General Poetry posted July 5, 2017


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Gatsby reflects on his story

Gatsby: A Life in Three Acts

by Mark Valentine

 
Prologue
 
A flash of light, a pistol blast.
The deed is done, the die is cast.
A future once so wide and vast
Must, like the Twenties, end in crash.
The bullet is approaching fast.
Will it bring me peace at last?
Or will this drama be recast
Ceaselessly into the past?
 
They say that when a fellow dies
His life flashes before his eyes.
And now the time has come for me,
The credits roll – here’s what I see:

 
 Act 1 - 1917
 
Wilson’s taken us to war.
I enlist and join the Corps.
Training days are all the same,
Until one day, I meet a dame.
 
Classy girl, wearing pearls,
She comes from a different world.
Name’s Daisy, drives me crazy,
I start to think about the ways we
Might find bliss, but this Miss
Clearly wants much more than this.
She’s New York City, sleek and pretty,
Well-bred, well-read, chic and witty.
While I was not with fortune blessed,
A simple guy from the Midwest.
No lineage, no fam’ly crest.
Naught to make her be impressed.
 
So I concoct a grand façade,
Go to war, and pray that God
Will reunite us when war’s done,
But I come back and Daisy’s gone.

 
Act 2 – The Roaring Twenties Begin
 

In this age of Prohibition
One can better one’s condition.
And so, as my next act begins,
I’m bootlegging and running gin,
Chasing fame, committing sins.
It’s all about the Benjamins.
 
Status? No. Don’t matter though,
I’m out to smash the status quo.
Hustling in this age of jazz,
Chasing what the rich man has.
Using all my newfound pelf
As means to reinvent myself.
 
Change my story, change my name,
Be a player in the game.
Making plans and plotting schemes.
Poor man’s wallet - rich man’s dreams.
I love her – she might love me,
If I but had the pedigree.
 
The money rolls in easily.
I take a new identity,
And move myself to NYC
To see what Daisy thinks of me.
 
And when I reach New York at last,
I don’t tell folks about my past.
I buy a mansion on the bay,
And stare at hers across the way.
I dream about our future bliss.
And put on airs and talk like this:

 
Act 3 – Events Leading Up to the Crash
 
“Jay Gatsby, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.
The grounds? Yes, they require a lot of maintenance.
Are you up for a game of golf, old sport?
Or tennis, perhaps? I have my own court.”
 
Life’s finer things now fill my days.
At night I throw the best soirees.
And through it all, I keep my eyes
Intently fixed upon the prize.
With Daisy now within my view,
The dream I dreamt is almost true.
 
I have what everybody wants.
Dine at the finest restaurants.
I live with elegance and grace,
And everyone comes to my place.
 
And Daisy too’s within my reach.
We go for walks along the beach.
This dream that I’ve for so long chased,
So close now I can almost taste.
 
I bide my time then make my moves.
I sense my friend Nick disapproves.
He thinks I should give up my quest,
Close up shop and move back west.
But I don’t heed a word of it.
For I have come too far to quit.
 
 
And everday I gradu’lly
Become what I pretend to be…
…Until one day, there’s no more me.
 
For fevered dreams oft die too fast
In flash of light and pistol blast.
 
The moral here, or so it seems:
Be careful when you chase your dreams.
For castles built of sand can’t last,
When waves relentless and steadfast,
Carry all you have amassed
Ceaselessly into the past.
Ceaselessly into the past.

 


Write a poem of length-with a twist contest entry


The varying lengths and styles of the stanzas, and the sentence fragments are intentional meant to mirror the segmented manner in which we remember the past.

For those of you unfamiliar with the novel, here's the story: While in the army, James Gatz meets Daisy Fay and falls in love. Daisy obviously comes from a wealthy family. James does not. To impress Daisy, James concocts a false history and says his name is Jay Gatsby. He goes off to fight in World War I, and comes home to find that Daisy has moved east to marry a rich man named Tom Buchanan. Gatsby sets out to make a fortune by bootlegging and gambling. Once he has money, he too moves to New York and buys a mansion directly across the bay from the Buchanan's. He throws lavish parties for the sole purpose of creating a situation that might bring him into contact with Daisy. They reunite, have an affair. When push comes to shove though, she will not leave her husband for him. Daisy accidentally hits and kills a woman in a car crash. Gatsby decides to take the blame. The woman's husband finds and shoots Gatsby.

The novel's final line is, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
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© Copyright 2017. Mark Valentine All rights reserved.
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