Thursday, December 19, 2013


The Betty Poems

I haven't had a drink
in almost ten years,
but I've thought about it.
Unlike dope kicking,
nobody told me I should
or had to do it.
I just stopped.

The problem with dead things like
booze or junk is
you never stop loving them.

Anyway, my girl is coming in
to spend some time with me;
she likes me and
she likes to drink
and I
would like to have a cocktail
with her.
Why not?
Why can't I?
I'm a double sixes male.
Thinkin about this shit
is silly
dontcha think?
It is silly.

I've played it out:
We'll sit in a restaurant,
she'll order a red wine;
I'll offhandedly order a scotch.
She'll look at me.
I'll pretend I'm cool, no big deal.
She'll pretend I'm cool, no big deal,
but she'll know it is.
I'll continue whatever conversation
we're having because I'm afraid she'll know
that the only thing I can think about now
is when that fucking waiter is gonna return with that pretty glass half filled with a honey colored escape liquid
and where the fuck is he already, already
tasting the drink
and a hand
with much too much time on their hand
settles the two glasses in front of us
and we look at the liquids in each of our glasses
and smile to each other and toast
to us being together and in love and having all the world in front of the old fucks that we've become
and I will sip the drink
and taste the sweetness at first,
like suddenly remembering a word you loved and used often once again is in your mouth waiting to be swallowed waiting
to do its job
and it goes down, smoothly so smoothly
and the warmth gets to your back and your shoulders and to your neck and suddenly ten years of doubts and fears and wants and desires come in second
and a warm feeling wraps around your chest and belly and another sip and your brain suddenly is ready to love freely
without constraints and your words begin bouncing dancing out of your mouth and you might smile more easily or laugh and the other catches your beat with her own beat and you're grooving along...and now you're waiting for that fucking waiter to come back so you can sheepishly look at your love and point to both your glasses and order another and you say "don't worry" "don't worry, baby, one more, it's cool, one more," and you lean back smile secure in your element because there is no element except your internal element and you grin to yourself because you're back home.

The day after...
if we got through the night
without killing each other...
I'd spend thinking how
I could turn her toward booze
sometime tonight. I know that.
Rather than take that chance
I'll think about the three sticks
of pot I have in my drawer
that I've been trying to sell
to stay afloat. They will
make me feel alive--perhaps paranoid--
but very much alive.
If I take a chance,
it will be on living,
not the other.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013


The Betty Poems

is something
I can't explain.
I only know how
my body sings.
How each note
that settles
in the flesh

You've gotten away
with crimes
of the heart.
You have taken
my love
telling me

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013


The Betty Poems

for imbeciles,
for hucksters, hustlers,
promoters, sellers,
and those who have sniffed
from love's tailpipes,
the family fumes,
to fall
under their spell.

It's the season
for virgins
to say, "maybe
I should
give it up;"
a time for cocks men
to push
into territories
uncrossed, unblemished;
it is a time
for theft, a time
of not enough.

I've known this.
You've known this.
I want to see you
skate; I want to hear you
sing carols
and watch the bubble
frost outside
your mouth float
that crazy loving
only stoppered by life itself
I want you to find
you waiting
to begin
and believe
that what you thought
harbored away, goo and gunk
to what pumps
your heart,
your achingly
beautiful heart,
is simply
not so.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


and are eating
us up
from the inside--
let them.
Let them eat
the rancid meat
of your heart and lungs and
brain and kidneys and liver;
let them feast
on the poisons
they gave you
or not.

Step from yourself
and create
a self.
Even if you have to
make it up.
But do it.
Be a murderer,
a bricklayer,
a speaker
in tongues,
an alchemist,
a carpenter,
a used car salesman,
a model
of disease,
a seamstress,
a governess,
a pillager
of boundaries.
But do it.
A self.
A self
who will
love me.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013


The Betty Poems

Two days
after Christmas
I'm going to die:
my baby's
coming in.
She'll wing her way
to me
on a prayer
and a cross.
I'll suffer,
I know,
for her sins
and mine.

She has little interest,
she told me,
in waiting
for Godot,
or any others;
she has no patience
for Tchaikovsky's
romanticism or
suffering; she has grown-up
inside her own skin
and that has been enough
for ten lifetimes.

We'll have a grand time,
she said,
pleasuring each other
with our humor
and our fingers
and our silence.
She wants
her wheels
to come off
for a few days
without thinking
about thinking,
without having to do
a goddamn thing.

It just seems right
when love is not more
or less
than what love is:
a prism
that reflects
your own colors
and colors
what you reflect.
And you become content
to allow that love
to kill you.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


The Betty Poems

My girl
is up high;
my balls sag
around my ankles--
bugs can play
ping-pong with em
for all the good
they're doin me
now, although
my boss loves
to squeeze em
too; he's known
for that: more sadistic
as our pain threshold
increases. Things
have just worked out
that way.
What should have been
gone through
has been saved
for later
while I dreamt
of escapes
and believed
I fooled em.

I would not trade
those murdered hours
for a punch card,
would not sacrifice
a martyred minute
for placemats,
drapes or
throw pillows.
I know how stupid
that sounds, how
and how it strips
self-pity from the bone.
But I've never desired
to fuck a Puritan;
never was attracted to bonnets,
and manners, and God
knows what else
inside the layers
of lace.
I've never known honesty
except my own kind,
skewered, I know,
made up, I admit,
second by second
in a loving embrace
with those less mad
or a touch madder.
I simply
could do
the starting

it all led
to the girl
up high
of the border
and whether
I will still
be grateful
next year around
this time
is not
for me to know. But
I do say thanks
to her now
for giving me
a reason
to say

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Coming up:
50th anniversary
of when the bullet
met the brain
of our beautiful
leader of
the free world.
America's machine
is milking it
for all it's worth.
Pundits and pimps
of posters and porn
are filling every
available orifice.
If you don't serve
their purposes
by knowing exactly
where you were
and how many tears
you shed
you feel like shit.
In fact,
you are shit
if you weren't frozen
with astonishment,
then grief,
when our handsome,
skirt chasing,
drug taking,
Camelot bullshitting
President was smoked.
Folks like Tom Brokaw
make a fortune
from our collective grief:
Where were you?
Were you in the middle
of farting?
taking a leak?
reading Hobbes?
or watching
a pair of nylons
disappear around
a corner?

Well, I know where
I was--
if any sonofabitch cares?
I was in Tommy's mother's Cadillac
outside Nathan's
eating a hotdog
trying to take a peak
down Tommy's mother's cleavage,
inhaling her perfume
while hoping
against hope
that I'd bowl well
in my high school's bowling match
she was driving us to.
The radio was on
to the news bulletins.
The Heart told her
to find some music.
She was all
for that.

I threw a 223, 227,
and a 204. I had
a very good

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


might have Conrad's
taint of death
in them
but has his civilization's rivets
as well.
The lies
are repetitive,
well constructed,
and serves as a glue
that binds us
to each societies
bullshit. The lies
we tell ourselves
and others
keep that civilization
and other presences
at bay.
There are lies of convenience
and lies of distance;
they justify war
and cool infidelities;
they grease the social wheel
and soften the maw of consumerism.
But mainly,
they just get
us by,
day to day,
hour to hour,
minute to minute
of our self-debasement
and diminishment.
They allow us time
for our own delusion
and distraction.
They can give us space
when another human
presses up
and against

It's like loving a woman
but keeping hole cards
that remain hidden.
And even though
they too will become
naked, it's nice
to once and awhile
feel safe
and know
you needn't fill
an inside straight--
your pocket aces
will do.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


For Annie

Annie sez
I eat pussy
better than
any woman
she's ever been with...

Fuck getting
The Nobel.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013


has caught up
to my manias:
"Fuck you,"
my legs say;
"Try breathing
now," my lungs
stutter; "Pump this,"
my pump mutters
through the sludge
while grabbing
his crotch.
When I take a piss
I bring reading material
to pass the time
as well as the water
and get bemused
by the white flag
of surrender hanging
off the tip.
But even this
is O.K.
by me: This poem
has given
me a laugh
on a very
grim day.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I used to run
with a black
bald headed
dope fiend
name of Raymond
up to Harlem
in the sixties
to cop.
We liked to score
in The Sahara Lounge
on 128 and Lenox.
The big buck
at the door
never thought
we were cops:
we looked
too hungry.
They still sold
fat deuces
and treys
in there
could get
both of us
The city
was the city
back then;
the dirt
still had
the turn
of the century
in it
and all the mixed
mixtures living
asshole to elbow.

