The Whole Mess ... Almost

By Gregory Corso 1930–2001 Gregory Corso
I ran up six flights of stairs
to my small furnished room   
opened the window
and began throwing out
those things most important in life

First to go, Truth, squealing like a fink:
“Don’t! I’ll tell awful things about you!”
“Oh yeah? Well, I’ve nothing to hide ... OUT!”
Then went God, glowering & whimpering in amazement:   
“It’s not my fault! I’m not the cause of it all!” “OUT!”   
Then Love, cooing bribes: “You’ll never know impotency!   
All the girls on Vogue covers, all yours!”
I pushed her fat ass out and screamed:
“You always end up a bummer!”
I picked up Faith Hope Charity
all three clinging together:
“Without us you’ll surely die!”
“With you I’m going nuts! Goodbye!”

Then Beauty ... ah, Beauty—
As I led her to the window
I told her: “You I loved best in life
... but you’re a killer; Beauty kills!”   
Not really meaning to drop her
I immediately ran downstairs
getting there just in time to catch her   
“You saved me!” she cried
I put her down and told her: “Move on.”

Went back up those six flights
went to the money
there was no money to throw out.
The only thing left in the room was Death   
hiding beneath the kitchen sink:
“I’m not real!” It cried
“I’m just a rumor spread by life ... ”   
Laughing I threw it out, kitchen sink and all   
and suddenly realized Humor
was all that was left—
All I could do with Humor was to say:   
“Out the window with the window!”

Gregory Corso, “The Whole Mess ... Almost” from Herald of the Autochthonic Spirit. Copyright © 1973, 1975, 1981 by Gregory Corso. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Mindfield: New and Selected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1989)

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Poet Gregory Corso 1930–2001


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Gregory Corso was a key member of the Beat movement, a group of convention-breaking writers who were credited with sparking much of the social and political change that transformed the United States in the 1960s. Corso's spontaneous, insightful, and inspirational verse once prompted fellow Beat poet Allen Ginsberg to describe him as an "awakener of youth." Although Corso enjoyed his greatest level of popularity during the 1960s . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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