jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

replacement parts


the plug on the shower drain
shuts just fine but
won’t stay open all the way

I bend over and push the
lever down but it eases back up
at best open a quarter of the way

I tell myself the mechanism
inside is old and simply
needs replacing

the puddle at my feet
grows larger by the minute
and while I stand there
scraping off an old layer of skin
I tell myself all it needs
is a little ball and chain



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

shadows like black masses


canopy of trees protective yet penetrable
all night rains enriching the underworld


three or four children noisily passed by
and I turned from one side to the other
as they placed stone markers near my feet

I heard one say this place should be
buried in snow
which of course made me laugh
(if only that were possible)

they continued to arrange the markers
until they were satisfied with the pattern

little did they know that their ritual
awakened an age-old spirit
and as I rose from the earth into the misty air
all they could do was run and scream



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

more of the same


she was frying bacon
like it was going out of style
and once the aroma woke me
I quickly found some shorts
and hurried down the stairs

winds blew wickedly outside
but you could hardly tell
kitchen radio blasting rock music
silencing all the backyard chimes
composing their own scores

what’s the matter she asked
did you think I was going
to burn down the place
or did I make you ravenously
hungry for more of the same



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

pacifying ancient waves


it’s getting late
midwinter
the cold more than snow
wearing on me
like the moon
weighs on the ocean

the gods tell me
life is long
but there’ll be no spring
so I accept
the premise
and shift my focus

southern sun sings
lullabies
shushing darkened clouds
transforming
extreme thoughts
into peaceful waves



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

accepting the air we breathe


the remedy is closer
than you think
though it seems to pass you by
undetected like an unseen
seductive glance

your god is a jealous one
though you’ve learned to accept that
needlessly questioning
her inconsistent suggestions

it would do you well to consider
the road less traveled
next time you set off on foot
clearing the mind
and patiently engaged
for the answer lies
somewhere in the wind



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

look out for that root


it’s awful lonely in this box
but the beauty of it is
you can hear everything

the first thing I’m gonna do
when I break out
is move that hazelnut bush
away from the fence

roots seem to all ball up
and intermingle endlessly
when they got no place to go
but thanks to the spade
nothing ever stays
quite the same
from this season to the next



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

undeliverable packages


we’re not expecting any fireworks
this year are we
she yells from the other room

(I think she’s talking to someone
on the goddamn phone again)

why in the hell are you asking about
fireworks I yell back
it’s only january for fuck’s sake

but it’s too late
the package has been delivered
and the driver has gotten away

it’s strange how silence
can be so deafening

it’s difficult to fall into a deep sleep
eyes routinely blinking
like an old film projector
telling silent stories

eventually the movie ends
usually in a whimper
and I slowly reach consciousness
only to discover the time of day

it’s four a.m. and
somewhere I hear a mother crying



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

taken to a nearby hospital


the city was on fire
and I was like a lost lamb
roaming past identical houses
hoping the next turn opens up
to a countryside I once knew by heart

they say the nightlife is the best here
where the most beautiful people gathered
to forget the past

but then it was gone in a flash
like a trick of the mind
there you see it
there you don’t
limbs gyrating like an egyptian
eyes mesmerized
believing just about anything

there was a man with a staff
crying out in the city center
where the river divided the land
and though I was perfectly lost
I heard him clearly above the
sirens and screams and
deadly detonations



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

throwing caution to the wind


I’m just a two-bit actor
asked to sit still and observe
ticket holders weaving their
way through popcorn lines

what I want to say is that
the movie is your head
replaying the same scene
in so many different ways

the first time around I was
smoking on a park bench
imagining I was with them
playing frisbee golf

of course that scene was cut
and replaced by a younger me
burning crosses in mississippi

sometimes I sit for hours
in a room full of hopefuls
not saying a word
but rehearsing every line
I ever knew
just in case they call my name



december two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

hey diddle’s redux


now the crow
how he boasts
but not like a cow
with no place to go

nobody flew
over the moon
not even the crow
comfortably roosting
atop spotted dog

inside farmhouse
grandma plays fiddle
while diddle diddle
licks the dish clean
spoon her microphone
the cat’s caw her song



december two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

at one with the earth


they huddle around the fire
the little ones in front
wrapped in animal hides
and mesmerized by the flames

black and bedazzled
is the sky
spotlighting
exhalations of storytellers
reading from unwritten books

soundless nights accentuate
the reality of dreams
projecting and protecting
the history of a people
at one with the earth



december two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

creation by association


candles burn where I am not
reminding me what may have been

in my little world it is quite dark
at times taking on many shapes
other times simply murmuring

I reach out and bring in pieces
from out of nowhere
meld them together in my palms
first into a ball and
then into whatever fascinations
may gradually evolve

inside each molded piece
an ember burns
invisible to the naked eye

I’ve no idea how many weeks
may pass before revealing themselves
perhaps like a seedling
breaking the surface
or a renegade meteor
breaching an otherwise impregnable sky



december two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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