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

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