The police
and dicks
knew we weren't
up there for cheap
sex and some
would eye us
as we made it
to 1,2,5
and out.
Raymond had stashed
works all over
Manhattan: the hospital
where he worked, rooftops
near his work, and on
the steps leading up
to his roof where he lived
with his ol' lady
and a kid.
being the good diabetic
had works on me
and a card:
Diabetic Uses Insulin.
Of course,
that left out
the eye dropper
which I preferred.

We usually
had luck
or stupidity
on our side.
And we had
two good women
who threw us out
on our ass
when they realized
they couldn't compete
against the dead.

Those were
different times.
The game
has changed.
Even being a junkie
is part of the square culture
and Times Square
is a Minnesota mall
and uptown
is downtown
for the upwardly mobile.

Gonna miss ya.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013


The Betty Poems

There's only one key
to only one cunt, and one cunt
for only one key--your mission:
find it. Find it
and you'll never be the same.
Most fail.
Most fail miserably.
Some almost get it
but miss
by a hair.
Those that miss
feel it,
know it,
and call locksmiths,
change their diet,
stop smoking,
seek priests, rabbi's,
therapists, doctors, in all stripes
and persuasions; they think having
kids will help; they move
from house to house,
state to state, or become
Little League managers,
den mothers, or use
their next door neighbor's
ear...or spouse
and still
is missing.
we think
we're fucking the right person,
but we're not. The odds
are always against us.
The very young,
of course,
do not know this,
while the old
are usually too dead
to notice
or care.

To discover
the one
is almost as impossible
as imagining your parents fucking.
But that's where it began--the madness
of it all. Those crazy juices.
The twists. The turns, the unexpected
cliffs and the warning signs
you pretended not
to see.
A naked recording instrument, wet,
and over stimulated; composing
your own algorithms,
manufacturing a new code
for an ancient program.
Nothing is lost
to memory.
And then to stumble
on another
who knows your code
might require a lifetime
of broken bones and stitches
If there is victory
to be found
it will be bloody. You'll clean
yourself from your parent's sheets
and by-products; you'll walk
through the fire
of your fears.

Trust your cunt
and the way it blossoms
to the other's presence
before touch; trust
your cock and how it hardens
to her voice
despite age or reason.
Trust your body
that knows light years
before your brain
how the other
can know you so well
and not know you
at all. And how
when your secrets spill
from places
you were blind to
you allow your nakedness
to protect you
and keep you safe.
You'll want
to sabotage it,
destroy it,
rub shit into it,
disbelieve it,
but resist those urges
that run through your veins
like summer storms.

When it's found
(if it's found)
and you get it right
it's like magic:
you don't know how it happened,
you don't know how it's done,
and you don't give a fuck

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013


the inside
of his chest
must look like
the coal mines
of West Virginia
he muses
as he shuffles
on chartreuse
tennis balls
underneath the legs
of his walker
to the nearest
bench in Washington Square
Park. His body,
riddled with arthritis,
begins his descent
but then gives up: he doesn't sit
as much as he falls
upon the wooden slats.
It's a cold fall
semi-slate gray day,
but he's worked up a sweat
just getting to his spot
and mops his forehead
with his claw hand.
He squints,
shielding his eyes
from the sometimes sun
trying to muscle its way
through the bones
of summer.

Off to the side
the children gather.
They've been waiting
for the past few hours.
They're very patient.
Even in these smart phone times
much of the game
is the same: Wait
and wait some more.

The old fuck
sees them, but is in
no hurry. There was a time
he had to wait too.
But he waited for fat
deuces or trey bags
of dope, good
dope, uptown
dope, dope
that could keep you high
for days.
His legs
were strong,
so strong
he didn't have to think
about his next step
or the vascular disease
and neuropathy
that informed him now.

He took Dante
out and here
they came;
slowly, giving
the one before
to linger
to chat
to have
a laugh
or plead
their case,
drop a twenty
into a plain brown
bag and
They got good reefer
at a fair price
on a righteous count.
They knew
the old fuck
was trustworthy
and safe.
The scene
was a throwback
to better times
for all.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013


turned bad
and back
to good
and back
to bad again
with alacrity.
Which was which
and which time
on which way
we turned
or away
from each
other both
or singly
at the same
We each left
blood spatters
on each other's body
and clothes.
The dry cleaner
would run
after us
our garments
in front
to get
our attention
and make us
We were
too busy

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013


was all she said.
I'd just sat down
in my cubicle
and was steeling
myself for the day.
"Who's beautiful?, what's beautiful?,"
I asked.
"The poems,
The Betty Poems.
I read them last night."
"Which ones?"
"All of them."
"Yeah, well,"
I began,
steeling myself
for a different kind of day,
"thanks," I managed,
"but the blood
hasn't dried.
"Don't be sorry,"
she said,
"that's a lot of blood;
you're hemorrhaging love
and I'm
just a bandaid."

We sat in silence
for awhile, she
in her chair
and me in mine.
I knew she didn't move
and I didn't either.
We stared at the wall
that divided us.
"Have you heard from her?"
she asked.
"Not recently,
until last night; I got
an email."
"What did it say?"
"It said, 'I still love you too, Norman'
probably a response to my last post."
"Did you answer?"
"Yeah, I did. I told her I was glad to hear that
and I still keep her close."

We didn't talk
for the rest of the day,
or smoke a cigarette
together or have a laugh.
It wasn't deathly,
but you couldn't dance to it either.
she was in her space,

What that all means,
I couldn't say.
But I know
it must be important
because it is just that kind of language
I've never learned
and fear
it can't
be taught.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


The Betty Poems

to her
I'm writing
with a wit
and precision,
and depth
I never knew
I had

I still
hate her.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


love me do me take me buy me feed me clothe me shelter me rescue me kiss me fuck me bounce me toss me thrill me won't me have me leave me curse me fill me want me own me do me do me do me beat me slap me twist me unfurl me meld me toast me curl me fold me applaud me laud me tease me tell me you'll stay forever me inside me beside me drink me drunk me inspect me enfold me taper me fatten me bless me move me dance me read me listen me inspect me respect me understand me teach me reject me dissect me...

whatever you do
or don't do

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


before I die
I'd like to saunter
up to a counter
in the most exclusive
dessert, pastry, sweet
shop in the world
or a corner diner
in a seedy remote
shit hole in buttfuck USA
and order
a vanilla malted,
a hot fudge sundae,
hot apple pie with a healthy scoop
of DAZ on top,
or pancakes with maple syrup
dripping from the lip of a tree,
without giving a fuck,
without taking a goddamn motherfucking blood test,
without pricking my finger
or fingering my asshole,
without inserting a rectal thermometer,
or taking an oral temperature,
or hormonal temperature,
or emotional temperature
or any goddamn temperature
or after
enjoying the goddamn thing.

And while we're at it:
I'd like to make a chick
without thinking of
my next meal,
my next carbohydrate
or complex or simple
sugar or if I'm high
or low or peaking
or declining or bobbing
or weaving
without worrying if the sweat
I'm sweating is sex sweat
or ridiculous fucking
hypoglycemic sweat.

I'd like to dive
into a bottle
of single malt scotch
until white flags
spring from my liver
like any good goddamn
booze addled lover would
without thinking
of the added price
to be paid
twice over
for my ticket
already bought
and punched.

I believe I'm entitled
after being hamstrung
with this shit for
out of sixty-six years
to say that.
Especially while sipping
a goddamn fucking Diet
Ginger Ale.

C'mon folks,
let's give him
a hand.

and fuck

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013


last night
for a couple of minutes.
She did what she did:
told a few stories,
made me laugh, bought me
a coffee
and time.
I think I returned
the favor.
It wasn't her tits
or ass or cunt--as enticing
as they are
--that did the saving.
It was a sort of kindness
of one kind or another
that made me notice
a change in temperature.

