Monday, December 31, 2012


the waitresses, bus
boys, hack
drivers, bar
tenders, bums,
in dead end jobs
who dream
fantastic dreams;
blackandwhiteandbrownandyellow pure
and mixed womenandmen
oldandyoung carefree
or humped over,
who do it,
grind against it,
they know
if they're not there,
they're going there;
a "there" that finds me
because I've been there,
am there
and will be there
for however long
forever is.
They know
I've arrived
and still stand
amongst the wreckage
and pillars
of my life
and know parts
of theirs.

There are others
who nibble
around the edges
liking the taste
in small doses
still thinking
they control a part
of who they think
they are.
I don't quibble
with them;
but instead
allow them
to find their own
or march to an easy
delusion that moves
each of us
to the graves edge.

It's the others
who provide me
with hope: a free tea
or coffee, shutting
the meter off
on my ride home,
or pushing my "case" ten
back to me from the lip
of the bar;
or charging me less
than half
for their late night touch.
There is little dialogue,
no "thank you,"
no stupid cordiality
that greases commerce;
just a nod,
and a smile--inner
and outer
and fro
across the ages
of what only seems
like a limitless

Happy New Year
to all us travelers

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012


but I'm not
as I sit down
to write
on this
the sixty-fifth Christmas Eve
of my lifetime.
I've written
often enough
about the pain,
silliness, self
pitying uselessness
of it all
with all my defenses
honed and sharpened
depending on what year
it was and who
was listening.
But not this year.
This year I feel
rather well:
I'm loved
by a woman,
a musical luscious babe
who lives
in Mexico
and inside
my head,
who I think
I could love
if I let myself;
I'm loved
by a crazy brother
who I met again
after a storm
tossed me against
his door;
words still dance
and spark, igniting
fires in my brain--
and even though
they are brush fires,
they still, if briefly,
heat the inner landscape;
even my job,
which robs
my time
and steals my fantasies,
provides the four walls
that make it all

The odds were against
this poem
ever being written.
But odds never meant
shit to me. For me,
waking up was
the nightmare.
Yet I've learned
how to compound
and paint the chipped,
cracked, and open holes
in my soul
and was lucky
to have some hand-holding
along the way
by educated fingers.

I've put away
some of the guns.
Others remain
and at the ready,
I know.
There are some,
I know,
who don't want to hear that.
Let some of those take heart:
misery never ceases.
But the opening of the cage
has widened
just a bit
as has my willingness
to walk
through it
at times.

comes before

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Random musings
on a lazy Saturday
as I scratch against
the advancing cold
that hints at the coming
I still sit outside
at a table sipping
coffee in the slate gray
moistness that indicates
snow not too far off
and the emptiness that is
Bundled up,
with sweater, and shirt,
and undershirt and scarf,
and hat I smoke
a cigarette
in a purified New York
and look at the young legs
and faces thinking
of all the loves
I've betrayed.
The most basic of things
I've had to learn
last. How I once
could of thought myself
brave, escapes
me now.
I was the cheapest
of tricks; a ventriloquist's
dummy speaking the words
that helped silence
my fears.

Memory lies
of course.
It's not its fault.
Even now
when I think of the music
of love
it is not
with the grandeur of Mahler,
the nuance and beauty of Bach,
the titanic battle of Bee;
nor with the eccentricities of Monk
or the harmonic brilliance of Miles,
but the simplicity of song.
The softness of voice
cushioning pain, muffling
thought; pretending
to care--which is really
all I ever wanted. Here,
see what I mean?
like slugs fucking;
hardly have to think
about it at all.
That's what I could have been:
a slug, a dog, a whale,
chimp or a wisp
of pollen
in the heated air.
Not at all the rogue,
nor the halfback running
through the field
of broken girls and women.

unfortunate only for me,
my maleness dangles
like a rope; something
to piss through.
It amuses me
to do this; this writing,
this talking, to all
the unseen
who are now breathing
on this page. You
have your own lies
to keep you busy
should you choose to.
You have your own passions
to either cultivate
or long for. They are all
and delicious ramblings
that take you outdoors
for walks
and talks
and daring confrontations.
My advice to you
is the same I give
to myself:
Dress appropriately,
and don't forget
to take

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


You straight?
What you need?
A bundle.
He held up his hand
above my head
with his index finger
pointing downward
and nodded
to a kid
next to a quintet
of garbage cans
on 7th and C.
Give it to him.
I nodded
and almost skipped
across the street;
the night rich
with possibility.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012



I'm still here;
(I thank you)
(So much,
for that.)
What more
to say?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012


most relationships
go south:
we're creatures
of the worst sort:
not satisfied
with just fucking
we need understanding
and forgiveness
for instincts
that common flies

Scramble two.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I'm gonna turn on
my computer
and jerk
the fuck


Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012


It doesn't come 'round often,
and it doesn't last long,
but when it does
it's something
truly magical;
a gift
from the gods
given to only
two humans
at a time.
It arrives
as mothers push
baby strollers
with their new born
safely inside;
the babies are dizzy
with new, dazzled
by surprise
in each beat,
every note
a new nerve,
their heads bouncing
this way
and that,
and fro,
and down,
and dribbling
down a toothless mouth;
their joy
bubbling over
their chariot.
You can hear
songs of lyrics
yet defined,
so much better
than letters
upon letters,
so inadequate,
so incomplete.
Their eyes
big and hungry
with next,
seek the face
pushing them
and who mimics
and mirrors
every inarticulate
sound and gesture.
As mad as they are
with discovery
with possibility,
the air dancing
upon their skin,
light tickling
their nose,
at the circus
knowing nothing
outside their bond
between them;
knowing nothing
except each other
and the stupid silly world
as it parts
to let them

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I've decided
to take myself
on a cheap date:
no prep,
no talk,
no regret,
and little

I'll squeeze it
the words,
if the words
ever stop.


Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012


for my birthday;
I have a little bit more
than a week
to prepare:
get some books and papers
off the floor,
the couch,
a broken down rocker
near my window
that can be used
in a pinch.
The yellowed tiles
near the tub
need to be scrubbed
from the ash
I flicked there;
in fact,
I should make the joint
safe for food:
get the grease
and the dust
and the rinds
of dreams
out the door
and down
to the pails
I need to throw out
the fucking deadbeats
that are currently squatting.
I allow them to take
up far too much space
but now,
for my birthday,
I've got to boot them
in the ass
if I haveta.

The dead
rarely announce themselves
and sometimes get here
a day or two early.
They really get fucked up
if they have no place to hang
their hat.
But it is mostly me
who loses
if there's not enough room:
they remind me
how lucky I am
to still be jousting
with the words;
to still be fucking
with death
and all its cousins.

