jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “In the City”

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

a prayer of thankfulness


though temporary
the heat of the day sends our thoughts
well beyond our fears
sympathetic to the miseries of the poor
seeking shelter any possible way
a slice of shade from a city wall
or beneath a tree that has given
comfort to multitudes over the years

in the city center public fountains
create rainbows
children chasing pots of gold
gifts from the gods of nourishment
who giveth and taketh without discretion
a reminder that we are all but a step
away in or out of the fray

be thankful for what you have
whether it be a piece of cloth
or a handful of clay to be
molded into new possibilities
be hopeful and lend a hand
whenever possible
for you will be rewarded
twentyfold in this world and the next




june two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

another extravagant night


it was a black and white murder
in low to moderate neighborhood
vehicles lining both sides of streets
stray cats smoking jays in alleyways

informants seemed to lurk everywhere
but none of them were talking
having taking cover in pawnshops
and city parks and nearby boxing club

local police tape off the area by spotlight
interviewing scores of witnesses
waiting for pink panther to arrive

firetrucks and ambulances come and go
leaving behind two chalk outlines

so it seems nobody saw a goddamn thing
and one by one household lights turn off

come daybreak paperboy arrives
followed by little ones skipping down steps
hauling backpacks and walking with best friends
waving at local policemen and wondering
who it was that got popped last night




may two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

when shadows surrender


schizophrenic city streets
lined with phantom street lamps
come alive come nightfall
thanks to a populace as diverse
as any melting pot can get

shadows gradually give way
to molasses moon rising
repetitiously expanding
melding in with various moods
painting the town in technicolor




may two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all right reserved

When in Rome


So here I am
back in Rome again
going about doing things
as alleged Romans do
perhaps for the last time

It’s been a century or two
since I’ve been gone
but now that I’m back
I’m finding not much
has changed

Outside the city
is still the best place to be
if only a man can
break the chains of his
callous past

I must admit though
there is contentment
canvassing the busy streets
holding onto this belief
you still exist




may two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all right reserved

One Bourbon

a tribute poem to John Lee Hooker

it was hot
but not too hot
and this here old man
sat back on red and plush parlor chair
right there on the sidewalk
his old gibson and radio style mic
plugged into beat-up fender amp

he started strumming this chorus
picking the verses
explaining how he hadn’t seen his girl
since night before last
strumming and picking
his feet tapping the concrete
tenement windows opening
children eyes blinking
mouths widening and smiling

neighborhood cats and dogs and
even mice are drawn to the curbside
children coming out a’running
a young woman sitting cross-legged
on second story window sill
snapping fingers and tearfully
relating to the old man’s story

they’ve all been down this road before
every single body within earshot
soulful and sad but ever so hopeful
realistically aware how it’s
easier said than done
washing away those same old blues




april two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Who knew the other side of you


Dani wouldn’t be caught dead
marching in any damn parade
she had bigger dreams in mind
than floating down inner city streets

She wore black on the outside
painted her face so as not to be seen
but on the inside everything was green

There are so many ways
to break the cycle
so tell me what keeps you hiding
inside these temporary shadows

I knew you when you were but a child
how you used to chase sparrows
climbing trees and singing songs
pretending the world could do you no harm

Somewhere along the line
you are born again
awakening like grass among wildflowers
elbowing for space and praying to starlight
reaching out for the next sunrise




march two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a celebration of life


there is sadness in the streets
and anguish in the hearts of strangers

they gather on your behalf
knowing full well
it may be too little and too late

some say it was a midnight march
disguised as a parade
while others felt compelled to participate
simply by way of gut feeling

you could see it in their eyes
those watching silently by the wayside
an unmistakable colorlessness
falling upon the night

in the meantime little ones
searched for little pieces of candy
only to find diamond-shaped tears
glistening from the moonshine





february two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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