November 23, 2007

Poetry Friday: Black Friday edition

A Modern Romance
by Paul Engle (1908-1991)

Come live with me and be my wife
And we will lead a packaged life,
Where food, drink, fun, all things save pain
Come neatly wrapped in cellophane.

I am the All-American boy,
Certified as fit for joy,
Elected (best of all the breed)
Hairline most likely to recede.
My parchment scroll to verify
Is stamped in gold and witnessed by
Secretary-Treasurer of
Americans Hundred Per Cent For Love.

You are the All-American girl,
Red toe to artificial curl,
Who passed all tests from skipping rope
And using only Cuddly Soap
To making fire in any weather
By rubbing boy and girl together.

We are the nation's nicest team,
Madison Avenue's magic scheme
To show how boy gets girl: my style
Succeeds by using Denta-Smile.

How merchandised that ceremony!
The minister was scrubbed and bony,
And all was sterile in that room
Except, one hoped, the eager groom.

Married, with advertising's blessing,
We can begin togethernessing.
Before I carry you, my bride,
Across the threshold and inside,
I'll take, to help my milk-fed bones,
Vitamins, minerals and hormones.

Now look how quickly I have fixed
A dry martini (ready-mixed).
So drink to our day, consecrated,
In chairs of leather, simulated.
While you are changing out of those
Nylon, dacron, rayon clothes,
I cook the dinner, without fail
Proving a real American male,
Humble, without too much endurance,
But lots of paid-up life insurance.

From the deep-freeze, to please your wish,
A TV dinner in its dish,
All ready-seasoned, heat it up.
Pour instant water in this cup
On instant coffee from a can.
Be proud, love, of your instant man.
Innocent food, mechanized manna
(Except the delicate banana),
Can you endure -- forgive the question --
The messy horrors of digestion?

Even our love is pasteurized,
Our gentle hope homogenized.

And now our pure, hygienic night.
To our voluptuous delight
Your hair is up, restraints are down,
And cream is patted on your frown.
The brand-name mattress on the bed
Is wrapped in paper like fresh bread.
We can, to make our own campfire,
Turn the electric blanket higher.
We will cry, Darling, I do care,
In chastely air-conditioned air.

We've read the books, know what to do,
By science, wife, I offer you
This helpful, vacuum-packed, live nerve
(Just add devotion, dear, and serve).
Hurry! Out back I seem to hear
The landlord's Plymouth prowling near.

If this efficient plan produces
By chance (those awful natural juices!)
That product of a thousand uses,
A Junior, wrapped in elastic
Inexpensive bag of plastic
(Just break the seal and throw away)
From antiseptic throats we'll say:
It was an All-American day.

from Poetry for Pleasure: The Hallmark Book of Poetry (Doubleday, 1960)

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Susan Taylor Brown at Susan Writes has today's Poetry Friday Round-Up, and a lovely poem by Alfred Kreymborg. Thank you, Susan, from under a sunny sky.

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