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

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