Thursday, April 24, 2014


she asked,
one day.
I'd been ducking her
since the moment
I saw her working
next to me.
"You're too beautiful,
I replied,
"too young.
& I'm afraid
I'll say something
or foolish--
sound ridiculous,
or look like a horse's ass."
Her eyes
She blushed.
Then smiled.

It takes a lifetime
of experience
with the woman
to know exactly
what to say...
and when.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014


The time


you coming

& them


Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


not often
but sometimes
I can hear
a pure distillation
of love--pauses,
puffs of breath
(when speech
is another form
of agony)
--coming through
my phone
at work.
I'd be speaking
to one half
of a couple
whose other half
has horrendous problems:
a stroke has left them paralyzed
on one or both sides, aphasic;
or ALS is shutting down all their systems
(and will slowly, slowly, suffocate them);
heart disease, COPD, dementia
in all its permutations, lost, bewildered,
becoming aged
children needing
a young mother
a spirited father,
but the partner
is old, too,
or has to work
or has other children
to raise.
Each life
a nightmare
of varying proportions;
each looking
for a solution
which doesn't involve
giving up
and shelving,
their other
After doing this for awhile
there's a build-up
of callus that occurs
inside your ear
& in your heart
to life's calamities
except your own.
You have enough
of your own shit
to think of: your boss
only wants you to make
the next call,
the next sale,
and you know
the rent
is right
around the corner.

But every once in awhile
you hear a purer love,
a refusal to give in
to sickness, mess,
the loss of identity,
and sometimes
it happens
to the young, those under
sixty, those whose lives
are not supposed to go,
but do: wasting away
from a rogue gene, becoming
sightless and mute,
no longer able to hold a spoon
or a piece of toilet paper.
in all its indignities.
And I hear that,
that courage,
that determination,
that unwillingness
to have anything to do
with reality,
and it gets inside me,
wiggles around,
unclogs these cynical neurons,
bloodstream, veins and arteries,
pumps my heart with blood
and bucks up what is admittedly
a weak and cowardly backbone.

It takes some fucking courage
for one to do that
for another--
no matter who the fuck it is.
We call it "love"
but it's not really.
It's something that defies words
& precedes speech.
And it's something
that most of us
will never have to do...
or want to do.

Nothing frightens me
as much
as the human

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014


for elephants. Actually,
for stupid elephants; elephants
that were left back,
never made it out of grade school,
dimwitted elephants, schized elephants,
moronic & crazy elephants;
elephants who were too smart
for their own good, rebellious
elephants, boozing elephants,
dope shooting elephants,
mediocre jazz playing elephants;
elephants whose tusks
are chipped, broken, stained
with jungle nicotine; bull elephants
who can no longer bull their way
into elephant snatch; lady elephants
who no longer emit an inviting odor;
old fat wrinkled & almost
used up elephants;
to a nub
but elephants who
can still dial
a phone...
& still sell
whatever shit
you put
in a brown paper bag...
circumcised elephants
with a merchant's soul,
a survivor's bloodline;
blind wanderers
with busted suitcases
filled with,
and leaking,

They are
as crazy
as shit-house
rats, who can smell
you once
& remember you
A very hip

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014


was here with me
watching the Pacquiao/Bradley fight
while I was fooling around
with words on the Mac
when my old girlfriend's email
landed in my in-box.
I read it.
And read it again.
"C'mere," I said,
"I want ya ta read this."
She pulled herself away
from the blood letting
and into another ring.
She read it.
And read it again.
"I don't know," she said,
"nobody knows anybody."
I smiled.
"That's what Roth said;
wait here, lemme read it ta ya."
I got up and got "American Pastoral"
and sat in my desk chair. She
was sitting underneath me,
her head swiveling
to the other fight
"Listen to this:
“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion. ... The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that -- well, lucky you.”
"I like it when you read to me, baby.
Let's get under those flannel sheets
and watch the rest of this in bed.
At least tonight we don't haveta fight--
we'll get it as right as we can."

maybe in a week, a month, a year
--she'll dislike me, too. Maybe
even hate me?
And maybe,
if I'm lucky,
I'll be
long gone
by then?


Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014


was half Cuban
and half African,
but all woman;
she was also
on the skids.
I'd see her
from time to time
when I came out
of my captivity
to have a smoke.
At first,
she came to me
& demanded one
then modified
her approach,
and I'd give her one
and, always the gentleman,
light it as well.
She always looked better
from a distance; a little long
in the tooth up close
and a little beaten-up
around the edges.
I found out she lived
in a city shelter
around the corner
and sometimes
performed acts of charity
with men
inside the subway entrance
on the corner.
She was smart
in the ways
that most women are:
she could size-up
a man
in seconds,
but instead
of thinking
in years
she measured
only minutes.

After a time,
we got friendly
enough, so that
a real coffee
& a danish
went with the cigarette,
but the other day
she had the sadsads.
I didn't have to ask.
"It's my fucking birthday,
she said,
not one fucking person
gives a shit if I'm alive
or dead...and I don't give a shit either."
I felt like that
once or twice myself.

"How old ya gonna be?"
"I'm twenty years your senior."
"You don't look that, daddy?"
"Neurotics don't got a dress?"
"I got a dress."
"You like Italian?"
"Yeah, I like Italian."
"You wanna eat Italian tonight?"
"You takin me out?"
"Why not? Everybody should have a birthday."
"An old Italian joint near my pad. Been there
for a hundred years; older sophisticated crowd--
we'll fit right in. How's eight?"
I scribbled down the address for her
and met her out front.
She cleaned herself up and looked good.
Real good.
She knew how to order, knew what she wanted,
knew how to sip wine and knew how to eat.
We were finishing up
with espresso
when she leaned in close
and said,
"I got something I need to tell you."
"Yeah, what's that?"
"My real name. It's..."

I thought that
was a start.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


You got plenty of trouble,
I know;
and I got plenty myself.
I'm not comparing here,
I'm just sayin.

I see where
you're reading my early stuff
& I can understand that--
it was raw, alive,
nerves on fire.
I'm happy to say
they still are (on fire)
& I still am (raw & alive),
but have taken on
much shit as I've gone on.

Better to burn,
I think,
while you can,
and leave a stain
in your wake,
then to wake up
without needing

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014