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Light and Darker Circle on Desire’s Edge

9 Mar

Tom Savage

If you know what
Something sounds like,
You can find it.
Put yourself there
Where loons croon.
A long distance communication
Rivets the ocean
In its tracks.
Have it or not.
Magic in birdsong
Can’t make you go wrong.
The theme of spring makes me cringe
But spring itself does not.
Birds need no advice.
Creators should be the same.
Overlapping signals
Sometimes justify song.
When numbers seem to coordinate
This may be mere coincidence
But it still coheres.
If you stay with what you find
You will be rewarded
With a moment of bliss.
Do not become attached to this
As it passes quickly.
Nevertheless, enjoy it while you can.
There is no penalty for enjoyment
Until attachment arises.
Always remember to see yourself
In person before
Whatever you hear moves on.
Mix fact and fiction however you will.
The diction of the birds remains the same.
Ether either exists or not.
The choice may not be yours.
Some things are both true and untrue.
It is best merely to contemplate these
With sufficient enjoyment
To allow itself to elapse
As it passes.

Kindred spirits on the subatomic level
Help you endure, surpass, and absorb
Whatever nervous breakdowns may bring your way.
Going completely crazy
Can be a step forward
Although the license to do so
Probably should not be renewed often.
Look into every second
In order to peer into your dreams.
They won’t hurt you. They may support you
If you let them.

Written while listening to Studio 360 on WNYC-FM on 3/3/13


23 Feb

Tom Savage

If you end up nothing,
Did you start there, too?
Behind despair, there can be a smile.
Bring it out in front where it belongs.
The dust of crimes
Brings tears of regret
Then laughter as they fade
Behind the curtain of time.
Your name means nothing
Behind the veil of timelessness
Where all of us reside.
Nothing is quite as simple
As it once was.
Fight for your seat
Within yourself, if you must.
Don’t forget the flower you once were.
Some imaginary worlds
Are traps and last only a few hours.
Enjoy them while you can
Then let them go.
When you wake,
You’ll return to real life.

Written while watching Les Enfants Du Paradis, by Marcel Carne and Jacques Prevert

Transparent Modes

15 Feb

Tom Savage

Your chance to freeze the Earth
May have passed.
What you mean or don’t mean
May not matter much longer.
Thank yourself mostly
For this imminent fact.
It’s all right to lie down and go to sleep, now.
You’ll wake up to find yourself in a dance.
You won’t be the center of the circle.
But you will be in it, nevertheless.
Do not accept less than your due.
Your life comes due every moment.
Sing a new song every day
If you can learn one quickly.
Long silences between words
Are okay, too.
These allow for absorption of thought.
A world in which you’re always right
Will never be invented.
When you move to that place
Where the fighting stops,
Let me know where and when it is.
Wander around the body while you can.
Complete your prologue
Before competition of the other parts sets in.
Out of chaos’ eye
Come the face of reality’s life.
Going back and forth
From one street to another
Allows you to say
“Enough said” to the cars.
The radiator you use for a claw
Should always be your own.

Written while watching Once Every Day a film by Richard Foreman

More Children

8 Feb

Tom Savage

For those with eyes to see,
Someone will have to hear
Truth in a bath of water.
Dust in the head
Makes for prodigious talk
From the mouth.
Like to unite the lines of fate,
It may not be too late for you
After all.
Tell your story without speaking
If you can. If you can’t
Speak only what is necessary.
Take in whatever comes your way.
When statues walk,
You know you’re in the land
Of someone else’s dreams.

Written while watching the first half of Les Enfants du Paradis by Marcel Carne and Jacques Prevert


25 Jan

Tom Savage

The bridges are dancing.
They’ve forgotten about the water
Running underneath them
And it has returned the favor as well.
How this affects the humans using the bridges
Has yet to be determined
Or at least reported.
Some things are private still
Even between objects.
If you need a second river
You may have to go back to Chitral in Pakistan.
Have no fear, its still there.
Open the mouth
But don’t start smiling at everything
Even though how much life left
You might cut short
Is probably not long.
You never know.
The hospitals and doctors don’t know either.
So eat and drink.
You needn’t provide the be merry anymore.
Everything is okay.
Let them tell you a different story
Of another kind.
Fairytales don’t work for the old
As they do for the young.
But we can try anyway.
They pass the time
Until the time passes them
And we stop
Either for a long or a little space.
We’ll still encounter others
Every day
In some small way.

Written while watching Amour by Michael Haneke

Two Variations on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

19 Jan

Tom Savage


Hallelujah we sing through tears.
The fears are gone.
Exhaustion remains.
The trains of thought continue.
The returns of our pasts refurbish.
They’re looking for new faces
And new words.
Yet, as best we can, we still sing Hallelujah
As someone once said
And asked us to repeat with them.
Life is precious
So we salute life
And wipe away all the strife
That seems to accompany it
If only for a moment.
The clouds part
For long enough to allow us
To start the New Year.

