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poetry by j matthew waters

an angel in critical need of repair


I dreamt I had wings
its feathers in various
shades of grey
stretching them to the limit
as I stood tall atop
the empire state building

in the dream I sprung
from the ledge in a swan dive
crashing back to earth
in slow motion
the eyes behind my head
madly moving rapidly




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

how far are the stars


give me a burst of energy
so I may repair your smile

I will unroll the red carpet
and hold out my hand

taking your photograph
as you approach

one step at a time
neither quickly nor slowly

how it seems the whole world
is watching & wondering

imprecisely how far
are the stars from here




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

all on its own accord


I lost you in the fray
breaking away like a lake trout
flying above the surface
& freeing herself from the hook


I felt how you kept looking for me
even though I was gone
having been swept away by the tide
ten or twenty moons ago

as far as the unfinished work
is concerned
pay it no nevermind
for eventually
it is likely
to resolve itself




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a good place to die


the fever has been reaching
a pitch

cotton swabs collecting
samples

secured inside test tubes

the university hospital
has witnessed
so much turnover

I apply for a job

three credit checks later
I’m tossing lime tablets
inside toilets

some keep smoking
cigarettes
just outside the premises

I volunteer to pick them up
but I’m finding
there is no place to hide

I’m finding all I know
this is a decent
enough place to die




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Jacob’s Ladder


The sky was deep purple
making it very easy
to see the white kite with
its white tail
darting like a sailboat
on the high seas

Purple turned to violet
turned to lavender
quelling the violence
having bubbled
on the surface
easing toward the firmament

A million angels
parachuted from the sky
a rescue mission
for all the ages
notably all the children
grasping the taut string




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

countdown at daybreak


it was nearing midnight
& this field mouse was winning at
playing hide-and-go-seek


I followed him into the kitchen
where I shrewdly threw
some shredded cheddar cheese
into a time capsule

by doing so I thought
I would win favor with the little chap
whom had told me [in so
many words]
how he enlisted himself to
commandeer my next moon flight




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

deterioration


oh I can imagine
of all the warnings you’ve
diabolically disclosed
I wonder what
& why I’ve done what I’ve done
whether silencing
or perpetuating the species


the metal bucket
rusts away
continues to hold water
you bring it out every may
admiring its battle
against deterioration

one day you’ll buy a cane
second or third hand
wood darkly stained
notches here & there
old stories told to you
by way of dream
and when you awaken
it helps you to your feet




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the end is near


the road was long
an all day affair
we had no other way
than by foot
so we started before daybreak
not saying a word
keeping a good pace
and reading each other’s minds
[on occasion]
the previous night’s dreams
the passion of the fruit
the destination
well within reach
as we neared the setting sun




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

An American blogger in Paris


I met this blogger
an American in Paris
living in paradise
(so we were lead to believe)
dishing out outrageous
autobiographical adventures
untold tales he liked to call them

And so along the way
having fallen in love with the
City of lights
he eagerly learned the language
and later
fell in love with Amélie

She brought him in
and all was good with the world
to the point where his
creativity waned
his numbers tumbling
until his online relevance
ceased to exist

as did Amélie




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

An unfamiliar scene


I attended Philip’s burial today in Maquoketa at the family plot
at the top of the hill in Sacred Heart Cemetery. It was a sunny
& warmish day but a cool wind atop the hill made my Mother
put on her shawl. I counted the number of people in attendance
using less than ten hands, most of whom I didn’t know from Adam
or would ever know. Before getting on with whatever life has in
store for me, I hugged two cousins & shook the hand of another.




april two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

trouble is coming


what’s the point in looking back
one day you believed in god
the next planting tulip bulbs
on a cold sunday morning

your daughter tells you
she talks to jesus
and you believe her like you
believed in the hanging man

there is whiskey on your breath
but it no longer has any effect
other than rewiring the circuits
inside your imagination network

trouble is always forthcoming
this much is self-evident
positioned cross-legged on the floor
you orate the next prophecy




april two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

spilled milk


sometimes I think we’re all
living within a dream
nothing earth shattering
yeah I get that
how someone inside you
shakes you at 6AM & says
“it’s time to dream again”
only problem is
nobody is actually there
[inside or out]
and you’re left singing
“don’t come crying to me”
all to yourself




april two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

internal bleeding


you can’t make this shit up
but then again you usually do

imitating the imaginary world
rotating all around

from top to bottom & side to side
leaving it like a pig sty

after saying she used to be
a paradise

when I see it
I’ll bloody fucking believe it

the inner workings eventually
have a mind of their own

and you’re forced to deal
with its consequences

becoming nothing more
than a ransom maker

the one who controls all
things mental & digital

who may very well be the last
virtual person

you’ll ever encounter




april two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

outside of the foothold


mushroom hunting & collecting
stones on a sunny
sunday morning

the river runs through this place
you can hear it from
a mile or so away
you can feel it in your veins
your eyes gradually
become clearer

the stones go in the satchel
the mushrooms
in a bucket
luckily either are easier to find
this time around

some of the trails have
started to fill in from lack of
human footsteps
this place slowly becoming
scarier than it seems




april two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

river crossing


highways & county roads & small towns
crisscrossing the landscape
no maps necessary
push in the clutch & shift into fifth
release & press the petal to the floor

interstate travel provides just rewards
whether legal or otherwise
one particular dispensary
open seven days a week
on the illinois side of the mississippi




april two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

now you see me now you don’t


I’ve heard so many strange stories of late
I don’t know what to make of things
I’ve retreated & decided to retest
my own sanity
results probably arriving in a day or two


I’ve been slowly losing my intelligence
mainly because I’ve been
left out of the loop
but I’m good with that
having lost the desire to be in the know

I’m working on new ways to engage
I only hope it’s not too late
it’s not as if I’m trying
to reinvent the proverbial wheel
as much as I’m trying to remain visible




april two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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