Life of Savage

By Vijay Seshadri b. 1954 Vijay Seshadri Read the Q & A
I’ve been excited about him as an individual.
I’ve met him as a person, emerging from his own shadow.
Indeed it is remarkable.
Indeed it is to be remarked of my friend Savage that
the desolation of hopes not merely deferred
but by impracticability brutalized
little marred his genial spirit.
How such a one, so circumstanced by parentage—
the mother crippled by disappointment; the father by rotgut and Percodan—
as to blight his prospects, and blacken with untimely frost the buds
of those ambitions justly excited
by manifest powers, graces, and propensities,
should nonetheless display
discrimination not inferior to those we deem wise,
sympathy judicious and above reproach,
is cause for a wonder neither cynicism can besmirch nor incredulity subvert.
In and out of juvie, jacking cars at fifteen,
snorting lines of Adderall, his nostrils stained blue,
kicked out, taken back, kicked out,
busted, paroled, busted again,
straining to reach the shiny object fallen through the grate,
tantalizing, just beyond his fingers,
finding and losing God,
thinking as he rakes the leaves of the linden tree
outside the sublet bungalow
that eating, sleeping, dying are what it’s all about,
nothing else, maybe a few sunsets,
forget about sex.

Source: Poetry (December 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2010
 Vijay   Seshadri


Poet, essayist, and critic Vijay Seshadri was born in India and came to the United States at the age of five. He earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA from Columbia University.

Seshadri is the author of Wild Kingdom (1996); The Long Meadow (2003), which won the James Laughlin Award; and 3 Sections (2013), which won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The Pulitzer committee described the book as “a compelling collection of poems . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Health & Illness, Disappointment & Failure, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment, Class

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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