Friday, November 29, 2013


The Betty Poems

Two days
after Christmas
I'm going to die:
my baby's
coming in.
She'll wing her way
to me
on a prayer
and a cross.
I'll suffer,
I know,
for her sins
and mine.

She has little interest,
she told me,
in waiting
for Godot,
or any others;
she has no patience
for Tchaikovsky's
romanticism or
suffering; she has grown-up
inside her own skin
and that has been enough
for ten lifetimes.

We'll have a grand time,
she said,
pleasuring each other
with our humor
and our fingers
and our silence.
She wants
her wheels
to come off
for a few days
without thinking
about thinking,
without having to do
a goddamn thing.

It just seems right
when love is not more
or less
than what love is:
a prism
that reflects
your own colors
and colors
what you reflect.
And you become content
to allow that love
to kill you.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The Betty Poems

My girl
is up high;
my balls sag
around my ankles--
bugs can play
ping-pong with em
for all the good
they're doin me
now, although
my boss loves
to squeeze em
too; he's known
for that: more sadistic
as our pain threshold
increases. Things
have just worked out
that way.
What should have been
gone through
has been saved
for later
while I dreamt
of escapes
and believed
I fooled em.

I would not trade
those murdered hours
for a punch card,
would not sacrifice
a martyred minute
for placemats,
drapes or
throw pillows.
I know how stupid
that sounds, how
and how it strips
self-pity from the bone.
But I've never desired
to fuck a Puritan;
never was attracted to bonnets,
and manners, and God
knows what else
inside the layers
of lace.
I've never known honesty
except my own kind,
skewered, I know,
made up, I admit,
second by second
in a loving embrace
with those less mad
or a touch madder.
I simply
could do
the starting

it all led
to the girl
up high
of the border
and whether
I will still
be grateful
next year around
this time
is not
for me to know. But
I do say thanks
to her now
for giving me
a reason
to say

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Coming up:
50th anniversary
of when the bullet
met the brain
of our beautiful
leader of
the free world.
America's machine
is milking it
for all it's worth.
Pundits and pimps
of posters and porn
are filling every
available orifice.
If you don't serve
their purposes
by knowing exactly
where you were
and how many tears
you shed
you feel like shit.
In fact,
you are shit
if you weren't frozen
with astonishment,
then grief,
when our handsome,
skirt chasing,
drug taking,
Camelot bullshitting
President was smoked.
Folks like Tom Brokaw
make a fortune
from our collective grief:
Where were you?
Were you in the middle
of farting?
taking a leak?
reading Hobbes?
or watching
a pair of nylons
disappear around
a corner?

Well, I know where
I was--
if any sonofabitch cares?
I was in Tommy's mother's Cadillac
outside Nathan's
eating a hotdog
trying to take a peak
down Tommy's mother's cleavage,
inhaling her perfume
while hoping
against hope
that I'd bowl well
in my high school's bowling match
she was driving us to.
The radio was on
to the news bulletins.
The Heart told her
to find some music.
She was all
for that.

I threw a 223, 227,
and a 204. I had
a very good

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


might have Conrad's
taint of death
in them
but has his civilization's rivets
as well.
The lies
are repetitive,
well constructed,
and serves as a glue
that binds us
to each societies
bullshit. The lies
we tell ourselves
and others
keep that civilization
and other presences
at bay.
There are lies of convenience
and lies of distance;
they justify war
and cool infidelities;
they grease the social wheel
and soften the maw of consumerism.
But mainly,
they just get
us by,
day to day,
hour to hour,
minute to minute
of our self-debasement
and diminishment.
They allow us time
for our own delusion
and distraction.
They can give us space
when another human
presses up
and against

It's like loving a woman
but keeping hole cards
that remain hidden.
And even though
they too will become
naked, it's nice
to once and awhile
feel safe
and know
you needn't fill
an inside straight--
your pocket aces
will do.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


For Annie

Annie sez
I eat pussy
better than
any woman
she's ever been with...

