jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “In the City”

born to be an assassin


there’s been talk of re-education camps
for children of certain parents
thinking maybe just maybe
the countryside might be saved

for what’s happening inside the city
will take decades to decipher
and those trapped inside
will forever be beholden to the sun

some ways out are costlier than others
such as escapee versus recruit
the former barreling past borders
the latter anything but in a hurry




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

fake news from kathmandu


the lights descended on a
make-believe kathmandu
and suddenly the world took notice
just how populous
such a little place could be

but it was a mere deflection
those brilliant lights
meant only to deceive
some claiming was recently bottled
from a heavenly conjunction

the flashing was blinding
but there’s nothing left to see
and whoever managed
to elude the first sweep
can likely be found
sleepwalking the streets
in make-believe bangladesh




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

the coffee shop


we heard the coffee shop in new bohemia
had some local beers on tap
so we went in to check it out

it was a damp morning
going on noon I suppose
and when we walked through the door
heads looked up
and eyes rolled

we shrugged our shoulders
and walked past the cashier
took a seat at the far end of the counter

this used to be a dog grooming place
and then a tavern I explained
and she nodded her head while reading
the menu on the chalkboard

the help never looked our way
and at one point
a busboy washed some cups & saucers
right in front of us

I imagined it would just be a matter of time
before someone approached us
to ask “what will it be”

we looked at each other
and then at the cashier
at each other
and then the cashier

meanwhile one customer after the next
approached the cashier
placed an order and made payment

behind our backs was a glass door
with a well lit exit sign above it

after six or seven minutes ticked by
we shrugged our shoulders
and haphazardly snuck out the back door




december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

I pledge allegiance to thyself


here we are vulnerable to the masses
as much as we are vulnerable to ourselves

hitting the streets by any means of conveyance
now just as dangerous as staying put
doors locked & curtains drawn

so much of what’s out there has become
unrecognizable emotion
passions transformed into rage
the latter on the loose throughout the streets

what is to become of all this insanity
and where do we possibly go from here





december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

uninhibited & unafraid


there was one distraction after the next
but somehow progress was being made
custodians sweeping up a huge mess
left behind by the reluctant loser

one by one the followers dropped off
by way of a single lane bridge
herded away like cattle or sheep
counting their blessings along the way

having discovered another side exists
more & more city folk pack their bags
looking to join the blossoming pilgrimage
back to the land of grass-fed cows




december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Early dinner rush


On the southside of Gianna’s Italian Beef
there grows a young Hackberry
a story & a half tall
barenaked this early December
fifty or eighty Black-Capped Chickadees
voluntarily filling in
all her empty spaces
fervently chattering at four forty-five pm




december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

invisible people


I step out the front door
it used to always be unlocked
during normal business hours

I check my pockets for keys
let the damn thing
swing shut behind me

there are far fewer cars
pedestrians & pigeons
vying for my attention
equating to less noise
and more sounds
block in & block out

from point A
it’s just a few more blocks
to the river
does anyone not notice
how it ebbs & flows
depending upon the mood
of all the invisible people




december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sometime after sunset


as old stories unravel
new possibilities begin
artfully rewriting your own
character
right there in the streets
of portland oregon

some catch on early
seeing right through the fabric
of santa           & the great pumpkin
          of organized religion
or the deep state itself
     [while far too many others
fall for the latest mousetrap]

it stands to reason
one mistruth leads to another
          but at some point
all good things must come to end

imagine now
everything you ever imagined
never belonged to you




december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

preparing for the next exam


there is no test tonight only theory
a flashing picture show
beaming from your eyes onto the white wall
an abandoned starling adolescent
gathering himself on the window ledge
you spend a moment trying to read his mind

you blink and suddenly he’s gone once & for all
the color of your eyes change from blue to green
from your vantage point all you see
is what’s behind the ledge
something blue & something brown
you untangle yourself & rise to your feet

what you expect is no different from yesterday
the same day you gave out dollar bills
one after another to complete strangers
emotionless & robotic you carried on
everyone around you gracious & concerned
some of them calling you the chosen one




november two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sabotage


beastie boys in moscow
everything’s

in black & white
an effort by the locals

to disguise the day & year
by keeping their kettle clean

there are no subtitles
translations or misunderstandings

the nights are always grey
and lights dimly bright

the music barely loud enough
to keep the youth at bay




november two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Steps to the Acropolis


And so I have passed on
without fanfare
and I was thinking to myself
the best days of my life

It was Mother’s Day
when I arrived to Athens
my adopted Motherland
learning the streets
by way of feet for eleven days
convincing myself before I go
this is where I’ll always be




october two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

when someone knows you better than you


man in the street approached me
diagonally jaywalking
to meet me at some sort of
geometric vantage point

my eyes pretended not to notice
but his voice grabbed my attention
having me starting to believe
all he wanted was directions

my bad for talking to strangers
for quickly I found myself
in the middle of a well-rehearsed
plea for the dollars in my pocket

seemingly fit & perfectly articulate
I declined to take the test
and abruptly carried on with my day
insults & accusations included




october two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a face in the crowd


zooming in
smaller places get bigger
like a google map
in the palm of your hand

venturing further
into the inner city
the picture becomes clearer
contrasts run aplenty
between feast & famine

quickening the pace
and light on foot
you naturally touch all
hands reaching out
carefully connecting the dots
one face at a time




october two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

before daybreak


I hadn’t realized
it was a moonless night
until hours later sitting
by the bedside
rewrapping my arm

local media announce
half the city is gone
but according to
my own personal math
they’re not even close

in the other room
a candle starts to flicker
and like a man in a trance
I start counting the hours
before daybreak




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

two steps forward


we toast to the bitter taste of success
that fun-filled & fleeting drinking buddy
the one who comes & goes leisurely
each one slightly different than the last

we talk how the city managed to move
the library three blocks from the river
a feat done in months would have taken
years just a few short centuries ago

flipping pages one forward & two back
the impossible becomes doable
finally dialing in on some answers
just how far we’ve ventured from home




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

closer to the edge


it’s a dangerous place
a dozen hooded juveniles
snap snap snapping their fingers
on the tip of their toes
dancing choreographically

there’s a jungle within the city
progressing & diverging
adaptations taking place left & right
one band singing a capella
another all electrified

the alleys gather ashes
just as the moon gathers light
midnight winds introducing
unrequited winds
swirling & rising unobserved

hunger awakens the mind
whether at sunrise or high noon
invisible hands motioning
this way to the next show
desiring to audition you




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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