I would think
that after what I've done
to some of them
they wouldn't show,
but they do.
At first I was somewhat
embarrassed, chagrined,
felt awkward, creepy,
but they just sat
and explained;
they held
no grudges,
and wanted
from me.
They just wanted me to know
they were still here
and hoped my ears
had become attuned
to listen
and my head
and heart
and gut
better able to absorb
and integrate.

When this first started
only one or two
showed up. But now,
turning sixty-five
I expect quite a crowd.
The ones I've loved,
even partially,
I look forward to;
the ones I've fucked over,
not so much.
I wish I had a choice,
but I don't.
I offered once
to put the ones I've fucked over
in a hotel,
but they wouldn't hear of it.
Some of them even stood
the whole day
to be near me.
So be it.
I've learned
at my age
you have to pick
your battles
I know
I'll get bloodied up,
but it will also give me
some words to play with;
damn the vanity.

Hank said,
that sometimes the best thing
a writer does
is simply
The rest of the time
is mostly ugly
for him
and for those
who cross
his path.

Excuse me
while I get
a mop and broom.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012


My father,
an Army vet,
fought in the Philippines.
He tried to teach me
Morse Code; I was able to learn
how to tap out "help."
He knew
I would need some.
from him.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012


They say I'm sixty-four,
almost sixty-five. But that
is only what they say. Which part
are they talking about? The reality
is much harder to measure.
We've tried to draw lines,
impose definition,
trying to simplify
It's all been futile.

I feel near death;
many things
are broken
or have rusted out;
but I felt that at twenty
and thirty
and forty.
My constant companion
of fifty-five years
cries out
for compassion,
and I'm either lazy
or mean-spirited.
Diabetes will,
like my one plant,
fend for itself
for awhile. I'm

sitting outside
at a cafe
across from my ghosts,
getting a lung full
of New York exhaust
I watch
the parade
of flesh.
Faces and breasts
and hips and tight
hot everything flit
by, uncreased
by experience
or common cares.
To them
I'm just an old calendar,
but I still try
to drink it in,
catch an eye knowing
a life can turn
on luck.
Once in awhile
a person older
than myself shuffles past,
using a cane, pushing a walker,
holding on
to an aide.
They fiercely concentrate
on their next movement.
But, for some reason,
they go on. Perhaps,
they like me
wanted to give up the fight
fifty, sixty, seventy years ago,
too, but were like me
a coward.
Instead, I pulled the covers up
to my neck,
or drank
or shot enough dope
to make a little space
for myself.
That's all you really need
you know? A little space.
Somewhere where
they can't get to you
for a beat; a space
to play in.
And I was lucky
to find over the years
those spaces
often enough
to frustrate the demons
and amuse the gods.
I remained confused,
confused and so very

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012


My friend, Profane,
introduced me
to his cousin--
a beautiful young thing
--who lived in Brooklyn
when I drove him
out there to visit.
Her eyes were green
and backlit and
curious as she watched
and recorded my movements.
Soon, we were in my car,
headed for a hot dog
in Coney. Her body inched
closer to mine the more casual
and crazier I drove; punching it
up to seventy and eighty,
predicting the moves of others
as I weaved in and out
to freedom.

Being older,
and the expansive man I was,
full of insight
and bullshit
(and unemployed),
she visited me
in my crib
before she started work
or school,
or whatever she came to the city for.
She'd arrive,
in the bathroom,
slip into something silken
with animal stripes
then quickly find
my most vulnerable spots
without hesitation
or speech.
She'd shower after,
dress, say good-bye
and leave. I followed
her sound until I heard
the click of the door

One day
she said:
soon you will grow tired
of this, too.
And left.
The needle
had already moved
toward empty
two weeks prior.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Every once in awhile
the female creature
walks by--maybe one
in ten thousand--
that had been made
by an artisan
of the gods.
Each are put together
by the poets
of aesthetics: giving the world
just one of them
to admire: Marilyn, Ingrid,
Grace, Halley, Liz, Sophia,
Audrey, Lena, like Bird and Bach,
Bee and Trane, Miles and Monk, Jackson
and Vinnie.
There is not just
one type; they can be pure
or mongrel, but somehow
in this game
of genetic roulette
the egg and semen conspired
to fall on the right number.

Other women,
who've always had
digitalized eyes
record the picture
and try to remain
aloof, but will spend
lavishly for their essence;
men, childishly, pretend
that money and success
can equal cock
think they can buy
into their presence;
and sometimes they can,
but usually find
they can only afford
a Tijuana whorehouse
and a two dollar penicillin shot

I've spent a night
and sometimes a few years
in limited battle with some.
At first
it felt magical,
almost blessed,
to think you've been chosen,
not by them, but by them
and not for your charm
but for their inner
the skin
you find shadows.
A cylinder is broken;
a piston won't pump;
it overheats
with neurosis
at a light;
it can't start
while parked;
it shimmies,
or pulls
to a side,
or is all over
the road.
It needs work
and you're broke.
The love making
is the love making
and that's fine
while the upholstery
still has that leather smell,
but the fights are still the fights
and they come even from the most sensual
of grills.

Still, it's nice
when you see one
and nicer still
when they pass.
I always make sure
to breathe deeply
and hold it

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012


to shovel out of.
It's best to learn early
whose shit is whose.
Not that there's much
you can do about it;
either you deal with it
or not. Every which way
has its consequences:
try to avoid it,
navigate around
or through it, or
pretending it's not yours
on the natural
or pharmaceutical,
usually nurtures more
of a mess and stink.
But, by all means,
each and every twist.

If you're reading this
you're already
up to your neck
in it. Don't stop,
dig a little

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012


is dumb,
is bullshit,
not to mention
cruel. Better learn
to give it up
early or
at least
tame it
when you smell
its sweet breath.
It's the devil's trick
that god has sanctioned.
If you let it
it will make you ill;
with promise,
it will make you
with a child
who hates you
and rapes you
against reason's
pitiful rightness.

Hope is a lover
with closed legs;
it is the cunt
of disappointment,
a cock full
of lies,
a watchman who sleeps,
the gatekeeper who watches
the dead sleep;
an armed guard
whose fingers
are arthritic.

