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The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2017

All Issues
MAY 2017 Issue

Visions and Miracles*


My mother was in the flu epidemic of 1918.
She had a vision of the Virgin Mary
And recovered.
Her twin sister
Who had no vision died.
While I was recovering from brain surgery
I had a vision
Of an angry, bearded Jesus.
He sodomized me.
I called my friend,
The poet Bill Kushner,
And told him what had happened.
His response was:
"Are you pregnant?"
Then I wrote my poem
"Sodomized By An Angry Jesus."
My mother left the church
When she became an adult.
It takes two miracles to be
Classified as a saint
By the Catholic Church.
She had only one
And almost nobody knew about it.
It took me eight years
To recover from brain surgery
For epileptic seizures.
But I've had, at most,
Only two in the last 15 years.
Before the operation, I had about one per month.
Is that a miracle or near miracle?
I leave that for you to decide.
I had many visions
Under the influence of hashish,
Which I smoked for twenty years.
I have forgotten all of them
Except for the one which became
The poem "Monteverdi Bodhisattva."
I tried absinthe once
Out of a kind of historical curiosity.
It took hours to take effect.
And all I saw were colored lights.
In 1968, I took LSD
And felt the earth moving underneath me.
I was lying down on it
In a spot in Oakland, California.
I've had many visions or hallucinations while meditating.
Once I thought I was in Burma,
Now called Myanmar.
This was on East 11th St., NYC
And decades before anyone
Could go to Burma.
In the first two years after brain surgery,
But after Allen Ginsberg died,
I heard his voice
And that of Robert Duncan,
Ted Berrigan, and Hannah Weiner.
All of them told me the same thing:
"You're going to be okay."
Still, it took another six years
To prove them right.
I once heard Emily Dickinson's voice.
Unfortunately, I've forgotten
Exactly what she said.
I once had a dream
In which Wallace Stevens and Guillaume Apollinaire
Invited me to write a collaboration with them.
When I woke up, the poem was lost.
Once I consulted a man
Who advertised
That he could help you
Remember your past lives.
I paid $35
And found myself in a group
Of fifty to one hundred people.
He put us in a mild hypnotic state
Then guided us back through our present lives.
Then he told us to go one step further back.
Pictures of Anne Waldman and Bernadette Mayer
Appeared before my inner eye.
Then I saw a landscape
That might have been
In France or Northern Italy
In the fifteenth century,
And that was that.
The session ended.



Tom Savage

Tom Savage is the author of 11 books. He has given readings many times at The Poetry Project and taught there twice. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The World, twice monthly in an online listserv called Brevitas and many other print and some online venues.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2017

All Issues