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