Just give it up
I tell you.
you're a better
and a degenerate one at that,
or a writer,
a player
of music,
a spinner
of tales,
hooked on the risk,
the gamble,
defying the odds,
laughing at the odds,
and the vig at the end,
what the city, state, fed,
your wife or husband or mother
or father or priest or butcher
carves from the bone
of your success
matters less
than a pimple
on an elephant's
You need that mania
to be any good
at any of it. Don't complain
when the devil comes
knocking through god's
side door. Hope
is pricy.
There's only
one other choice:
a Smith & Wesson
against the temple,
but even that,
knowing that the door
is never completely shut
might be enough
to keep you here.
It's worked for me
and some others I know.
Why not

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I'll find
in my in-box
a note
written by a reader
of mine
expressing a desire
to either write
or visit me
in the future.
it's in an email box
that I open infrequently
and have set up
for the purpose
of communication
with those whose presence
are better left
on the page.
write with interest
others with ardor,
most, however,
are flat
or stale
or profess knowledge
of my soul
which, thank god,
remains hidden
from myself.
It's why
I've been able to continue
to write
these many years.
Some tell me
how crazy
they were,
how alike we are,
how, when we meet,
(which the gods
have predestined),
we will have
a most treasured
remaining years
of bliss. They are emailing
from Canada, Japan,
Europe, next door;
arriving six, eight, nine months
from the time of writing
and would like,
to make it more exciting,
be able to just knock
on my door
if I give them
the address
and/or mail them
the key.
I have to tell those,
that while I have talents
in abundance,
being with people
I don't know
is not one of them.
Even those I do know
I, more than not, fail
to connect with.

You cannot work
at isolation;
many things
have had to conspire
for you to enjoy
what most others loathe.

Most other animals
and birds and reptiles
know this already;
seldom do you see them
going over to the lairs
and caves and holes
of others and having anything
except dinner;
and even that
was need, not desire.

I used to take those threats
seriously, but no more.
Most lack courage.
Most have very little to say.
And the ones who have much to say
won't waste it
on other humans. So...
I get those emails
once in awhile,
and respond,
and never hear from them again.
It's an exercise
that poets do:
it's called:
"let's pretend."
I still
like that.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012


used to be
the province
of the pro
or whore
when I was coming
of age late fifties
early sixties.
You'd hear the whispers,
knew it existed,
but also knew you'd have to travel
far and wide
(and probably have to have cash
in your pocket), to see, let alone,
experience those special angels
of mercy
who bothered to learn
this technique of pleasure.
Even the gangster ethics
of my Jewish father
and his Italian wise guy friends
wouldn't allow their wives
to suck cock--
(not that my mother wanted
to touch a dick,
much less suck one),
that was for their mistress to do:
I couldn't kiss the wife, ya know
what I mean, if I knew her lips
wrapped around a cock,
even mine. I let the other one
take care of that.

Sure, there were French decks,
titty magazines and stag films
for us kids,
passed around from time to time,
but not often, or often enough,
for a young man's molecules.
And if the little girls knew
about this stuff
they didn't let on;
sucking a dick
during those years
was about as romantic
as appearing with a used condom
stuck on your body
after coming out of the Coney Island

But pleasure
like death
marches to its own beat
brokered, and played with,
by a cultural imperative:

The artists and cultural
pimps pushed against
a now flimsy foe, god,
and by the mid-sixties
the only thing that was optional
was swallowing.
men had to eat pussy
and not in that Tom Sawyer
painting a picket fence way
but with style and verve
or had better learn
and develop both--
the goose and gander thing.
at some point
it was not a surprise
but expectation.

you can't read a book,
see a movie or TV show,
hear a comic,
without someone going down
on someone else.
It's an orator's madhouse.
Everyone's a poet;
everyone's an artist;
everyone's sexy,
and smart,
and attractive.
Every joke is risque,
or has a double entendre,
late night
is early night,
and early night
is every night.

I have no right
to complain
about cocksucking;
I've gotten more
than my fair share
by mouths beautiful
and educated.
And for all I know
the young boys
still look with astonishment
on their luck
the first hundred times or more.
But I don't think so.
The easier something is to cop
the less value it has. Things
work like that.
If you don't believe me,
try writing
a poem
like this.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Many years ago,
and continuing
for many years
thereafter, I'd travel
to those areas of grief
and misery and dreams
that only tease,
to cop
for three or four hours
at a time. Usually,
they were black areas
or Puerto Rican spots--
later Dominican, Haitian,
Mexican--and all had common tells:
gnawed chicken bones, ribs, bottles,
trash, tenements, fishbowl apartment windows
with the fat arms of old ladies watching
the show. I'd wait on corners
or on cop lines
being herded by thirteen year old'
who told us we better have our money straight
or get the fuck off the line.
I'd go into abandoned buildings,
up decayed flights of stairs lit
only by candles, with hundreds of others
full of need and desperation; or extend my hand
with the correct amount of money
through a hole in a door
or a bucket lowered from the roof
saying something like:
"4D and 2C" and wait until a hand dropped
some bags and tin foil into mine.
My bowels loosened
as I made my out and hoped
nobody stood
in my way.

I cannot cook a potato
or heat up a piece of fish or meat
without great anxiety. I look at the clock
as if electrocution was near, and count
the minutes.
Everything I do
scares the shit out of me.
I'm ready for;
it's the getting there
that I mind.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I now dress,
when I do,
in blacks and blues--
I've never much believed
in subtlety
and have decided
to show it.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012


My mother's face,
rigid and angry,
stared straight-up
to a heightened mirror
only she could see.
Her cheek,
when I pressed my lips against it,
seemed to be stuffed
with dry ice
so that my flesh
almost stuck to hers.
It wasn't much different
when she was alive
except now she was framed
in a cardboard box
the funeral home
funneled her into.
Nobody was there
except for my father who
didn't much like her
either. She managed
to tyrannize both of us:
he by her cold;
me by the heat
of betrayal each time
I marched to my own beat,
which was often.
Many times I tried
to get her over
the line offering her
some pot or whiskey
or wine, but
after trying reefer once
and losing herself,
she never did it again:
Too much freedom
scared her.

I've lived in a country
of myths: God, country
and family. Each
was bad, but family
was worst. I've read
the lives of writers,
painters, musicians, thieves,
murderers, pedophiles, bank
presidents, business moguls
and politicians;
have heard thousands
of mother testimonials
given by mouths of drunks
and addicts, hollywood
stars who leaked
with neurosis and cruelty,
selfishness and narcissism,
and saw, if you simply scratched
the surface, mom's face,
pulling the strings.
I am sure,
there are those
who have come through fine:
well-rounded, decent, and honest.
But those folks
usually leave nothing behind
except more of us. Which
is rather sad.
Give me
the jagged ones,
the freaks,
the Celines' and Rimbaud'
the Vinnie' and Vans and Marlons',
who, when they touch something,
they cut it
and leave some blood
some stain some proof
that they were here.

It took me quite some time
to come to that and embrace
it, and ask it to dance,
even while knowing
my mother would never
let herself be seen
with a smile on her face
or expectation
in her green eyes--
like mine.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012


What attracted me
were those who
were not part of my tribe or
if they were,
crossed over
into more dangerous waters.
Coney Island
in the fifties and sixties
was my lab
and my father,
a disappointed gangster
at heart,
gave me a free study hall pass.

