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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “In the City”

passing through yet again


I sat on inner city park bench
and wondered what had
become of poetry

it was sunday
and god knows where the
transients had gone
especially on such a warm
and peaceful winter day

I like to hear church bells
ringing from blocks away
imagining all the men in
black overcoats and top hats
children holding hands with
women in white gloves

it was an overcast day
and I felt the urge to embark
if not sometime soon
definitely by sundown
destination yet to be seen

sitting inside idling aircraft
I try to imagine what will
become of tomorrow





february two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

seven come eleven


travelers and visitors
and even some locals
could never resolve
north from south
in this dirty rivertown
mainly due to mississippi
snaking through from
east to west

when floating casinos
arrived at the docks
it made the rich
even richer
leaving the poor
picking up the scraps
and scratching
state-issued lottery tickets

downtown bus station
sees greyhounds
coming and going
on the hour every hour
from 6 am until midnight
taking out the weary
and welcoming in the
delusional and the hopeful





february two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a winter that wasn’t


there is a package on the doorstep
but nobody is home to accept it

another package is added to the first
and then another and yet another

letterbox has slowly been filling
and gradually overflows

passersby notice the accumulation
their curiosity growing
some thinking they can hear telephone
ringing and ringing and ringing

a grey tiger gazes out picture window
but nobody seems to notice how
desperate she may be

eventually thieves pick up the packages
and empty the letterbox
eventually cat abandons window sill

weeks go by
followed by people coming and going

gradually things seem to change for the better
the color of the siding
the style of the windows
the vehicles parked in the carport

come springtime there are children
playing in the backyard
and the people strolling by
are once again smiling





january two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

waking up entire neighborhood


pretending new moon
shines upon streets of singapore
I am reminded
of candles in window

flashing lights scream across
inner city streets
red and blue and white hot
giving chase inside
some long forgotten dream

bursting open barriers
words make inner sounds
slowly raising my consciousness
at two twenty-two in the morning

unopposed to where I landed
I play out my part in the dark
arms raised
and mouth wide open
cornered in some well-lit alley





january two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

An uncertain smile


I swear it was Stan sitting there
in the Iowa City ped mall
full head of hair and black beard no less
complete with Salem in hand

He appeared to be drawing
charcoal pencil on cotton paper
backpack and camera strapped across
bench made of iron and wood

Of course it couldn’t possibly be him
afterall it will be nineteen years
this summer since Stan
had vanished into thin air

I wanted to walk up to him
and ask him twenty questions
ending with exactly why he went away
and was it really the right decision

He must have detected my stare
and before I turned to face the crowd
I tried to put on a smile
he waving back with great uncertainty





january two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the faces inspired her


inside city park
faces inspiring or otherwise
come and go by day
and by night
uncaring free spirits sitting on benches
walking across water
or upon thin air

in the center
there is a god continually
creating
taking in all the inspired faces
(or otherwise)
rearranging destinies by way
of fortunes or falls
turning rain into sunshine
and night into day






january two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

to be continued


there is strength in numbers
whether advancing or
retreating in dead of night

something rushed through last night
like a freight train unannounced
leaving in its wake
an odd curiosity

to go onto the next metropolis
that is the trick
sometimes easier said than done
depending upon weather conditions
and level of determination

somehow you find yourself
smack dab in middle of caravan
cruising down interstate thirty-five
final destination to be continued





december two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

winter migration


it may be the same song but
absolutely not the same dance

I’m not looking to tell a story
beneath downtown streetlamp
shining brightly on a particular corner
young hopeless couple
dancing to piped-in music and
big fat snowflakes
falling down at midnight

in mid december crows
grow in numbers along the river
where homeless often roam along
natural and artificial lights

sirens often interrupt airwaves
screaming across bridges
troopers and fire trucks and ambulances
chasing down their own stories

there is a small fire down below
keeping warm the cold
occasional small talk sometimes
turning angry
questioning the powers that be





december two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

“and his hair was perfect”


there’s a werewolf
loose again in london
disguised as a dubliner
imbibing ales with
local ne’er-do-wells

strutting down abbey road
alongside chief inspector
chatting about the weather
and that bloody affair
going down last night

in big bold letters daily mail
warns of imposters
dressed quite smartly
wooing unsuspecting partners
who love to do the tango





december two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

god willing there will be work


she may have been an angel
but often let the weather
affect her daily mood
unpredictably

lightning could easily set her off
or calm her nerves
depending on time of day
and task at hand

the homeless knew her best
had no idea she was not human
but loved her stories
especially how she romanticized
being born under scorpio’s sign

she’d often go missing for days
sometimes weeks
stray cats patrolling at night
commissioned as her private eyes

my work is never done here
she often complained or cajoled
depending upon who would listen





december two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

meanwhile shadows linger downtown


they put in sidewalks where there used to be grass
on the old side of town thanks to that penny tax
three whole blocks for three whole weeks
disrupting traffic and making everything ugly
heavy machinery and piles of dirt
candy corn pylons and cement trucks
men and women dressed fluorescently
an occasional open hand in my face
or arm motioning me to get on with my life





november two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

how I wonder


alien boy sits on curb
waiting for night to fall
desirous of first star to appear
bringing back his smile

fast cars with one headlight
impersonate meteor showers
sweeping up passerbys
unable to pay the freight

it’s a million to one chance
but what else is there to do
besides singing the blues
or counting red cars

tomorrow’s hitchhiker
catapults away from superhighway
discovering alternatives to
hunger and desire and fear

there he learns falling out of grace
is not an option
nor dashing through the night sky
perhaps unseen



november two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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