in two breaths.

Who sez you can't read
& dance
at the same time? You
were my black orchid,
my narcissistic muse.
You were my narcotic...
and necrotic.
You were everything
I thought a disturbed poet
should aspire to
and be with: delicate,
beautiful, brilliant,
reckless...& married.
You found me
when you could
& found time
when you couldn't. How
your upper body would twist
around the gear shift
as I drove
and stammered
about poetry
while you
were actually
writing it.

"Heroin" and "Misty Roses"
informed us and highways
we tumbled down had no exits.
Our belief in a sorcerer's alchemy
made us ripe for our own lies.
Still, I would not change
nor exchange a minute
of what we were then
for another peaceful minute
of what I am now.
I have to believe
you feel the same.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CALLING ALL BLACK FOLKS


You got a shot with Bernie.
In fact, more of a shot
than you had with Barry.
You got an old grandpa Jew
with a righteous pitchfork
up his ass; it's been touching
his heart
from the time he knew
it had a beat.
He needs you now
to keep breathing.

You all know
unless you get some serious
redistribution, you'll be dead
by the time another white man
comes along to help you
change a tire; get out of jail;
get a job, an education; a room
with a view.

FUCK THE ACADEMY AWARDS.

FUCK EASY DISTRACTIONS.

FUCK ENTERTAINMENT.

It begins
and ends
in this country
with money.
And any black person knows:
if you don't get your money straight,
you're a fool.

Calling Ta-Nahisi, calling Spike,
calling John Lewis & Ramsey Lewis
(& Sinclair Lewis), calling Denzel,
and Michael and Magic and Toni
and Oprah and any and all Negro
Negra Black colored oreo mulatto
Spic & Span Latino Hispanic Mexican
who knows how to rub
two nickels together
to get on board for this guy
and stop bullshitting
about what you don't have.
If you let that fake ofay
sax player and his trifling wife
have their day
your day
is yesterday
and yesterday
is nowhere.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

THERE ARE FEW THINGS MORE SATISFYING


than a good
bowel movement
especially
at a certain age.
In fact,
it's one of the few things
to look forward to.

What else
do the young
need to know?

I suppose,
though,
that as long
as they can
blow out
the candles
a hearty
"fuck you"
is in
that breath
as well.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

I'D LIKE TO KEEP YOU ALIVE


a little longer.
But each day has
its own challenges
for space
& priorities;
like today,
for me,
it's getting across
the street
without being gobbled-up
by a snow bank or two;
or getting change
for a bus, Wonton Soup
for a dinner; and Panna Cotta
for a late-night snack.
I'm sure
there will be times
where you'll flit,
brief as it might be,
from temple to temple,
between steps or breath,
a sip of broth or taste
of pork; you'll be there
between dials
& a stranger's voice;
you'll rearrange yourself
after a sale and a well-deserved
cigarette. But without mirrors
love exhausts itself. Its breathing
becomes a shallow rattle
in a consumptive's chest.

I've important appointments
to keep: money for back rent
and future accommodations. I
must leave a little early to
get change for the bus. So
much minutia, so much drivel.
I'd much rather get lost
in love's faring froth, its
turbulence. I'd much rather
feel, not think. But then,
there is the next step
I must address &
with each step
you recede
just a little bit.

And who will keep you alive
if I'm not alive
to keep you alive
any longer?
Pragmatism
was always
my least favorite,
and hardest, vein
to find.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Friday, January 22, 2016

SO YOU WANNA BE IN PICTURES?


I had my ass parked
on a black, wrought-iron rail
which bordered my garbage cans,
smoking a cigarette & waiting
on a steady thing: a job, a woman,
immortality or my clothes
to dry and settled on
finishing the smoke & hanging
for my underwear
& bedsheets for the week next
& smelling the snow
which was promised
for later on that evening
when I heard tears ten feet
to my right.
I took a drag
& swiveled my head
& saw a pretty college co-ed,
her face scrunched-up
balling into her cell phone.
I tried my best
to eavesdrop
but my hearing is going
the way the rest of my body is:
south. I tried again,
failed again & waited.
I suppose you really get the impression
these days, that no one is around when
you're on these devices; self-consciousness
doesn't enter into it. I'm of the age
where I think people are spying on me
when alone in my pad, but that's me.
But when she passed
I could hear her say,
"What am I going to tell my dad?"
Ten or twenty years ago, I thought,
I could tell her; I could give her
the benefit of all my knowledge &
hard earned experience &
a healthy dose of bullshit
with the idea, or plan,
of fucking her
then & there or
the not too distant future.
Don't get angry--
it's an all too human ploy.
I watched her & her jelly-limbed legs
wobble & teeter down my block
& didn't notice a young man
who approached me from the other side:
"Excuse me, sir," he began.
My head swiveled back east.
He'd disturbed a poem
that was taking shape.
"What?" I asked.
"The director of this film we're shooting
would like you to be in it."
"What are you talking about?"
"We're on a shoot...all these trucks...
we're filming a scene and he'd like you
to be in it, smoking a cigarette the way
you just did. Just smoke another cigarette
and we'll film it."
I looked around and sure enough
there were film trucks up & down my block.
Nothing strange; someone films something often
in my part of Greenwich Village.
"How much?"
"Eh, how much what?" he inquired.
"How much bread would I get? Money? You know, coins?"
"Money? Nothing. No money, but you'd be in the movie...maybe."
"Who gives a fuck?"
He moved off
& so did I. A mistake
I know. Another part
misread.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

RIMBAUD PHONES ME ON A SLOW NIGHT


at two a.m.--
never a good sign
--and says,
"fuck poetry,
I ain't no kid anymore;
gonna run guns
to Ethiopia.
Why don't ya join me?"
(Fucking "call waiting" I mutter).
I'm on the phone
with Poe,
I tell him.
"Fuck him, man,
he's still hung-up
on that Lenore chick."
Which was true,
but I ain't gonna tell
Poe that. Besides,
I've got a few ghosts myself.
I'll call ya back, I sez,
but knew I wouldn't cuz
he'd just romance me
and I never could stand that.
And just when I was gonna tell Edgar
to can it, forget about her,
Baudelaire barges in
with a bottle of green,
loaded, telling me our cocks
were really hands
on a clock's dials and time
was shit anyway.
I gulp a shot down
and forget about Edgar
and we tumble into
each other and hope Verlaine
doesn't show, but he does,
and wants to nibble our ears,
but Charlie wouldn't let him,
and I tell him to call Rimbaud back
but after he said that that crazy sonofabitch shot him
I gave him a drink and thought about taking the phone
off the hook but had another drink myself and Charlie
started reading Spleen to us and our eyes bugged
and in she walked...
parting the curtains
with that hip of hers,
knifing it, all beads
and black panties
and a stamp collector's
bag in the palm of her hand...uptown dope
she whispered
and slipped a nail
under its lip.

It takes a special woman
to have men forget who
is crazy and who
they are and listen
to music from other
rooms.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016