Those Jewish girls
seemed so tame
while those Italian chicks
had that hip twitchy way
about them, that olive skin,
those take me and fuck me eyes,
that way of talkin
that was straight street.
They had names like Cookie,
and Marie and Nicki; they showed
off their blue school uniforms
with cum stains on their skirts;
they could care less about silverware,
or college, or high school for that matter;
they instead worried over whether Johnny
was gonna beat whatever rap
he was gonna get from the judge
or his father.

Sundays, we'd drive
to another part of Brooklyn,
another section where
old men sat and played gin
in social clubs and where
their wives were home
making Sunday gravy,
occasionally tasting
with a long wooden spoon
from big pots of bubbling
thick tomato sauce.
My father had usually bought
something from them that week,
something that fell
from the back of a truck, or
gave them some dough
to put on the street,
or was close enough to go
to the horse track or a boxing match with.
Their wives had names
like Cynthia or Mary or Marie or Sylvia;
most had bad skin, dyed blond hair,
black roots and smoked long
cigarettes like Pall Mall or Benson and Hedges.
They all sipped highballs
as they worked,
and the tipsier they got
the more they laughed
and the more they laughed
the more they divulged
about their fucking
or lack thereof
or finding their daughter's tongue
down the mouth of a hoodlum
in training or giving their kid's teacher
a smack for getting in the way
of a collection or a stick-up,
or just because they were
who they were.

I'd see these women
age and become things
they never thought they would:
on a barstool, late at night,
still in Brooklyn,
still this side of old,
sipping Manhattans
for a call
or for the bartender
to tell them
where to go
at what time. Tiredly,
she'd check her watch
and know she had two hours
to kill
among the many hours
already dead and ask
for another.

I'm sure
as I'm winding down
like a cheap watch,
there are others
just beginning
to wind their stems.
They have no idea
what's before them,
and neither do I.
They could find themselves
in The White House
or a madhouse
for all I know
or care.
This poem
wasn't meant to caution,
or instruct or do
much of anything
except recall
for me
those days past
when I was drawn
to strange creatures
who were whores
as well as saints
with kick-ass
attitudes all.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012


My spleen; my liver; my heart; my lungs;
my cock; my cunt; my balls; my eggs;
my eyes; my ears; my tongue; my teeth;
my arms; my legs; my toes; my fingers;
my car; my truck; my brain; my ideas;
my blood; my viscera; my jism; my cum;
my tits; my milk; my house; my oven;
my pots; my pans; my money; my money;
my money; my stocks; my bonds; my property;
my feelings; my shirts; my pants; my panties;
my briefs; my socks; my leggings; my shoes;
my desires; my fears; my purpose; my mucus;
my thoughts; my body; my roots;
my success...

my failures,
are yours
and yours alone
for not loving enough
what is mine.

Bow wow, bow wow, bow wow.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 1981


for Stevie Cauthon

She wanted it
first thing
this morning not knowing
that my dick
hardly ever rose
with the sun, (last night liquored up & bent
outa shape was easy enough...her being fresh pussy
didn’t hurt either.) But now, Christ....

She did know;
her legs knew;
her ankles locked knew;
her hands were O
so gentle
as we turned
into the stretch.
I felt the rise
that pushes God aside.
No whip,
no spurs,
no cheap muscle.

I probably paid
11, 12 dollars & change.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village
Spring, 1977

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I've got one day
a week
to get out
of my lair
and into the jungle
to line up the prey
I'll devour
over the next six days.
is spent
working for the hole
I shit in.
I'm an animal
of the worst sort--
old, trapped,
but still needing
to go on.

It's gotten warm
on this savannah,
and so I sit
among all the fleeter creatures,
legs, knees and shoulders arthritic,
teeth are long and mostly gone,
heart, though quite diseased, resting
for the next quick pump, the next challenge.
I look at them all,
the female and male:
young ones, old ones, fat ones, thin ones,
ass' pert or like Montana mules,
I measure them,
gauge the distance;
only one out of a thousand
looks like it would make a good meal,
but the old beast must shop
at any store that's closest, must make do
with meat that's available,
no matter the cut and damn
the cost.

Most who pass
give me not a second thought;
they do not see the madness
in my eyes, or the hunger,
certainly not the desperation.
I've not gotten this old
by showing my cards,
only playing my hand.

A little girl decides to stop
and plop down
on the sidewalk near me;
her mother tries to yank her up
by an arm; her father looks on
seemingly helpless.
The little girl's face
is dirty, smudged with her last
snack. Her defiant blue eyes
find mine. We look at each other
locked in a fine standoff.
The girl's forefinger is stuck
so far up her nose
that barely her knuckle shows.
The mother looks at me,
and yanks harder.
She tells the father
to grab the other arm
which he does.
The little girl drags her feet
and looks over her shoulder
at me. Unfortunately,
I don't have another decade
to wait for her.
Excuse me,
a gentle voice said,
may I sit in this seat?
I swivel my head
right into the eyes
of an eighty-five year old.
By all means,
please, I reply.
I watch as she places
her three-pronged cane
into a space that allows her
to settle safely.
My mouth

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012


the dick
does not come
with a lifetime guarantee;
I know this
is hard,
if not impossible,
to believe
for the young
and the middle aged
when a random thought
or brushing against
the past
or the future
or the immediate
stiffened the rope
that elephants
could hang from.
It's sad
like crossing a threshold
you didn't even know existed
but you've passed;
you look behind
at the gulf
and it seems as tiny as an ant's asshole,
but it might as well be on Mars;
almost as noiseless
as the near dead,
the spigot rasps
and coughs
and dribbles
as you watch
it empty: youth,
your youth
has taken off
for greener pastures.
No longer
will you be able to
guide it in, or,
like an old sock,
soft from wear and washing,
stuff it up there knowing
it will find a resting place,
anyplace, like the corner of a drawer.
It will be
a mocking appendage
that informs you
of the time it was,
the time it is,
and why old men
are so quick
to wage war.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012


I was looked on
as dangerous.
Don't get too close,
they said,
he'll get you in trouble,
bring you down,
have his way
with you. And don't,
whatever you do,
they stressed,
fall in love with him;
he'll steal your money
or your heart
or both
even if he likes you.

Now, I'm just
a cautionary tale.

But that's O.K.
It was all
besides the point
the ones who were pulled
with fever or guts
into my orbit
had their own gambler's dreams,
drew closer to me
and tumbled
as they sucked
whatever they wanted to suck
until they became dry
or exhausted or I became
too predictable
and boring;
the others
without those feelers
were never in danger
to begin with.