Fuck getting
The Nobel.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013


has caught up
to my manias:
"Fuck you,"
my legs say;
"Try breathing
now," my lungs
stutter; "Pump this,"
my pump mutters
through the sludge
while grabbing
his crotch.
When I take a piss
I bring reading material
to pass the time
as well as the water
and get bemused
by the white flag
of surrender hanging
off the tip.
But even this
is O.K.
by me: This poem
has given
me a laugh
on a very
grim day.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I used to run
with a black
bald headed
dope fiend
name of Raymond
up to Harlem
in the sixties
to cop.
We liked to score
in The Sahara Lounge
on 128 and Lenox.
The big buck
at the door
never thought
we were cops:
we looked
too hungry.
They still sold
fat deuces
and treys
in there
could get
both of us
The city
was the city
back then;
the dirt
still had
the turn
of the century
in it
and all the mixed
mixtures living
asshole to elbow.

The police
and dicks
knew we weren't
up there for cheap
sex and some
would eye us
as we made it
to 1,2,5
and out.
Raymond had stashed
works all over
Manhattan: the hospital
where he worked, rooftops
near his work, and on
the steps leading up
to his roof where he lived
with his ol' lady
and a kid.
being the good diabetic
had works on me
and a card:
Diabetic Uses Insulin.
Of course,
that left out
the eye dropper
which I preferred.

We usually
had luck
or stupidity
on our side.
And we had
two good women
who threw us out
on our ass
when they realized
they couldn't compete
against the dead.

Those were
different times.
The game
has changed.
Even being a junkie
is part of the square culture
and Times Square
is a Minnesota mall
and uptown
is downtown
for the upwardly mobile.

Gonna miss ya.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013


The Betty Poems

There's only one key
to only one cunt, and one cunt
for only one key--your mission:
find it. Find it
and you'll never be the same.
Most fail.
Most fail miserably.
Some almost get it
but miss
by a hair.
Those that miss
feel it,
know it,
and call locksmiths,
change their diet,
stop smoking,
seek priests, rabbi's,
therapists, doctors, in all stripes
and persuasions; they think having
kids will help; they move
from house to house,
state to state, or become
Little League managers,
den mothers, or use
their next door neighbor's
ear...or spouse
and still
is missing.
we think
we're fucking the right person,
but we're not. The odds
are always against us.
The very young,
of course,
do not know this,
while the old
are usually too dead
to notice
or care.

To discover
the one
is almost as impossible
as imagining your parents fucking.
But that's where it began--the madness
of it all. Those crazy juices.
The twists. The turns, the unexpected
cliffs and the warning signs
you pretended not
to see.
A naked recording instrument, wet,
and over stimulated; composing
your own algorithms,
manufacturing a new code
for an ancient program.
Nothing is lost
to memory.
And then to stumble
on another
who knows your code
might require a lifetime
of broken bones and stitches
If there is victory
to be found
it will be bloody. You'll clean
yourself from your parent's sheets
and by-products; you'll walk
through the fire
of your fears.

Trust your cunt
and the way it blossoms
to the other's presence
before touch; trust
your cock and how it hardens
to her voice
despite age or reason.
Trust your body
that knows light years
before your brain
how the other
can know you so well
and not know you
at all. And how
when your secrets spill
from places
you were blind to
you allow your nakedness
to protect you
and keep you safe.
You'll want
to sabotage it,
destroy it,
rub shit into it,
disbelieve it,
but resist those urges
that run through your veins
like summer storms.

When it's found
(if it's found)
and you get it right
it's like magic:
you don't know how it happened,
you don't know how it's done,
and you don't give a fuck

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013


the inside
of his chest
must look like
the coal mines
of West Virginia
he muses
as he shuffles
on chartreuse
tennis balls
underneath the legs
of his walker
to the nearest
bench in Washington Square
Park. His body,
riddled with arthritis,
begins his descent
but then gives up: he doesn't sit
as much as he falls
upon the wooden slats.
It's a cold fall
semi-slate gray day,
but he's worked up a sweat
just getting to his spot
and mops his forehead
with his claw hand.
He squints,
shielding his eyes
from the sometimes sun
trying to muscle its way
through the bones
of summer.