2. Miserables

After being raped and shot, Shirley Temple
Turns into a rag doll
And ravenously consumes
Every thing and person
In her path
And sometimes outside it, too.
Welcome to the New Year.
The old year of storms is over.
The new year of storms arrives.
If you know how to sing
Hallelujah to that,
Please teach me.
My side may be broken
But I’m not yet on my knees.
That could be around the corner.
Who can say?
Only you can do that.
I leave you to it
Or re-leave you to it,
Whichever you prefer.


11 Jan

Tom Savage

The road doesn’t end here.
My oath demands you.
Order us back into ourselves,
Individually and together.
High branches sway with every breeze.
The result has been predetermined by time
More than rhyme. Dozens to go.
Come back to howl at us later.
Peace requires more than a plan
As Northern Ireland has proved recently.
Time thickens until it thins
Then dissolves.
Popularity means nothing.
Prophecy is distraught with its mistakes.
He or she hides her New Year’s faces
In a smile of disgrace.
Beat the clock with stop start
And the age of humanity’s recruits
To better callings.
A rough, moral urge for fairness
Should be listened to in most situations
Into which it is called up
By who knows who, what where, or when.

Written while watching Lincoln by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner

Boxing Day

28 Dec

Tom Savage

Toward the end of
Boxing Day 2012,
The day after Christmas,
I was hit and knocked down
By a small truck.
When I arose
There was pain in my left ribs
And left shoulder
But I could move.
At the insistence of some female witnesses,
The driver stopped
And didn’t immediately depart.
I scrambled to my feet,
He said:
“You okay, pops?”
To which I responded
“I think so.”
He jumped back into his vehicle
And sped away. He was black
And perhaps afraid.
Snow had begun to fall.
Perhaps his car skidded
When it plowed into me.
At first, I seemed to have lost my cap,
One that belonged to my mother,
The twentieth anniversary of whose death
This Christmas season is.
At least I didn’t follow her to the River Styx.
I continued on
To the new Vietnamese Restaurant
On First Ave. and 12th St.
Upon arriving home,
I found my cap
In the hood of my coat.
As of this moment,
I still feel pain
In my ribs and shoulder.
Something tells me I will pull through
Without interrupting my busy life
For a long stop in an emergency room,
Beth Israel hospital being
Just three blocks away from where
The assault/accident occurred
Without a referee
And with no rounds.
I’ve always hated boxing.
I thought this holiday
Had to do, in Canada,
With putting gifts away.
Now I know differently
Here in the East Village
Where no rules are observed
And everyone is afraid
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Downs’ Syndrome and an Irish Cabaret for Christmas

15 Dec

Tom Savage

Ups and downs.
No staircase need apply.
Songs in a cabaret
Newly imported from Ireland.
How many ways can you sing “free”?
Perhaps the old
“Negro spirituals”
Got protest songs right.
The slaves’ masters didn’t know
Or didn’t care.
The Irish had different rulers
But now have none.
Does singing “Silent Night” in Gaelic
Bring the old gods and goddesses
Back to noise
Or quiet?
In a stern land,
A little bit of
The back of a singer’s head
Would not suffice.

The ice made from
The milk of kindness
Won’t propel us forward.
The planet that has
A sea or moon called
Tranquility, whichever
That is.
The man from God knows where
They go back there
Where God ceases to exist
Which has happened
Many times
Over the last century
Or so.

We do not mock simple men
Who have achieved a lack of complication
Through years of struggle but
A child with Downs Syndrome
Is hard to watch
For whatever reason
Buried in the watcher’s brain.
There is pain to that condition
That is communicated from
One subconscious to another
That no simple melodies
And talk can transpose.
So we supposed we would see a play
And got the first Irish cabaret ever
Instead. It took a good sleep
And many hours after
To write this, though
What the point of this poem is
Is hard to say.
Singing it wouldn’t help
Much either.

Written after watching a singer named Coulter and his wife perform a show called The Songs I Love So Well at the Irish Repertory Theater.

After “Sandy”

8 Dec

Tom Savage

For Dan Freeman and Heidi Hass

After the storm,
The tempest becomes internal.
Donkeys die but humans survive.
Chaos thrives.
But order returns.
Miracles appear everywhere
In the kindnesses of old friends
Repaying a karmic debt from long ago.
But there are time limitations imposed
By the nature of the miracles themselves.
So that the noblesse oblige,
The etiquette the gods offer
Of being a guest must be observed
To the end so that the beginnings
May be cherished in memory’s future.
The datum and provisional nature
Of collective action reasserts itself
And selfishness is tempered a while.
Old stories are revisited
Of The Man Who Could Work Miracles
And Au Hasard Balthasar by Bresson
In which a genius donkey dies
And the murderer goes unpunished.
But we humans in the so-called real world
Treat each other better than that
When calamity strikes
And an old home becomes
Temporarily uninhabitable.
Then great friends open their doors.
This kindness is to be cherished always
As long as breath and body remain.
The good results or old generosities
Cannot be contained
Merely in the old times in which
These friendships were generated.
The elation of return happens now
When needed. That is today’s
And tonight’s miracle.
The gods approve and move
Heaven and Earth in order to make them occur
As if H.G. Wells had written both movies
And returned only one to real life,
The one that matters
In the end.

After Au Hasard Balthasar by Robert Bresson and The Man Who Could Work Miracles by H.G. Wells.


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