History is always something
yet to be lived
by each of us.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012


There were Ann', Anne', and Anna,
Amy', Barbara', and Core, a few Diane',
and more than a few Denise', Elizabeth
or Liz, Lizzie, or Betty,
Kat and Kitty;
there were too many Sue' and Suzie' to count,
and one memorable Suzanne; a barmaid Amber
in a strip joint on Sixth Ave and a rogue Arriana
who claimed to be a Russian Count's daughter
on the lam; a Ms. Nunez in Madrid and a Ms. Marquez
in a hospital room in the South Bronx;
a few Ruth', Maria',
Judi, Judy', Jo, and Jane'.
There was a Lorraine, a Lenore, a Danielle and Victoria,
Hettie and Maize.
Most of the others are lost
in a memory that is getting to be
a loosely strung sieve
although they come back
when least expected.
Most of them,
especially the lost ones,
were jousts
and nightly conquests;
nothing more
than a test
of my insecurities.
I was certainly
no bargain
the way I lied,
talked bullshit
or humored my way
to the finish line.
Who, but an idiot,
keeps score?

Yet each name,
with time,
became baby or doll
or a special shortcut
to intimacy;
each visage,
became a snapshot--
some with captions.
Some, even, became
a wonderful poem,
funny, brutal, filled with life
and sometimes love
for days and weeks, months,
and a few time, years.
The ones that were the best
was when the heat of fucking ended
and an easy observation began:
I liked to watch them bathe
and dress without
male intrusion; the ease they have
with their bodies, the application
of notions and lotions and perfume
and hosiery. The loveliness of vanity
when only you are around.

I know I offered each of them
something, but what that was
is hard to know.
I do believe that none of them
were bored although
I've wasted some of their time--
a terrible price to pay, I know.
I'll probably be going to Hell,
if that's any consolation.
Some, I know,
I'll see there and maybe
take up with them again
and see what happens
next time.
Hell, maybe
I've gotten

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I got it bad,
she said.
How bad?
I asked.
Real bad,
in my bones bad,
she replied.
What can I do?
I inquired.
You can treat me
just a shade short of mean...
come over,
like you used to,
fuck me when you want,
and leave;
tell me you'll call...
have me wait,
you know--
be yourself.
I don't know
if I can still do that,
I said.
she replied, just for a little while,
she continued, I really got it bad
from this last one,
bad, bad, bad;
he shoulda been named Columbus
for all that new found pain he discovered
inside me...and you?
you were bad,
but never that bad,
and I need a little tapering;
I need to ease off him
How long do you think
this will take?
I asked. (I felt like a whore,
but a good one.)
Don't know,
she replied,
but I gotta get the taste
of him out my mouth--a month
or two
should do it,
but ya never know
with that kinda love;
that kind of love is tricky:
it tickles
while it hurts
in those places
where unknown pleasures hide,
ya know
what I mean?

How does seven sound?

Sounds like a plan,
she said.

I knew I wouldn't make it
until eight-thirty or nine.
I hung-up
and grinned.
In all this time
I'd not forgotten

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Rare is the person
who utilizes it;
and even rarer
is the person
who profits by it.
we bludgeon it,
piss on it,
strangle it,
avoid it,
plunder it,
tear it, rip it,
shit on it,
spit on it,
sit on it,
eat it
when full or
for no good reason
at all.
We bruise it,
break it,
bloody it,
staining ourselves
and the cunt of the earth
that bore us.

At first, we thought
it was just a "filling in;"
a way of getting
from place to place
with something, anything,
to do. We humans need
filler to dam up
the madness
of emptiness
unlike the snails
and the slugs,
the whales and the bugs,
the flowers stretching
and trees widening
without knowing why.

Time was a different enemy then--
then it was something to be defeated--
until I ate, or got laid, or drunk, or high,
or something that changed who I was
or thought I was--
until something happened
that coated the misery
or the fear
or the monotony.
It was there
before the food was in front of me,
while the connection showed up,
before the picture show started,
or a job appeared.
I was bold then,
I thought I could fuck with it,
bend it,
meld it,
twist it,
tame it,
make it
do my bidding.
I was so smart,
such a rogue.
The drink helped,
the drugs helped,
the women,
young and old
helped. The writing helped
most of all. It gave me
hope and lessened
the terror. What they
gave me was the ability
to mug a minute or two;
to find the magic
in the flesh of a poem,
in a wet bottle
of beer or the depths
of a shot glass;
the surge of dope
inside your stomach
and heated shoulders and neck
licking the memories clean.
Those pockets of miracles
when a woman knows
your stupidities
and laughs at them, when her ankles lock
and brings you into the stretch
and you both ride
as if on fire allowing everything else
to burn.
I didn't realize then
how rare feeling alive
while not being part of this world was
and how patient time is;
how it held
all the cards; how that kind of obedience
can cost you days and weeks and months
and years. How one day
you look
and look
again, sucking in your tongue,
nodding your head, a bit bewildered, looking
for the lost years,
sometimes decades,
and if you're not careful
you think you can make
those decades up
killing more time.

But I can't kick:
I was a poor bet
to make it
much past forty,
growing up how I did,
with the diseases I have,
and being a heat seeking missile
of pleasure and self-destruction,
but I did.
I would boast about it--
as if I had something to do with it--
but not now;
now I know I was just an animal
either doing or being done.

The end for me will come sooner
rather than later
while I still look
for those minutes, those pockets.
Most of my time is still
mind numbing, frustrating,
even painful, yet I'm still lucky:
the music still plays
and the words still dance
now across a screen
instead of paper. They are tigers playing
with each other.
And me? I'm no heavyweight champ,
but I'm a good club fighter:
I'lI never lie down,
and more often than not,
no matter who the fuck I'm fighting,
go the distance and maybe,
just maybe, win;
and maybe win
more often than lose,
when the scorecards get tallied
after the last bell sounds.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012


you gotta let it
come out
all at once.
you clean it up
as best you can
to make sure
you don't stink
too much.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012


I've lived in Greenwich Village
in the same pad--as big
as a postage stamp--
for thirty-eight years now.
I had "fools luck"
falling into this one:
rent stabilized.
A beautiful, tree-lined street,
scaled for humans,
off 5th Avenue where NYU's tentacles
keeps it clean and safe
for those little tykes
living on daddy's dime.
You hardly ever hear
of a kid thrown against a wall
or a stray bullet
going where it shouldn't.
The minorities that pass through
are most often going to class
or selling reefer in the parks.