For as long
as memory provides me,
I've desired, fervently
hoped for, saving
from the meanness
that surrounded me:
First, of course,
from my parents,
stupid and cruel
progenitors, forming
a tag-team of imbecility;
they, then, became
the world outside, worse
sometimes, but not better;
and finally myself
and my own special demons.
Yet all manner of things helped:
the word, the poem, food,
dope or dope
sickness, driving,
a book, a wife,
a lover--for a minute
or a mile--music,
whiskey, a prizefight
that I wasn't part of...
I'd look up
and not know
where I was
or where the misery

All of us
want saviors
and all of us want to be saved.
All of us. All the time.
Just look at the personal sections
or faces looking into faces looking into
cellphones or movies that are all about us
or art as entertainment or food preparation as gods
and ambrosia and nectar and sex.
We project, rationalize, subvert, reverse, and transverse
across our limited consciousness, but the mines
have been dug deep. They defy
the noses of rescue dogs.
We would like to believe
we're wiser
after defeats,
more mature
after battles--
and perhaps we are
--but the wheel
continues to turn
within us
and without us.
It's hard enough
knowing who we are
let alone the person next to you
in bed
or on the subway platform
behind you.

Jesus saves--
of course he does.
The question is:
at which bank?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013


For Annie

cracks gum,
smokes Camels,
shorts. She lives
in the cubicle
next to mine.
Except for her Arthur Avenue voice
I've paid her little mind.
I've made it a point
not to get next to
the new recruits, their shelf-life
being as short as it is
in this boiler-room
of doom.

The other day,
after I twisted the arm
of an octogenarian
into a sale
I heard: I love your voice.
I heard it, but had her repeat
what she'd just said.
I love your voice...
you should do voice-overs,
radio, something other...but
you're good at this, too.
I've learned a lot just sitting here.
Thanks. That's good, I replied.

I'm in such an economic shit-hole,
I was anxious to get back on the phone,
but unknown pussy was stronger than survival.
I'm goin out for a smoke, I said through the wall.
Just so happens, me too.

Quickly, I rose.
I wanted to take everything in.
And there was a lot to take in.
Standing five ten, nice body,
nicer face with eyes that had
a kind of depth and playfulness
that one could frolic with. Yet,
there were creases and creases
within those creases; it was not a life
unlived...or unexamined.

The elevator took us down
and we stood outside
smoking and talking.
A Bronx girl and Brooklyn boy
now in mid-fifties and mid-sixties
desperation. But her laugh
was easy, unforced. And she touched
my arms or hands each time
something struck her or she wanted
me to believe in the point she was making.

By the third cigarette,
I was smoking hers. And listening
to what I hoped
would not be future evidence
I'd use against her.
A street kid who graduated
Columbia; a Jewish mother
making gravy on Sunday
while her Italian father
made time
with other women
and later served time
She was an actress
in mostly small, mostly cultish films,
(one of which I saw and liked)
except for the Madonna one;
listened to Callas
and hung around
with the original
graffiti artists as they painted
the sides of trains at night
in graveyards.
The last paying gig she had
was selling Japanese parasols
out of her car
on blistering hot
summer days.
And I told her about
some of my routes and hanging out
with Crash, Daze, A-1 in the eighties
in her stomping grounds.
We could have
and would have
stayed out longer
but we both were jammed
for bread.

I'm gonna make a call
to Vegas
or God--
find out
the odds.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013


There's no real way
to do that,
but we try.
We'd like to believe
in mathematics,
the addition
or subtraction
of things,
that it all
makes sense
and was not
a waste of time.
But it usually
doesn't make sense
and usually was
a waste of time.
I think,
I should have knotted
my tie differently,
or told less lies?
I should have learned
to bat lefty
or throw righty
and walk on the other side
of the street
where the sun
was directly in my eyes?
Or fall in love
with women less mad
or less mad
about me?
The Bible might have worked,
but I needed more answers
than faith, more mystery
than reason
not realizing
that simple things worked
I do not know much
about oxytocin, or cortical,
dopamine, or serontonin,
and measuring spoons
though I've used too many spoons
to measure life with.

I've known more
with less, but have done less
with more than most
have a right to have
or do.

I will leave it
to others
to find
my mistakes.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013


on my forearm
ran only one way: in.
No one
got aboard
except me
and my other selves;
that was the point.
It gave us a chance
to know one another
without outside distraction
like air, food, water.

At first
many people tried
to jam in
with us,
but after awhile
it was only us lovers
who waited on the platform.
Some might say
that's just a typical
jerk-off, ego, self-
centeredness, narcissistic,
fucked-up, selfish blah,
blah, blah, etc. etc. etc.
I'd say
it was my way
of relaxing.
I was able
to stretch out
my legs,
and put my feet
upon the facing seat
which was,

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


Every once in awhile--
rarely really
--you come across a person,
or a person comes across you:
woman, teacher, friend,
who shares something
of their soul:
words turned
to color turned
to music
til they swirl
and dance
to an unknown
wholly their own
and before
you're conscious of it
it's taken up
and lives
of you
Your body moves
from then on;
your brain
discovers new byways
and passages
and chemicals

All of a sudden
Vachel Lindsey fucks
with you,
or Jerry Hopkins or
his cousin Lightning,
stuffy T.S. becomes a hip
kitty along with Stevens,
Hem and W.C.W.
Louis C dances with Hank B,
they marinate
with each other,
simmer and season,
with Bee and Bach and Gustave
while Cecil, Duke and Pops
and Thelonious tap their feet.

Each time those doors opened
was special: a red scarf
over a yellowish light
in a chambermaid's room
in Provincetown
turned-on Prufrock; a reefer filled,
East Village, tub in the kitchen
five floor walk-up presented Trane;
a long-distance call with Hank
in some L.A. shit hole
freed Jeffers.
Different times,
different ages,
but the same feeling:
getting hard.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013


The Betty Poems

for cupcakes,
the icing; she's weak
for coconut.
She favors
the more morbid
the better:
concentration camps,
abject suffering,
But there must be
a tiny tiny light
of redemption.
One of her organs
is dead.
It died
when mine did
a decade earlier.
She fears nothing
except being second
to her lover's love.
She's fierce,
ferocious really
in her objections,
and refusal
to let go
of slights
and slippage.
When she smiles
her youth
is there
in all its vulnerability
and trust
despite herself; she
is always on guard
and fails
for good reason; pain
has always breathed with her,
beside her,
through her.
I've been fortunate
to witness fountains
of love
come out of her
secret places
I'll never know
and puddle
in the palms
of my hands.

she's a motherfucker:
too smart,
too deep,
too complex
for me
to matter.

And that's
for both of us.
Nothing to do
bury the bad
with the bones
and remember
everything else--
and that's enough.

It has to be.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013


For Diane

You stamp
and kick
and twist
around my swollen soul
while I curse
my bloated belly,
ankles and heart.
You know how much
your beauty haunts me.

the picture
so that it can,
of course,
be studied.

are hip
to that

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 1978-2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013


The Betty Poems

I know that feeling well:
you can't wait
to be alone
inside a room,
a stall,
a hallway,
where no one
can see you,
find you,
talk to you,
confront you,
pressure you,
upset you,
deconstruct you,
unmask you,
torture you,
demand of you,
finger you,
command you,
annoy you,
remind you,
deny you,
kill you,
love you,
acknowledge you,
praise you,
cherish you,
worship you,
adore you,
look at you,
measure you,
accept you,
cheat on you,
misplace you,
lean on you...
and just sip
from the lip
or inject a tip
of a bottle
or a syringe
of mother's milk
into your mouth
or vein
that soothes
the creases
in your soul.
It's like walking
into a Chinese laundry
on a blue winter's day,
and the steam heat
embraces you as does
the old familiar Chinese couple
behind the counter
for a hundred years,
and you know
their love
has its own rhythm and
you'd love to have
that rhythm
but you don't;
and then
you smell the steam
from the old irons
held in their beautiful crooked hands
swollen with arthritic pain
as you drop off your stains
knowing they will come back
pressed out and you can once again
be clean and fresh.

