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

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Markowitz is an idiot? Some homage,chum. Good poem piece. knowing the players always makes it better. sometimes the dead are more real to us than the living.