Saturday, April 18, 2020


For Puma P. who midwifed this poem.

Stealing from a cancer patient
didn't take a lot of thought;
in fact,
it required no thinking:
here was the drug; and
here I was;
and I was alone
with all those morphine bottles
staring at me
and whispering:
take me, no,
take me, no,
what about me?
I took out my syringe-
an old glass & steel needle job--
& plunged it
into the heart
of the stopper.
She was an old woman,
ancient really,
her skin like yellowed papyrus,
gray tufts of hair
haphazard on her pillow.
she was on her way

Her nurse & her niece
(who was kind enough to bring me),
were in an outer room
discussing her care,
her end of life care, & here
I was just starting
my beginning of life care
in the year of our Lord, 1970,
a stone's throw from New Orleans,
in 100 degrees, 100% humidity summer,
& I needed to be cool,
to get straight, to buy myself
a few days to plan
for my future.
I'm sure, if I was able
to ask her, & if she was able
to respond, she'd be
more than happy to exchange
her comfort
for my safety.
No doubt she'd want
to buy me more time.

I still think
of that old lady
from time to time
looking down
from heaven
& seeing me
still busily
at work
turning out
poem after poem
after poem
what a wise investment
she made.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2020For Puma P who mid-wifed this poem

Thursday, April 16, 2020


of those who went
before me
to discover what
they make of these,
our uncertain times
finds me sniffing
around on ground
more suitable for balm
than banalities.
For all I know Socrates
would more lament
not getting a handjob
than gathering in the town square
to discuss death; Bird
would worry more
about his uptown connection
than playing at a filled Onyx Club;
Al Capone & Billy the Kid
had bigger problems
than hand sanitizers;
& Shakespeare would spend days
hung-up trying to rhyme coronavirus.

Those microscopic worms of malice
do not get fat on history; neither
do they care about sin
or saintliness. They enjoy
all our fares that still has a pulse.
They even lack the judgement
of the crematoriums which belched
Jewish ash into the faces of angels;
or the Poplar trees
where black bodies blew, to & fro,
in the malignant south.

No, I must search
closer to home
to uncover the stench
circling around the bare bulb
of etiology: ma & pa.
If anyone knows
how this migrant, unwanted,
unloved, repulsive visitor
vomited itself across
our country's magical mosaic
it would be them:
"It's your fault," they would say
in unison. "Somehow, someway,
you brought it on yourself...
& deserve to suffer now...And
you can take that to the bank--
if you can find one that's open."

And that, as they say,
is that.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2020

Friday, April 10, 2020


Trying to find sleep
has kept me awake--funny
how these things work...
or don't.
I even tried to stop looking
thinking I'd outfox him; not
a chance.
I watched night after night
the furiously blinking
of colored neon
go off kilter & dance
the dance of St. Vitus.
And other times
I watched myself
and felt gut-punched
like seeing a Hopper painting.

I've believed misery & tragedy
will find you
no matter what you do.
Still, I've barricadded myself
in here for the past month
while that lustful virus
feasted on other hosts
less susceptible than I am.
I've got all the chronic conditions
that the little bugger could hope for.
Once inside, it would make short work of me.

You can learn
about yourself
at any age.
Recently, I'd boast
to all my doctors
& my few friends,
that I'd had a good life:
many scenes, many lovers,
many poems, high highs
& low lows--enough
to expect in this go round.
I was ready.
But now I feel the wisdom
of Auden in his, Musee Des Beaux Arts.
Old men cling passionately to life,
while unexpectedly the young go...
because I don't want to go
anywhere. I have more to read
& more to write. I want
another hot fudge sundae
and the smile of a woman
who sees something
I didn't think was showing.

And so I will watch
the little crack
underneath my door
or my windows
for any sign
of invasion.
I will not go easily;
I'll try to hide
behind the door
sneak up on it,
and knock that motherfucker

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2020

Thursday, April 9, 2020


Every night
I would run away from home
as I tried to fall asleep.
I would hear
from the next bedroom
the mellifluous tones
of mom cooing to my dad
just what a sonofabitch bastard
I was
that day:
lying selfish sneaky; in short,
a piece of shit.
I think I was about eight
or nine...maybe ten.
She was encouraging him to
"give him a beating, Mick."
Whether I did something
or not didn't matter;
I was always doing something.
A feeling of guilt
would puddle around me,
& the blankets & bed
I slept under & on,
would drip, in the morning,
with neurosis
of many kinds
pooling around my feet.

Every night
the decision was easy:
Roy & Dale's ranch
was where I was headed;
they had a big spread,
a big heart,
& a big family; they kept
adopting kids: chinese kids,
spanish kids, white kids
& black kids, old kids,
& young kids; there musta been
a hundred of em
all livin & lovin each other
on that spread.
I'd just show-up
with all my stuff
in my hand
neatly in a small kerchief
& ask if they would let me stay.
I knew they'd never say, "no."
Not to a kid.

I'd play.
I'd ride that awesome Palimino, Trigger,
play with Bullet & even help his cook, cook.
And then Pat would teach me Nellybelle, the Jeep,
& we'd go up & down hills & valleys and,
when she had a mind to, she'd run away from me, too.

In the morning
I looked at her
over my burnt & tasteless eggs.
"Eat it, or I'll tell your father," she sneered.
"Tell him, who gives a shit," I wanted to say.
But I knew, somewhere, far off,
they were mending fences,
bucking broncos, and laughing,
as I shoveled in
another bite.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2020

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


had a white '65
Chevy SuperSport
with 4 on the floor
& red leather buckets
we'd tool around in
when we were seniors
in Lincoln High School
outside Coney Island.
Even the hawk eyes
of my mother
couldn't see
when I passed the bend
of our block. I ducked
into Tommy's house
a few blocks away.
He was rich
& lived in a big home
directly on the beach.
His father, Horseshit Harry,
owned steamships. Tommy had
two younger sisters
& a knockout mother, Josaphina,
who knew she drove his friends wild,
wearing diaphonous negligees
as she descended from above.
If the light
caught her right
the hair on the back of my neck
would prickle.
There'd usually be two or three
more friends who showed, but I
was always the first.
Our routine was almost automatic:
we'd say goodbye to Josaphina,
who always knowsingly eyed us,
& tumble into his ride, me
riding shotgun and began
by cutting our first few classes
at The House of Pancakes
in Brooklyn, off The Belt Parkway.
I'd bum Marlboros off Tommy
(and he never gave me that tired bullshit
about when I was gonna begin buying my own),
while he drove. He always had one of his own
clentched between his front teeth
beneath a black mole
the size of a small pumpkin.
Usually, The Heart--born with a murmur
--& The Count--looked like Bela Lugosi
were in the backseat
puffing away.
We'd talk shit
about everyone we knew--
who was fucking who,
who wanted to fuck who,
who bullshitted about fucking who--
as we drove & smoked & ate pancakes
and counted the minutes
until Dukes, the poolroom,
or Surf Lanes, the alley,
would open & another decision
needed to be made:
school or no school?
It was the easiest vote
ever cast, & legislated
without dissent.

Norman Savage
Greenwich Village, 2020