Monday, July 28, 2014


"Que encuentres un cono a tu medida!"

Had a buddy, Harry,
who put that curse
in the mouth of Fernando,
one of his characters.
Harry came from the red clay earth
of rickets country, south Georgia,
grew up poor and learned to write
reading the Sears catalogue because
that's all he got of printed material
at his shack & allowed him
to make up stories
of escapes & other lives.
I grew-up in Coney Island, rich
compared to most middle-class folks
and learned to write because
I had to
or go crazy
in my silence.
He was living in Gainesville
and me in the Village
when we ran across each other
in a saloon across the street
from me, The Cedar Tavern.
At the time it didn't matter to us:
either the spike or the shot glass
made about as much sense
as anything else & we shared those
and our histories
in equal measure.
When the subject came to women,
I listened closely.
We each had more than our share,
but he seemed to have paid some heavy
love dues over a few of them.
I shook my head
pretending I knew
what he was talking about
& feeling, but I was really
just trying to keep up.
He was the better artist
and the better man
and I knew it.
One particular woman
had him upsidedown in love
and wouldn't quit
his system
no matter how many others he'd fucked,
no matter how much dope he shot,
no matter how many drunk tanks
he woke up in & no matter how
much notoriety he garnered.
I listened,
shook my head,
and knew
I'd never let it
get that bad.

Harry is dead.
And I've come close
a few times before
and since.
I know now
how he felt:
I cannot get
this certain woman
out of my pores.
Haven't seen
or really spoken to
or written her
in six months
& it feels
like six minutes.
Her breath, her body,
her movements, her insanities,
her sound, her inanities
& insecurities &
her beauty are branded
into me like a birthmark.
My pleasures
with others
are fleeting
& boring; my time
spent alone
is spent
to a spirit--
a hollow echo
from church steeples
gone mad,
overthrown by a renegade Christ
& his disciples.
Admittedly, the sin
I committed was a love sin;
too much even I admit,
but love it was.
If you don't believe me
read the poems,
listen to the songs,
count the jelly beans,
the Swedish fish,
measure the ineffable,
read the emails,
eavesdrop on the conversations,
hear how she said my name,
watch her squirt her joy,
experience her laugh,
her wonderment,
her little girl
vulnerabilities & understand
her fears
and still
you'd be dumbfounded,

How you couldn't matter
ultimately didn't matter.
All you know
at the end
is absence.

I've stripped layer after layer
of flabby ego off me
& will carve some more
before I'm done.
Maybe the next one--
if there is a next one
--will allow
the danger inside.
Who knows
about that?
What I do know
is that I'm
as human as Harry now:
I'm paid up
& will,
if asked,

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014


walks with a pretty
yellow Labrador.
The street sizzles
in the July heat.
Late seventies,
I make him out to be,
but neither he
nor the Lab
are fazed by the weather.
He's tall, rather handsome,
thin, wearing a white T,
cargo shorts & sandals;
the Lab wears a jacket:
"Please don't pet me,
I'm working." Her nose
sniffs the ground, her eyes
works the crowd and traffic.
I'm pretty sure
he's not Homer,
or Charles,
or Wonder,
or Milton,
but he might be.
But the kids who jostle past,
or look up just in time
to avoid him do not imagine
anything. The stare into some screen,
screens that tell them where they are
and who they are. For all they know
they might be studying one of his books
or compositions or paintings or theories
in class. He might be able to tell them
the history of their steps and who
they're stepping on.

But they need not stop.
They, too, are only trying
to find a little love,
a little knowledge,
in their time. One
never knows when either one
is going to leap up
and grab them around the throat.
What part imagination
and what part technology
plays in that strange brew
is something for Tiresias
to sort out.
As for me
I'll neither follow
the blind man
or the students--
I've got enough
blind spots
of my own.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I take myself out
for a bite to eat
to the same Greek dive
I've been goin to for 35 years
now. Hell,
been livin in my pad for over 40--
but who's counting?
Nick & Paul,
the owners,
have seen me
in many different states
through many decades:
sober, drunk, young, wild,
old, wild, high, low,
indifferent, maniacal, calm,
pensive and apoplectic.
I've sat isolated
and speechless
or boisterous and boorish.
I've littered their booths
with the scents of women
and love and the smell of
defeats; defeats from jobs,
publishers, women, friends,
and body. What I do,
and who I'm with,
no longer raise their eyebrows
or lowers their lids.
I've eaten their eggs & ham,
bacon & sausages & pancakes,
homemade moussaka, bread pudding,
& brisket, drank their coffee
& stirred their little creamers
& watched their children age
& them grow old.
I've seen favorite waiters & waitresses
farmed out to pasture because their legs
cannot get rid of the water & have ballooned
as big as their waist. The only person
who didn't age
is me.
Neurotics don't age
but hold fast
& hold on.