Be sure
not to lose
your ticket.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


with bleeding pockets
and a busted-up heart.
Both conditions
are my fault.
I've been a very
unwise man
much of my life.

Of course,
I've been broke
and out of love
before. I've also
been younger.
This morning,
my blood sugar
read over 400
and my stomach
churned and pained me.
My head was fuzzy
and my eyes unfocused.
I couldn't afford
to stay home from work,
but I did.
At this point
I no longer panic about much--
I just do what's in front of me,
expect it to work,
but know it won't.
Until it does.
Which is always
a surprise.

I knew I'd get the sugar down
and things would clear
as if by magic.
The other two conditions,
"work" and "love",
never obeyed
my magical thinking
probably because
I couldn't titrate them
as I do my insulin.

The day will unfold
as it always does
and I'll use it
as I choose:
finish this poem,
shop for toilet paper
and other necessities,
read and try to work
on other poems.
At one time,
every day I didn't punch
a time-card
was considered
a victory,
now not so much.
And when I wasn't shacked-up
with a babe or "in love" with a love,
I had my dead lovers: booze and dope
for company and comfort.
And sometimes,
I had all of them
at the same time--
what an orgy
of pleasure!

there are wisps
of images thinning
into the air
like cigarette smoke.
My god,
how I still enjoy

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013


We're always
the target.
There's always
somebody or something
taking aim.
It could be a sniper
not yet born,
or a virus
not yet mutated.
Better it be over
quickly, like a plane
landing in your coffee cup;
or your heart
exploding; or your brain
aneurysm imploding.
It could be a bullet
meant for someone else,
or a ricocheted shard
off the sidewalk
into your eye.
a schizophrenic
thought you were God
and pushed God,
the false God,
under the train?

But usually
the crosshairs
is looked through
by you.
You're the best
shot in the world.
You never miss.
You know where
your soft parts are.
You might do it quickly--
if you're lucky
--or do something
that bears fruit
six months later.

It does not much matter
the method or the means.
We're all good
and we should be:
we practice
all the time.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013



a little time--

I'm still young
--double sixes;
a new bud
on the cusp
of sanity.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013


a gob
of thick
sweet tasting
gooey blood-laced
and felt
Not much longer
for this shit,
he thought
and breathed
for the first time
since he took
his first breath.
No more reading,
no more writing.
No more hiding,
no more lucidity,
opacity would be shunned
and a dawn would break
behind eyes
soon to be

This illness
was legit.
It was earthly,
and just--
just like life

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


in a taxi
while going
to work
is no small feat:
smelling the presence
of the woman
who sat there
before me
is intoxicating,
the spots
she placed
her fingertips
to; her legs
so shapely--
a highway
to the gods
nylons aching
to be touched;
a hint,
so sweet,
of mint
on her breath
as she nibbled
my lower
lip and pulled,
ever so slowly,
as she climbed
over me
to the sidewalks
I watched
as she walked
into the eyes
of others.

Not many days
have the flavor
of this one
even though
I get up
and out
most every day
and hail
many many

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013


when birthdays,
or anniversaries,
deaths and marriages,
Christmas or sickness,
is comin round
and the person you just had
a fight with,
a parting of the ways with,
a sickness that infests your soul with,
a hole that dug deep with,
in your heart with,
past the point
of exasperation with,
so that if you never see them again with,
or talk with,
or sleep in that trickster mind of yours with,
(that prick)
(that cunt)
is too soon
and is soon
comin up?

being madly in love.
Fuck being
just mad.
Just fuck

you say,
I ain't doin it--
I ain't callin
or writtin
or sendin any
goddamn thing
his or her
goddamn way.
It's better
that it's over
and they should know that;
they need to be trained
to know that.
It's over,
it's kinder
it's better
really better
for both of us but
especially me.
They had their goddamn chance,
more than a chance
I gave them
to change.
If they don't wanna change,
fuck them,
it's on them,
it's over them,
above them
around them
and through them.

They'll survive.
Everyone survives.
(But maybe...)
No, fuck that.
They'll survive.
And I'll survive.
And I'll survive
better and be better
for it.
(But maybe...)
Fuck that
and fuck you.
I don't give a shit;
they're cruel and selfish
and narcissistic; stupid
really. Dumb.
They can be so thick.
Goddamn dense.
They don't deserve a prize
like me; they piss on it,
break it,
casually toss it
away, shit on it
and wipe their ass
with my love.
They're impossible,
probably psychotic
and expect me to just go along
to get along--
soft easy me
making compromises
so often I don't know
who me is

I must be strong,
resist it,
and it will pass
and I'll be free
of him
of her
of it;
I will be free--if
I get by the next few weeks,
maybe month.
They'll learn,
they'll learn.
I'm no one
to trifle with.

Only the laughing bones
remain beside the trestle
that brought the two lovebirds
nesting. The bodies gather
rigor, the smiles frozen.
And somewhere
in the distant hills
a gospel singer moans
for her lost congruents.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, September 28, 2013


is giving away
samples. Every few seconds
she shouts:
to the hipsters
and squares
who walked by
her cheap
What the fuck
Pumpkin Chive is
I don't know.
The liquid
inside the bubble
is cloudy,
an ice tea
of some sort.
One thing I do know:
it costs

Quickly, her bubble
had deflated
and she cradled
the sad watery ice
and lugged it back
inside, but not before
checking her phone
for messages. She knew
there were none,
but checked anyway.
She left
the thimble sized cups
on the sidewalk
without a thought,
her face blank
as well.

Another cigarette,
I thought,
as I scribbled this
down. We all have our hells--

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


its Saturday morning mercy
through my bedroom's slats.
I've taken off today
to parts unknown.
one word
will follow
or trail behind
until something
is formed
that resembles
nothing else.
It's a poor excuse,
I admit,
for living,
but it's the only one
that's ever made
any kind
of sense.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013


For Jimmy Cagney & Tom Signorelli

Come out
with your hands up."

"Fuck you.
I ain't comin out.
Come get me."

(And they will,
yes, they will.)

Everything constricts;
you're inside the Boa.
You swallow
and feel the fish
bones stuck
in your gullet.
There are no good memories.
Even when you thought
you were so smart,
so slick,
so much
the rogue
with girls and women
and the art
of persuasion
it now chokes you
with imbecility.
All the breasts
you've nuzzled,
all the legs
thrown over
your shoulders,
all the laughs
and ease after
the spring's sparks
had settled refuse
to reverberate.

It is a bill
you've run out on
they've come to collect;
a prerequisite
you've never taken
out of fear,
out of spite,
mockingly stares back
like Nietzsche's abyss.
All the "time" you've thought
you've killed
comes back
to avenge its murder.

We hole up
beside our barbed-wire
selves. Blue smoke
settles over corpses
plucked bare; our bones
will be bleached
by the hands of lovers
and laid bare and sold
like Indian artifacts.
You can't turn around
without getting cut.
coming out
is not an option.
There still is a sliver
of light and the sound
of mice dancing a jig
underneath the floorboards.
And that's enough.
It has always been enough;
Enough for then
and enough for now.

Check your bullets,
steady your hand,
and take

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013


The Betty Poems

We'd not spoken
nor written
to each other
for a month,
maybe more.
I'd hung-up
on her twice
and didn't respond
to her emails--
except once
by mistake
when I hit
the wrong button.
(That happens,
I've learned,
even to the best of us).
I kept posting poems
about her--
that I did do,
--and other matters
less important
to me
but important

It was hell.

But I've lived in hell
in one form or another
all my life.

But this hell
was special.

After she returned
from a week's respite
without me
where she could drink
and smoke in illusions
of her own making
(and perhaps getting close
to a body or two? who knows?
and who could blame her?)
she wrote
to me.
She'd read my poetry,
only sometimes (she was quick to note)
and wrote it had Bukowski's imprint
all over it,
with some of my own, smaller,
fingerprints, too.
(She was good
with the backhand,
real good).
I'm sure she thought
I'd be flattered,
pleased knowing what I owed
to the great poet,
but lesser man. True
for all of us
poets. But perhaps
she really knew
something else: we owe
something to everyone
who came before us
even the bad ones,
especially the bad ones.
But deep down
really deep down
she knew that anger is lit
before the match is seen
or the sulfa inhaled;
she knew I couldn't help
but respond--which
I couldn't.
Savage is Savage
and other declarations
of horseshit
lept to mind
from gut.
And she responded.
And I responded.
And she responded.
And I...

