Sunday, June 29, 2014


For DG

as a good Catholic girl
gone bad.
All that genuflecting,
all those wafers,
wine, whispered confessions
in dark wood confines,
aged from guilt,
candles & sin & Hail
Mary's cannot predict
what's happening
under the hood.

She grew-up
in a Father Knows Best home:
Robert Young wasn't as nice:
patched-elbow cardigans
and a pipe-pinched mouth
didn't say a word;
a Jane Wyman mother
saw faces
in her apple pies
& named them after
One day
all those Christ'
came off the cross
& hitched south.

I saw her
when I was charging merchandise
in Bloomingdales on stolen
credit cards and returning them
for cash to feed a junk habit.
She modeled and worked
behind the glove counter.
I had no choice
but to buy gloves,
many gloves.
If I were straight
a woman who looked like her
would have unnerved me; it
would be impossible for me
to approach.
But junk is the blood
of cowards. And every cell
that was still alive
moved me forward
despite the fear.

Her eyes were mahogany
but flecked with green
and lit with danger.
She was reading Mark Stranded,
John Ash and all those NY
concrete intellectuals; I read her
Roi & Paul & Hank & Savage
& put a smile on her face,
rhythm in her step & we
laughed & loved & fought
& loved some more & it was 1971
& we were in the thick of it.

And we did that off & on
for the next decade
& then split.
Our contact was few
& far between
until the other day.
She had sold off
The Father Knows Best house
& was living in a small town
outside of Atlantic City,
but came into town to see me.
We hit the old spots--
a little Italian joint, Emilio's,
and then Serendipity for dessert.
Nothing is lost
to memory.
Two old shoes
fitting easily
inside them:
a frigid winter night
in detox, her birthday,
she came onto the ward
in a fur coat
wearing nothing
under that
& we held the bathroom door
shut while we made it;
the Bukowski reading
at St. Marks while she took
me on the balcony & performed
her own verse.
she asked,
"how I rouged my nipples?"
"Yes, I remember."
"They're not pretty anymore,
my tits; now you need a compass
to find them. Old balloons
at the end of a New Year Eve party;
you don't notice them anymore; you
just swat your hand at them
to get them out of the way."
"My dear, my dear,
my body is shot too--
fucking is like trying to shoot pool
with a rope."
"You could always make me laugh, Savage."
Her hands were more beautiful than ever:
her veins, blue and magnificent,
threatened to come out of her skin.
"I knew you'd age with the grace
of a Georgia O'Keefe, Jean Moreau."

We brought each other
up to speed and walked.
The hotel I had lived in then
is gone, as is Rumplemeyers,
most of The Plaza and checker cabs.
But we're no different. No older,
no younger. And not wiser.
We've made it
despite the odds.
We'll do it again
soon, we said.
We weren't stupid enough
to set a date.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014


They say that life after forty
is "maintenance," but that's
bullshit. The real test
comes at sixty & beyond.
Once you hit
that number
you've entered:
The Departure Lounge.
Now some,
very few,
are able to fly
First Class, but most
of us sorry bastards
are in Couch. And some
poor fucks
are put in the belly
of the aircraft with
the animals and luggage--
nobody gives much of a fuck
if they make it or not.

Our shit
just breaks-down,
or gets rusty
from use or disease
or recklessness or
trumas, accidents,
love affairs and/or
the carelessness
of others.
And instead
of one thing
going wrong,
it's many.
The body just pops
with betrayals
large & small;
it's a shit storm,
an avalanche
of happenstance.

That's where
I'm at
one eye
needs surgery;
my uppers cracked;
my winter's cold
seems to have moved in
for the summer;
my legs lumber
with neuropathy
& nicotine;
& my heart has
too much courage
for my brain's wattage.

I'd like to take myself
in for a major tune-up.
Put myself
on the lift,
and let an old German
or Italian who knows
his way around an engine,
an engine geared for speeds
starting at sixty--Porches,
Ferrari's--get under my hood.
Change the oil,
adjust the clutch,
time the carbs,
time the cylinders,
blow the dirt out
of the engine &,
if necessary,
change the shoes.
I'd lay on that lift
for a week--
why the fuck not?
--and be ready to race again
instead of nickel and dimming
my way to death.

"We will now board
First Class passengers
& the handicapped."
Some kind of justice
seems to be
at work.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


come to you
is something I do
more and more
these days.
I've put in
the work.
The poem seems
to assert itself
without self-
or too much
I've become
an old fuck
that a few
young women
want to fuck
around with.
They're beautiful
& smart & do not
take me
too seriously
though they enjoy
my stories, my rants,
and my cynicism
which make them laugh.
I am the bone
of a Brontosaurus
they toss around.
They don't mind
my half
a hard-on
half the time,
& a slowness
of foot.
They've accompanied me
to doctors & have made me
dinner. It is more
than enough.
The few I'm still close with
understand that parents
& teachers, religious leaders
& politicians do nothing
except destroy; that pain
is endless
& love hides
in all the obvious places
if one is willing to read
the cards.

