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poetry by j matthew waters

Maybe tomorrow


I know I should call but what else do I do
but reheat green tea via microwave
and write down excuses why I should not

When I was a child life was not complicated
and creativity was nothing but second nature
but today I drink my warmish tea
and overthink just about everything
orchestrating different outcomes to past events
such as the hanging of Judas Iscariot
or the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots

Today my smartphone is my only companion
muted and turned over on the arm of my chair
vibrating every now and again
a constant reminder I should probably call




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

If I were to name the gods


I can’t see my own face but I’m sure
it’s a shade of rose-colored red
winter wind and powerless sun
making my blue eyes even bluer
my heavy heart undeterred

I cry for no reason and wipe away
the cold tears with my coat sleeve
walking toward the water calmly
discarding broken promises
replacing them with anticipation

If I were to name the gods of the sky
I would choose this place in time
where the river meets the moon
and I alone can touch the stars
by simply reaching out my hand




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

somehow at peace


the skywalk system
takes me anywhere I need to go
but eventually I end up exactly
where I started
and I stop and wonder why

down below real people
walk city streets
hustling against the grain
fighting corruption & congestion
and extreme temperatures
somehow at peace
with the uncertainty it brings




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

anarchists of any color


we didn’t come here to pick a fight
unfortunately so many have
so-called friends or enemies
of these disgruntled states
airing their grievances aggressively

be careful on any given street corner
you never know what you’ll get
short-sighted insurgents
casting their shadows at will
flexing muscles and clenching fists

we’re told to stay safe out there
but none of this is within our control
guardians of arsenals and ammunition
rubbing elbows with us commoners
as if we’re long lost friends




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the bird and her fiddle


listen carefully there is a bird
 warbling from the moon
  how she got there is anyone’s guess

is she yellow or is she red or blue
 plump or thin or somewhere in between
  can you tell by listening carefully
   to the tenor of her fiddle

there is a feel to her presence
 sublime and pleasantly inviting
  when will the world stop spinning
   and listen carefully to her message




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

smooth criminal


let’s have some fun tonight
a motto that never grows old
another sinister third shift
sitting comfortably on the recliner
fingers limber and dancing
across the touch keyboard
searching for gold underground
it’s just a matter of time

some lockboxes are easier
to jimmy open than others
while barred windows need only
combination taps to slip right past
and those secret backdoors
once found are virtually accessible
no need for ropes or ladders or plastic
just a quick letting in & out
before escaping into the night




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

monday morning wishes


days have passed since the poor bird
was knifed a hundred different times
its remains divvied up amongst the guests
dished into disposable containers
never to be seen again

days have passed yet reminders remain
sights and sounds and lingering smells
laughter and tears and silence
talk of getting back together
a wishbone hanging on a branch




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

unexplained promises


I lost you to the night so many moons ago
metallic ship sailing off into the red sky
escorted by a company of single-winged fighters

your telepathic thoughts immediately
traveled through the dynamically charged lines
sending assuring words of an imminent rescue

how I wanted to believe in such promises
unknowing if it was really you on the other end
or simply a trick of my ever-complicated mind

of course neither you nor the mother ship
ever again broke through the thin atmospheric shield
unchanged and mysteriously crimson to this day




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a love story


lightning strikes more than twice
          opening the night sky
      and though nobody is looking
nothing will ever be the same
          oh how many times will you
have seen this show
      wiping tears away from your eyes
saying never in a million chances
          will lightning ever strike twice again




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

wishing upon a falling star


I’ve told this story so many times
though hesitant to put in writing
at least not until your passing

you’ve never felt my pain
having given up on some purpose
at least since I was born

there are no torches passing
no lives flashing before your eyes
only stars slowly dying

I know you’ve seen them falling
faster than a blink of an eye
and I wonder when I’ll write again




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

when least expected


from out of nowhere you arrive
unannounced and animated
knocking down doors and
taking names
as if it’s the first time
you’ve ever been here

we ask for your credentials
but all you do is laugh
flipping through
your little black book
sharpening your pencil
with the tip of your tongue




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

picture window


what shall I see tonight
that the blind cannot
wind chimes
dying to be heard
behind double panes

birds wintering
outside my window
do not cry
and though their song
is uniquely sad
they neither beg nor steal

I’m a pretend prisoner
inside this castle
free to roam
inside these storied walls
unable to feed the birds




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

unyielding


no matter where you venture
the devil is in the details
whether along museum walls
or forest trails or narrowing alleyways
unfocus your eyes and look past the obvious
past those unmistakable realities
keeping you from looking the other way

casting your eyes downward
doesn’t guarantee gravity
will always be in your favor
but looking past the everlong horizon
might give you the freedom you desire
whether finally forgiving others
or absolving your own original sin




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sudden occurrences


I keep seeing figures and faces
that are not there
dark apparitions set against
slightly lighter shadows
appearing out of nowhere
and suddenly long gone

unseen eyes upon me
I can feel it
sharp penetrating stares
seemingly out of nowhere
freezing me momentarily
suddenly letting go

and so I move on from one
place to the next
fully aware I am being watched
by either friend or foe
or some sort of guardian
suddenly in my sights




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

transplantation


methodically she digs them out
comfortable on her
hands and knees
garden-gloved and wielding hand shovel
upturning clumps and clumps
of fern peony bulbs

she knows exactly where they’re going
and though it won’t be long
before they’re back underground
she wonders
in the back of her mind
when she’ll ever see them again




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

waving november goodbye


there it is
southern sun on a cool autumn day
reminding you of birthdays long past
spent in the silence of your own shadow
pretending it would be impossible to be found
if not for your breath escaping into the sky

but escape you do
slipping past the guard and beyond the yard
running and jumping in a dying open field
chasing ghosts of moths and butterflies
sun as bright as the smile on your face
arms waving ecstatically overhead




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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