We were
"back in the saddle
again." The world
is back
on its
axis. And I
can breathe

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


My super nurses
his magic cup
of orange juice.
I open
and close
the box
in the same motion
shut: no money,
no letters,
no mirrors--technology
has rendered that
mute. Just a card:
We Fix Locks
cheap, 24 hours.
It no longer matters
whether it's broken
or not. Long ago,
when I knew
her time was offered
as a matter of course,
and encouragement screamed
for my father's hammer,
the tumblers set
to zero. Frozen
in a particular mathematic.
Jumping to extremes
but staying put.
Shadows of ice.
as meaningless as morning.
except locks
cheap, 24 hours
while my veins flow
with unarticulated fire.

no good;
standing, worse.
more trouble.
Worms fall
from the sky
as rain
while the wood
around me
begins to

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013



is a madman.
There are other madmen
like him.
They all
must be asked
the right questions.

for Brasz

If there is a God
alive today
He dwells
in the land


Going from black & white
Hitchcock Lifeboat Slezak yawn
to a "Yes" TV color
detergent commercial
is a very very


full of rot.

She did, though,
have expensive tastes--

for one.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013


the sad sad s,
the black twerlies,
the "everything tastes like shit"
blues. I think I'll put on
Sonny Boy
or read Hank.
I'll listen to slaves
sing and inhale
tobacco smoke
writers and follow
blind seers
and soothsayers.
And I'll drink,
yes, I'll drink
from them
and to them.
For you see
I know
what to do:
I've been black
and blue

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013


The Betty Poems

I can't scratch;
a constant ache
I can't rub;
a certified check
I can't cash.
You're an ATM
full of promise
and I've forgotten
my password;
you're a money machine
that's down
or not down
but in an undisclosed
You hold the keys
to the handcuffs
around my soul
but have eaten them.

It's maddening.

But I'm a funny addict:
I've shot sex
for such a long time
I can only get off
when love is mainlined
as well. And it better be
pretty much pure.
And so,
I'd rather deny myself
some half-ass high
than be strung-out
on half-ass hope--never more stupid
than when it's a finger-tip away.

I give you fair warning:
if you write
and I don't answer;
if you call
and I don't pick-up
it is not because
I don't want to;
it is not that I'm trying
to test or be hurtful--
(I can be vicious, I know)
--to you; it just means
I'm busy
I'm licking my wounds
like any animal would;
I'm filling holes;
it means I'm playing
with another madness,
I'm reading,
I'm crying, I'm laughing
as the sirens wail;
I'm eating green
bologna, liverwurst, or a bloody
or peeling an orange; I'm trying
to make it,
just make it
for a little longer.
It means that the evidence
I vigilantly gathered
overwhelms me; it means
I'm shaking my head
in disbelief;
I'm hanging on by a spider's net,
by my own flimsy reason;
it means I'm slitting
the navel
of my dream;
it doesn't mean I love you
or not; or hate you,
or not,
but accept you
I can't
All I can do
is talk about it
to strangers
or trees,
write about it and sing
songs about it
until it's dispelled,
displaced, dissipated,
broken-down and thinned
so that it flows
between my bodies plaque
gummed-up with history.

It matters little
to me the cost--
I'd rather have had it
than not
and paid
what it's worth.
And if it's lost
it's only because
it was most precious;
it's the only thing
we usually
and that's good,

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


A moon-sized orange pumpkin
exploded in the sky,
close enough
so the force
and the heat
knocked me back
against the steel
hip-hop high school doors.
I was a counselor then,
trying to get the kids
to do what I couldn't--
not get high.
I was outside
after the first blast
made me curious enough
to find out
what was what.
The school was in the shadow
of The Brooklyn Bridge,
Manhattan side,
adjacent to One PP.
I watched the plume
of black charcoal smoke
obey the wind
and gravity
and wonder
along with my Spanish thief colleague,
some kids and other teachers,
what the hell happened?
Small aircraft,
one cop said;
some kind of internal combustion,
another blue badge muttered.
I was listening, but watching
the arc of the second
plane, making what looked
like a lazy U-turn
into the second tower.

We got the kids out,
and waited for the ones with deformities
to be picked-up and brought out without
much more trauma.
The cops
like Border Collies,
herded us up,
and funneled us North.
It was a pilgrimage
painted by Goya
during his "Black" period.
No one spoke;
no one looked at the other,
until a man shuffling beside me said,
the second tower fell.
Fell where,
I wondered.

I didn't live far
from the inferno.
I rounded my block
twenty-five minutes later
and saw the face
of my young Japanese wife
waiting for me downstairs
in the street
with many others.
Her face ghostly,
her fingers nervous,
to touch my face, arm,
chest, back, hair, anything
and everything
that wasn't ash
and shadow.
She'd seen many like me
imprinted into the sides of buildings
and concrete isles in her city,
For me it was merely shocking;
for her it was coded
into her DNA.
She told me
she had to donate blood
immediately and asked
to go to the nearest hospital,
St. Vincent's. I pretty much knew
it would be useless,
but didn't tell her that,
couldn't tell her that,
her eyes told me
not to tell her that,
so instead stood with her
on a line and was
never called.
There were no bodies;
they'd been vaporized.
All too human one minute,
ashes the next.
She tried again and again
for the next three days
then gave it up.
Before she'd leave our pad
she stuffed four kinds of documentation
into her bag in case she'd get merely dead,
not disappear.
If nothing else she thought
her mother should know.

The smell of wet ash,
flesh and fire and paper
and steel smoldering strong
and acrid stayed in the air
and our lungs for quite some time.
Peoples lives, those who still lived,
crumbled with the towers, too,
leaving a wide scar
across the breath of a goddamn
tough city. But no matter
how hard and tough you are
shit like that just embeds
itself and becomes your partner
silent or otherwise
and takes the space
it wants.

Forget the memorials
and forego the bullshit speeches.
Just the date is enough.
Let the ones who were not there,
who came and will come after me
be wise
to cheap sentiment.
My wife and I
survived the towers,
but our marriage couldn't survive
my self-destructive
nature; two years later
it fell, too.
We've both rebuilt
our lives without
each other
knowing it,
but our bones remain
attuned, to what
is coming
our way.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013


It's funny
how you find
each other
at different times
through the years
and then are glued,
without realizing it,
by certain deformities:
a blind eye,
that are dried
from a careless shot
of penicillin when a child,
a bum leg, a hairlip,
a stutter,
diabetes, violent
parentage, a murmur
of the heart...
All of us found a way
to compensate:
a humor both ribald
and profane, a cleverness
outwitting death;
an alchemist's brew
to survive...and luck
in a shot glass
a syringe
or another outlet
of depravity...
Over half a century
tiptoeing or shouldering through
we thought
we knew
the terrain; once again
we were fooled because
deep down
we chose
to remain
fools. And that's alright.
Some of those friends
are famous
and some quite rich.
I am neither,
but still known
to a very small
and I'd imagine
shrinking circle.

One woman
who is well known
in literary and artistic
battlefields called
with a request:
for a few hours
over a weekend
meet her
at a hospital
that drips with cancer
and death and read
some stuff
to some of the kids
on the runway waiting
for a takeoff
that hopefully
will be aborted.
(How we still love
to be read to).
A few years back
when asked to do that,
I asked for the teenagers,
knowing next to nothing
about children.
I was given the same age,
but different faces.

The kids were either wheeled in,
or came attached to mobile I.V.'s,
hooked-up to oxygen tubes and masks,
or shuffled in and plopped down from radiation,
eyes red and vacant, bone tired
at thirteen into the first available chair or couch.
There was a constant drip-drop
dripping yellowish fluid in their arms,
or necks.
"Stop Staring At My Tits, Mister," I read first
to wake them the fuck up, by Bukowski. Some grinned,
others smiled, still others laughed
out loud. Sometimes you need permission
to laugh. To laugh at yourself
and laugh at death. Laughing fucks
with death. It makes death
crazy. Teases it with life.
I followed with a few more by Buk
and finished it with a few by Selby;
"A Little Respect," being the last.
I was a facilitator, a conductor.
I can't say for sure,
but I felt better than those kids felt
afterwards and they seemed to feel quite good.

