Marriage by Gregory Corso

corso

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’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 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.

Source: Corso, Gregory.  The Happy Birthday of Death. New York: New Directions Publishing, 1960

A “Stop-Over” at Niagara by Evelyn M. Watson

watson stopover

watson stopover
Crowds at the Victoria Park Station at the top of Clifton Hil, 1920l. Photo courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

Yellow trolley cars like golden pumpkins
Disgorging Cinderellas (for the day,)
And young Prince Charmings, friendly country bumpkins…
(They recently were married, do you say?)

Bright bazaars with giddy banners flying —
Basilisks, gorgons, carved, or sphinx —
And gaudy postal cards just right for lying —
And here’s a fount of rosy, foolish drinks,

Niagara Falls emblazoned on a cup ;
And, in a sugar-shell, old fashioned scenes —
Once-regal Indians now lifting up
A beaded thing, the Waterfall in greens.

The raucous hawker in the street is quelled. . .
(Administration building ?   Left, sir. . . )
By that deep throbbing tone unparalleled
Authentic Voice that makes man’s pulses stir. . .

More Indians in the apses of the grove ;
The islands with their edges greenly shaded ;
And shy young couples — walking out — for love ?
Cabs and busses endlessly paraded.

The bridges where one pauses to inquire
Of very soul if eyes have seen aright ;
Sea-green, and speeding waters dripping fire —
The heavy masses slipping out of sight. . .

A far-set rocky isle by rustic bridge,
And then, within the river, one sharp jag
(Gull Island once ?  It seems vast privilege
To meditate — the mightiest so brag.)

And now, again, that climax of the trip,
Observed but only to benumb the sense ;
The pouring masses ceaselessly that slip
Into dread chasms of Magnificence. . . .

 

Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier. New York: Dean & Company, 1929.

Click to see more poems from Watson’s Poems of the Niagara Frontier

watson stopover

Niagara Falls – Viagra Calls by Larry Pace

Certificate showing a couple honeymooned in Niagara Falls
Certificate showing a couple honeymooned in Niagara Falls

They honeymoon in Canada
to see Niagara Falls.
She’s young, and he is very old,
but oh, Viagra calls!

A single night of nuptial bliss
these newlyweds will face.
The pills work well—but truth to tell,
his old heart can’t keep pace.

Niagara Falls: Viagra calls
for just a little while;
a widow for a newlywed,
a dead groom with a smile.

She cashes the insurance check
and goes back to St. Paul;
she thanks the Lord for Viagra
and for Niagara Falls!

© 2001 Larry Pace

Source: The author, 2001

Niagara Falls 1972 (revised version) by Richard H. Fox


engine squeals, fan belt slaps severing all ties
   the gas pedal becomes a foot rest
in fading twilight two pairs of feet track neon winks
   thunderclaps drown their steps
they sprint through puddles giggling and shivering
   register as man and wife in the motel shack

their cabin has one twin bed
    she hangs wet blouse and jeans - "I'll shower first if that's ok"
he dangles wet t-shirt and cuttoffs next to hers

she emerges wearing a white towel
       drapes it over the headboard
                  raises the patchwork quilt
                              folds back the sheets
                                         arranges the pillows
                                                    slips into bed

he retreats into the bathroom
slides off underwear
lets hot stream douse hair
wraps towel round waist
leans on tub patting forehead cheeks chin...
opens door flips towel on dresser
jumps under covers

she smiles -
         "Are you ok?
                   You look nervous."

        he met her, a college ride board refugee, at breakfast sixteen hours ago;
        her  other sat  opposite pulling on the straps  of a pale  gingham dress,
        long blonde hair unbound,  garden flower  above left ear - "Thank you for
        taking our daughter." - her father  patted his  back, shook hands nodding
        slowly, kissed his child on  the cheek,  opened the car door, turned away

        strangers in bucket seats, she told jokes, sewed a loose button on his shirt,
        made sandwiches on french bread - tomatoes, roasted peppers, fresh cilantro -
        smiled  whenever he  looked,  laughed  nervously  at the New York  state line

she lies on her side, faces the wall, switches off the lamp
he stares at the ceiling, holds breath, hears the current of her sighs break on white pillowcase

he could brush the hair off her shoulder
       trace the shape of her arm
               stroke the course of her spine
                       to her hip
                               across her thigh
                                       drift along belly - her rounded belly

tomorrow feet in cold stirrups

he sleeps on his back, hands on stomach

in the morning, the motel manager asks "How's your wife?"
snaps a shot of the couple, brunette and blonde in greyscale, next to a highway sign
   "Niagara Falls 18 mi" 

Source: The author, 2001
Click here to see a previous version of this poem.

Richard H. Fox’s website

Niagara Falls, 1972 by Richard H. Fox

inside a wicker alligator basket
hides a black and white photo
his children are the age
of the faces looking back
he peers into her eyes
able to hold the gaze

the engine squealed
fan belt slapped
severing all ties
the gas pedal
became a foot rest
in the fading twilight
two pairs of feet
tracked neon winks
thunderclaps
drowned their steps
they sprinted through puddles
giggling and shivering
registered
as man and wife
in the motel shack

the cabin had one twin bed
a dresser left empty
she hung up wet shirt and jeans
“I’ll shower first if that’s ok”
he laid wet clothes next to hers
she emerged wearing a white towel
draped it over the headboard
raised the patchwork quilt
folded back the sheets
arranged the pillows
slipped into bed

he turned into the bathroom
slid off his underpants
let the hot stream
douse his hair
sat in the warmth
patting and drying
then opened the door
flipped the towel
onto the dresser
rolled under covers
she smiled at him
“Are you ok? you look nervous…”

they met at breakfast
sixteen hours ago
her mother sat opposite
pulling on the straps
of her pale gingham dress
long blonde hair unbound
garden flower above left ear
“Thank you for taking our daughter”
her husband patted his back
shook hands nodding slowly
kissed his child on the cheek
opened the car door
turned away

strangers in bucket seats
she told jokes
sewed a loose button on his shirt
brought sandwiches on french bread
vine fresh tomatoes
roasted peppers cilantro
smiled whenever he looked
laughed nervously
at the New York state line

she turned away
lay on her side
switched off the lamp
he stared at the ceiling
listened to her breath
he could touch her back
finger stroke the course of her spine
hand trace the shape of her arm
to her hip across her thigh
palm drift along rounded belly
her belly — tomorrow
feet in cold stirrups —
she may have turned towards him
kissed him full on the mouth
he slept on his back
hands on stomach

in the morning the motel manager
asks “How’s your wife?”
snaps a shot of the couple
brunette and blonde in greyscale
next to a highway sign
“Niagara Falls 18 mi”

© May 6, 2000  Richard H. Fox

Source: The author

Click here to see a revised version of this poem
Richard H. Fox’s website – GreenPoet