It's taken me
quite awhile
to learn
the simplest
of things:
money is piss
and the sparrow
is more important
for our most frightened
and fucked-over;
and getting across freeways
blindfolded without a scratch
is more than just
dumb luck.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014


A saxophone carves
out space for lips,
eyes, and a curling
ease of make-believe;
monkeys take care
while grooming themselves
& those they love;
a train whistle
signals lost loves
& strangers in their midst.

has more patience
than a cat
and waits
in shadows
& sunlight.

There are no
"last calls."

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014


The Gods gave me
a chronic illness
when eleven, before
I knew what a chronic illness
was. It scared the shit
outta me,
but fifty-six years later
I know
they also provided me
an ability to fuck with it,
and around it.
They gave me
a good ear,
a good eye,
& a mind
as jumbled
as the New York underground
to make sense
of the senseless.
They never gave me
patience, rationality,
stability; or the make-up
to work continuously
at one thing. It figures
I've little money,
little savings,
few coins of commerce,
except hope's pyrite:
getting discovered
by those who are able
to do something about it.
They've bestowed,
so far,
an unlimited supply
of words
and women
at the right time,
in the right place,
who treated me better
than I deserved.
than I deserved.
As if "deserve"
has anything
to do
with any
of us.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Sitting in my dentist's office
for new choppers I have time
to kill; I'm excellent
at that after all
the practice I've had.
Though now,
I must say,
"time" is paying
me back. Unfortunately,
for him,
there's less and less
of me to kill.
the sonofabith
still finds
more of me
to work with.

I've brought a book,
but my concentration
is not there
for that.
The dentist
& dentist offices
freak me out--too much
real pain
too much

I look out
the square pane
of glass
on the 16th floor
overlooking what
used to be
the garment district
in New York City.
I can see ten
water towers on top
of fifty buildings,
a shadow of a big sign
for Max the Furrier,
no better quality,
no better price, the red bricks
smeared with black city grime
supporting massive air-conditioning units
cooling bleached blondes
dancing on the poles below.
The sidewalk gum
that sticks to my shoe's soul
tells me more
than all the coral reefs
and rain forests.
The Aborigines
and Yanomami
would interest me
if I were Levi-Straus,
but I'm not.
I've watched Jewish
& Italian families
break bread
on Sundays
& knew
the quiet hatred
hardening between
the slices.
It told me more
than The Grand Canyon
& polar icecaps
& a million books
on psychology,
& making yourself

I was lucky
to find a decent
dentist who takes
Medicaid after my denture
Hell, I wore the damn thing
for fifteen years. I'm like that
with most of my stuff. My underwear
has to turn into spores
before I let it blow away.
My fellow patients
are all on the dole
as well.
We're all comfortable
with the game: I'll take
as much as I can; my dentist
will bill for as much as he can;
his landlord will get as much as he can.
What else can you possibly learn
from nature?

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014


For Fe

The best of us
are mutts--
a littleathis,
a littleathat
--mercifully fucking
each other
past any
we grow up thinking
about belonging
to one tribe
or another,
but the real juice,
the real jazz,
is belonging
to all of it.

are more beautiful,
and smarter
in & out
of the classroom
than those souls
who've been ironed
& starched.
Bleached out
of the little blood
they had
to begin with.

Dogs, of course,
are not human--
(thank the gods)
--they're better.
not as wise
as cats,
but not
as judgmental either.
All they know
is fidelity
& how
to listen
to their senses.

One must learn
from them. They
should train
in how to love.
For instance:
those who love you
never leave;
they've only gotten
to where you're going
& are simply waiting
for you
to catch-up

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014


& lovely,
but rhythmic,
&, O,

Not many
nor men,
are like
the Lord.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Fats Waller, Pops,
guitars, Dylan, Dave
Van Ronk, Washington Square,
the Village, reefer madness,
and young kids still
curious, still a beautiful
inversion of what
is to come.

The thirst
for passion

To submit
is to die
& lose
the best parts
of yourself.
Those who do
to hell.
Those who don't,
welcome--you don't
have to knock, just
come in.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I just have
fucking fun.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014


We like
to think
of course.
But whores
we are, all
of us.
We all have
puny little needs
and take advantage
or gain the upper hand
of those we can.
We can put
convenient rational-
to rest.

Doing it
for half a million
is worse
than doing it
for a half loaf of bread.
We all hike
our skirts
for someone,
for something.

Let's rejoice.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014


All of us are born mad, some of us remain so.

Many people
throughout my life,
including my parents,
teachers, casual friends,
bosses, lovers and other instruments
of control, have said to me,
in these words,
or similar ones:
"Grow the fuck up."
"When are you going to stop
being such a goddamn child
& grow-up, do something
with your life, make something
of yourself; when are you going
to matter?"
I never knew
how to answer them.

