jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “In the City”

standing in line


yes it’s true the world is dying
[is always dying]
and we are a witness to its death
[its glorious death]
a slow and painstaking process
mysteriously inevitable
and eternally unanswerable

the airports are nearly empty
and the streets eerily silent
filled with long lines of masked pantomimes
arms extended and palms open
shadowed closely by feathery creatures
unable to fly and feverishly
sweeping up the crumbs

high above the skyscrapers
far beyond the tallest of trees
patches of blue begin to emerge
perhaps a sign of better times yet to come
or simply a figment
of every child’s imagination




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

days after the riot


I am not who you think I am
freely walking these city streets
eyes looking forward
unafraid to be noticed as some
outsider instigator
as one who should have been arrested
with all the other hooligans
from the other night

I tell you I don’t know any of them
and despite
your inherent prejudice
I remain remarkably comfortable
in my own skin




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

picture perfect saturday


children stretched across the library lawn
books selected from wooden crates
spotted randomly throughout the area
beach blankets spread out here and there
little ones sitting and reading to themselves
or out loud in small groups
the mid-morning sun shining brightly
across the green expanse
saturday morning visitors walking
in and out of the main doors
not a soul saying a word



january two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

errand boy in a foreign land


go and find out what the people
are saying on the streets he tells me
so I put on my coat and gloves and hat
and leave the safety of the consulate

the winds are strong and push me
three blocks toward the city center
to the river where a mass of unknowns
huddle with picket signs and chanting
in a language I do not understand

the closer I approach the swarm
the more I realize I’m an invisible alien
set out on some improbable quest
quite possibly never to return back home




january two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

party crashers and grave diggers


how are we to keep track
of lives lost to the night
didn’t I see you inspecting
tomatoes at the farmers market
some sundays ago
donning floppy hat and
full moon sunglasses
a giddyup in your step
and smile on your face

the city is slowly replacing
all the streetlamps downtown
as if there’s nothing
better to do with property taxes
or maybe it’s a grander scheme
to keep the citizenry distracted
from what’s really happening
all around us

I heard they said thirteen
hail marys in your honor
before mixing a bowl
of your favorite cherry red drink
singing and dancing well past sundown
the evening eventually coming
to a complete stop
after some purse thief made off
with your daughters’ identities




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

somehow at peace


the skywalk system
takes me anywhere I need to go
but eventually I end up exactly
where I started
and I stop and wonder why

down below real people
walk city streets
hustling against the grain
fighting corruption & congestion
and extreme temperatures
somehow at peace
with the uncertainty it brings




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

morning commute


three a.m. suddenly awake
I dreamed I was unable to breathe
a self-induced choking
my hands slightly trembling
I press my palms against my cheeks
perhaps flush or white as a ghost
I could not tell
I could not tell

after walking two super-sized blocks
I dreamed I fell back asleep
encountering further interruptions
windshield wipers wiping away
intermittent freezing rain
exposing yellow school buses
fluorescent citizens walking their dogs

by the time I reach the city center
the ingenuous homeless keep me on my feet
flashing by on motorized conveyances
powered by recycled municipal waste
or donated cans of boston baked beans




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

iowa city sunset


the university resides on both
sides of the river
and for as long as I remember
there is nothing divisive
about this city

how many years have transpired
since finding myself recalling
bits and pieces of my stay there
of the many evenings relaxing
at the lagoon shelter house
the three of us sitting cross-legged on the deck
easily adjusting our attitudes
culminated by soundless fireworks
courtesy of a slowly descending sun




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

where the mississippi flows east to west


I know where I’ve been
but not necessarily where I’m going
these city streets all look the same
some running parallel with the river
others perpendicular

without the river I am lost
and sometimes
I find myself running in circles
passing the same dairy queen
once or twice or trice
eventually pulling over
for a chocolate coated dilly bar

as the young lady
hands me back my change
I ask about the river
she rolls her eyes and points
past my shoulder
as if she’s told me a hundred times




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

giving way to the morning light


it was late summer and the heat
and the humidity
were unbelievable
as unreal as december hummingbirds
reminding me of long goodbyes
and last hurrahs

all the doors and windows
were locked tight
hundreds of candles
lighting up the entire roost
unable to keep out the sirens
screaming from within

I refused to open up to new ideas
as long as all the old ones
hadn’t run their course
not until every candle
had burned out on its own volition
replaced by a natural light




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

standing in line with mister jimmy


I’ve been self-prescribing for so long
beginning to believe I’m an expert
in any field

apothecary shop across the street
has been thriving for nearly
a century now
modestly contributing to the local economy
providing products we’ve
come to know and love
since the beginning of time

I want our love to last forever
so I keep asking myself
what shall we take next time
our lives seem to be separating




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

momentum


there was no prophecy
future events unfolding surrealistically
captivating a connected world
only seconds earlier impassive

smoke and heat and fire
building upon its own propulsion
like an early morning spark
innocently lit within an otherwise
booby-trapped concrete stairwell

which way to run
which way to stop or go
wifi no longer of use
no signal no nothing
a voice inside says
drop everything and run

this is no map to follow
vertical tunnel without exit signs
traffic cops on the outside
helplessly looking in
right arm circling crazily
all on foot having the right of way
from this point forward




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

self-imposed exile


I was there to witness it all
and now after all these years
it’s becoming unrepressed
finding myself an accessory
after the fact

I’m too old to be on the run
but on the run I am
retracing steps and piecing
back together high crimes
and misdemeanors

statute of limitations aside
the talk on the street
sounds anything but familiar
as if I had just stepped off
the last train to mexico




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

bleeding before the law


you see me and you don’t
wherever you may roam
on the streets or display screens
caught in the five o’clock
be it rush hour or evening news

you may have heard me say
I cannot breathe I cannot breathe
unable to stretch my limbs
pinned to the concrete
left bleeding before the law

something is sadly empty
within ourselves
ancient spiritual connection
unplugged and without a prayer
to bring me back to life




august two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

minding my own business


one of so many I easily blend
in among the populace
taking to the streets on a friday night
feathers tucked behind my back

I hadn’t noticed anyone spotting me
so I kept on keeping on
turning my eyes from green to blue

it’s hard to say how or when
times actually change
but there’s no question today’s people
are in need of so much more
something indefinable
but if you ask me it may be less
like believing in something
beyond their comprehension
for example someone like me

I usually tell myself what happens
here doesn’t really matter much
but lately I’m not so sure
which may be the reason
I keep on keeping on
determined to be close when called




august two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

war correspondent


it’s not like I’ve not been trapped before
in the most dangerous cities in the world
keeping my sanity by recounting
what I can in my own little black box
capturing complicated stories
of lives on the move

play zones exist anyplace imaginable
especially for toy soldiers
expanding their capabilities since birth
learning to run with or without
a gun to grasp or hand to hold
duck and covering instinctively

with greater frequency I’m unable to reload
either from fear or lack of supplies
waiting on a lull in the action
a chance to buy or steal more ammunition
before once again shooting at will
at men inside boxes with eyes sewn shut




june two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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