We all went afterwards
to the famous man's restaurant
in the West Village. Attention
was paid to us--actually
to them. I knew I was an appendage
and that was O.K., too.
We talked about everything
except the kids: Cannes,
Vegas, who's fucking who,
who's old, over the hill
and demented and who's
just demented; who's a real artist
and who's a fake; who's washed-up,
strung-up strung-out hung-up hung-out
and dried--the usual shit.
But today, though,
we did not get to the uselessness
of "art." We simply
didn't need
to go there.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


burnt rubber; masks. a dog.
in his best
flesh OR steel (!)
(and cylinders).
lungs, pistons.
and a
fuel pump.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


She gave me courage...
and motivation.
She infused me
with the desire
to go on,
to persevere,
to surmount
all obstacles
including my own
I'm a year older
than she,
I would think,
and not as
But I was determined.
This morning,
a day after
her feat,
of swimming
from Cuba
to Key West,
amid jelly fish
and sharks,
blistering sun,
and memories,
in just fifty-four hours,
I stepped into
my shower
and whacked-off.
I did it
before the water
turned cold
which I knew
it would
in five to six hours
more pressure.
Keep going,
keep going,
keep going.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013


The Betty Poems

we've done
and said
to each other--
all the pain
we've inflicted,
all the mis
we would like
nothing better
than the "other"
on our doorstep
and take us--
as crippled
and damaged
as we are
into our hearts
like our birth
givers should have
but never
It is an act
that punishes
and which we know
will never happen.
Which is why
we will
for nothing

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


I don't know about
anywhere else, but in Brooklyn
(and later New York City),
when two or more guys
got together
to bullshit--
whether on street corners
or saloons,
in upscale restaurants
or diners,
or jails late
at night
or early in the mornings
--pussy would eventually
be the subject
you got to
and stayed on.
You could begin
with global politics
or local sports,
social utopias
or communism
as opposed
to capitalism,
famine in Africa
or the metaphysics of souls,
sooner or later
the cunt
would have to be discussed
in great detail
and tried to make
would it be about
how a relationship worked
but how and why it didn't.
The talk would sometimes
be personalized,
but most of the time
it was the gossip
about those we knew
(past and present)
who weren't there
with us then.
Most of the anecdotes
were funny, sometimes
hilarious; enough
to make our stomachs ache
and our eyes water.
But sometimes they were
"Fatal Attraction"
"Play Misty For Me" tales.
We always let the teller
tell--the better the teller
the better the tale--
only interrupting with a
"what happened next, c'mon
tell us,"
like children being read to,
like we couldn't wait
to turn a page.
When it was finished
we glanced at
whoever else was there
until someone said,
"you know dontcha
never go out with anyone
who's crazier than you?
But since
I was usually the one
either telling the tale
or reciting the admonition
I never believed
it would apply
to me.

Until it did.

I had one like that once
and I would have gladly
given her
my money,
but there was none
to give; instead
she bit off
huge chunks
of my soul
and stripped me
of the little dignity
I had.
Ate me up,
spit me out.
Did with me
what she wanted
when she wanted
how she wanted.
The only thing
that saved me
was geography
and selfishness. Hers.
And the only reason
you're reading this
now, is her grace
and limitations.
Of course,
I vowed
I'd never allow that
to happen again,
but I hope I would.
In fact,
I thank her,
and think
we should all thank her,
for that.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013


walks by
and sees me--
an easy mark;
a man
who would mistake
touch for love;
a mouth, a cunt
for invitation.
She sits
in the empty wrought-iron chair
beside me, but not
before asking:
Do you mind?
Feel free, I respond.

Neither of us
have much of a mind
on this hot and humid day
and neither of us
mistake what we have
as freedom.

Let the games begin.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013


I was overdue
to see my endocrinologist
and wasn't feeling well,
so I set-up a visit.
After checking my vitals,
we sat down to talk.
You look well,
he said,
but a tan covers many things.
We'd been doctor/patient
for many years
and usually spoke
about what aging men speak about:
pussy, growing old, and death.
He had me by ten years
and so was closer
to the aging and death part,
but was so gentle and funny
it made me feel further away
from those processes.
Tell me,
he continued,
what you've been eating?
He stopped me
after the third item.
What was that
again? he asked.
I repeated the name
of the woman.
Oh, her,
he began. Don't
eat that--she's
sugar coated
with an inside
of arsenic.
I replied. Damn.
You know that, he said,
sounding a little pissed,
most of the good fucks are.
I know it's easy
for me to say,
but just stop it; don't
do it. I want
to see you in a month.

I walked out of his office,
lit a smoke,
and made my way
home. I'm going to live,
I said to myself.
But no one
would be
very happy
about that.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013


he said to me once
when I was quite young,
"those 'short hairs'
on a woman's pussy
are stronger
than the cables
that hold up bridges."
I laughed.
I'd been fucking
by then
anytime I could
(of course)
but was still sixteen
or so.
He said this to me
in the presence
of a wise guy
friend of his
in some Canarsie lounge
in Brooklyn
in the sixties.
The wise guy
shook his head
in agreement,
drew on his Camel,
and snickered as well.
They knew
I didn't.

Until now.

I never knew
or felt
that kind of love
from my side
of the fence;
never knew
the pull,
the draw,
the obsession,
or strength.
Never knew
how powerful
a thing
one woman's pussy
could be.

Until now.

It's a mighty thing.
A miserable cunt
of a thing.
A Bermuda Triangle
of pain.

I thought I was in love
many times before;
and sure,
it didn't work;
and sure,
there was a hangover
for however long there was--
but they passed
--sometimes like piss
and sometimes like a kidney stone,
but they passed.

This one,
has sealed all the doors,
and fires back.

It's good to know
I'm just
one of the guys.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013


His Holiness came
to the beaches
of Rio
and the favelas
too. He touched
us all,
especially me,
when he put his holy hand
on my sinner's head
while my daughter
gave a blowjob
in the other room
to a man
she doesn't
know, while
two of his friends

I felt
truly blessed.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013


The Betty Poems

must be terribly confused:
recently bitten
by a fellow canine
his dog walker walks,
he took
twenty stitches in his leg;
then Felix was kicked
in his chest
by one who he loves
and professes to love him
for being
a dog
and now
has to wear a megaphone
like funnel
which is meant
to prevent him
from biting the shit
out of the stitches
that itches
him to madness.
To suffer all this
on top of the past few weeks
being forced
at his own home
to deal with
and adjust
to a demented, yapping,

If there's an ounce of mercy
in your veins, mom,
cook him a steak tonight,
and then get him laid
with the finest
bitch in town.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


you heard right:
we all niggers.
Everyone who has to get up
every mornin,
put on some black face
and do some mindless
fuckin shit
just to pay rent
are niggers.
Even the niggers
who dance
on basketball courts,
the quote unquote "gridiron",
the jeweled green
of baseball pastures,
are niggers entertaining
all the rest of us
to sell us a beer
another car
hemorrhoid tolerance,
who we'll
never get
and never
got. Just so
we can drag our ass
into work the next day
and wonder where
the time went.
They have this figured out:
they pay us just enough
so we have to show-up
on Monday.
We know this.
We know this country's
racist: big fuckin deal?

There is no more Martha
and The Vandellas. No more
dancin in the streets. In fact,
no more Motor City. No more Newark.
Even New York is pretty,
dignified, safe
for all the corporate hustle.
The avant-garde's gum'
are bleeding; all the teeth
have been shaken loose
and lie like pebbles
in God's rectum.
The gears are oiled
the commerce continues
with no one to fall
on the machinery.
We are
a tame lot.
The preachers
have been bought; their
protests are funded
by the people protested
against. It is all
one big circle jerk
and it's our dicks
getting pulled.