The process
of socialization
is supposed
to make that happen;
to exchange,
in effect,
the metonymic
for the metaphoric.
It never happened
with me.
which ideas
spring from,
are still, for me,
contiguous. "Shit"
comes out of "sirloin,"
"reds" live next to "goblins,"
"love" can very well be
a "crucifixion."

No, no,
you must work,
you must save,
you must listen,
you must be disciplined,
you must be nice
to others & pray
& marry & have children
& work & work & work
& put your shoulder
to the wheel

which I have,
but in a odd
way. Awry, askance,
coming at myself
from a backward
angle, words
have been my most constant
friend and lover
and the few friends
I still have
are still at it,
too--whatever "it" is
and whatever that means.

It's easy enough
to stamp your feet
when you're two,
and not move,
and shake your head, "no,"
"fuck-off," "get lost,"
"sorry, ain't interested."
Not that much harder
when you're twenty,
even thirty.
But past that
it gets
just a bit
the mortality rate
exponentially higher.
Few do it well
because few do it
at all.

The "house"
is society.
Like Vegas
they never
lose. They
have patience.
if you stay
at the tables
long enough
they're going
to own you.
Except now.
for me.
At nearly
67, chipped away
at, clipped, tired
as a motherfucker
I'm still swinging it.

I'm playing with
the house's

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014


There will be
a rocking chair
that will have
my ass in it
before too long.
I'll leave
the juniper berries
for blackberry's
& strawberry's & eat
a fat white peach
its juices squirting,
dribbling down my chin
& onto a white sea-isle cotton shirt,
a salt breeze
teasing my body
even as it
soothes it.

This, of course,
if I get famous
or lucky.

Most probably
a bored & dimwitted nurse
will wheel me out
and place me
underneath a leaf
to get some shade
and some air
under a watchful
& sin-soaked sky
near dementia
& death.
My denture will loosen
& saliva will dribble down
my chin & onto
my hospital gown,
& the crack
of my ass
will moon
some young kids
on their way
to school or home
or mischief.

"That fuckin guy
makes me fuckin sick,"
one of them will say.
The other will be
quiet. He sees
his own future & that

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I've been watching people
all my life. Perhaps
I'm trying to detect
what I don't have; some secret
that I've never been privy to?
Now I know
there's no secret. Only
getting through it
as best you can
with what you got.
I watch couples now
with greater interest.
Especially the ones
holding hands:
Young couples, old couples,
in-between couples, men
and women, women and women,
men and men and can tell
whether they walk fast
or slow, skip to different
beats&rhythms, shuffle or
have to push the other, if
there is a peace between them...
and even though I know
that their peace is temporary
there is sometimes hours,
even days of it.

I couldn't be kind
to myself
and couldn't be kind
to others; I've had more
than my fair share
of women, but I was a man
who could punch holes
in heaven. And did.
It couldn't last
because I couldn't last
without tearing apart
their love
which I didn't deserve
and couldn't allow
or accept.
I know.

There are centuries
of suffering in each
second-hand movement
of a clock; the neon
in Times Square or Vegas
contains all the isolation
we need to know. We are all
so tired
from love
or no love. Our own caregivers
and governments have strafed us
to the bone. And so,
two people
holding hands
is a beacon
in the blindness,
a hedge
to look at
and envy
and inquire: how
did you do it?
They won't know
or won't tell.
That kind of peace
must be found
on your own.

I'll always have
my share
of drama
in my life--
that's how I'm built, but
I don't need to chase it,
and won't.
Let those
who thrill to it
or need it
as nourishment
have it.
I'll take
those tender mercies
that we can do
for one another
but usually don't.

There are no rules
and no prohibitions.
There are no saints
and very few teachers.
But for those teachers
who like to teach, teach
The Mask of Demetrius.
It starred Peter Lorie
and Sidney Greenstreet.
It had this refrain
that carried through the film:
"There's not enough kindness in the world."
That is something
worth writing a hundred times
on the blackboard, especially
by the students who you believe
are the good ones.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


They're proud,
they're pointy,
they're poised;
they bounce, they bump,
they undulate
like the air
on hot Georgia asphalt
on a long stretch of highway
in the dog days of August.
They flirt & tease,
they conjure
the boyhood spirits
of men.
They're in spandex,
latex, unisexed,
harnessed, haltered,
or loose
defying the whims
of gravity
& air pockets.

Some tits,
you couldn't find
with a compass,
while others
are a dairy factory.
All though
are lovely.
Lovely with the promise
of warm sweet syrup
spreading warmth
inside your belly.
to allow you
to close your eyes
and drift,
just drift.

And to think:
it's only June.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014


The Betty Poems

I've decided
to think about you
only if
and when
you're in front of me;
to love you
only when
there's something
to love.
I wish to hurt
no one--
not a bug
not you
not me
--but sometimes
there's evidence
that has been gathered
not easily dismissed.

Yes, I admit
it takes
the guts
of passion,
but it allows me
to live
within these four
Give a man
and he
can do

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2014