Saturday, December 25, 2010


They've all staked out
so much room
in this transient SRO that,
at times, I'm the last one
in a very long line
to get to piss.
But what relief I feel has always
come with the crowd:
the singers, the poets,
the lovers and the haters
that swim the loop
from here to there.
They breathed life
into my blood;
stood me tall
when all I wanted to do
was fall into some gentle yawn.
Most of their lives, I know,
have been one kind of horror
or another. My youth
and stupidity
only knew exemptions
of which none of us
are. Luckily,
our horrors
are ours alone. Just knowing
that never diminishes,
but only adds to,
their song. And so, they sit
inside me
patiently waiting for me
to take them out again;
to make them
part of the whole.

I can imagine
one day
a chance meeting
and one will say: "Did you hear,
Savage's dead?"
"Which one?" the other replies
and laughs.
"What a bullshit artist."
"But a good one."

So, here's to them
and me, me and them,

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Men need to believe
they are best
at two things:
and fucking.
I've not been privy
to see
up close
many instances
of them fucking,
but have been
in experiencing them
behind a wheel. (Of course,
I do not count any celluloid collusion
between the act and the editing.)

Most men know,
the wheel, the gas, the brake,
but not the intricacies
of the beast.
Their feet are too heavy;
their hands grip the wheel
too hard. They're too nervous
in crowds
or too dumb
when alone
to allow creation
or play.
They have little feel
for how they run:
the nuances of touch
for each model, each make,
each extension:
the stiffness
of a clutch
and its gradual
the hard pedal
or flabby wheel;
how each will go
so far
and no more,
but knowing
all want to be brought
to the edge
of danger.

They've driven
a few cars
in their lives
and believe
they all run
on the same
gas. They are simply proud
of just putting the pump in,
nothing more. If it then goes,
they think,
they've done their job.
No wonder,
a great number of them,
get fired
or bored
because the car
refuses to run.

One day,
they will be unable
to put the key in.
The car will sit there
a big grin on its face
and hope
that younger hands
will find a way
to spark
the ignition
saving their best show
for last.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010


for helping me
get laid
more often
than I had any right to:
Thank you
and Sam,
Marvin, Mary and
thank you
Shirelles, Marvelettes,
and Chiffons;
thanks folks
for helping
create the heat
the words
the whispers
when I was just feeling
my way along; trying
to just somehow touch a tit;
allowing my fingers
to snap
and unlock
a clasp or two.
Thank you Billie,
and Bud and Bird and Miles and Monk
and Dinah and Nina and Sarah
and T.S. and J. Alfred and crazy Ezra,
and Freddy N. and Immanuel the K,
and K as in Franz, and Coney Island
and Greenwich Village and times
of left handedness and black stockings
and no bras no brains no problem;
thank you Lenny
and Mort and George and Rich
for opening up
many a lady
through a laugh;
thank you Bobby D,
and Allen and Roi,
and Buk and Mark B. and Fran L and Skaggs,
and Phil and Toni.
Thank you
for giving me parts of you
that you didn't know
you'd given me
after digestion,
was me
to them.
You made it easier
for me
to sucker punch
while singing
all these
beautiful songs
which became
my song.

And, for all
of the above you also get
a heartfelt and hardy:
Don't look so surprised--
you know exactly
what I mean.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It is early
November: a damp, cold
and blustery day; a Dickensian zero
in the bones.
I push away
from what is probably my last
dead-end job
and go down
for a smoke.
Park Ave South
looks as miserable and dirty
as a Rio favilla
without the humor
or violence.
My life
is 63 years spent
and fleeting fast
into the absence
of all desire:
sugar has eaten
parts of me
for half a century:
my toes swim
with the fish';
a pump rewired with cat guts
and twine;
all my women,
young and old,
have smartened up;
my friends my few friends,
have died or simply
vanished or
have troubles of their own.
I stand,
or almost stand,
leaning against a pillar,
pull a fresh deck of smokes
out of my breast
pocket and before
smoke can reach my West Virginia lungs
the pigeons begin
to gather: black pigeons
and white pigeons, brown pigeons,
and gray pigeons, one-legged pigeons,
broken-winged pigeons, deranged pigeons,
nervous pigeons, dirty pigeons, and desperate
pigeons: rats without tails.
I know each of them
well. I, too, have lived like a tailless rat; born into
it, nurtured by it, held fast to its insane breast,
lived with it, guzzled it, in cells, in rooms
of daily rent, in my specially fashioned fence.
I've got by by luck
and instinct
and a curious
A security guard
comes out
to protect me.
He chases away
the ones who were slow
to get fed.
He looks at me.
I smile
and offer him
a cigarette.
He needs
to get out
of this world
I know
the impossibility
and foolishness
of that for now
as I inhale
breathe out
and marvel
how good it feels
to be