Off to the side
the children gather.
They've been waiting
for the past few hours.
They're very patient.
Even in these smart phone times
much of the game
is the same: Wait
and wait some more.

The old fuck
sees them, but is in
no hurry. There was a time
he had to wait too.
But he waited for fat
deuces or trey bags
of dope, good
dope, uptown
dope, dope
that could keep you high
for days.
His legs
were strong,
so strong
he didn't have to think
about his next step
or the vascular disease
and neuropathy
that informed him now.

He took Dante
out and here
they came;
slowly, giving
the one before
to linger
to chat
to have
a laugh
or plead
their case,
drop a twenty
into a plain brown
bag and
They got good reefer
at a fair price
on a righteous count.
They knew
the old fuck
was trustworthy
and safe.
The scene
was a throwback
to better times
for all.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013


turned bad
and back
to good
and back
to bad again
with alacrity.
Which was which
and which time
on which way
we turned
or away
from each
other both
or singly
at the same
We each left
blood spatters
on each other's body
and clothes.
The dry cleaner
would run
after us
our garments
in front
to get
our attention
and make us
We were
too busy

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013


was all she said.
I'd just sat down
in my cubicle
and was steeling
myself for the day.
"Who's beautiful?, what's beautiful?,"
I asked.
"The poems,
The Betty Poems.
I read them last night."
"Which ones?"
"All of them."
"Yeah, well,"
I began,
steeling myself
for a different kind of day,
"thanks," I managed,
"but the blood
hasn't dried.
"Don't be sorry,"
she said,
"that's a lot of blood;
you're hemorrhaging love
and I'm
just a bandaid."

We sat in silence
for awhile, she
in her chair
and me in mine.
I knew she didn't move
and I didn't either.
We stared at the wall
that divided us.
"Have you heard from her?"
she asked.
"Not recently,
until last night; I got
an email."
"What did it say?"
"It said, 'I still love you too, Norman'
probably a response to my last post."
"Did you answer?"
"Yeah, I did. I told her I was glad to hear that
and I still keep her close."

We didn't talk
for the rest of the day,
or smoke a cigarette
together or have a laugh.
It wasn't deathly,
but you couldn't dance to it either.
she was in her space,

What that all means,
I couldn't say.
But I know
it must be important
because it is just that kind of language
I've never learned
and fear
it can't
be taught.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


The Betty Poems

to her
I'm writing
with a wit
and precision,
and depth
I never knew
I had

I still
hate her.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


love me do me take me buy me feed me clothe me shelter me rescue me kiss me fuck me bounce me toss me thrill me won't me have me leave me curse me fill me want me own me do me do me do me beat me slap me twist me unfurl me meld me toast me curl me fold me applaud me laud me tease me tell me you'll stay forever me inside me beside me drink me drunk me inspect me enfold me taper me fatten me bless me move me dance me read me listen me inspect me respect me understand me teach me reject me dissect me...

whatever you do
or don't do

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


before I die
I'd like to saunter
up to a counter
in the most exclusive
dessert, pastry, sweet
shop in the world
or a corner diner
in a seedy remote
shit hole in buttfuck USA
and order
a vanilla malted,
a hot fudge sundae,
hot apple pie with a healthy scoop
of DAZ on top,
or pancakes with maple syrup
dripping from the lip of a tree,
without giving a fuck,
without taking a goddamn motherfucking blood test,
without pricking my finger
or fingering my asshole,
without inserting a rectal thermometer,
or taking an oral temperature,
or hormonal temperature,
or emotional temperature
or any goddamn temperature
or after
enjoying the goddamn thing.

And while we're at it:
I'd like to make a chick
without thinking of
my next meal,
my next carbohydrate
or complex or simple
sugar or if I'm high
or low or peaking
or declining or bobbing
or weaving
without worrying if the sweat
I'm sweating is sex sweat
or ridiculous fucking
hypoglycemic sweat.

