Friday, May 30, 2014


like driving
a motorcycle
without kick-starting it;
or tooling around
in a Porsche
with an automatic shift;
drinking single-malt scotch
with ice cubes, or kissing
with your mouth closed;
or giving a blow-job
with only your teeth;
or a handjob with the tips
of two fingers
from a distance;
you shouldn't eat pussy
unless you mean it &
for that matter
shouldn't write
or paint
or compose
you had to--
like evacuating
your bowels.

It's easy enough
not to mean shit
& that's why
there's a whole lot of you

& the rest
of us.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014


T-Rex recorded it;
Marc Bolan wrote&sang it;
Harold turned me onto it,
circa 1971.
It was hot then;
it's hot now.

You can ask me
about this life
& I have an answer
to it
who Harold really is;
who Marc Bolan was;
what T-Rex was about
& what the title meant.

Aside from that--
fire away.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014


The 9/11 World Trade Center
theme park
for business
last week.
Thrills, chills
and death-defying skills
wrapped in our collective hearts
are there
for all
to frolic in
for 24 bucks a pop:
Disney does death.

You too can experience
a busted-up fire truck,
bicycles driven by ash,
a million shades of blue,
a wall full of faces
lonely for a date,
a Y beam, and X beam,
a sun beam,
you can meditate,
and, yes,
to visions
of your own
of course,
the choice
was chosen
by holocaust

On separate screens
you can experience
the adrenaline rush
of school kids
being hunted down
and shot,
lined up for years
for an aspirin,
or sleeping under
a freeway
near you--google maps
will do this for free.

before you take the kids home,
to that fattened blob of a town
in one of America's sturdy out lands
clutching a 32 ounce soda,
you can simulate a fall
from the 104 floor
through make believe smoke
and make believe fire
& flames,
grasping for arms,
or fingers,
or hair,
through the air,
lungs collapsing,
eyes going blind,
& splatter
into a stain
on the sidewalk below
as a camera snaps
and a picture
of nothing
is produced
that you carry back
to the other fat-calved
football fans
somewhere else.

The gift shop
is to your right.
Step lively.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014


There is not much
we can do,
but we do it
even though
most of it
is bad.

A purple hangover
in the brain
of a flea
trying to stay
a heartbeat away
from those monstrous
clapping hands.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014


from the bellybuttons
of dreams & the mouths
of minnows; it settles
between double features
in old Times Square porn theaters;
it's in the smile
of ticket takers
& the flashlights
of old matronly ushers;
it's in drums
of sludge & boxes
of organic apples.
We go to battle with it,
fear thick and greedy
sleeps inside our creases,
victorious or not,
in a worsen state.
It's in the oil
that covers our fingers
opening a can of tuna fish;
it's in the tears of onions
and the sad play of old radios;
it's in black&white&
in color; it's roadkill
and hospital mistakes.
How we think
we get away
is indeed
the mystery
& the myth.

and small;
and wide
while pleasure
in pockets
& thieves its way
to those
who expect

Be easy.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014


If I have to take a knee,
I will; or not get off
the stool between rounds;
instead of my manager,
I will throw in the towel;
I will raise my hands
& surrender;
I will admit
that it's stronger
than even me;
more experienced,
and inexhaustible.

I've held onto it
grimly, like rosary beads
in a death-grip;
misery was like
a religion,
a calling
for me.
It sounded
its trumpets
& danced
in a game
that was rigged
from the beginning.
how much energy
I burned fueling
my anger--I could have
knocked-out the suns
of every solar system
or not.
I carried it
like a rat
gnawing at
my pocket.

I did this
not for hours,
or days or months
or years,
but for decades.
What a waste
it's been--
like pissing
down your own leg:
nobody knows it--
except yourself.

I will leave death
little enough.
But no longer
will I be stingy
with myself:
all pleasures
that doesn't stink
of artificiality
will be courted.
I wish to punish
no one,

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014


Seymour was a little old Jewish guy,
in his late seventies, a wisp
of a mustache, glasses, shirt & tie,
cheap shiny pants & beaten-up black
shoes lugging a battered carry-on &
some daisies waiting for his wife
who just ducked into a TD bank
outside the building I worked in.
I'd come out for a smoke
and was leaning against the scaffolding.
Sheepishly, he came over
with 75 cents in his outstretched
palm which he tried to still
the shaking--the job
had got him; the kids
had got him; and the Mrs.
did her number on him,
"Can I buy one from you,"
he said, with a thick
Brooklyn/Bronx Jew inflection.
"You can't buy one,
but here's one on me,"
I said and began to shake
a cigarette out of my pack.
"No, please, take the money,"
he replied.
"Take the smoke, will ya?
Keep the money,
it's O.K., just take it."
He reached into his pocket
putting the money back in
& a lighter back out,
lit it and sucked deeply,
letting out a rich plume
while looking over his shoulder.
"I'm Seymour," he said.
"Good to meet you, Seymour.
If I was you, I'd hide the fucking lighter."
He looked over his shoulder again.
"Good idea." He put the lighter
in his sock. "She gives me one
every three hours...a man shouldn't have
to live like that."
"Yeah, I said,
"there's worse things in this life
than a little lung cancer."
It took him three or four drags
to finish the smoke.
"Been married to that woman
for over fifty years. You might think..."
"Don't think, Seymour, that shit
gets us all."
His Mrs. came out and over.
She looked at me
like every mother
I ever met: a bad
I lit another cigarette
and blew the smoke
her way. Fuck her,
I was still

