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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “Poetry”

harnessing the wind


rent is three weeks overdue but that’s cool
according to the new rules

then there’s three of us or perhaps four
hanging out in the third floor dormer
glass writing desk facing the octagonal sky

time travel seems easy of late
caught between reality & endless grace days
transgressing past the same old lines

here we go again overlooking the mississippi
up a little higher than prospect park
smoking salems and reloading the toker ii

we take turns passing the binoculars
bringing into focus various white triangles
racing faster than the wind




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

where the women sing


I was asked to step down & so I did
thirty-some steps & right-handed steel railing
assisting me to the banks of the river

it’s not like I’ve not done this before
time & time again so long ago
cracks in the concrete like an old story
artistically enhanced & completely believable

who’s calling me is subject to interpretation
I suggest you theorize for yourself
since all you have to work with are a few
printed words & more circulating in the air

there’s a boat anchored past the rocks
sails down & seemingly deserted
imaginary lifeline meeting me halfway




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

low hanging fruit


how does a fly get so fat before the solstice
what could he be feasting on
and how in the world
did he make his way inside the house

I had my chance a couple of times
to either stun him or catch him outright
casting him back out to the great wide open
but I decided the better of it
and went about my own business

now that I think about it
I wonder how many spiders are living
comfortably within my abode
knowing full well the dullest of houseflies
are the lowest hanging fruit there is




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

runner in scoring position


it’s midsummer on a saturday night
the stadium lights attracting every flying
insect within 500 nanometers
first batter already on first base
thanks to beckert’s fielding error

brock’s not getting much of a lead
but everyone’s expecting him to take off
on the first or second or third pitch

the night’s young & the city’s abuzz
the runner back in motion
light years ahead of jenkin’s delivery
taking with him every intention
of never stepping down from the game




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

open house 2 to 4


it was raining like hell but we took off anyway
kept the convertible in the garage where she belongs

we nearly hydroplaned off the face of the earth
but like a cat landed on our feet each & every time

you go as fast as you like on dry pavement
as long as you don’t get caught
never stuck behind a farmer or an asshole

by the time we get there everything’s the same
I swear it’s like going to mass
[or taking your own medicine]
sticking with the same routine
asking irrelevant rhetorical questions
or reciting ancient history

with or without a written excuse
they don’t blame us for leaving so soon
though I often wonder if they blame themselves
stuck inside & contending with hundreds of risers
especially when they should be out & about
painting the town grey




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

an echo in my ear


hey do you remember
do you remember

yes I remember of course I do

but have you forgotten
forgotten those beautiful days

no I’ve not forgotten those days
I’ll never forgot them

but what do you miss the most
what do you miss the most

oh please it’s you I miss the most

but I’m still here [I’m still here]

yes I know
you remind me everyday
and for that I am grateful

then why so sad
why the invisible tears

because as you’re fully aware
when I lost my love
I lost my independence




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

cursive circumstances


one story bleeds into the next
repeating familiar themes
beating them into the ground

you order another beer
and put your head back inside college ruled paper
ink flowing decades before becoming
prevalent on body & soul
old words bleeding into new

on occasion you come up for air
breaking by bringing smoke to your lungs
carelessly observing patrons scattered about
set in place by an outside hand

you’ve seen this one before
been here a hundred times you tell yourself
each shot a variation of the same scene
one time storming out irrationally
the next bleeding the jukebox dry




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

posings & misdemeanors


you are here
sitting on a park bench
& looking past the river
a huge picture frame
[having grown out of the earth]
just a few short feet away

you are here
without a camera
or pencil & paper
sitting on a park bench
[watching the river slowly rise]
a family of four & a bichon
spontaneously fitting themselves
into the picture frame

you are here
a star witness to the crime
called on to testify
about the not too distant past
[occurring on your watch]
sitting on a park bench
the river nearly at your feet
a family of four & their bichon
mysteriously erased
from the refurbished picture frame




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

No sleep till Brooklyn


Greyhound bus stopping
every chance she gets
seems like it took forever
to get the fuck out of Iowa

