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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “History”

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

in search of flowers


out of thin air shallow breaths are born
giving life where there was once none
providing comfort to those who grieve
to those whose lives are in desperate
need of meaningful nurturing

burial grounds of once mighty empires
have long expired and recycled into
fields of grasses and wildflowers
articulated masterpieces of complexion
breathing quietly and free from harm




may two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all right reserved

five oaks at the top of the hill


and so the rest of story can be told
now that the sheriff and his deputies
have been stripped of power
marched to the top of the hill
tried with haste and quickly
hung from the row of mighty oaks

it was a reddish pinkish dawn
and the dead men looked surreal
hanging there amongst tears and disbelief
amongst joyous cheers
and raucous jeers

historians and poets and other writers
as well as various artists
work feverishly before their inspiration
is lowered to the ground and taken
away by various men without faces

why women marched their children
up the hill
was a matter of personal perspective
and if you asked any one of them
chances are they would not tell you the truth

long after the hanging this town will continue
to be under attack from inside
as well as out

and all those who participated at the top off the hill
whether actively or passively
will sooner or later come to understand
how one must die for the sins of many





october two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

children breaking new ground


perpetual revolution
a lifelong struggle defined by tiny stories
woven in and out of blankets
crafted in afghanistan

messages fly halfway across the
planet in a matter of mere seconds
complicating efforts of diplomats
struggling to keep up with the flow

you and I can meet on any street
corner on any given day
reaching for something undefinable
something certainly not touchable

one day children will be forced
to teach children the basics
digging and uncovering
discovering and enlightening

true possibilities do exist
and this concept of history
repeating itself for centuries on end
gradually gives way to hope



september two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

destined to live and die here


wild horses stampede across
artificial hill outside waterloo
approximate to major shift
mountains and men bleeding
causing much exhilaration

kilometers away once free men
soon comprehend how bravado
and bondage have consequences
banished behind underground bars
joyous songs piping in

it’s been seven months or more
since the sun has shined
yet people continue to arrive
pilgrims and commoners and nobility
partaking in the simplest pleasures
praising daily powers that be



september two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

stopping the impending doom


jet fighters crisscross the skies
like high flying bishops
licensed to fly

at control central pawns
surround the queen
fanning her with anything
they can get their hands on

at all four corners
white men wage war against
all other colors
wielding maces and knives
flashing suicide switches against
her majesty’s wishes

all the while horsemen
silently breathe into the fog
anxious for that chance
to live and die another day





june two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

The hanging bridge


It was carnival season and the town
gradually transformed itself
becoming grotesque and queer
and emotionally exhausting

Determined to move forward
Billy and me walk hand in hand
he nursing along a quart of malt liquor
and me drawing on Virginia Slims

By the time we reached the bridge
they had just finished
reenacting a past less distant than
most locals care to admit

Uncertain how I could possibly hold
back the tears
I tell Billy what they did to my people
is unforgettable
unforgivable

Without saying a word
he squeezes my hand tighter
draws me nearer as the
Chickasawhay River shamelessly
snakes by directly below our feet



april two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the philosopher’s playground


the ground trembled beneath bare feet
like an audible sigh from a troubled mind

even the birds paused their morning song
shifting to interpret the mother’s warning

exhausted yet incapable of finding comfort
relaxation eludes the weariest travelers

though peace on earth may one day prevail
the natural order of things indicate otherwise



february two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

keeping watch on cold nights


individual victories are few
for those unheard voices
having restricted choices
and few precious resources

you know I don’t have to be here
he reassured himself
keeping warm from layered clothing
mentally digging in for the night

mercenaries from the past
march alongside enemies of the state
chanting slogans in ancient languages
only few understand



december two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a-riding on a pony come memorial day


in wellington heights they say
leaders come and leaders go
some saying martin luther king
was born generations before
or after his time

january leads to february
streets warming to better ideas
parents and cops weary of getting past
valentine’s day without any
gunfire or stabbings

weeks later rumor has it
jesus christ consults with malcolm little
and chris columbus
dispelling myths about the
course of human history and
organizing neighborhood watches

they talked about having a parade
come summer solstice
off-duty officers shadowing children
gathered at curbside
collecting wrapped candy
thrown by yankee doodle himself



october two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

will you die for him


children playing out back
unrestricted by all the fences
digging foxholes and
sowing the lord’s seeds

dinnertime bells only delay
the inevitable
and just as their bellies
will never be full
most will find it nearly impossible
to ever grow old



september two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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