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014


I was in mortal terror
of my mother.
Each time I turned
the key
to get into my home
my fingers shook:
I didn't know
what awaited me,
or who she'd be.
She was quick
to anger,
fast with her hands,
and liked to slap
the shit out of us;
or riled up my father enough
so he would do it. He,
I later realized,
was afraid of her, too.

I looked
for consistency
in other people
& other lovers
& either left
before they did,
made sure they
would leave or
didn't love them enough
to care either way.
My fears I could control,
but usually failed,
their fears
never registered.
I was in the wrong
life. The only consistent thing
I found in humans
was its cruelty
to other humans
and I already
hated myself

The one constant I found
was writing,
but then something
needed to be stilled
(at least a little),
to do that.
The advertising was mostly
true: one was usually eighty-six proof
and the other usually did
what it was supposed to do--
fuck the hassle in getting it.
the writing
is enough.

Not too long ago
I bought one of those
Life Alert buttons
for my mom; I put it
in her coffin.
I told them to program
my number first. Should she
ever come back
to what we call "life"
I want to be
the first
to know.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014


My Cubano friend
got a pass
from the shelter
she lives in
to visit her son
for his birthday
& stay overnight.
She has to
get permission
to do those things.
He was about
to turn ten.
She was nervous
about seeing him
and more nervous
about seeing her mom.
Almost a year
had gone by.
She had asked me
a week ago if I could go
with her and after some reluctance
I said, "yes." I've never really
enjoyed meeting a woman's child
and even liked less meeting their folks.

I knew I didn't have to,
but felt stupid
not bringing a present
for the kid. She had told me
that out of his school
he'd been selected
to go to baseball camp
for the summer.
I thought it was good for him
to get out of the dirt&grime&concrete
of Neuva York & smell some grass
& sweet air for a month & bought him
a baseball mitt, hardball, & oil
to work the leather.

The kid's look
was less than welcoming
when he saw me standing
with his mom.
I can't blame him;
he's probably seen many men
standing with his mom,
none of them any good.
Her mom did her best
to hide her displeasure,
but failed.
I could fade an evening,
I thought, and walked
inside. There was a smell
of death there. Her mom
had cancer & couldn't hide
that either.

Still, she cooked chuletas
with red peppers&onions, rice&beans
& plantains, and once the awkwardness
was replaced with the symbols
of love, the air
lifted. Mother/daughter spoke
in a language I didn't know while
her son spoke to his mom in language
I did know.
I took the kid aside when the women talked
and gave him the present; his eyes widened
as only ten year old eyes can & I began
showing him how to loosen the leather by
messaging the oil into it, working and reworking
the give and finally putting the ball into its center,
tying a string tightly around the middle and putting it
under his mattress that night. He listened
as only ten year old ballplayers can.

Grandmothers & great grandmothers
are the guts of this nation,
of this world. It's been steadily
downhill for the past forty years.
Freud was right:
if we don't work out ours and societies neurosis,
the string will slowly unravel for the next
& the next & the next. The fabric
just gets weaker. Cycles
have consequences.

I peaked at my Cubano squeeze
while she talked with her mom,
both were animated, silent,
demonstrative, waving hands
& arms, shifting positions,
& crying all together, separately,
She knew I knew
about medical shit
and asked me over.
I listened
& talked some
& tried to be hopeful,
but realistic. The old lady
was not going to make it
far. I think she respected me
for not sugar coating
what she knew in her heart,
but daughters are another
It got late,
the kid went to bed,
but not before
hugging me
then burying his head
against his mother's flesh,
kissing her & his grandmother
& saying goodnight.
Alexis walked me out
and we had a few cigarettes
together & spoke.
She needed to get out
of the shelter
& take care
of her own. Enough
time had gone by, enough pain
had been administered, enough people
had been brutalized.
Easy enough
to say,
I know.
When you've been pimped
in some hotel room in Philly
since you turned fifteen,
it's a Herculean task,
but not impossible. No,
not impossible.

She returned to her family
for the night & I walked
the streets of Washington Heights
until I found the bus
to take me all the way downtown.
(Fuck the subways & I didn't give a damn
about time.)
I smoked a few more cigarettes
waiting for the bus amidst the bustle
of a Latino community. I felt
more at home there than I ever felt
on Park Avenue, the upper East or West side,
or most other places. I rested my head
against the glass
and just drifted
as the bus lazily
made its way to the Village.

