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

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