jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “In the City”

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

isolated & medicated


nobody really knows what happened
just like nobody knows what will

they keep saying something bad
is bound to happen to him
but it never does

in the meantime we are picking up
all kinds of pieces
large & small & medium & minuscule
picking up the tiniest shards of glass
(slightly larger than molecules)
grinding them to nothing with our teeth

this town used to be something
nearly opposite than it is today
medicated & isolated
its people slowly turn on themselves
for explanations unimaginable




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

an ordinary world


tanks rolling through town
escorting a larger entourage
little legs running right along
keeping up with the pace
robotic machines with long legs & long arms
marching & singing ‘one two three four
who are we fighting for’

everything’s been canceled
the parade is all there is
children singing ‘one two three four’
lighting snakes & small fires by the curbside
strategizing about stargazing
wildly boasting of shooting the moon
and bringing down the sun god




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

seven bullets


this is not the same place it used to be

the neighborhood
the municipality
the county & the state
and all those interconnected

yes there are safe zones & hot spots
but they can flip on a dime
and then where will you be
either in the safest place imaginable
or right there in the middle of the fray

I used to call them the police
but now I’m finding myself calling them cops
like I did when I was a little kid
when we played cops & robbers
running unrestrained between houses
and through back alleyways
taking to the safety of the park
and all its beaten paths & tallest pines
doing my damndest to shake them
as they close in within earshot
suddenly emptying half their round
without even a warning




august two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

repurposeful


oh wait dear lord
for I am not quite ready to rest
peacefully at your right hand

first you must cast me out
back into the streets
where my voice will rise above the chaos
higher than the skyscrapers

yes all will listen and the gathering
will grow into a purposeful swarm
weaving and sweeping through the streets
our words knowledgeable & lyrical
reasonable & rhythmical
becoming the next great communication
delivered with newfound authority

though it is my voice they are your words
echoing throughout the night
leaving behind a trail of new thought
scattered like seeds in our wake




july two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

rag-and-bone


let us know what you don’t want
we’re taking anything we can
get our grubby little hands on
be it metal or paper or plastic
it makes no difference
it all adds up

new forces stealthily
patrol the neighborhood
collecting sterile & burnt offerings
a project within a project
experimenting with a brand new
law & order

drones with credentials
swoop down & aggregate
whatever’s considered handsome
taking any & all hand-me-downs
(and) redefining recycling
in extraterrestrial ways




june two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

miracle on first & third


it’s always the same dilemma
where do I go from here
repeatedly asking are you with me or not

how do I even begin to slow things down
once enough has become enough

conspiracy theories are running rampant
up & down the line
there’s no telling what people will believe
now that the churches have been burnt down

what’s next & why
there has to be some place better than
the here & now

they say it’s simple to mobilize
you just do it without blinking
suddenly you find yourself in the mix
inside the mosh pit of consciousness
rock solid & once again walking with purpose




june two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the ambush


they were waiting for me to pass by
the tree of five seasons
hiding behind the row of bushes
along the river’s edge

I had learned of the threesome’s dark secret
by an angel in last night’s dream
telling me to find another way

and so they sat there behind the bushes
for god knows how long
making fools of themselves
as I walked briskly through the city streets
occasionally whistling and laughing
all the way to the bank




june two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

anywhere else in the world


not sure how many more degrees of separation
I’m willing to accept at this late stage of the game

the masses are becoming even more massive
thanks to this unstoppable reproduction of the species

I’m sitting on a park bench removing all thought
and suddenly none of this is no longer happening

a stranger comes up to me & offers me a cold drink
I happily accept & in silence we drink in the name of peace

blocks away there is violence & incalculable hatred
marching in an organized yet chaotic way

I wonder if we should leave & she reads my thoughts
assuring me we are safer here than anywhere imaginable




june two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

after the cities fall


listen to the music
it’s just about everywhere
whether piped in out of thin air
or playing loud & live
right in your own backyard

no matter the time of day
the music attracts
birds & bees & curiosity seekers
traveling distances near & far
to feel what you feel

nobody wants to leave
after all it’s the place to be
where the music never ends
and peace & harmony
has begun to take root




june two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

nyctinasty [or where the poppy fields burn]


we start & we stop & we start again
I mean everyone needs to rest & refuel
before getting back in on the action

it seems like everyone’s wearing masks
either protecting themselves or others
but perhaps for other reasons entirely
big brother capturing the action on video
sometimes from as far away as 5oo miles

meanwhile beyond the cities poppy fields
live & die year after year after year
folding themselves in on cool summer nights
only to reopen come the morning light




june two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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