365 Degrees

Tom Johnson
Poetry Editor

4 for Fitzgerald
(1896 - 1940)

The Rich Boy

"All rather inhuman and undernourished,
isn't it?" It's not a pretty picture —
the portrait of a man in love with love
of this kind, unattainable lust that stirs
an adolescent passion. Or worse, perhaps,
the simulation of love, unfulfilled
narratives of loss, pale metaphors of passion
for a bright lover that never lived,
except as figure of speech. Two men
remained in Anson's car. "He had entirely
forgotten their presence." And though they sang
dirty songs, such things rarely
mask the shame and distaste of the scene.
I think about what might have been.

by Ed Madden

F. Scott Fitzgerald

You wrote yourself and being Irish
that could almost be a lie. You
wanted to spring from old money,
Easternness: a WASP nest. Your gift, though,
Middle-Westernness, -classness, nearly overshadowed
you. Seeing through your green eyes,
even closed, the green hope — money —
like Mark Twain's river — rippling over perils
to strand post-James, post-war America. You
could write and sell, were drawn to class,
repelled by it, by dreams. Worked. Sixty-eight stories
in The Saturday Evening Post, readable,
literary, despite Wilsons, Edmund, Woodrow,
non-puttable down. You made an age
swivel. Put us in college, analysis.
An age, to be in the middle of and write
around, still there, drinking, rowing
towards Gatsby, the lost, the better

by Starkey Flythe

"The green light at the end of Daisy's dock"

The pale green
loomed like a faint sound;
the sound of pages turning,
of a book sliding onto a shelf.
My memory
is less of words
than of color.
Mysterious shades,
radiant as glowing algae
on special nights
in the summer ocean.
The future recedes
and with it our memory blooms.
There is a sadness in endings,
a difficulty with the currents —
the awkwardness of memory
and the flow of colors
into and out of our life.

by John Cooper

Y pues nada

"Begin with an individual, and before you know it you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find that you have created — nothing."
F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Rich Boy"

Begin with an idea, say, nothing
Nothing beyond sky or space
So? you think, shrugging shoulders —
Figure your emphasis is wrong

Think of one constellation,
say Cassiopeia — arrogant queen of Ethiopia
lolling in our Milky Way, arm outstretched
in the dark sky to Cepheus, her King

Think of that luminous and pearly galaxy
seen not from feet firmly planted, but sliced
like a grindstone and it radiates thick
eyelashes around the sun, eye of a god

Think beyond our galaxy to some globular
cluster forming another stellar system and yet
another — Light danced by sisters of the moon
for those longing for beach houses, cellular phones

What we may find is not nothing, but breath,
freeing us from what we crave to watch
the primeval atom — individual nebulae rimmed —
yet unbound by what we know or can experience

So begin with nothing and fold into the individual
where you have everything under a sky — a man
swinging his grandson overhead while the boy
screams, again! a woman in her garden watering hibiscus

a child looking into her mother's eyes, love ladled
from the goddess of all those stars, sister to the sun,
daughter beyond what we can ever begin with or imagine,
gathering us from backyards, as we shrug, as we wonder.

by Libby Bernardin

The POINT poetry page this month is devoted to new work created in honor of the late F. Scott Fitzgerald on the occasion of the centennial of his birth, which USC is celebrating Sept. 24-26. Libby Bernardin and Ed Madden teach English at the University and, like Starkey Flythe of North Augusta, are well known regional authors whose work has appeared in national publications. A collection of Flythe's poems, Paying the Anesthesiologist, was recently published. John Cooper is a senior in the Honors College at USC, where he is studying creative writing.


© Copyright by POINT, 1996
Last modified 9/14/96