I humbly suggest
that the Jordans,
the Kobes, the Riveras,
the James', the C.C's,
the Jeters, the Denzels,
the Spikes, the Lee's,
the Smiths, the Berry's,
who have squirreled away
millions walk
the fuck off the field,
the court, the stage,
and not sell another
motherfuckin thing.
The only thing this cunt of a country knows
is money and how to fuck for it.
They have to feel it
to believe it.
If they don't
don't wear
hoodies and walk
as if you mean it.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013


The Betty Poems

I'm glad
that my girl
is a pain in the ass.
I'm sure
that I give her the same pain
in her ass as well.

I'm free
of nearly every
except her.
I'm a slave
who wants to stay
on this plantation
of crazy love
and I hope
I haunt
each and every breath
she takes.

Who'd want to be free
when this feels
so fuckin good?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


The Betty Poems

of everything
and everyone
except myself;
and everything
and everyone
is jealous of me;
that is how it works
or doesn't.
We desire
every absence
in ourselves
as if
that would bring us nearer
to completion
only to find
a sponginess
and air pockets
in our souls.

I see an ugly man
walking with a hideous woman.
They seem to be
at peace
although I know
their peace
is only temporary.
And their fights
would bring us
to our knees
as it does them.
It makes me think
of my girl,
up in Toronto, safe
from my mania
and keeps me safe
from hers. Yet,
I miss her terribly.
Her touch,
her look,
her smell,
even of combat--
perhaps especially
of combat--
has me longing
for the ring
of combat
under the white hot lights
of conflict
where the mind
and hearts of men
were meant to exist.
She has brought me
that love
It is within that
that love exists
where love retreats
into the madness
we were born with
and that few
remain attached to.

that couple
of human beasts
became beautiful
and the stars came out
and aligned.
But I'm still jealous
even after
such silly profundities
like the writing
of this poem.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


The Betty Poems

Eighteen years ago
today, I was waiting
for a plumber
to unclog
and rewire
the pumps
that kept my heart
beating. He did
a good job.
A year later,
to the day,
I was married
and she helped
to keep it beating
for almost a decade
more. She, of course,
had the harder
and more complicated
job and
she did a good one, too.
It seems like
a hundred years
before that, I was a kid
coveting Cherry Bombs,
Ashcans, and Black Cat
firecrackers to squirrel
away and explode,
on our ridiculous day
of Independence.

Now, my celebrations
are daily: tying
my sneakers, brushing
my teeth, supporting
myself. But my most
celebratory act
and most important
is loving a woman
who loves me
How she does it
and why
is the most scary
thing of all.
Not having to do,
but being done;
not having done,
but doing. A simpler
complexity was always
my unraveling.
Perhaps her distance
has brought me nearer?
Perhaps my years
has made me younger?
Perhaps my confusion
has made me teachable?
What I do know--
as much as we're able
to really know anything--
is that love always comes
as a surprise,
and as a gift,
and must be untied slowly,
as if a child, late at night,
was talking, whispering really,
to God
who was somewhere
his own

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013


is always fraught
with difficulties:
getting the flight,
making the flight,
surviving the flight.
You try
to pack
but usually
too much shit
gets in the way:
and insanity
of all kinds.
God forbid
you leave
without any
of the above.

Getting into
a relationship
is somewhat like that:
when young
most can fit
into the overhead bin;
the ones
with a few miles,
those frequent flyers,
will need to use
the belly
of the plane.
Their arrival will,
of course,
take longer.
You become a slave
to the carousel
and the mismanagement
of technology;
often times
there's Customs.

We all go round and round
missing, or afraid of asking,
the most obvious
questions like:
why am I so lucky
to have made it
this far? and be blessed
this much?
Usually we all are far too
enamored of ourselves
to think like that.

My advice
to all you would be travelers,
especially to those coming here
to visit me:
Pack light.
I've got more than enough shit
for everyone.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013


For Jimmy G.

Who knows
who did it?
or why?
All we know:
it was ordered
on high.

Maybe the gods knew
there was cancer,
or ALS, or a soft dick
at an early age
in his future
and he was so good,
so kind, so much above us,
that they wanted to spare him
the indignities?
Or maybe
he really was
a mean fuck,
a prick,
and busted-up women,
or a bastard son
who never could get
a sit-down with him
and they exacted
some kind of balance
we know
nothing of?

Maybe this,
maybe that--
who the fuck knows?
All we can know
is that it was done;
we don't know
who did it
or why.
We do know
it was done clean,
by a professional,
who did it quick
and left
no trace.
We also know
Jimmy G. will be missed,
but only for a little while,
then we'll forget
until the next big hit
is ordered.
But just think:
if a guy like him
could get whacked
out of the blue
none of us are safe.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Any man can get laid
in a whorehouse
with a thousand dollar bill
in his fist,
but to get laid
in one without a dime--
man, that's sayin somethin.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013


The Betty Poems

is ridiculously hard
for some people,
but not as hard
as loving yourself.
And if the other
is yourself--
just with different genitalia
--it's harder still.

But don't worry.
There's good news:
If we just get
one of those right,
we'll get the other.
And we have a lifetime
to figure it out.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


who you will never see
in a crowd;
they do not belong
to a gang,
to a movement,
or to a discipline.
They have their own bones
and gnaw on them
alone. They prefer
to just get their work done.
They adhere
to no philosophy
and make things up
as they go--
day to day,
minute to minute.

But we
count on them
to distract us
by turning out
a book, a painting,
a symphony
that defies our
somnambulant expectations
and lasts longer
than a typical meal
of Chinese food.
Some of those odd folk
produce nothing
at all,
yet still make art:
you can spot them,
if you look
as they negotiate
the steps
on or off a bus;
or sweeping the dirt
from street corners,
or shaking down shelves
in supermarkets
turning each can's label
facing front.

How it happens
or why it happens
I don't know.
Like the time
I saw a 21 year old,
a babyman,
grinning from ear
to ear strung-out
in a mirror's shards
cut from the knife
of a Coney Island dealer,
but came at him anyway,
blood flying into his face
and eyes.
I wonder where
I went?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013


I became expert at:
mangling minutes,
and strangling hours;
whole days
pissed away: beaten,
plundered, ripped apart
and torn, sheared,
and pulled
loose again;
drowned and spit upon
and pummeled until
they lied
bruised, broken,
and used
It was thought
to be
a filling-up
of space, getting
from here
to there.
No big thing,
I thought.
I thought:
Forcing things
was useless;
was even less;
was ridiculous;
and showing yourself

Had I known
how the game worked
I would have worked
it the same. Now,
there is less
time and less
of me to kill.
And though
there are some
who might think me
the fool,
I think
how lucky I was
to have had
all those stupid days
to fuck with
and play with
and carve
with such style
and elan
that make this keyboard
sing and dance
by fingers
by the blood stains
of those murdered minutes.
is lost
to memory
and a mind
by the inverted

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2011-2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Most men marry
the first woman
they've fucked--
hookers excepted;
those though,
when all is said
and done
were most likely
the more honest
of the two and
the hotter fuck.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010-2013


near doors or
exit signs;
an easy escape
from myself
and other things
A quick glance
is all I need
to survey
and size-up
the scene
and its inherent
either too much
brains or brawn.
I love my neighbor,
of course,
with as much ardor
and abandon
as I love myself:
and capable
of anything.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2010-2013


to me
in rhymes
and talks to me
in unmetered sentences;
it talks to me
through spider's webs
and the screams
of caught flies.
It moans
from basements
and balcony ledges.
It's on the breath
of women
and my last
boss who let me
It talks to me
from children
just learning
how to ride
and whispers
from their cut faces
and broken bones
after their first spill.
talk to me
weary from the worn heels
of weary men or
the hard stiletto step
of hard women.
It talks to me
from jails,
from madhouses,
from university towers,
from burnt and gutted cars,
from the yachts and Rolls Royces
of mannered and dainty gentry
and the slobbering lunatics
inside the lofts
of artists.
It talks to me from trees
and clouds
and birds
and fish.
It speaks from lemons
and honey; it springs
from circus arcs
and pilgrim's steps.
It talks through inquisitions
and boredom and the tricks
of hummingbirds.
It does not weep
or laugh; it does not allow
or deny; it just
is: Coming, coming,
coming soon
to a theater near you:
Mr. & Mrs. Death

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village 2009-2013


My father,
an Army vet,
taught me
the Morse Code
for "help."
And I needed some
to get away
from him

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village 2010-2013


As soon as I saw
my parents
my world
got smaller.
I was pushed
into pockets
of fear
and flight.
When I saw them
for what they were
and saw people
for what they were
got smaller.
I saw myself
for what I was:
and insignificant.
I was smaller
no longer.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village 2009-2013


There is the mad scramble
of youth
to get there,
to make it,
to be noticed,
and loved
by all
you see
or say hello
until the knees
buckle and shoelaces

the scramble,
a bit madder,
to stay there
there is.

the maddest
scramble to
the scramble.