In the early sixties
after I'd sucked all I could
out of the poolrooms
and bowling alleys
I cut high school and come here.
And even though it's best days
were over, there still was a faint whiff
in the air, in the bookshops
that held broadsides and mimeo rags,
and record stores that played
the classical long hairs, death operas,
be-boppers and avant-garde hipsters
and the old and young eccentrics who sold the stuff
and who seemed to know
much more than I did,
but kept it quiet
unless asked.
Most of them
have either died
or been run off
by capitalism's geometry,
perfect in its greed
and knowledge of space
and real estate.
This part of the city lives
now as all others do:
on myth and nostalgia's commerce.
The apartments change bodies
as quickly as semesters
as the monthly swag rises.
I know no one
in my brownstone--five floors
of coffin shaped studios--
and no one knows me--
except as a kind of calendar
telling them
what time it was.

A few years ago
a five floor brownstone was bought
by the owner of a hedge fund who,
rumor had it, paid five million
and change. Rumor also had it
he was sinking seventeen million more
into "refurbishing" the structure.
Can you believe, he's building an indoor pool,
a rock garden, spa, steam rooms...My God...
went the whispers from my neighbors
above the age of forty
loud enough to make a contented god
jealous. It was too rich
for this block to contemplate. Hell,
Dylan Thomas drank here
and died a few blocks away;
Delmore Schwartz dreamt here;
Melville and Twain wore down their boots here;
Pollock and deKooning had fist-fights around the corner
while Rothko contemplated colors and suicide
and Klein thought of the black and white firmament here.
Even Eleanor Roosevelt
put on her brassiere across the street
and thought about saving the world,
her husband's infidelity
and pussy.
My neighbors though were not here
to discuss old masterpieces;
and Eleanor's tits had long ago sagged; our new neighbor
was creating a new masterpiece for the ages:
an indoor pool.
Two years later
he and his family
were ready
to dive.

Spring has been weird
this year
on the east coast: mild,
even warm. I went out
to breathe in the freshness
and smelled dog shit instead.
What the hell, lemme go across the street,
sit on a stoop, have a smoke and then run my errands.
I saw groups of young folks
walking past with green nylon wigs, big stove-pipe hats,
green t-shirts, shorts, knee socks, shamrocks, sipping
beer from cardboard containers or bottles:
St. Patrick's Day makes idiots
out of idiots who love any excuse
to take their idiocy for walk
and make it public. Soon, I knew,
you'd have to sidestep their puke
to make it back home.
The hedge fund owner was sitting
on the next stoop, one kid dangling
from his ankle and another tot
a few steps above holding on
for dear life the hem
of his mother's running shorts.
The hedge fund owner looked
out of it, somewhat dejected, staring straight out
to where Eleanor used to get dressed.
I knew that look.
It was the look you get
between battles. It's the long stare.
It's shell shock. You don't believe
you can go on,
but you know you will,
you have to.
I need some down time, she said.
And me?, he replied, barely above a whisper, what about me?
Raising children is no picnic,
she said in perfect english.
He tried to swivel his head up
to meet her eyes,
but he knew in his heart
he was fucked. But that's why, he began, you have help,
goddamnit--a nanny, a cook, cleaning girl.
You're out all week. They're yours today.
The kids grip tightened with each syllable.
Jesus, Cath, I need a run, he began...
Not today--you need a run today? run the kids to the park;
I've got to get dressed. Take her.
She gripped her daughter's hand and brought her down
to where he sat, staring out
once again,

The whole scene
played out in two minutes,
but would be replayed constantly
for years to come
until it played itself out
one way or another.
The hedge fund owner
will be happy
to get to work Monday
and take it out
on nameless, faceless people
and make even more money.
The poor have it
no differently
in the love game,
but being poor
kill less souls.
Scramble two.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012


you'd adjusted
to the cruelty
of your birth--
the brutality
of your father;
a derangement
of the senses
felt in the lash
or his absence;
just when you thought
you'd habituated yourself
to your mother's preference
for stray cats and dogs
or three-legged orphans
that you heard pawing
and clawing through endless nights,
tattooing the "no place like home" tapestry hung
inside your eyelids
and above the dinner table
where we're least blind;
just when you thought
you stopped believing
in conductors and teachers
and railroad escapes and streetcar conductors,
lawyers and doctors and magicians
and started having a limited faith
that your words made sense,
when you began to make them
yours, birthing them, nursing them,
raising them, teaching them
to sometimes behave;
and they, in turn,
trusting you
to come out
of hiding, jumping at you
from impossible angles,
through hoops and loops of memory,
across caterpillar armies,
until your defeats
became butterflies, their wings
intact, and beating like a tiny heart,
just then
you dreamt six numbers
and Ralph, the corner newsboy,
told you to check your ticket,
as he handed you a fresh deck
of smokes and you
became not you
and the words fled
not recognizing
who thought them.

It was a nightmare,
of course. Yet, I've dreamt
this often, in many forms.
And, occasionally,
I've even had "fuck you" money;
a parade of pussy;
an absence of bosses
or overseers. All I could do
was get high and drunk,
laid and lazy.
And the words split
to greener pastures.
I was a fraud, a criminal,
a squanderer of opportunity.

The hard part
is needing
the nightmare
to achieve
the other.
Some would not want
to do it. And most can't.
The old ones, like me,
who do this
without fame or money attached,
who are used to this,
this being ignored,
are dying off.
There are some good ones out there;
they are young
but so is the mortality rate.
My advice: dream rich
stay poor
while you learn the craft;
take the pricks and cunts
where you find them,
and can get them,
but don't go out looking;
let the game
come to you;
the gods are generous,
don't force their hand;
and know that most,
if not all advice,
is bullshit
to do with
what you

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012


Nobody who ever felt,
then heard,
the steel snap
around the wrists
can doubt our brotherhood
with the wolf
and the deer
and any other living thing
caught in the human jungle
of motive.
No matter the reason,
it's a ferocious defeat.

If I could,
I'd rather be the wolf,
gnawing my wrist or elbow
to the white sinewy bone,
my own blood dripping
from my own teeth,
pulling and snapping
until I was able to run
to where I either bled out
or healed.
That choice was not given me.
A policeman stood or sat
too near and watched my form diminish
as he pushed and prodded me
from the street to his cruiser to the station
to the cell
where bars replaced cuffs.
Still, those cuffs
were not the worst.
The worst were liquid.
The worst were sanctioned
by the state and the Feds
and were made to be drunk,
looking as inviting
as orange Kool-Aid.
Each morning,
I broke the night's skin
a bit dope sick,
a thin coat of clammy sweat on my skin,
I went in the ice and the furnace,
to a proscribed place to drink
a proscribed amount for
a proscribed time only
to get up and do it again tomorrow.
It is another form of poor white trash life,
of nigger life,
a dreamer's life
of hopelessness,
an indentured life,
a black faced vaudeville life,
where if you don't make them laugh
you will wait on line forever.
Nature can never be that cruel.
Having taken everything from you
they try to extract a little more.

