Sunday, April 27, 2014


I remember this old Irish bitty
buttoned-up to the collar,
in all black,
who made us memorize
the multiplication table
in grammar school.
You'd never want to fuck her,
but you did fear her.
She terrorized our nights
should we not be prepared
for her day's
The next year
she taught me
how to type
on an old manuel,
built like a tank.
Over and over
hitting the letters
to the alphabet hard
and with purpose
until I didn't have to look
at the keys,
but looked at the written word
instead and now only have to listen
as the words form and fly
inside my head.

I memorized every word
my mother read to me
when a child,
and made her stop
when she missed one;
and I memorized her face
in her cardboard coffin
as rigid&angry in death
as in life--maybe more
--at all the living
going on around
and without her.
I memorized batting averages
and the way New Orleans looked
and smelled after a downpour;
I can recall maps
of migrating birds
and all the potential I held
strangled and muted
like the runny obsolescence
of forgotten and abandoned

I remember each terror
of finding myself
& knowing it will never
be any different
no matter how many arms
embraced & held me.

I have committed
to memory
all the infidelities
and every Lucky Strike
I ever smoked while
memorizing each Dylan song
until I believed
I wrote it.
I can still feel
each time I downshifted
the Porsche's buttered gearbox
and how cool
the breeze felt
easing into a turn at fifty.

I've committed the carnival
to memory and the quirky streets
of Greenwich Village and each time
"love" was on my lips,
and in my steps,
but never meant
to be heard
or seen.
I know each rendition
of Monk and every sip
of whiskey
I took down.

I can quote
every word
of every argument
with every woman
who mattered
and didn't.
How disappointment
was attached
to the hip
and on the breath
as we severed one
from the other.

But most of all
I remember this
afternoon: a chilly
day in April when
it should be warmer;
a thin light falling
across these magic
fingers flying
across the keys; smoke
from a Lucky blue
across the screen.
And you,
somewhere in the box
for me
to finish.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

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