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poetry by j matthew waters

up close


what happens to common heroes
after their heroic feats
do they go back to their ordinary
everyday lives
and pretend nothing ever happened
or are they forever ruined
walking the streets at night
glued to the couch by day
answering all kinds of questions
regarding publicity and adversity
and public expectations

I suppose their dreams are forever
changed and some days
they wake up unsure of their location
recalculating events
recalibrating and recalculating
ratcheting back to a place in time
where all they saw
were the whites of their eyes



november two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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9 thoughts on “up close

  1. this could be a movie (or is it?)

    • I wasn’t thinking of movies when I wrote this poem but I do see how it could be. I’ve not been “in the mix” so not sure how I would respond to such circumstances. I just can’t imagine.

  2. My great uncle fought in Gallipoli – which was a truly terrible campaign – and ended up in a mental ward for the rest of his life, he died much earlier than was necessary but in many ways it was a release. In those days the treatment for war veterans was so much less than it is today. He seemed to be stuck in that evil time and couldn’t get out of it.

  3. great poem–the second stanza is a perfect description of PTSD.

  4. I can’t imagine what life is like after…but your poem, John, depicted the imagination and thoughts one would have so well.

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