Norman Savage
New York City, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010


We have done little
to deserve this beauty.
We found it like drunks
who stumbled
upon their bed
and foul-smelling.

There is the silky stalk
of the cat,
or how the grass sways
in the reggae wind.
There is the trumpet blast
of the elephant's nose,
or the thick bark
around an aged tree.

We will all
go away soon.
And will take nothing
and leave nothing--
maybe a little plastic;
our only reason
for being here.
That would be

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010


The gods
have been very good
to me; they've given
me what I've craved
knowing how bottomless
my hunger is,
in limited
doses: words, music,
dope, booze and women and
don't forget
misery--the sublimity
of an often time cruel,
and all too human world.
Had they been
less kind
I would never had known
the difference,
and neither
would you.

Norman Savage,
Greenwich Village, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010


a great lover
and matador;
I fucked Liz Taylor
and Sophia Loren
on successive evenings
while Bardot patiently waited
her turn;
they could not fuck me
out, and the could not fuck me
up; I was beyond women
and money; I was a shade short
of immortal,
but was fast
closing in
on that.
I gave the ears
of bulls
to the ladies
that Ernie was with and
while on safari
with Papa
ate the lions
we shot
for dinner
and saved
the female pythons
for desert
I shot pool
with Minnesota
in Minnesota
and hustled his balls
while he was trying
to hustle mine.
I was heavyweight champ
when fifteen rounds
meant something.
I made flowers grow
and Bluebirds sing.
I sat on my ass
for as long as I wanted
and worked
only as distraction.
I did everything better
than the best,
even lying,
having to remember
a lifetime
of days before.

You can believe this,
or not.
But I,
like most dreamers,
know the dream
well. And, like all things,
than you.

Norman Savage,
Greenwich Village, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I was lying
in an ICU
in the Bronx
out of my mind
from a controlled combination
of pain
and morphine
when a magician
came into the room.
She put a syringe
into an IV line
and a blast
of hot breath
into my system.
Kind, I thought,
her giving me a dose
before my four hour
I watched
her pull the lip
of the white gauze
that clung to the top
of my foot
where my four toes were
a moment ago.
My neck stretched
as I was about to see
what was so obviously
a trick.
She delicately gripped
at the first
half inch
the blood
was maroon,
and somewhat dry
as the pain
around my system;
and as she pulled
and pulled
and pulled
and pulled
it grew
and wet.
I thought,
how much fucking gauze
is in that thing?
It truly was
magical, but please,
God, can the trick
be over.
I now had propped myself up
on my elbows
and felt my shoulders
and back
become bruised
and stiff. Still,
she pulled
and pulled
some more.
it was done.
She disposed
the bloody gauze
into a receptacle,
opened a new package
and packed the whole thing
in. I marveled
at this; the simplicity
of taking out
and putting in.
If only living
and dying
were that simple.
But we know
nothing is that simple,
not even breathing.
The flowers know this,
the matadors and pimps,
the landlady' struggling
in their rooms alone,
while their tenants struggle
with the rent
and a way,
know this.
Even the fish,
who might have gotten a treat,
that evening,
with four toes,
had to wait
a long time
for what
to them
is surely
a delicacy;
you might even say,
a privilege.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010


