Friday, February 19, 2016


to post this poem for the past two years, but haven't simply because I've never posted anything in its entirety written by someone else. I realize how some might think that's stupid. I know I've thought that. But when something keeps tugging at you, there's a validity that you might know nothing of or how to interpret that. Perhaps all we keep doing is shedding dead skin, making corrections, hedging our bets, covering bases? All I do know is that this poem has gotten under my skin. And now, perhaps, under yours.


Nor Ulysses, nor any craftier man,
At the sight of your O so godly face,
So full of honor & respect & grace,
Could have predicted what a wreck I am.

Love, your eyes drove through me like a blade,
Piercing my startled heart in one fell deed,
And there you settle down, there you feed,
But you alone can heal the wound you made.

How cruel a thing is fate, how inhumane!
Here I am, recovering from a scorpion's bite,
Asking its venom to make me well again.

Love, rid me of everything I sorely dread,
But don't erase that ache I so desire:
Without this lack, I might as well be dead."

---Louise Labe
(Translated from the Italian
by Richard Sieburth)

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016


was the blues
and it was
a breeched birth at that.
"Kiss my ass,"
the crack
in the myth
as they slid
& gripped
a lifetime
of pain
and song
from the
low limbs
of Poplar trees,
liquor laughter
& a sweet-milked tit
of secrecy.

Thank God Jews
ain't white.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


All my waking life
I've felt like Man O'War
kicking in the stall
not understanding why
those fucking idiots
won't open the gates
and let me run like
I was meant to do.

Where I'd run to
was always
an open question.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016


Nearly two years ago
she pushed me
off a perch
in Toronto
and I tumbled
back to NYC
where, like a frozen piece of Bonomo's Turkish Taffy,
smashed upon a marble table top,
I broke
into a million bite-sized pieces.

I was sixty-six
and had never wanted
anyone to love me
so badly. And
even though I knew
it was her own fear,
her own prison and
her own poison
guarding her gate, I felt
old, fat, poor
and powerless.

I hated my job
& now hated it more;
I ducked & bobbed & wove
& didn't care if I sold
& made enough for rent or not--
until I couldn't make rent.
Unemployment carried me
until it didn't; friends carried me
until they couldn't & another half-ass job carried me
until they wouldn't.

I pawned the only things left
of my parents & closed the coffin
from which they screamed; I pawned my books
& numbed my own wails, but still I wrote,
still I listened to music and still I listened
to my shrink who asked I give him
everything I could
except for money.
"Savage is he who saves himself,"
Leonardo wrote. I sent away a hundred resumes,
made a hundred calls. Agencies had closed,
contacts had died or didn't return phone calls;
and I was old for a man
with no money, no certificates, no advanced degrees.
I sought out government agencies,
went through the most demeaning explanations of failures
and accepted handouts and help from every and any anonymous hand.
I sat for hour after hour after hour surrounded
by a living death,
smelling stillbirth dreams,
listening to babies wail,
in halls that held a few hundred of life's satisfied customers
without apartments, homes, money, food, or hope. Filled out
form after form after form went on interview after interview.
Knowing full well that a few scant years ago I sat
on the other side of that desk.

I was luckier than most.
I've always been luckier than most
with jobs, women, and the few friends I allowed
to get close. I met someone at an agency who
liked me who introduced me to someone else
who also liked me. Week after week,
even though I did not have much hope
I hoped and went. A gig opened up
& he pushed & pushed harder after HR told him
I didn't meet certain requirements. He pushed
harder. I met with two VP's of the program
who were impressed and were able to circumvent
some requirements & welcomed me aboard. Which
is what "Getting Another Shot At It" is about.
The city & a private charity
has paid my rent for the past five months.
I feel like a shit heel
but I'll get over it...most of it.

There will be no healing
the fractures I feel
in my soul; no getting over
her or the kind of love
I have for her.
There isn't supposed to be.
But life has its own Crazy Glue.
You stick to it long enough
those crazy bones knit
in their own screwy way. Not
the way they were when you entered
but enough to get you to the exit.
And who knows?
there might be someone
with a flat tire,
or a thumb out,
or a woman splitting
from a convent
along the way.
Who am I
to say no?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016


For J.

between two copies
of "Changes"
my first publication,
1967. They were yellow
with age, darkened
by NYC's sand-like grime,
musty smelling, brittle,
but not your pages
of poetry. They
leapt & kissed
& fondled memories hot
with the quivering pulse
of desire, erasing
four decades
in two breaths.

Who sez you can't read
& dance
at the same time? You
were my black orchid,
my narcissistic muse.
You were my narcotic...
and necrotic.
You were everything
I thought a disturbed poet
should aspire to
and be with: delicate,
beautiful, brilliant,
reckless...& married.
You found me
when you could
& found time
when you couldn't. How
your upper body would twist
around the gear shift
as I drove
and stammered
about poetry
while you
were actually
writing it.

"Heroin" and "Misty Roses"
informed us and highways
we tumbled down had no exits.
Our belief in a sorcerer's alchemy
made us ripe for our own lies.
Still, I would not change
nor exchange a minute
of what we were then
for another peaceful minute
of what I am now.
I have to believe
you feel the same.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


You got a shot with Bernie.
In fact, more of a shot
than you had with Barry.
You got an old grandpa Jew
with a righteous pitchfork
up his ass; it's been touching
his heart
from the time he knew
it had a beat.
He needs you now
to keep breathing.

You all know
unless you get some serious
redistribution, you'll be dead
by the time another white man
comes along to help you
change a tire; get out of jail;
get a job, an education; a room
with a view.




It begins
and ends
in this country
with money.
And any black person knows:
if you don't get your money straight,
you're a fool.

Calling Ta-Nahisi, calling Spike,
calling John Lewis & Ramsey Lewis
(& Sinclair Lewis), calling Denzel,
and Michael and Magic and Toni
and Oprah and any and all Negro
Negra Black colored oreo mulatto
Spic & Span Latino Hispanic Mexican
who knows how to rub
two nickels together
to get on board for this guy
and stop bullshitting
about what you don't have.
If you let that fake ofay
sax player and his trifling wife
have their day
your day
is yesterday
and yesterday
is nowhere.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016