Thursday, March 17, 2016


My eyes are glued
to the black tar
& cement
these days
when I walk:
afraid to trip
I look for cracks,
I look for fissures,
I look for danger.
I also look for coins
and bills and bags
of heroin--but that's
another story.
Today I was just looking
for the curb
as I crossed
University & 11th
and made
the steep climb;
this is NYC after all
& disasters & likeliness
are an old married couple.
I made the ascent
and picked up my eyes
in triumph & jubilation.

And there you were
boring those schizoid orbs of yours
into me
and smiling shyly
snug in your faded
fitted Canada Goose.
It took a moment
to take you in
and instead looked
for their hip arm patch
thinking it would tell me
what is authentic
& what is a knock-off.

Why are you so surprised?
you asked, you knew I'd be here.
Your right hand held onto
a shopping cart
as you followed
my eyes
with your own.
It's empty, Savage,
you know me: No food,
no clothing, no saviors,
no nothing,
just me. I would have
brought my dog,
but I can't.
He's dead
you know?
But maybe later. Maybe
I will later...
or maybe I'm through
with animals; they're much
too kind, you said, and smiled
a smile so rueful
it made my bones ache.

A few bums looked in the basket
but you shooed them away. A car
skidded to a stop. Its tires screeched,
a smell of rubber laced the air.
I might like New York, you said,
but maybe I won't; you know
how small town I am...
if I don't there are other places to go,
I have lots of money.
Can we go up to your place now? you asked.
Yes, we can, let's go home.
Not exactly, you said.
Not exactly, I echoed.
I knew, like you knew,
there was nothing up there either,
but it was a better nothing
than we had a moment ago.
I went to take your cart
and no resistance was offered.
When we crossed the street I didn't
look down--my self-consciousness
had the better of me
and stumbled once, twice,
but quickly righted the ship
and noticed:
I was able to breathe

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2016

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