a poem.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010


We are waiting
on Lebron
to make a decision
on our national sports
Ho hum.
He'll decide
to play
on any one of five
hardwoods in major
commercial markets.
Whatever decision
he makes
will make me sad;
sad for the souls
of all black folks
and sad for the white folks
who's souls were black
who's assholes
he's fucking
without knowing
he's fucking them.
I think of Jack,
fingers in the cunts
of blond broads,
gold teeth blinding
the eyes of cops;
Joe & Sugar Ray,
Jack Robinson, & X,
& MLK, & Marcus & Stokely,
Roi/Amiri, Spike & Chris;
white Jews who traveled
South, placed barricades
& dodged dogs
& clubs; Abernathy, Ashe,
Ali, Dundee, & LBJ that Texas
shitkicking ballbreaker.
All that work; all that
blood; all that grief; all
those lives. For what?
So that we now have a new vaudeville
filled with entertainers?
New blackface. New dancers & partners &
singers of tunes
so easily forgotten like Chinese food
on a Sunday.

It seems the worst
of the white race
have won.
They've taken the best
of rhythm, dance, speech,
sound, colors, grace, strength
and style and breathed it in
and exhaled a corporation,
a label,
a signifier,
a signature,
that lures us into
the worst sleep.
It has given us Lebron
and Barack;
nice enough people, perhaps,
but without edge,
without courage,
without heart.
I look at the ghettos,
the schools,
the prisons,
the six o'clock news,
and see further erosion
of most things
black without barely a glance
a word
from our president.
He has been deft
at using his race
to avoid it
while signifying it.
The country
and the world
as is
deserve no better.
We've known
for a long time
what is right
and made a left

Ho hum.

I had hoped
against my wish
not to hope
that Lebron
and some of the others,
would have stepped forward
and played for MJ
in Charlotte
for, if they had to,
slave wages:mere
Not because I'm especially fond of MJ,
which I am,
but because he could use their help and
he's black. The first
black owner
in NBA history. Maybe some think
that's no longer something,
but it is.

Watching the Celtic/Cav series,
I saw Lebron collapse
from a champion's stress;
they took his heart
and stopped it.
He was a long way from Ali
not stepping forward or
coming out for the last round
in Manilla.
Lebron looked
like he wanted to be taken out.
Fuck em,
I said to myself,
and moved on.
this most favored of gifted athletes
wants money
and championships
and will create
the most direct line
to get them--
and he will.
And in these times,
he will be idolized
by millions,
if not billions
who have
the memory
and heart
of a flea.

Ho hum.
Pass the salt.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


is, at least,
30. I bought it
from a horseplayer,
diabetic, hardware store owner,
I used to drink with
at a saloon
across from my
coffin shaped
after my original--
a wooden yellow one
It has served my ass
as well as the ass'
of others,
especially women,
well as well.
It has cradled, coaxed,
implored, and pleasured
the elimination of bodily
wastes, exasperations,
and miseries while,
at times,
giving rise,
to dreams, fantasies and,
of course,

The screws
and bolts
that secure it
have long ago
come loose;
a tightening
is always necessary.
The seat itself,
has blackened smudges
and dots
from ashes
and lit cigarettes
that fell upon it
when I was drunk
or junk nodding.
when the tip
of the cigarette
would hit my dick,
it would jolt me out
of whatever reverie
I was lost in.
Holy shit,
I'd say,
as I jumped up,
I continued,
brushing the ash
from my dick
and thigh, then
light another smoke
and try to get back into it.

I no longer drink,
or shoot dope,
but the seat remains.
Throw that shit out,
I sometimes say
to myself.
But I don't want to;
I want to remember.
I want to remember
not the misery of a time--
for all time is miserable--
the times of madness
and bliss; the times
where time had no meaning
and passed
by myself.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


try to fuck with
the word
the brush
the melody
after a lifetime
of compromise.
Their spirits,
if they started
with any,
have been beaten
to a nub
by a perfect illusion
by their own

Their words
are weak,
too mannered,
their paintings
& boring;
their sounds
by age; they now
try to make sense
out of their lives' chaos
not realizing
that chaos has always had
its own sense.
They are only astute
at remembering
their file numbers
and monthly
Most, deserve
no better.
dictated most
of their choices;
and fear
dictated their antipathy
toward the kids
they taught.

