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

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