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

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