Vox Populi

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Michael Simms: Daisy

After you died, I pulled a copy of Gatsby
From your shelf -- torn, underlined, smudged
With marginalia -- but still beautiful 
In an unbound unglued sort of way.
You once said you knew Daisy
Better than you knew yourself,
No boundary between two agitated girls
Crafted of words, as if
She had come to inhabit you
Or you her, and no one, not even me,
The brother who tried to protect you,
Could stop your slow extinguishment
And final gesture.

I remember taking you to a party
Where young men who knew Gatsby
Fell in love with you. One poet 
you spent a week with on my couch, 
stoned and passionate, hearing no doubt
his heart beating faster and faster 
as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. 
He knew that when he kissed her, 
and forever wed his unutterable visions 
to her perishable breath, his mind 
would never romp again like the mind of God. 
He asked you to marry him and you said yes,
Then no, then yes, then it was time to leave,
And for years he asked me about you
With a kind of tender curiosity
Even after you died. 
a handsome playwright known 
as a talented seducer of actresses, 
was so frightened by your frank invitation 
to fuck, he ran 
and never mentioned you again.

And the shy novelist, who wrote 
Like an angel, was so taken by your laughter
He couldn’t speak, but stood 
In front of you with his mouth open
Like a baby bird chirping for a worm.
Ashamed of his wordlessness
In the face of your beauty, he grew angry,
Shook an apology out and turned away.
I thought him pathetic, but you knew 
no amount of fire or freshness can challenge 
what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

You eventually married an electrician,
A strong stubborn man who loved you more
Than others had. He stayed with you 
Though you wrecked every car he ever owned.
He paid your bail, and you bore him
Two stalwart sons. Llano, Texas
Was nothing like Daisy’s New York,
No large parties where a girl could keep
Her privacy, no blue gardens 
Where men and girls came and went like moths 
among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.

No such thing in small town Texas 
Where men and girls come and go like flies
On their way to the rodeo. Eventually
All the women knew you’d been sold to men 
And didn’t care you’d been forced, 
Beaten and raped again and again, 
Finally escaping, not telling anyone, 
Even me, for twenty years.

How did you resemble Daisy, 
A spoiled girl in love with luxury?
You were not spoiled, you were ruined
By the brutality of men.
Perhaps it was Jay Gatsby’s love
For Daisy you recognized,
How Howard would do anything
For you, build a house,
Forgive you again and again
Your manic mistakes, your headlong 
Falls into disaster. Perhaps
Like Daisy you were a careless person,
smashing up things and creatures
and then retreating to the care of your enablers
And their own vast carelessness. 

And your poor husband. He had come a long way 
To this brown lawn on the far edge of Austin
and his dream must have seemed so close 
that he could hardly fail to grasp it. 
He did not know that it was already behind him, 
somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, 
where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

It was different for you. At times you felt it coming, 
a haunting loneliness, and sensed it in others,
The young clerk in the toll booth at dusk,
The waitress working the night shift at the roadside café,
wasting the most poignant moments of night and life….
as we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.

Copyright 2021 From Nightjar by Michael Simms (Ragged Sky 2021).

Note: The italicized lines and phrases in the poem are direct quotations from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby which is in the public domain.

Michael Simms is the founder and editor of Vox Populi. His many books include the fantasy novel The Green Mage (Madville, 2023).

Llano River in central Texas

36 comments on “Michael Simms: Daisy

  1. Dinah Kudatsky
    February 13, 2023

    How searing, the punishment that love is, the love one feels for someone so deeply careless. How powerless, the knowledge that your love and the love of others is not enough to fill the hole. How large, your open heart! Thank you, Michael.


    • Vox Populi
      February 14, 2023

      Thank you, Dinah. My sister committed suicide fifteen years ago, and I’m still trying to understand what happened.


  2. allisonfine
    February 12, 2023

    Absolutely wonderful. I love this. Luminous poem. I will read it again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Samuel Tieman
    February 12, 2023

    I find this poem almost overwhelming. I will write again soon, as I am quite busy with civic stuff. But I write tell you I read it, and consider it one of the finest poems you have ever written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      February 12, 2023

      Thanks, John. I appreciate your saying so, and I’m looking forward to hearing more… Take care, my friend.


  4. Louie Skipper
    February 12, 2023

    Powerful writing dear friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      February 12, 2023

      Louie! Thank you. It’s been so long since we talked. I am so glad to see you at VP again.


  5. jbauer103waolcom
    February 11, 2023

    What a tough and tender poem! I admire so much how it unfolds and all it includes. Thank you, Michael, for sharing this poem.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      February 12, 2023

      Thank you, Joan. Your praise means everything to me.


  6. robertahatcher32
    February 11, 2023

    Oh, this poem. It hurts to read it. What it must have taken (and given) for you to write it. 

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      February 12, 2023

      Thanks, Roberta.This is an important poem for me. It helped me sort through my feelings about my sister’s suicide years ago, so I’m glad you understand what it took to write it. (Also, it was great seeing you the other evening at Arlene & Michael’s reading!)


  7. matthewjayparker
    February 11, 2023

    Love this one, Michael. So raw. It makes no apologies.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charles Davidson
    February 11, 2023

    Stunning and poignant with heart and soul and the longing of losses never forgotten. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. johnlawsonpoet
    February 11, 2023

    Very powerful. I love the way the poem integrates the quotes from Gatsby.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. kim4true
    February 11, 2023

    Just lovely, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      February 11, 2023

      Thanks, Kim. I’m working my way through your comments and suggestions on Windkeep. Very helpful. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Rose Mary Boehm
    February 11, 2023

    You took me to Daisy and so many of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Georganne Spruce
    February 11, 2023

    Heartbreakingly beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Loranneke
    February 11, 2023

    Oh Michael — I read it aloud (remembering it from your book) — and it’s definitely a poem that needs to be read aloud. Very aloud!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      February 11, 2023

      Thank you, Laure-Anne! I love your poems, so your praise means everything to me.


  14. maryfranceswagner
    February 11, 2023

    Wow.  That’s quite a poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Robbi Nester
    February 11, 2023

    Wonderful portrait.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Tony Magistrale
    February 11, 2023

    Lovely job, Mike. You capture Daisy’s essence here.

    Liked by 1 person

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