Some people won't know
what the hell I'm talking about.
They won't think about rent,
or husbands or wives or children
or jobs or electricity or flat tires
or broken teeth with just enough money for soup.
They'll have come out and grown up pretty much intact.
They'll have read, they'll have watched and many have even understood.
But they've never have lost a pinkie or a hand
in the dope cooker;
they'll not have missed a meal
except on purpose.
They'll have been caught
only in the abstract.
Which might make
for good conversation,
but not so much
for anything else--
except our continuation,
which is not very much
to brag about.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Making your way
through this madness
there were people
you had to talk to,
others you must to talk,
and the few
you did talk to.
But even the ones you did talk to
were selected by circumstances,
not frequently by desire.

It's true:
most of us are boring
and somewhat limited
in how we see ourselves
and the world:
the common gain importance;
the old debates are debated again;
the sides might as well had been chosen
as randomly as kids choose-up pick-up ball games.

Never trust
the crowd
I knew
early on.
My degeneracy
was elitist.
I cultivated
and quacks,
who had an early taste
of death
showing those invisible scars
that parents and gods beat into them.
We managed to find each other
in places were the deranged gathered:
schools, odd jobs, pool rooms,
gin mills and shooting galleries.
It took me more years
to discover
that most of them
weren't smart either.

None of us is simply
that smart.

But in these six decades
I've been around the world,
sometimes in a day.
Age has tempered me,
wised me up,
the rocks have smoothed
and no longer leave me
bloody from memory.
Each person is a person
I could like, if not love,
I could smile with, if not laugh with,
they have warmth and compassion
wrapped around their failures
and the failures of others they love
and do not judge themselves
and me too harshly.
And since my jar
had remained purposely empty
all these many years
I am thirsty for this kind of humanness.
And surprisingly,
they see something in me
that would have turned me away
in years past, but they don't turn away
they just make the lamp brighter
and push their way
into the dark.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012


I'd just hit
double digits
and was home
from school
because of a blizzard.
I'd stayed up
most of the night
huddled in my bed
under the covers
listening to my little Panasonic
for it to announce
school closings,
while every few minutes
(which felt like hours),
I'd poke my eyes
through the wooden slats to see
how much of God was on my side.
Early that morning
He finally decided to do the right thing,
and schools shuttered.
My father, too,
stayed home,
but not from a childish reverie,
but because of a hacking nasty chest cold
he'd been fighting for days.
He hated staying home.
I loved it.
He'd always had an easier time
being away from his family
than around them,
and had an even worse time
dealing with sickness
of any kind.
I was still too stupid
to get the Hell out of Dodge.
he called out to me,
come in here.
I went into his bedroom
and there he was,
Moby Dick,
thrashing around
in his blue blanket sea,
Kleenex like whitecaps
strewn across the ocean.
I want ya to go the drugstore
and tell him to give ya a bottle
of G.I. Gin.
Tell him to give me what?
I asked.
Just tell him you need some G.I. Gin,
he'll know what that is, even that idiot will know that.
Take five from my bill fold, but it ain't gonna cost you that,
and get it for me, will ya?
This fuckin cough is gonna kill me. Hurry up,
before I die.

I got dressed,
bundled up for the elements,
feeling like a soldier given a mission,
for his General,
a General who was sick,
and made my way to Mr. Markowitz's store
on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island
a few blocks from my home.
Snow has a way
of quieting things,
slowing things down,
even those inchoate surges
that were already so much a part of me.
The inverted fin of his '57 Caddy
had an inch or more on it,
almost two feet on the ground itself.
Nothing moved
except the white free fall.
I trudged through it,
enjoying the effort,
getting to the goal.

Mr. Markowitz was there
in his whites
and seemed surprised
to see a customer
when his bell rung
and I came in.
Mr. Markowitz,
I said,
after I clapped my hands
to shake the snow from my gloves
and took off my beanie
covered with ice.
I need a bottle of G.I. Gin.
Who needs a bottle of G.I. Gin?
(Mr Markowitz was an idiot.)
My father needs it Mr. Markowitz.
I don't even know what it is, what is it?
Cough medicine. It's cough medicine:
mostly Turpin Hydrate and codeine. Soldiers drank it
in the war. Tastes disgusting--but it works.
He went into the back, where he mixed up his pills and medicines
and came back and handed me a cough syrup bottle with a clear
but viscous brew inside it.
Three dollars, he said. Tell your father I hope he feels better.
Yeah, sure, I said and left.

My hand was icy and wet when I handed him the bottle.
He chugged
almost a quarter of it,
let out a roar of disgust,
and lit a cigarette.
Tastes like shit,
he exclaimed,
but it works.
And pressed it against his chest
like a third tit
as he fumbled for an ashtray.
What a fuckin life
this is,
he opined,
I'm home one fuckin day
and there ain't nothin on TV to watch:
no movie, no nothin.
You feel like playin gin or casino?
Anything is O.K. with me. Either one.
Get a deckacards and somethin to keep score with--
I'm gonna whip your ass.

I don't know about him,
but it was a good day for me
so far;
the best I'd had
in quite a while.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I used to watch my old man smoke
those Chesterfield shorts.
How he'd shake one
out of the pack,
flip it nimbly in his fingers,
and light it from a match
he cupped in his fist
whether he was against the wind
or not.
He'd hold the smoke deftly,
like a good pool shooter would hold his cue,
inhale deeply,
and while letting go
that first drag,
smoke coming out of his mouth and nose,
take another
down into his lungs
which seemed to satisfy him
for a few seconds.
Sometimes I'd be with him
and a few of his Mafia cronies
and they, too, would smoke unfiltered's:
Camels, Pall Malls, Chesterfields,
and Lucky's. I'd see them dry lip
the ends and then flick their tongues
to get at the specks of tobacco
that snuck aboard or sometimes
pinch their lips to remove them.
It was as cool and natural to them
as it was to Bogey
or Frank
who they idolized.
It went with the doing;
it went with the getting done.

I musta been eleven or twelve
when I stole a few Chesterfields
and a bottle of gin
from the liquor cabinet
and took them
and a pack of matches
to the beach.
Stealing was a delicious act,
but crossing into their world was tastier.
I got to the beach in Coney Island,
sat on the wet sand
my form lit from an old street lamp
forming a question mark
on the boardwalk.
I put the Chesterfield between my lips,
tasted a sweet bitterness that stung
the tip of my tongue
and tried to cup the match,
burned my fingers,
tried again,
and again,
and again,
finally lighting it from the side.
I took a drag
and coughed;
took a sip of warm gin
and gagged.
I smoked three cigarettes quick,
and sipped what tasted like hair tonic
just as quickly.
Light headed and a bit looped,
I made it home,
snuck around the back
eased the door open
and up to my room
and found my old man
sitting on my bed
waiting for me.
Come here you little bastard,
and close the door.

