Sunday, June 29, 2014


For DG

as a good Catholic girl
gone bad.
All that genuflecting,
all those wafers,
wine, whispered confessions
in dark wood confines,
aged from guilt,
candles & sin & Hail
Mary's cannot predict
what's happening
under the hood.

She grew-up
in a Father Knows Best home:
Robert Young wasn't as nice:
patched-elbow cardigans
and a pipe-pinched mouth
didn't say a word;
a Jane Wyman mother
saw faces
in her apple pies
& named them after
One day
all those Christ'
came off the cross
& hitched south.

I saw her
when I was charging merchandise
in Bloomingdales on stolen
credit cards and returning them
for cash to feed a junk habit.
She modeled and worked
behind the glove counter.
I had no choice
but to buy gloves,
many gloves.
If I were straight
a woman who looked like her
would have unnerved me; it
would be impossible for me
to approach.
But junk is the blood
of cowards. And every cell
that was still alive
moved me forward
despite the fear.

Her eyes were mahogany
but flecked with green
and lit with danger.
She was reading Mark Stranded,
John Ash and all those NY
concrete intellectuals; I read her
Roi & Paul & Hank & Savage
& put a smile on her face,
rhythm in her step & we
laughed & loved & fought
& loved some more & it was 1971
& we were in the thick of it.

And we did that off & on
for the next decade
& then split.
Our contact was few
& far between
until the other day.
She had sold off
The Father Knows Best house
& was living in a small town
outside of Atlantic City,
but came into town to see me.
We hit the old spots--
a little Italian joint, Emilio's,
and then Serendipity for dessert.
Nothing is lost
to memory.
Two old shoes
fitting easily
inside them:
a frigid winter night
in detox, her birthday,
she came onto the ward
in a fur coat
wearing nothing
under that
& we held the bathroom door
shut while we made it;
the Bukowski reading
at St. Marks while she took
me on the balcony & performed
her own verse.
she asked,
"how I rouged my nipples?"
"Yes, I remember."
"They're not pretty anymore,
my tits; now you need a compass
to find them. Old balloons
at the end of a New Year Eve party;
you don't notice them anymore; you
just swat your hand at them
to get them out of the way."
"My dear, my dear,
my body is shot too--
fucking is like trying to shoot pool
with a rope."
"You could always make me laugh, Savage."
Her hands were more beautiful than ever:
her veins, blue and magnificent,
threatened to come out of her skin.
"I knew you'd age with the grace
of a Georgia O'Keefe, Jean Moreau."

We brought each other
up to speed and walked.
The hotel I had lived in then
is gone, as is Rumplemeyers,
most of The Plaza and checker cabs.
But we're no different. No older,
no younger. And not wiser.
We've made it
despite the odds.
We'll do it again
soon, we said.
We weren't stupid enough
to set a date.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

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