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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “In the City”

the house of displaced poetry


it’s not easy finding inspiration
on low visibility nights
so you just move on from
one thought to the next
hoping to find a place to call home

without a charge nights are lonelier
inner city sky void of lights
artificial ones hard to see
thanks to cold wintry mix
forcing shelters to exceed capacity

I’ve lived through this odyssey before
pocket book of poetry
pressed against my heart
three or four layers deep
every single word still very much alive




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

chatting over mid-morning coffee


take special care
not to beat yourself up
just because of
misplaced memories

your word against the truth
may or may not exist
not in this world
or the next

subconscious realities
keep me on edge
like pressure cooker time bombs
ticking in city square

I’ve long felt most relaxed
back in the future
where love is in the air
and nights rarely end




december two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

unexpected change


I got fifty bucks in my pocket
and I’m going downtown
gonna buy my girl some flowers
and maybe have a beer or two

taking city bus to city center
I keep my hands in my pockets
sitting down on three-seater bench
tapping foot in make-believe time

nobody owes me nothing
and I sure ain’t in anyone’s debt
I got fifty bucks in my pocket
sun shining brightly overhead




december two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

one december night


friday night in east village
streetlamps aglow
passersby breathing visibly
hands either gloved
or formed as fists
stuffed inside coat pockets

meteorological winter
yet weeks away
but for tonight
is clear and present
the cloudless sky
boasting all its shiny lanterns




december two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserve

the good shepherd


sheep at large in city center
unshorn and hungry
packing knives and forks
counting down the days
until january thaw

beat cops in woolen coats
keep them on their toes
tapping night sticks on
frozen sidewalk
nudging them along

nearby sanctuary house
opens its arms
practicing what it preaches
the good shepherd himself
promising warmer days ahead




december two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserve

striking a balance


autumn nearing its end
solitary specter regressing
roaming empty streets and alleys
digressing on thoughts of love
bemoaning intellectual wisdom

safehouses have no vacancy
full moon gives little solace
though somewhere in the city
a fire burns with purpose
bringing the dead back to life




november two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserve

transposing public transportation


I am reminded of nothing
save shrewd tactics of those I know not
tearing and snarling and shredding
turning fabric into mayhem
like a mongrel in distress

leashless on the streets
roaming like a werewolf in london
big dawg strides unencumbered
attempting new tricks inside
buses and trains and taxicabs




october two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

and the river rages red


they say the river flows red
(this time of year)
due to recent unnatural phenomena
such as climate change
police brutality
and civil unrest

torrential rains cannot dilute
the redness of the river
its banks overflowing
disrupting lives already in need
anguishing over missing person reports
needlessly accumulating
inside wire baskets

power brokers talk of flood walls
(to contain the problem)
but on the streets
there is no such thing as protection
there are only lives that matter
walking the finest of lines
staring down the face of injustice
red river raging from within




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

summer suite in downtown hilton


beneath the marquee we kissed until the crowds
dispersed and lights blinked on and off
quarter moon high above but unseen

we walked hand in hand in early morning hours
unfamiliar streets shiny and wet
counting blue cars along the way
sharing dreams and making promises
that may or may not be challenged

come daybreak we quietly settle down
high above in eagle’s aerie
well fed and resting in momentary embrace




july two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

murmurings of a would-be humanitarian


I didn’t ask for any of this
yet unwittingly contribute to confusion
spoon-feeding the blessed
and ignoring the poor
sleeping through the worst of nights
everyone else running scared
scrambling for air

I was there the night Santa
was a no-show
and all the misfits cried themselves lifeless
suffering from dehydration and
exhaustion and loneliness

for a few dollars a month you could
make a difference
proudly walk manicured streets
well-lit at midnight
a picture or two in your wallet

at corner cafe sitting at table for one
you discuss politics and wars and
supreme court decisions
telling yourself one of these days
you’re going to board a plane
and really do something about it




july two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

eviction notice


I lost my lunch money
or maybe the cat ate it
the monetary note in my pocket
used to be worth something
but now won’t even buy me
a slice of love

the old lady next door
has a pecan pie
cooling on the window sill
she’s trying to entice me
I just know it
but I won’t fall for it again

all the houses
thirteen blocks away
have all but vanished
some saying if the winds
don’t reverse direction soon
we’ll be evicted next




june two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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