I'll take mine
with bacon.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2009-2013


and you're the last owner
who's going to drive
this car.
It's not as fast:
cylinders clogged,
brakes worn,
upholstery faded--
somewhat torn--
(a spring
could stick
in your ass),
shoes need
a new set,
paint thinning,
headlights dimming,
but it still will,
I promise,
get you where
you're going.

What's that?

No, sorry,
it's simply rust.
They don't make
nuts anymore
for those screws.

What's that?

No, sorry,
that model
has been

What's that?
Doesn't seem
they're in much demand
If you're able to maintain it,
for ten, maybe fifteen years,
it might be a "classic,"
and then
you'd be rich.


Sorry, no,
I can't
guarantee it.


Don't get angry
at me, honey.
Don't blame me;
blame the
We have another model
over here.
where ya going?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


The Betty Poems

more so at sixty-five
than at fifteen,
especially when it's
your first time
really feeling
that sort
of craziness.
It shouldn't happen,
you say,
to yourself;
those molecules
that did a St. Vitas dance
should have long ago
rested their weary legs;
those adolescent agonies
should have given way
to a complicity
with the bodies
and the beckoning
of the grave.

But no.

Your paranoia
does pirouettes
in your brain:
where is she,
who's she with,
who's she fucking.
Your heart
is halved
by her absence.
Your soul
against the nothing
inside it and
the nothing
And all the while
you're exhilarated,
and off balance;
you're a compendium of want
textured by grief
and longing; a language
you haven't heard
and can't learn
because all the books
that taught it
have been burned
and there's no more
pulp except
inside your three remaining
teeth and your dentist
wants to fuck her

This is serious
if I want to stay alive.
I cannot concentrate
on much of anything
except her. I'm sure
she knows that
and turns the screws.
The pain
is pleasurable. She knows
that too.
Fuck her.
Fuck me.
while we're at it:
Fuck you, too.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


The Betty Poems

are back together;
she wrote me
an email that was supposed to be
innocuous, neutral,
without emotion,
but wasn't;
and I sent her
two songs
for her birthday
that I wanted her to think
was for her benefit,
but wasn't.
we were writing
and talking
and falling
in love
all over again.

songs, like all art,
are contrived,
are fantasies.
and even though
we know that,
even though we know
that what we have
is anything but really real,
we also know
that nothing else
is really real either,
and both of us
would rather feel real
than be real.
And that
is as real
as it gets.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013


The Betty Poems

is coming up
and in some way,
I want to be there--
in person, in voice,
in spirit--
to celebrate it
with her.
Two people in love
should be in love
on days of love--
Ben Casey
--and the dross
and dullness
of life.
But we're still
on the outs.
We're behind bars,
our gift;
we sniff
around our degenerate
lives and invite
to climb aboard
and travel well-worn
arteries and veins
of hummingbirds
inside the cat's
and night crawlers;
pederasts of the cloth
and women angels
of the night singing
prayers of the luck
to the luckless.

As the needle inches
its way toward full
it implies the other
empty. We believe
we have just so much
to give before
it runs out. So,
we remain,
on the outs.
A concession
is worse than death:
somebody wins
somebody loses.
You might think
at sixty-five
I wouldn't give
a fuck.
You'd be

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013


like youth
will, one day,
and take-off
for greener pastures.
You'll try to run
after them
and trip
on a memory
or two.
One thing
I can promise:
your transition
will be made
in your sleep.


Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013


The Betty Poems

started work yesterday
after being holed-up
in bed
in a fetal position
sucking on a bottle
for the past year.
She's smart,
and crazy--
much like
the best fucks are.
It seems
I attract
those kinds.
I've lived
an interesting life.

I wanted to call her,
see how it went,
her courage,
a moment of triumph
in a world of defeats
for even getting out of bed
after fifty-two years
of kicking the shit
out of herself
and other enemies.
But I didn't.
I know
that most of us
need a lover--
more than a family
more than a friend
more than a god
--to do that.
She'd never ask,
and I'd never offer.
We'd just had a fight--
one of many--
fuck you
fuck you
and fuck you.
Each of us
too proud
and stupid
and determined
to protect
our acre
of hell.

and hate
are mad hot;
they crackle
across the space
of two pillows
or through those merciless wires
and immediate ether world
of space between Toronto
and New York City
as close
as breath;
once evidence
is gathered
it bludgeons
the best
of us.

is so very difficult
and loving
through the forests
of deception and pain
so impossibly
I've yet
to learn

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


A lot of words--
over fifty years worth
of putting one word
next to another
--was bad
Either I was too young,
or too drunk,
or too drug addled,
or too stupid,
to do a better job; but
some of it
hit the mark.

All of it,
was wasted.

And only some of you
will understand

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013


The Betty Poems

when you really get down to it:
what you thought
were great: like the words
from the pens of masters
who spun profundities
like so much cotton-candy
sticking to the sugar starved
spaces in your head,
are not so
very great.
and the dynasties that have risen
claiming a hold on the imaginations
of dreamers and future conquerers
have been sullied and vanquished
like those female beauties
who struggled too much
with lipstick and high heels;
our fantasies quickly
leaving only memories
to be chewed, gnawed,
and spit out.

Andy's fifteen minutes
have been reduced
to nanoseconds--
if that. Whether it's wars
or poems or packaged stars.
Each fade or get lost
in the noise
of the moment. Even death.
Even the deaths that make you think
how could the world not stop
with acknowledgement, let alone reverence,
doesn't. And even though that death
might be sad, even tragic,
are not sad nor tragic. It is all too
dramatic, orchestrated, scripted, all
a trick to just
keep us going to keep us hoping
to keep us showing up
to punch the time-clocks
with the same sense of failure
we had yesterday
and not punch ourselves out
of the coma.
We can fool ourselves
with fame, money, even love,
but that's like putting a bandaid
over someone gut shot.

We like to think that age
makes us wise,
but our years of wisdom
lies in front of us
always. We think
we might catch it
and we do
for a second
and the wisdom
turns on us
And so we sit,
sit to it,
on sofas
of discontent,
sucking our lip,
thinking of all the things
we no longer have to do:
work, love, understand.
We just have to get up
more often to piss,
strain against the sun scratched day,
think of children thinking
of monkeys,
pretend that bitterness
tastes good
in an upturned mouth,
close our eyes
when the afternoon heat
makes us lazy
and drift into
a sleep without
rest. We will conjure
up memories of all the pretty girls
in ankle socks
pink lipstick, nails pink
and chipped and perfume
store bought and sweet, so sweet
that it stands between
the fall of rose petals
wrinkled and oily.

It is not the day
nor the hour; it is neither
a plan nor a conceit; it is
simply the anthill of us
never being able to know
the life of lions.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013

Saturday, May 4, 2013


The Betty Poems

I'm not a nice man.
I'm jealous, insecure,
somewhat cruel,
paranoid, narcissistic,
self-centered and selfish.
I demand attention
and come before
your family, friends,
interests and inclinations.
You're not allowed
to have had a life
before me
and certainly not one after.
I cannot be cut
from your thoughts
and even the rare times
I am not visible
my phantom limbs will be;
and they will be painful.
You can kick and scream
about it--that's only fair--
but that will only add
to the joy of loving me.
it's important to retain
your sense of humor--
at least for me it is.
I've never liked,
let alone loved,
those too serious
about their plight.
There's plenty of suffering
to go 'round.
I'm only trying
to get rid of some
of my own.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2013