I've been lucky,
to have met a few
who catered
a sweet mix
of insanity and light;
who knew
my eyes
took in
their legs
and hiked their skirts higher;
who knew my despair
about being alive
in my young cage
and fed me the raw meat
of ideas
and their opposites
allowed me
of a kind
and opened up
most importantly

On this day,
I lift a glass
to them--
the good ones,
the glad ones,
the mad ones,
the soul spent ones--
before, now, forever;

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010


or not,
nothing much
is lost
to memory.
She made me think
of that girl I wanted to fuck
when fifteen
while me
and the legion of other cripples,
the old
the infirm
the mad
waited for the soon to be extinct M1 bus
rather than fade
the murderous underground transit
here, in NYC.
She was a pretty young thing,
jaunty, perky, her nipples
proudly displaying
a taste me sign
for those lucky enough
to get that close.
50 years ago
there was another
much like her
who pivoted
before my teenaged fever
touched her
choosing a tough
tattooed Italian
I used to hang with
a bit older
than me.
It bothered me,
but not too much;
I was getting enough
from other angels of the night--
community whores--
and had a few others
on, or near,
the hook.

Ten years later,
we met again. She
living with her mother;
me, living with my devils,
and we finally fucked.
What turned her head around
is not for me to say.
Perhaps, attraction,
though I doubt it;
more likely desperation
and a way for her
to get out.
But I was somewhere else, too.
I was only looking for "exits,"
not caring or knowing that
there is none
except the one
that's permanent,
but knowing that
gave me a kind of freedom
while going down the sinkhole
and playing in the swill.

I can't fuck anyone
except me
and only metaphorically.
The cock,
I've learned,
does not come
with a lifetime
guarantee. Still,
it's been a good
ride. I've gotten
more than my fair share,
and can't complain.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010


Getting out
from the asylum
of my childhood,
I put guns
and words,
and nice pretty girls,
whiskey & dope,
books & bromides,
the chambers
of my heart.
It cost
whatever it did
which I never thought
my legs are shot,
my lungs
my pump
some toes
with the fish',
but the pen
still flashes
imperial sparks.
Even if I knew
all of that then
it would still have been cheap;
not that I knew
any better way.

Friday, June 25, 2010


to me
in rhymes
& talks to me
in simple sentences;
it talks
to me
through pain
& kindnesses,
& empathy;
it screams
from balconies
& basements;
it talks to me
from children
just learning
how to ride
two wheelers;
it talks to me
through tears
of scraped elbows
cut faces
broken bones
after a spill;
talk to me
weary from
the worn heels
of broken men
& stiletto ones
of women
and angels
of the night;
it talks
to me
from jail,
from madhouses
from burnt
& gutted cars,
from white
Rolls Royce's
& the yachts
of the rich, fat,
& idle;
it is trees
& lemons,
circus arcs
& pilgrims,
it talks
through inquisitions
& boredom,
honing a magic
that only blue jays know;
it does not weep
nor laugh
nor pray;
it does not allow
or deny,
it just
coming, coming,
to a theater
near you,
in you,
at you:
Mr. & Mrs. Death,
appearing nightly.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


is dead.
He never mattered
to me
when alive
and now
only matters
as impetus
for this poem
when dead.
never did
"catch" me.
Never identified
with its hero
and found him
and the book
pretty boring:
A pretty boy
doing pretty things
and finding
a little ugliness
along the way.
Most of this life
is ugly
and my life
has been uglier
than that.
Only kindness
of any kind
is surprising.
I suppose
that sounds
pretty selfish
and stupid
and I suppose
it is.
But so
is art
and artists.
of any kind.
It's a very selfish
craft, indulged in
by selfish people
with a bloated
of importance
far beyond
their worth.
I'll give him this though:
he struggled with the word
and I hope
someone else
will return the favor
to me
in kind.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010