In a short amount of time,
Chesterfields tasted too stale,
Camels too thick,
Pall Malls were too long,
but Lucky's fit fine.
circumstance would dictate
what was smoked and what was drunk,
or ingested,
but who knew that

there is a filter
on my cigarette,
and coffee in my glass.
Sometimes that reality
gets me sick
if I think about it
too much.
I fear,
the cigarettes,
and my lungs,
will have to go,
"Love" does not now,
never did,
and never will,
conquer all.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I was a shy kid
before I knew
what the word meant;
my body knew
before my head
that when I wanted something,
really wanted it,
I stuttered
until I thought I'd die
or just give up on it.
Early on
my body betrayed me,
leaving me to live
inside my head
where I cultivated
my heroics and myths
and turned them
into art.

Luckily, I was smart
and learned to lie
even while
the body remained dumb
obeying a linearity that punished
speech. It is all I need to explain
this writing jones.

But dating in my youth
was fraught
with danger
especially if the object
was beautiful and smart.
Those I'd desire,
dream about,
casually walk home with,
sharing a smoke with
and exhaling
before we rounded
the corner of our homes,
made me wish
for a peaceful death--
hers or mine--
before I'd reveal
any intention at all.
I'd have to sidle up,
playing angles, bank-shots;
not wanting to be obvious,
I'd arrange a neutrality
before arming the troops.

My head made up
from what my body lacked
and did all right with the girls:
all of them liked to talk
about themselves
and their parents
and their current boyfriends;
I knew none of them
met their needs because needs
once met
are either taken for granted or
are discarded
and left at the curb's edge
for the next handsome collector
who can talk talk talk
and is funny.
I pretended to be a rogue's rogue:
played hookey, drank,
stayed out late,
smoked Lucky's,
and memorized
Lenny Bruce.
It was
my calling card.
And so I fumbled
with bra's built like Humvees,
listened as they unlocked
those dead-bolt clasps
and watched
as their miraculous breasts
splashed across their chests
and I learned and learned well
their likes
and dislikes
realizing that although the drug
might be the same
each of us get high differently.

Then it became easy:
dating disappeared
in certain circles
somewhere in the sixties.
No longer did you have to ask
a young woman out,
you merely had to be there.
Except now the smart and beautiful ones
became smarter and more beautiful
and my stutter remained.
But now heroin
brokered the aggression.
Jazz joints
and jazz poems
did most of the talking.
I was good
and lucky.

I could go on
and tell you
how ill-equipped I was
in my later years
to handle arm-to-arm combat,
but I won't. Suffice it to say,
I surrendered.
Now I choose to take my tragedies
as well as my success'
and anything in between
Not that I have anything against booze
or dope or dating, I simply
can't afford them
both from the pocket
and in the soul:
they cannot take what's not there,
and I'd like to save what is left of the other.

And so, if you knock late one night
and I don't answer,
I'm not singling you out--I'm not
holy. It's just I now know better
than to believe
it's just a matter of wanting
what is absent; it's really because
of your absence
that I desire you.
Leave it that way.
It will be easier
for both of us.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012


"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

I'm gonna miss ya mama.
I'm gonna miss ya.
I always loved whores,
those angels of kindness,
those nighttime angels,
and mama,
you were one of the grandest,
one of the best, in your face whores
I've ever had the pleasure of tumbling with.
You mighta been born Jamesetta,
but quickly became Peaches
to me and many other
one nighters; mighta been fathered
by a pool stick hustler,
but everyman who ever laid down a bet
or grabbed what they could,
when they could,
had a piece of your action
and wanted more--
didn't matter the cost,
didn't matter the price.

I fell in love with you
when your body shimmied
and when it fell,
when your hair was dyed
a black rooted whore's blond,
or when it sprouted red
like a cockscomb,
when your eyebrows arched
and when your lipstick ran
into your mouth's cauldron;
I loved you when your tits where giving
and then when your thighs and ass
was as big and thick as a Montana mule's.

And through everything,
you felt the painfulness of air
against which you rubbed
and made it sing.
I know nothing
made sense
unless you were singing
and sometimes, probably,
not even then.
There was drink
and there were men,
to get you through,
but never enough
and never for long:
drink took too long
to work
and most men took too long
to come and go.
The ones you fucked,
and wanted to fuck and stay
never stayed
for long. But you knew
that no one
can ever stay
for that long.
At some point,
the point that rusted
the place
in your heart,
you didn't know
who you were fucking
or why. The only thing
that was important
was the time
eaten up
between shots.
By then you knew
what it took
to survive
and went about
the business
of forgetting.
Your arms became
and your hands
blew-up and swelled
by the wasted dope
that missed your veins.
And that was all right,
with you, too.
Unless there was none
left. But by then
was welcomed
as much
as flying.
Each offered escape
from the repetitious
You fell
and got up,
and fell some more.
And landed better.
You were Beckett's queen:
A real queen.
A real whore:
perfumed, dolled-up,
and regal.

At the end
you didn't know
who you were
or where you were,
and that
was a good thing.
who could be sure
of such things?
This country
and this life
makes fools of us all.
But even most of us fools
knew the wrong star shone
inauguration night
and starting tonight
will not come out

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012


There are all manners
of signs
given to hulking beasts
whether the ring is canvassed
and squared, round,
or borderless.
Yet one thing is certain:
feelings precede
(and might even predict)
We might not know,
but our bones do.

Our stage
could be a stage,
or letters
in our fingers
or on a keypad;
it could be notes
that settle
in the flesh
of our inner
or outer
ear that turns
away from us
before we are able
to sing it.
of a certain intelligence
disbelieve and fight
against it,
hoping the opening
will once again assert
and present itself.
We remember
how we danced,
of a certain grace,
able to jab
with precision,
hook and right cross
at will, stayed on our toes
for the full fifteen rounds
and took punches
that no man
had a right to take
and still stand.

we know
what we want to do,
but can't.
A beat slow.
It comes to each
at a different time
and at a different speed,
but it comes
all the time.
You fight it,
of course.
Better, I think
to be like the majestic elephant:
a bone feeling
and a walk
to the graveyard
They know
and do not look
unhappy. It's simply
part of it.
They do not want
to make a mess
or feel embarrassed.
If I could,
I'd attach my hand
to one of their tails
and go with them.
Unlike most humans
they have

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2012