There are a few people
you want to root for.
There are a few things
you want to think about,
and feel
for as long
as you need to--this being
one of them.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I've been listening
to their bullshit
it seems
all my life:
"I can do that, too,
only better";
"You think that's sompthin?
I got a book in here you won't believe,
& when I write it, it's gonna be sompthin,";
"That ain't good, I got sompthin really good,";
"I"m gonna paint
& when I do"...
"That's not a song,
I got a song"; or
"If I ran the company,
or the government, or
the world, then you'd
And the poor fuck
who's doing all
the listening
nods and agrees
that, yes,
they do have a book
or a painting
they just need to let
their inner beauty

But it never is
is it? It never
shows; it never
gets done.
They whine
& bitch
& bellyache
about the unfairness
of life;
about how they would
if they could but life
is conspiring
against them:
it's a kid,
or a job,
or a car
breaks down,
or a tooth
needs to come out,
their stock is down,
but the market is up,
their mothers
& fathers, sisters
& brothers ask
too much
& give
too little;
they're sick
or despairing,
or suiciding.
They're mis-
or mis-
They've taken
too much dope
or not enough.
Their time
is circumscribed
by circumstances.

I'm getting quite sick
of them. The truth is:
they're full of shit;
they're not talented;
they've taken no risks,
sacrificed nothing
to do anything difficult
except get the ear
of a lesser human.
And don't tell me
about women having kids,
or men sprouting their seed
to procreate them
that that's creativity--that's
a rigged game.
Fuck that.

Oh, Savage,
you might say,
who the fuck are you? You
just write these inane
little poems about stupid
little subjects which are
mostly about yourself
& think you're such a big deal.
I can do that, too.

Ya see? Ya see?
That's what I mean.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


smoking & bullshitting,
discussing the state
of the world:
the Knicks suck cock;
Sabathia is through;
Obama's a pussy & Michelle
shouldn't give him any of hers;
shame about the Ukraine,
Putin's a putz,
but he's a pure putz;
Fuck Canada, the action
is here, always been,
always will be;
don't be stupid,
they're cool, humane;
Fuck humane;
no such thing as "humane,"
animals are more humane;
as our heads swivel
eyeing the New York ladies.
It's getting warmer:
more flesh
is seen
getting us
Some girls give us
a glance--
as only girls can
less than a second
it lasts.
It's all it takes
for them to know
they don't
want to fuck us.

Old calendars
we are
telling them
what time
it was.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014


at two forty five
in the morning
is a wondrous thing.
You're alone,
but being alone
just makes sense
as the razor glides
easily; the motion
fifty years in the
crafting; the strokes
gentle and assured.

A beautiful thing
to grow old
when so much life
has been lived
through the broken centuries
of empires & loves
and the battles
of the common
and commonplace.

There's a steady tick
of rain against
the streaked windows
lit by lampposts.
A Mile's ballad
is filtered
through his Harmon's mute.
My hazel eyes sparkle
as I race from legs
& thighs, fingers
& nails touching me,
clawing me sometimes
bringing as much laughter
as pain
like toothaches
& abstractions.

A beautiful thing
to grow old
& still care
how you appear
to the female;
how you're the cock's crow
amid a mostly bland
and unappetizing fare.

If I could choose
I would have shot
pool like Luther
or Willie or Fats
& hustled for a living,
instead I wrote
and am happy enough
with that.
Now there's a softness
to that; an easy truce
with myself, an understanding
of workings and a balance
we know nothing of.

A beautiful thing
to grow old
& still get
letters from those
who responded
to words arranged
on a page. They believe
you have something to offer--
& maybe you have.

I lie down,
my face smooth
as a baby,
and allow thoughts
to come
& go.
I will not murder
these thoughts
tonight, but let them
co-exist side by side
drifting lazily
into each other
adjusting the picture
as I adjust my pillows
& my arms & my legs
& let time & sleep
have their say.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Take all your plans,
all your schemes,
your handicapping,
take all your "sure bets,"
your systems,
your "definite s,"
your "absolutes,"
"no doubt about it,"
all your "don't worry,"
your "trust me, it's in,"
& shove them
right up
your darkened

Noir or rouge
could come up
a million times
in a row
or never,
you might roll
nothing but sevens
or seven out
before a point
is made.
to an inside straight
might or might not
get filled
without rhyme
or reason
no matter
how much
you're able
to count.

Some are born
on enormous breasts
filled with sweetness
through endless nights
while others suck
an empty pouch
and get bounced
around liquored
lovers screaming
holiness & murder.

Each time
we do something
we break
our maidens.
Each race
is the first
we've run.
might be the day
you get up
and find blood
in your stool,
or step on a President
on your way to work.

Nothing has worked
for me
the way I thought
it would
or should.
And even though
I've had my share
of good fortune,
especially with women,
I've not been that fortunate
with machinery, money,
or health.

If I get up there
and sit at the feet
of the gods
I'd ask them why
they've kept me
in this crap game
for as long as they have?
I'm guessin they'd shake their heads
& say: "We don't have a fuckin clue;
we really don't."

And that,
as they say,
is that.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014