Sunday, September 8, 2013


It's funny
how you find
each other
at different times
through the years
and then are glued,
without realizing it,
by certain deformities:
a blind eye,
that are dried
from a careless shot
of penicillin when a child,
a bum leg, a hairlip,
a stutter,
diabetes, violent
parentage, a murmur
of the heart...
All of us found a way
to compensate:
a humor both ribald
and profane, a cleverness
outwitting death;
an alchemist's brew
to survive...and luck
in a shot glass
a syringe
or another outlet
of depravity...
Over half a century
tiptoeing or shouldering through
we thought
we knew
the terrain; once again
we were fooled because
deep down
we chose
to remain
fools. And that's alright.
Some of those friends
are famous
and some quite rich.
I am neither,
but still known
to a very small
and I'd imagine
shrinking circle.

One woman
who is well known
in literary and artistic
battlefields called
with a request:
for a few hours
over a weekend
meet her
at a hospital
that drips with cancer
and death and read
some stuff
to some of the kids
on the runway waiting
for a takeoff
that hopefully
will be aborted.
(How we still love
to be read to).
A few years back
when asked to do that,
I asked for the teenagers,
knowing next to nothing
about children.
I was given the same age,
but different faces.

The kids were either wheeled in,
or came attached to mobile I.V.'s,
hooked-up to oxygen tubes and masks,
or shuffled in and plopped down from radiation,
eyes red and vacant, bone tired
at thirteen into the first available chair or couch.
There was a constant drip-drop
dripping yellowish fluid in their arms,
or necks.
"Stop Staring At My Tits, Mister," I read first
to wake them the fuck up, by Bukowski. Some grinned,
others smiled, still others laughed
out loud. Sometimes you need permission
to laugh. To laugh at yourself
and laugh at death. Laughing fucks
with death. It makes death
crazy. Teases it with life.
I followed with a few more by Buk
and finished it with a few by Selby;
"A Little Respect," being the last.
I was a facilitator, a conductor.
I can't say for sure,
but I felt better than those kids felt
afterwards and they seemed to feel quite good.

We all went afterwards
to the famous man's restaurant
in the West Village. Attention
was paid to us--actually
to them. I knew I was an appendage
and that was O.K., too.
We talked about everything
except the kids: Cannes,
Vegas, who's fucking who,
who's old, over the hill
and demented and who's
just demented; who's a real artist
and who's a fake; who's washed-up,
strung-up strung-out hung-up hung-out
and dried--the usual shit.
But today, though,
we did not get to the uselessness
of "art." We simply
didn't need
to go there.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

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