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poetry by j matthew waters

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I keep bookmarking these pages
thinking of you
saying to myself how you’d
love this or adore that

virtual pages made of words
or pictures or both
moments in time captured
perfectly
reminding me of you

as I scroll slowly
through countless bookmarks
I feel a slight presence behind me
as if your breath is in the air
leaving me imagining
how your storied adventure
could ever possibly end




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the unanointed one


the people sentenced him to death
and the supreme judge
possessing the power bestowed upon him
allowed it to be so

how cowardly can one ordinary man be
washing his hands without
looking in the mirror
swayed by the maddening swirling of the mob

truth does not prevail in his proclamations
delivered from on high
promising blind injustice to the many
and deliverance to the few




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

asylum seeker


I was listening to rock and roll
like I tend to do after midnight
eyes closed and breathing deeply
allowing every chord and note and lyric
to possess my otherwise vacant space

I find myself climbing stone walls
wondering if paradise resides
somewhere on the other side
and for some reason I am smiling
as I methodically scale the barrier

comfortably seated on the top ledge
one song ends and another begins
observing without judgment either side
one in which I’ll always know by heart
the other my soul destined to love




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

counting sheep on a sunday night


it’s getting late and poetry escapes me
my favorite moon having left me for another

lying down and I give in to silence
barely breathing in the dead of night
counting blessings and honestly questioning
whether or not I can feel my age-old bones

two scores ago I’d be falling fast asleep
transistor radio my only companion
rhythmically influencing my dreams
mysteriously quiet come mid-morning

if I could escape I certainly would
exploring the night like an owl or dormouse
flying high above or crawling on all fours
secretly returning home in the nick of time

it’s getting late and poetry escapes me
the midnight hour peacefully drawing near




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a day on fictitious lake


she’s pleaded to tag along
and the boys reluctantly agreed
the five of us stuffed inside
my lime green hatchback

fictitious lake was frozen solid
a good eight plus inches thick
perfectly capable of supporting
whatever weight we might carry

checklist included four-man tent
rods and reels and ice auger
life vests and assortment of jigs
5-gallon bucket and case of beer

there must be a rainbow somewhere
she said as the boys drilled into the ice
multi-color parasol above her head
designer aviators shielding her eyes




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sitting down and taking notes on skull hill


I’m not about to stop whatever it is I’ve been doing
skating or stumbling or sleepwalking through
the course of ordinary events

history books never did get it quite right
whether written on walls
or stone slabs or paper or clouds

the best stories are told by the campfire
be they fact or fiction
held to the strictest of standards
handed down from one generation to the next

here I sit alone atop my very own calvary
looking down and shaking
loose the cobwebs
wondering how many more men must die
for the sake of a single solitary hill




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

my story retold in the third person


these flashbacks
occurring with greater frequency
how young will I be
three or four hours from now
once giving in to the idea
the night is endless

I’ve come to accept
they’re no longer merely dreams
rather ageless recordings
reshuffled and replaying
a not too distant past
from a totally different perspective

at three-thirty in the morning
I’m wide awake
and quite positive
I’ve always been fast asleep




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

so far away from the sea


zero to twenty
seemingly a lifetime
long ago microfilmed
now locked away
in a seashell vault

footprints on reflective beach
washed away ages ago
moon phase
after moon phase
erasing whatever proof
there may have been

out in the deep blue sea
young sailors
become old men in a single season
long off course
and desperately sober
stuffing farewell messages
inside empty beer bottles




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

over the course of time


one day the wind blew the sun away
and suddenly
there was no more living in the shadows

you can’t catch the wind with your hands
but you can always catch your breath

nobody expected a sandstorm
in the middle of winter
but then again we live in interesting times

of course the sun never really went away
she was merely waiting in the wings

as for the bitter arctic winds
they’re bound and determined to return again




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

one fresh lemon and frozen peas


carrots & celery & radishes
those are the easy ones to remember

instead of making a list
I try to recall what’s in the fruit basket
lazy susan and freezer

if only I didn’t have to stop at the pharmacy
everyone hates me there
plus they have my number and long memories

I rarely go down the middle aisles
afraid I may never come out
instead stick to the edges
where I can see real people
peddling real ideas

I tell my text-by-psychiatrist
that I’m not a druggie and never was
but I do like to get high
in the strangest possible ways
and most conspicuous places

she tells me to go on but I don’t
believing she’s really not a she
but rather an under-age sex-bot created
by four freshmen software engineers
at iowa state university

I sort of come back down to earth
when the bell rings and they ask me
if I found everything all right
leaving me scratching my head
and fumbling for my car keys




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a song for the dead


I keep telling myself I’m not afraid
repeating the phrase as if it’s my mantra
each letter embossed on my skin
images of hearts etched in my mind

I tell myself I’m no longer afraid
to fall asleep in the dead of night
grateful to have found my voice
relieved knowing I finally have a song




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

simply by closing your eyes


listen and the words will follow
though they may not be the ones
you want to hear

if you practice patience you will
learn to rearrange them
turning lies into truths
and hatred into understanding

on the banks of fortuity
you may be able to slow things down
simply by closing your eyes
and making good use of your breath

and if you’re willing to travel
further on down the stream
letting yourself go
allowing otherworldy sounds
to become your rhythm
the gods that be may take notice
making an exception to the rule
by granting you a bird’s eye view




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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