Gregory Corso was here

On April 30, 2002 by Eden M. Kennedy

I’m always glad when we come to the end of Hitler’s birthday month. Unfortunately, it’s also the end of Poetry Month and I did almost nothing to commemorate one of my favorite art forms. Back when I was working at Shakespeare & Co. in New York, this horrible looking man would come in to say hello to one of my coworkers, whose name I think was Brant. The man was unwashed and had a leering ogre quality to him, and he was usually wearing a dirty beige woman’s full length down coat. Brant would share his antidepressants with the guy, who’d thank him and leave, so fortunately we didn’t have to follow him around the store to make sure he didn’t steal anything. And I said, Brant, who’s that guy, and Brant said, It’s Gregory Corso. The man who wrote “Marriage”?! I gasped. Yes, said Brant, now I’m going to get a cup of coffee, do you want anything while I’m out? I was supposed to be the night manager and here was a cashier, telling me he was leaving for a snack. Which is why I should never be in charge of anybody.

Marriage

Should I get married? Should I be Good?

Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustaus 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 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 waiting 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

The winking bellboy knowing

Everybody knowing! I’d be almost 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 climatic 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 not Roman coin soup–

O what would that be like!

Surely I’d give it for a nipple a rubber Tacitus

For a rattle 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 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 and I should never get married!

But–imagine if I were to marry a beautiful sophisticated woman

tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves

holding a cigarette holder in one hand and highball in the other

and we lived high up a penthouse with a huge window

from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days

No I 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 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 furnished room with pee stains on my underwear

and everybody else is married! All in 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

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