Wednesday, July 8, 2015


In 1959
a bottle
of insulin
was two dollars and thirty-nine cents,
and now it's three,
three hundred, that is. Same bottle,
probably the same pig pancreas.
Back then the cashiers in pharmacy's,
grocery stores, deli's, movie theaters,
streetcars, gas stations,
knew how to make change
without being told
by a computer program.
You could find a pad, mid-sixties,
in NYC for less than a hundred a month
instead of four thousand: same water,
same heat, same crummy landlord; I could
go to Gerdes and listen to Van Ronk,
Oaks, Dylan, Farina & Baez or Trane or Max
or Sonny or Cecil or Miles for less than five
& still have enough for a shot and a beer
or a nickel bag of good reefer.
Gas was 39 cents a gallon, The Fillmore a few bucks,
and a vegetable cream cheese and butter bagel
with a cup of coffee was a dollar
at Ratner's when the night (& the reefer) demanded food
to go on.

It seemed you had to work
for your pleasures back then:
you couldn't give your money
to some dope dealer and hoped he'd come back,
or call a number and have it delivered--you
had to get it yourself
if you didn't want to get beat; you had to read
a whole book or article or the liner notes
of albums and not give a shit whether a million other assholes
liked it or not before
you took a chance.
Screens were
for movie theaters;
there were only certain things
you held in your hand:
someone else's hand,
or heart/your heart,
or your dick.

I don't know
if it's better
or worse now; each
his own, as they say.
I do know there is less
of me
to complain
& to kill.
The rest of you
I leave
to weave
of your own--
good of me
I know.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2015

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