Left my lucky hat
in the booth at Denny’s
kicking myself in the ass
ever since

By the time we made it
to South Bend
a circle of us stretched our legs
outside the depot
passing around a couple blunts
pointing & laughing at the cop shop
right across the street

Later I came to find out
bounty hunters were onto me
but by that time
I had already confessed my sins
making further route changes

There were some problems
between Sandusky & Cleveland
thank god the driver was fully armed
having had to kick out this ne’er-do-well
for practicing taekwondo
and other obscenities
up and down the stained-glass aisle

Closing in on the Pennsylvania border
my head was spinning from
caffeine & nicotine & anything else imaginable
head propped up by unnatural means
nearly everyone on the bus chanting
“New York New York here we come”




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the afflicted marionette


I am broken in many places
boxed up & sent back for repairs

what is this place
& why is it so regimented
it’s like I’m proceeding down
an assembling line
flat on my back
eyes darting feverishly
north & south and east & west

put me back in the box I say
if this is all there is I want no part of it
I would rather forever fall asleep
sailing across turquoise seas
& eating amongst the dead

this is a far cry from my former self
turned into an immovable target
once at the mercy of wires & crosses
(propping me up or setting me free)
now hanging in the balance
waiting to draw a card I’ll never see




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

tip-toeing through the tulips


trying something different
tuna on toast or blackened salmon
catfish from the mississippi

you wonder what else
is on the menu
perhaps something from the sky

the make-shift beach isn’t too far off
I imagine it’ll be jam-packed
due to the lock-down

it’s been a week or so since the last
loudspeaker messages
local birds looking a little less spooked

deviations are aplenty this day & age
it’s simply a matter of choosing
one over innumerable others

then there’s always a day-trip to illinois
visit a brewery & dispensary
back just in time for the setting sun




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

title fight at the grand garden arena


sixty seconds before round two
and the entire place is in a full assault frenzy
buzzing emphatically from the explosiveness
of the previous three minutes
in shock & awe at what they had witnessed
all but certain tonight is the night
somebody’s going to die




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the night the cow jumped over the moon


for whatever reason
she wore camouflage on saturdays
and leopard skin on sundays

for some unknown reason
I was not allowed to see her
but that never stopped me from trying

prairie creek flows from the beginning of time
all the way to the farmhouse
lone 2nd floor bedroom window
glowing like the waxing gibbous herself

I could find my way back home
with my eyes shut
the babbling & the rocks guiding me
every step of the way

one morning the farmhouse
was all but gone
shred to pieces and strewn across
the surrounding acres

blending beneath the surface
I swear I could hear people still breathing




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Sometimes it’s hard to tell


It’s Friday or nearly Friday
& already I’m planning
scheming my eventual escape
from this nondescript place

The hummingbirds have returned
& although I’ve tried
they won’t speak to me
leading me to broker communication
via the dominant wren
or the neighbor’s cat called Sue

Where were you when I needed
you the most I rhetorically
& repeatedly ask the mirror

This constant appearing
& disappearing act is for the birds
especially when unassociated
with the changing of the seasons

I look over my shoulder
& all I see is Thursday
blankly staring me in the face
maybe laughing or maybe crying




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

how you’ve changed


how do you explain
to someone you love
there is beauty in pain
especially when unable
to feel anything yourself
numb to the very idea
that the physical world
as you know it is dying

forgiving is the easy part
though never sure
about the forgetting
especially considering
those moments
that may or may not have
defined your influence
or imaginary existence




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

leap year


I’m hoping this is the worst case scenario
but I must present it as it is
or at least how I see it

for you see I’ve taken some liberties
in my own projections
my modeling not exactly scientific
but probably not too far from reality

I study your face as you take it all in
and I worry like I’ve never worried before
thinking to myself chances are slim to none
we can get back to where we were
just a few short months ago

the older I get the more I realize
I know less & less than the average man
and though I try to pretend otherwise
the only thing I know for certain
next year will be one day shorter




may two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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