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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “History”

american ancestry


these interesting days
weeks & months & yes years
look at what they do
to the likes of me & you

one day you’re changing
your neighbor’s tire
the next throwing
molotov cocktails
over the barricades

you keep saying you’re
too young for this
but next thing I know
you’re back on all channels
keeping the family name alive




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

a tale of two histories


much of what I learned
so many years ago
has become a shadow of
my everyday reality

let’s get a little closer
and I’ll show you
my physical scars
and you can tell me
about your emotional ones

I will tell you how in the dream
I apologize for acts I cannot commit

you reply wanting to be a believer
but simply cannot pull the trigger

and it’s there that we stand
immobilized & unequal
exposed for all the world to see
close enough to be heard
too far to feel each other’s heart




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

past & present on center stage


how dare I dwell on past
atrocities & injustices
inflicted on one’s people
by the fears of another
where history books are
whitewashed & rewritten
as if none of it was murderous
none of it problematic today

yes I did listen & later read
the great inaugural poem
finding myself applauding
and shedding a tear for hope
having no idea about her
background story or ambitions
or how the grace of god
had brought her to center stage




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

january sixth


I started thinking
about why I was so angry
the other day
of course why wouldn’t I
on this very day
but now that the latest fire
has been stomped upon
[yet continues to fester]
I’ve elected
to start thinking
about the power of love
instead


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

Anthropocene


The report argues that as humans and the planet together enter a new geological epoch — the Anthropocene, or the Age of Humans — all countries must account for the pressure its people are putting on the Earth while confronting dramatic imbalances of power and opportunity.


Anthropocene

Let the arguments commence
epochs are difficult
to define
ready
set
[have far back do you want to]
go
but this one
this one             is much different
having involving
the human collective
[at least the smarter of the bunch
if you want to call it that way]
putting us squarely
            in some form of geologic
compartment
like some form of arrogance
or hubris or self-flattery
believing the influence and the force
has become
                        god-like
able to move mountains
and destroy
            beautiful cities
with a single
solitary command





december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Dead Relative Society


Bill & Becky lived downtown
on Ligonier Street in Latrobe PA

Rebecca was born with my last name
but died a Beatty
back in nineteen o’three

William died twenty-three years earlier
the exact date unknown at the time
of this writing

We’ve been looking for both of them
for a good thirty moons now
and finally they surfaced
as if knowing we were looking
uninterested in dishing out one dime
to find them

Tonight we celebrate with champagne
and hash under glass
toasting to the stars belonging to them
for tomorrow we rest before moving on
knowing the key to their door
opens up the next three hundred years




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

taking it to the streets


they say a story has a beginning
and an end

[did you hear that I mean how
ridiculous is that]

we are the story
can you hear me as I tell it to you
my words vaguely familiar
picked up from where someone else
left off

we are nothing but ordinary people
[the far majority of us that is]
meticulously reworking the history books
taking it to the streets
and putting our lives at stake

bring your ear next to my heart
can you still hear me
telling my story
the one that had no beginning
and is dying to end
my heart rapidly beating
my lungs barely breathing
my inaudible words
becoming broken promises
in need of repairing




june two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

can I get a witness


what year was it again
there’d been so many to choose from
good ones from different eras
ones we had never lived in
at least to our knowledge

we’d been drinking
homemade mead & moonshine
rolling our own cigarettes
lighting them using wooden sticks
blowing imperfect smoke rings

dial in november nineteen sixty-three
or better yet anno domini thirty-one
and get yourself a front row seat
witness for the rest of us what others
simply talk or write or read about
just be sure to come right back
and explain in granular detail
exactly what went down




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

withdrawing to past places


drug deals come and go
and whether they’re legal or not
hasn’t ever seemed to matter to the
general population or big pharma

we used to think we could handle
just about anything
[be it cooked artificially
or arriving naturally]
only later did we realize
what hurts the most
can’t possibly be remedied
without assistance from the
power of the mind

and so that gets us back
why we started in the first place
experimenting without reason
attempting to get back to a place
existing before the written word
before the world had no boundaries




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a present day anomaly


I’m not in the mood for poetry
but lord knows the world is
calls for it at night
when little ones are sleeping
praying tomorrow
the sun will shine on those
who need it most

throughout the course
of human history
I’ve witnessed firsthand
only a thinly carved slice
and I try to convince myself
this lack of civility in most places
is simply an anomaly




july two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

haunted in america


forensic science is alive and well
in most of these here parts
despite what’s been codified

some internal wars are never over

collisions continue on a regular basis
like rogue comets passing through
rather unsophisticated asteroid belts

those on the ground continue to shoot
at the moon haphazardly
while snipers in the trees prefer
the precision of ropes and ladders

some past sins are not easily forgotten
let alone forgiven

this land of the free is riddled with asterisks
just look to anyone still on the run




june two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

disproving a course of history


having grown tired of the same old
same old
I’ve gone searching for something new
some kind of different story
one that’s never been told

won’t you take my hand and go
searching with me
weaving through well worn
and not so much beaten paths
until at last

there is quiet resolution
to what’s transpired in the past
as if those imperfect moments
mattered not
as if those infrequent mistakes
have been laid to rest




february 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

rewriting history


we live in interesting times
artificial intelligence
replacing original thought
bits and pieces of plastic
entering the food chain
giving new meaning to
garbage in garbage out

man may lose interest
once machines take over
3D designers replacing
likes of archimedes and einstein
shakespeare and da vinci
historical asterisks
sinking in a sea of change




october two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

nonrefundable


history resides in books
interpreted one way and the next
just as folklore exists in spoken word form
living and dying and carrying on

of course past performance
has no bearing in what may lie ahead
so it’s best to fill your tank
and pack them books and move on

if this town was meant for you
your dreams would have told you so
speaking in no uncertain terms
like hand signals from the dead

now that your guru-slash-savior
has passed on
so too you must move forward
disregarding past sins
(that may or may not be reconciled)
and catching the next flight
as far from your comfort zone
as possible




september two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

reconstruction project


faces in the crowd
shed not a tear
assembled
peacefully in city square
collective expression
somber and lacking fear

clock tower strikes
thirteen times
midday sun hurries
behind dark clouds
hangman arrives
children duck and run

lessons relearned
nobody listening
history unrepentant
brokers exchanging
silver and gold
for black & white city




august two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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