I had a hamburger, fries, salad.
It was the same bottle of oil,
the same vinegar, the same tomato
& the same slice of onion; the burger
was thinner, the bun bigger; the fries
still frozen & pretty much
as tasteless as ever,
but the price has tripled.
And why not?:
the farms are dry,
crops roasted,
cows suicidal,
the beef chemical.
The half-buck & buck tip
is now two or three.
Nick & Paul tell me
they'll soon retire;
they're tired of working
for the landlord.
But not me. I can't
retire--I'm a poet.
And poets are not supposed to "work,"
they only have to "live"--
which is the harder,
and more complicated,
of the two
I think I know,
but will never ever

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I like her scar
underneath her chin
from a bicycle mishap
when she turned seven
& her first blind corner.
I like how her ankle
curves into her shoe
when she wears heels
and the way she announces
her shapely calves to the
& women who follow
her. I like
how she questions
what she already knows
& expects to be disproved
or challenged.
I detest her poise
but take comfort
in her insecurity.

So far,
we're letting it
unfold like a good mystery
should--a real page turner
we're taking our time with
& savoring. Soon,
I'm sure, we will get up
on the cross
of ambivalence.

Until then
I'll pretend
& so will she--
like this morning:
freshly showered
she stepped from
the steam wrapped
in a towel,
smelling soapy,
hair dripping,
& tip-toed past me
into the bedroom;
we caught each other
from the corners
of our eyes
I'm sure,
small grins
played across
our lips
but kept
our mouths

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014


The Terminal Hotel stays busy:
overnight stays, hour stays,
fifteen minute stays,
a week at a time,
a month,
or years.
Always booked.
All the time,
everyday, every minute,
every hour on the hour some
come in, others
go out.
It's the first stop
or the last.
Some arrive
or depart
with fanfare: trumpets
& flags & heads
of state or captains
of industry
and are lingered over,
gossiped, groped
or drooled on,
but most
barely make a ripple
they wash
over your shores
and create
a tidal wave
that carries you
or carries you over
any and all coastlines:
& the like.
They are our sea-gods,
our Neptune's
sometimes and sometimes not
devouring their own children.
The stone deepens,
widens, asserts itself,
intertwines with the fibers
of god, and with them,
turns love into grief,
grief into longing,
longing into pain,
and all to reminiscence
which overwhelms
& hardens
& becomes
a stew of regret.

Each day
one goes through it:
Some react quietly
others not so. Some
feel undeserving
of succor & seek
none; others yammer
for days on end
& find a kind of relief.
What balances one,
tilts the other.
And sometimes "love"
is too selfish
to share.

Births are supposed
to make us happy
while death is supposed
to make us sad. So easy
to think
like that.
I know that as I write this
there are those caught
in a place between words
and have not a hand
to hold.
I can manage
another's life
very well--
it's mine
I have a problem with.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014


We're in pain;
we're desperate.
We've all done it
if I get away,
if I change it,
change something--
it's gonna lift,
the pain will ebb,
the desperation
will flame
out & only the sick
damp smell of
an extinguished fire
and that, too,
will go away if
we just get out
get away
from the place we're at
it's gonna change
the place we're in.

I've done it
a million times
& seen it done
a million more.
I've gone from scotch
to vodka to gin to cognac
to anisette to wine to beer;
I've switched from dope
to coke to reefer to pills
& back again; I've backed-up
the woman I was with
to a woman waiting; I've gone
from New York to New Orleans
to San Francisco to Los Angeles
to upstate downstate in state out of state
to nuthouse in house jail house to ping-pong
to amnesia & nothing helps. Nothing.
Especially with love.
Don't be fooled:
love is a substance
harder to kick
than any substance I know.
It messes with the cool runnings
of the system, fucks
with your heartbeat
because it is your heartbeat.
I can take any addict,
any booze hound
& get them off the shit
in a matter of days. Easy.
But love, uh ugh. No.
Not real love.
You could be fucking someone else
tomorrow & it don't matter.
Real love loves
the imperfections
as well as the hook:
it's a molecular thing:
the scent, the smell, the taste;
the small dick & stubby fingers,
floppy tits, protruding belly,
insane pretentions, narcissism,
perfectionism, isms up the ass--
you still love them.