I'd like to dive
into a bottle
of single malt scotch
until white flags
spring from my liver
like any good goddamn
booze addled lover would
without thinking
of the added price
to be paid
twice over
for my ticket
already bought
and punched.

I believe I'm entitled
after being hamstrung
with this shit for
out of sixty-six years
to say that.
Especially while sipping
a goddamn fucking Diet
Ginger Ale.

C'mon folks,
let's give him
a hand.

and fuck

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013


last night
for a couple of minutes.
She did what she did:
told a few stories,
made me laugh, bought me
a coffee
and time.
I think I returned
the favor.
It wasn't her tits
or ass or cunt--as enticing
as they are
--that did the saving.
It was a sort of kindness
of one kind or another
that made me notice
a change in temperature.

For as long
as memory provides me,
I've desired, fervently
hoped for, saving
from the meanness
that surrounded me:
First, of course,
from my parents,
stupid and cruel
progenitors, forming
a tag-team of imbecility;
they, then, became
the world outside, worse
sometimes, but not better;
and finally myself
and my own special demons.
Yet all manner of things helped:
the word, the poem, food,
dope or dope
sickness, driving,
a book, a wife,
a lover--for a minute
or a mile--music,
whiskey, a prizefight
that I wasn't part of...
I'd look up
and not know
where I was
or where the misery

All of us
want saviors
and all of us want to be saved.
All of us. All the time.
Just look at the personal sections
or faces looking into faces looking into
cellphones or movies that are all about us
or art as entertainment or food preparation as gods
and ambrosia and nectar and sex.
We project, rationalize, subvert, reverse, and transverse
across our limited consciousness, but the mines
have been dug deep. They defy
the noses of rescue dogs.
We would like to believe
we're wiser
after defeats,
more mature
after battles--
and perhaps we are
--but the wheel
continues to turn
within us
and without us.
It's hard enough
knowing who we are
let alone the person next to you
in bed
or on the subway platform
behind you.

Jesus saves--
of course he does.
The question is:
at which bank?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013


For Annie

cracks gum,
smokes Camels,
shorts. She lives
in the cubicle
next to mine.
Except for her Arthur Avenue voice
I've paid her little mind.
I've made it a point
not to get next to
the new recruits, their shelf-life
being as short as it is
in this boiler-room
of doom.

The other day,
after I twisted the arm
of an octogenarian
into a sale
I heard: I love your voice.
I heard it, but had her repeat
what she'd just said.
I love your voice...
you should do voice-overs,
radio, something other...but
you're good at this, too.
I've learned a lot just sitting here.
Thanks. That's good, I replied.

I'm in such an economic shit-hole,
I was anxious to get back on the phone,
but unknown pussy was stronger than survival.
I'm goin out for a smoke, I said through the wall.
Just so happens, me too.

Quickly, I rose.
I wanted to take everything in.
And there was a lot to take in.
Standing five ten, nice body,
nicer face with eyes that had
a kind of depth and playfulness
that one could frolic with. Yet,
there were creases and creases
within those creases; it was not a life
unlived...or unexamined.

The elevator took us down
and we stood outside
smoking and talking.
A Bronx girl and Brooklyn boy
now in mid-fifties and mid-sixties
desperation. But her laugh
was easy, unforced. And she touched
my arms or hands each time
something struck her or she wanted
me to believe in the point she was making.

By the third cigarette,
I was smoking hers. And listening
to what I hoped
would not be future evidence
I'd use against her.
A street kid who graduated
Columbia; a Jewish mother
making gravy on Sunday
while her Italian father
made time
with other women
and later served time
She was an actress
in mostly small, mostly cultish films,
(one of which I saw and liked)
except for the Madonna one;
listened to Callas
and hung around
with the original
graffiti artists as they painted
the sides of trains at night
in graveyards.
The last paying gig she had
was selling Japanese parasols
out of her car
on blistering hot
summer days.
And I told her about
some of my routes and hanging out
with Crash, Daze, A-1 in the eighties
in her stomping grounds.
We could have
and would have
stayed out longer
but we both were jammed
for bread.

I'm gonna make a call
to Vegas
or God--
find out
the odds.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013