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Tom Savage / Poems


The air’s too hot tonight, say the trees.
Those elegantly dressed Chinese women you saw
Picking plastic bottles out of the garbage today
May have been a warning of some kind.
The one who blew her CO2 into a crushed container
In order to make it expand back to its normal condition
Demonstrated precision of attention
With almost-impossible-to-watch grace in such squalor.
We leave the conclusion drawing up to you.
Later, you answered a phone call from an old lover
By telling him about a reading for disabled writers,
Having forgotten he has a chronic, inherited condition.
He said he was ill. You went on talking.
He was offended and said goodbye with a troubling finality.
You only wanted to offer him the opportunity of renewed friendship
Since he’d called because he saw your lines in the New York Times.
But your own real disability now being memory loss
From that accursed neurological operation,
You overstepped boundaries like a blind man at night.
Doesn’t this other man, also named Tom, know every American
Over forty has something physically or psychologically wrong?
Alas, he told you what it was, with him, a year ago,
When you met accidentally, at the Met Museum, the first time
In at least three years. Now you can’t remember
What his affliction’s called. (At least, it’s not AIDS.)
It may not help that you meant this undersight
As no lack of affection. You may not hear from him again.




I’m to be converted into an exfoliate shrub.
I observe the freedom of sound.
Dendrite tentacles reach out in spin.
I grow fat on empty pockets of sleep.
I gloat on silence as the heat pipes kick in.
As the police move in, we’re not just learning how to iceskate
On this barricade of dreams I call my heart
That protects the doomed gardens of my lungs.
They insist on singing anyway and do so.
Saint-Saens and his descendants Fauré and Messiaen.
Attend compositional high school a block away
From death, the antennae of all breathing through which
We stumble or mumble our loud stories
Against the cessation of our dreams.
I put up a poem to ward off bulldozers.
It’s as good as a charm or a talisman
Some santerian spiritual cleansing might offer as a social bath.
I don’t know what all of this means but its yours
In the last courtroom beyond Styx’s apotheosis esophagus.
If it’s considered futile to oppose money, it’s still our home.
So wake up the trees and tell them to link arms
Before the sky crashes down with its cloud kisses bleeding.
The bliss of this place remains in its singing non-soul.
It’s all an epileptic garden can do
To keep from falling into and underneath God’s ground.
Unsafe conduct may be all we have left in a police state
   of landlord devils.
We mourn the death of the last open spaces
Where strangers can meet and become friends
With nothing for sale and spontaneous bonding
   comes with no debts attached.
So this garden remains permanent inside us or we die.
When the surgery is on a street’s green temporal lobe,
What can the grass do but scream?
This is no ridiculous thing, this death of the young’s
Ability to communicate with one another
Due to addiction and constant exposure to word-radiating machines.
It’s time to invoke humanity again on homo hetero sapiens.
In all lingos and tongues, the spittle’s the same.
So pile up chairs and closets against a gate
For our own ghosts to sit in and come out of
Lest we middle age into docile, brainless clones
Of our former selves, incapable of quiet, gentle talking,
Our eyes full of computers, our feet made of glass.
We become obsessed with this urban piece of land
Because we fear that the person, our self, not the garden, is dying.
So better to propose “compost not condos” and risk going insane
Than pretend to ignore this blood test, heart’s pain.
(The first time I saw your slogan printed on the pavement,
I saw “condoms” instead of “condos” and thought,
“How could compost do the job?”)
So instead of chaining myself to a tree as I once promised,
This poem must take my place in this war as my better heart.




A green bird planted with oaks the written signs
In summer rivers of snow
On his father’s side
The steel serpent of greenness
Serves relevant facts and chai with rum
At the Mecca of monotone green
Clocks cluck in our internal Mongolia
An adjutant broke off training
Transsiberian Mongolian goat owners
And Tscham Dancers
Princess flies over mountains on her magic sword
Cured by tree spirits
A solitary man thinks only of
Stuffed roast swan and says,
“Serve me the fragrance of a June morning.”
Animal demons get presented a full plate of
Horse railroad where we eat roast reivers
While this shanghaied local misses Tashkent and Samarkand.
With gluttony to your health in a blue bonnet
We travel into slumbering after
Pan Ziu—Pannax ginseng—well-timed.
Oil-impregnated kneeguards threaten willed animals
Out of danger losing their way into a sleeping demon’s stomach
Solitary root-seekers follow the call of Screech Owl.
Ginseng disappears to an evil man the moment it’s found
Jackie Gleason doing Lotte Lenya’s “You are a large, conspicuous sandwich.”
Hell left Bakunin in an ocean of love.
Now we’ll dive black and green into a rose red dress.
All nations can sing “Bei Mir Bis Du Schon” in sound sequins.
“How’s your hot cold Tartar morning French cognac for breakfast,”
Says your friendly, snow tiger waitress.
She now offers buttermilk festivities to pyramid families
Travelling knapsack style in knowledge’s swaying baggage net
The Buriats will bury your overfull stomach.
“Good luck in your `Desert Song’ as a man of the golden east,”
They sing in their transmongolian migration riding festival
Where cedarcone kernels are eaten by native virgins in fur frocks.
“We’ll swallow our way all across Genghis Khan,”
They overtone intone as a huntswoman threatens to shoot
An arrow through first tourist’s Kodak instamatic fastbackwards camera
But prayer flags in white get us to no Internet near Kirkut.
Without even a telephone pole, the hostages look awfully relaxed
Under their Bodhi tree in a desert
One sings in a low-cut, tight-fitting dress.
“The yurts come equipped with cows, camels, and goats.”
Embrace yourself for an upside down whiplash
In a blue dog year, the talk of caravansaries
Return with our fairies to bring Royal Cloudmother back every 77 years from the sky.
Now the camels sing along.
A black-speckled tiger drinks at your stream of green grass.
They lost more than you stole.
As you now blanch the yurts again with time
Call that camel gut the old musician’s strumming.
Fire going around in circles over and over again
Snaps shut your voracious jaws, internal spirits.
Before you drink, spill a few drops on the ground
Of this year’s best mare’s milk.
Heroic lays follow. We ambushed you out of your misfortune.
Stags carry you in their teeth
As a nightingale talks to the swan in rhyme.
Happy hostages or courteous captives,
Your laundry load angered the sky.
So they shot arrows at your frying pan cymbals
And oboes whose way-signs add stones to a pyramid
Hero fairy on a milk-white sea, your hands bathe in blood,
An earthquake spits fire, and some dancing skeletons find closure.