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Marriage -- Gregory Corso

Guest poem sent in by Aseem
(Poem #1569) Marriage
 Should I get married? Should I be good?
 Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood?
 Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries
 tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets
 then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries
 and she going just so far and I understanding why
 not getting angry saying You must feel! It's beautiful to feel!
 Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone
 and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky -

 When she introduces me to her parents
 back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie,
 should I sit with my knees together on their 3rd degree sofa
 and not ask Where's the bathroom?
 How else to feel other than I am,
 often thinking Flash Gordon soap -
 O how terrible it must be for a young man
 seated before a family and the family thinking
 We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou!
 After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living?

 Should I tell them? Would they like me then?
 Say All right get married, we're losing a daughter
 but we're gaining a son -
 And should I then ask Where's the bathroom?

 O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends
 and only a handful of mine all scroungy and bearded
 just wait to get at the drinks and food -
 And the priest! he looking at me as if I masturbated
 asking me Do you take this woman for your lawful wedded wife?
 And I trembling what to say say Pie Glue!
 I kiss the bride all those corny men slapping me on the back
 She's all yours, boy! Ha-ha-ha!
 And in their eyes you could see some obscene honeymoon going on -
 Then all that absurd rice and clanky cans and shoes
 Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
 All streaming into cozy hotels
 All going to do the same thing tonight
 The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
 The lobby zombies they knowing what
 The whistling elevator man he knowing
 Everybody knowing! I'd almost be inclined not to do anything!
 Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
 Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!
 running rampant into those almost climactic suites
 yelling Radio belly! Cat shovel!
 O I'd live in Niagara forever! in a dark cave beneath the Falls
 I'd sit there the Mad Honeymooner
 devising ways to break marriages, a scourge of bigamy
 a saint of divorce -

 But I should get married I should be good
 How nice it'd be to come home to her
 and sit by the fireplace and she in the kitchen
 aproned young and lovely wanting my baby
 and so happy about me she burns the roast beef
 and comes crying to me and I get up from my big papa chair
 saying Christmas teeth! Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
 God what a husband I'd make! Yes, I should get married!
 So much to do! Like sneaking into Mr Jones' house late at night
 and cover his golf clubs with 1920 Norwegian books
 Like hanging a picture of Rimbaud on the lawnmower
 like pasting Tannu Tuva postage stamps all over the picket fence
 like when Mrs Kindhead comes to collect for the Community Chest
 grab her and tell her There are unfavorable omens in the sky!
 And when the mayor comes to get my vote tell him
 When are you going to stop people killing whales!
 And when the milkman comes leave him a note in the bottle
 Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust -

 Yet if I should get married and it's Connecticut and snow
 and she gives birth to a child and I am sleepless, worn,
 up for nights, head bowed against a quiet window, the past behind me,
 finding myself in the most common of situations a trembling man
 knowledged with responsibility not twig-smear nor Roman coin soup-
 O what would that be like!
 Surely I'd give it for a nipple a rubber Tacitus
 For a rattle a bag of broken Bach records
 Tack Della Francesca all over its crib
 Sew the Greek alphabet on its bib
 And build for its playpen a roofless Parthenon

 No, I doubt I'd be that kind of father
 Not rural not snow no quiet window
 but hot smelly tight New York City
 seven flights up, roaches and rats in the walls
 a fat Reichian wife screeching over potatoes Get a job!
 And five nose running brats in love with Batman
 And the neighbors all toothless and dry haired
 like those hag masses of the 18th century
 all wanting to come in and watch TV
 The landlord wants his rent
 Grocery store Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus
 impossible to lie back and dream Telephone snow, ghost parking -
 No! I should not get married! I should never get married!
 But - imagine if I were married to a beautiful sophisticated woman
 tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves
 holding a cigarette holder in one hand and a highball in the other
 and we lived high up in a penthouse with a huge window
 from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days
 No, can't imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream -

 O but what about love? I forget love
 not that I am incapable of love
 It's just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes -
 I never wanted to marry a girl who was like my mother
 And Ingrid Bergman was always impossible
 And there's maybe a girl now but she's already married
 And I don't like men and -
 But there's got to be somebody!
 Because what if I'm 60 years old and not married,
 all alone in a furnished room with pee stains on my underwear
 and everybody else is married! All the universe married but me!

 Ah, yet well I know that were a woman possible as I am possible
 then marriage would be possible -
 Like SHE in her lonely alien gaud waiting her Egyptian lover
 so i wait-bereft of 2,000 years and the bath of life.
-- Gregory Corso
One of my all-time favourite poems. Every time I get invited to a friend's
wedding (and that happens with distressing regularity now) I pull out a copy of
this poem and read it. It's not just that it's a wildly funny poem (though it
is that too -  I still can't keep myself from laughing out loud every time I
read it) or one that, unlike many other beat poems, doesn't take itself too
seriously. It's the balance of it - the combination of a faux yet visionary
ecstacy ("Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust") with
snatches of quiet, understated yearning ("But there's got to be somebody!");
the juxtaposition of these simple yet vivid everyday scenes with some truly
startling imagery ("telephone snow, ghost parking", "take her not to movies,
but to cemeteries"); the vicious lampooning of stereotypes interspersed with
lines of true poetry ("woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky"
or "I see love as odd as wearing shoes"); the emergence of almost universal
themes from amidst some fairly contextual references.

It would have been easy for Corso to go too far here - he could easily have
made this just another juvenile rant against marriage. Instead he pulls of a
real masterpiece of a poem.



  [broken link]

Some more Corso poems:

A tribute by Robert Creeley:

49 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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