But try it.
By all means try it.
Try any goddamn thing.
I'll go to Kentucky
& become a redneck,
chew tobacco, shoot guns,
pray to a Confederate god;
or go to Australia & fuck
a Kangaroo. Around the world
& in the world.
Your mind,
if you have one,
does what it does,
perceives what it will,
connects what it connects
pretty much
without your help.
It's not even a matter
of standing your ground
& fighting. No.
You need not do anything.
Staying alive
is enough.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I'm getting picked-up
in an hour
& being taken
to her home
on the island.
I've bought
an old man's bathing suit,
and I'll put my old man's body
inside and trudge through
the hot sand, oiled up,
uncomfortable, a bit lost,
a bit disorientated, on scarred legs,
thinning arms, balding head,
to sit in an unforgiving sun & play
a young man's game--
seducing & allowing
her to seduce.
It's like watching
that old kid's show:
Let's Pretend.
And thank the gods
the poet still does.

It's been easy with her
so far.
No inkling
of the whirlwind
of the last one.
She takes what is
& doesn't bother
with what isn't--
so far.
I'm still
but that, too,
will pass--
if what I see
& what I don't see

That's the best
I can do--
right now.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Men feel it before,
and more acutely,
then women,
I think.
Athletes male
or female,
feel it first, followed
by artists
& skilled
laborers (though
I'm not sure
about the artists
& skilled laborers part).
It happens
before you're aware
of it happening:
you know what you want to do,
you can see it,
but you just can't do it,
you see an opening
but can't take it;
you see a punch coming
but can't duck it
or slip it.
There's a kind of rust
on your reflex; your body
is a beat behind
the rhythm section.

The first time (or two,
or three) it happens
you'll reject it; you'll resort
to bullshitting yourself
& believe it,
(but not really),
you'll say:
just one of those days,
stop fucking around,
get more rest,
go on a diet,
get into the weight room,
shut-off distractions--
friends, family, hangers-on,
--stop chasing
skirts, concentrate--
& that might work...
for a bit.
But where once your youth was
has now looked
& found
greener pastures.

I'm well passed
my prime; I make
what I make
by skill & wits,
a reluctant intelligence,
a stubborn neurosis,
& guts, all enfolding me,
embalming me into
a state of grace.
Like today:
I saw these young beauties
walk by. I knew what I wanted
to do
to each
& every
one of them,
but cannot do a thing. How unfortunate
for all of us.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014


I love you,
you love me;
I do for you,
you do for me;
I hate you,
you hate me;
I make-up with you,
you make-up with me;
I kiss you
where it hurts,
you do the same
for me;
what's mine
is yours,
what's yours
is mine
You will shut-off
my oxygen
when it becomes
too painful
to breathe
without it;
or it's too painful
for you to breathe
being near me.
What's fair
is only

Please sign
here, here,
& here,
& date it.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014


I have left you
one cigarette
in its obviousness.
You pretend
not to smoke
when I'm not there.
However, the hole
will suck you
into it
We both know
you could not help
making this mistake--
it is what
you've been built for:
Many have been made
for that. Even myself.

You'll reach
for me
& find
a cigarette:
tubular pleasure
By simple reason
you'll not need
to smoke it
but you will:
reason, you see,
my dear,
like love,
is irrational
and most difficult
to reason

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, July 4, 2014


"Ladies & Gentlemen,
will you please rise
while we celebrate
our nation's colors.
Singing our National Anthem
are Charlie Patton, Sun House,
Johnson, Sonny Boy
Williamson, John Lee
Hooker & Elmore
James--all in, showered,
& cleaned-up from a hot day
in the fields, and members
of the Parchment Farm
Boys Choir; givem
a nice warm round
of applause.

(Those wanting to go
to the bathroom,
would be a good time
to do so...
And remember:
while encouraged,
is optional)."


Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014


I miss
my toes &
my teeth--
the top ones;
I miss
the boardwalk
in Coney Island,
& spongy
to the young beat
of canvas sneakers;
I miss
the fireworks
on Tuesday
& the cherry,
or lemon ices
in thin paper
onto my tongue
& face
& hands;
I miss
my first
furtive kiss
on the sand
the dark wood,
& the first feel
of tit
& taboo
to young fingers;
I miss my father
letting go
of the bicycle seat
of my new Schwinn
I miss his arms
allowing me
to swim & swim
away; I miss
the first time
I punched him
& meant to hurt him;
I miss the first taste
of warm gin
& the first shot
of dope
no matter
how sick
I got; I miss sharkskin
pants & double features
& Nathan franks
for 25 cents
& riots
in the bars
of Brooklyn;
I miss the first sweets
from the breasts
of factories; I miss
the firsts of loves
& hates & spirals
& downward & in
& out &...

but most of all
I miss the absence
of memory.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


You have
my heart;
I need it
be stingy.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014