jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “Dogma”

this is only a test


they say there’s an open book test afterwards
taken in a room full of empty school desks
geometrically formed like a military cemetery

you’re the first one to sit down
and soon thereafter
every person you ever knew
fill the remaining seats one by one

true or false when you were twelve your mother
made you smoke a cigarette in front of her
and afterwards warned you ‘never again’

multiple choice was your first fish caught
from the banks of the mississippi
a cat or a smallmouth bass or a bluegill

it’s okay if you don’t remember
it’s all ancient history by now
like bill & monica or romeo & juliet or adam & eve

this test has no time limit
and the clock on the wall has no hands
and those winged creatures walking back & forth
between the endless aisles
haven’t anything better to do
while waiting for their number to be called

with each wrong answer you’re beginning to wonder
what the consequences could possibly be

I mean will they cast you back & make you start all over




april two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Color TV


The city center is dead
like Lazarus of Bethany
three days removed from reality
soon to go on four

There are fewer varieties
of pigeons sweeping the streets
and even fewer homeless
following not much further behind

Looking for food here
is becoming a scarcity
leftovers abruptly becoming
buried with the past
aeries and penthouses
gradually vacated

Behind some high-rise windows
so many untold stories
behind off-white shrouds
varying degrees of light
flit & flutter like a butterfly
suggesting there may be life after all




april two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Come Easter Morning


First the stock market crashed
that emotionally intelligent bitch
always overreacting but always spot on
on her general assessment of things

Second the walls starting crumbling down
but unlike in the fall of eighty-nine when the
destruction ushered in a new era
this time fortified walls were swallowed
whole by the earth herself
further separating millions more

Third but not least all places of worship
were boarded up or locked down
desecrated or burned to the ground
     and all the people of faith
no matter their object of devotion
believed it was only a matter of time
before theirs will be raised again




april two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sometime after palm sunday


it’s palm sunday and almost anyone
who gives a rip is doing high-fives
in web browsers and church parking lots

there’s a long line of cars stretched
for blocks near the epicenter of history
as if the life of the most famous person
in the city is hanging in the balance

in the old days there were no combustible
engines making the skies sadder
than they already are
mourners journeying to burial grounds
for what seemed to take a day or two or three




april two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

three more days


it’s friday
and the sun is in hiding
a fugitive
an accessory to the crime
once the great life source
now on the run

it’s anybody’s guess
how long
the rains will last
it’s been three days
since the cleansing began
hope begins to rise




march two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

five decades & counting


I was asked to say a prayer
on her behalf
having passed unexpectedly
unknown how many years
before her time

all eyes locked and unblinking
blank faces
wrapped in cellophane
barely breathing and in dire need
of comforting words

they say she’s still plugged in
and purring right along
keeping time
with each iteration
one rosary bead at a time




january two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

hosanna hey sanna


a lone dove circles
high above ancient metropolis
well-trained in surveillance
and deception
like a modern day drone

miles away at desert’s edge
a lone donkey materializes
out of thin air
soon to be surrounded
by a dozen escorts
crawling towards the city

cloaks and branches
line inner city streets
crowds abuzz and growing
all eyes witnessing
21st century possibilities




december 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

of the almighty sun


who is he hiding in the shadows
among the naked trees
changing size and color and shape
coming and going as he pleases
depending upon
the angle of the sun

I’ve come to accept his presence
yet still I wonder who is he
hiding in the shadows
ever changing
approaching and receding
with a blink or two of an eye

neither friend nor foe
inevitably he will show his face
as prophesied in my dream
flexing his crimson or ivory wings
depending upon the angle
of the almighty sun




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

prodigal son


it was time I went back home
perhaps for the last time
to pay my respects
just as the commandments
had once taught me

I arrived clean shaven
and with half an appetite
sitting at the table
there was nothing but chit chat
and I dare not admit
the last time I’d made it
to confession

the house was too big
much bigger than
even I had remembered
somehow they’d managed
to keep it well kept
and up-to-date all these years

in the kitchen a little placard read
‘heaven hath no dust’

after lunch we settled into
the screened in porch
a baseball game streaming on the
muted television set
each of us with a beer in hand
silently asking for forgiveness
and giving thanks to god




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

according to the gospel of jesus


I mean you no ill will
churches of the old world
god knows it’s high time you die
a swift and cleansing death
reborn into a new truth
distinctly separate from your
inherent corruption and greed
and preconceived paranoia

the temple is your soul
and the steeple not a structure
but a symbol of committing
to the most basic tenets
such as loving your neighbor as yourself
or even more radically
loving your enemy and blessing
those who curse you




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the valley of bones


listen can you hear it
the changing of the guard
constructively rattling sabers
as if directed by the stars

at birth we were promised
there’d be peace in our time
yet the war machine rages on
so many years past our prime

who am I but a mercenary
or a prophet sent by the lord
reborn on this earth to deliver
a final cannonball of hope




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

assuming a lesser role


I’m in your movie
perfectly still by a window
shadow like a black bird’s

you feed me my lines
spoonfuls of revolutions
followed by pregnant pause

everywhere people are hungry
overdosing on knowledge
breathing shallowly

and here I remain on the edge
plucking old traditions
and creating new rituals

I usher in the next morning
stretching my wings
and singing higher than an angel
just as you had written




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

strangers passing by


there were four of them
marching down the sidewalk
a band of brothers and sisters
as if on a mission from god

it was quitting time and I was
getting into my car as they
were swiftly approaching

to get a closer look
I used my rear view mirror
and then directly outside my window
as they passed by excitedly

they were talking to one another
laughing and smiling and seemingly
unconcerned about privacy

though I somehow understood
every single word they said
their demeanor and inclinations
told me they must be aliens

and before they made it to the corner
their aura pixelated and dissipated
like a mysterious fog quickly lifting





june two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

coming back into the spiritual fold


why do I keep going back to the well
when I know the well is dry
what is it exactly I’m expecting
some sort of miracle
here at the eleventh hour
as if I deserve some sort of payback

I stopped saying my prayers
somewhere along the line
stopped worshiping in the traditional sense
thinking maybe it’s best
if I’m not seen hanging out
with all the other sinners

but lately I’ve been thinking
of unpacking my bags
of picking up speaking to god again

of course I know I’m fooling myself
thinking such foolish thoughts
knowing full well I’ve been
down this road before
the one in which I convince myself
this time things will be different





may two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

water in the pail


I’ve not walked on water for so long
I’m beginning to fear it may
never happen again

contemplating such improbabilities
I’m often carried back in time
becoming water in the pail
transported from the river to village

once among the populace
I’m both a god and commodity
bringing smiles to little ones’ faces
and comfort to the weary

but if I had a choice
I’d remain at the water’s edge
hoping for a chance to walk again





may two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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