jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “In the City”

invisible people


I step out the front door
it used to always be unlocked
during normal business hours

I check my pockets for keys
let the damn thing
swing shut behind me

there are far fewer cars
pedestrians & pigeons
vying for my attention
equating to less noise
and more sounds
block in & block out

from point A
it’s just a few more blocks
to the river
does anyone not notice
how it ebbs & flows
depending upon the mood
of all the invisible people




december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sometime after sunset


as old stories unravel
new possibilities begin
artfully rewriting your own
character
right there in the streets
of portland oregon

some catch on early
seeing right through the fabric
of santa           & the great pumpkin
          of organized religion
or the deep state itself
     [while far too many others
fall for the latest mousetrap]

it stands to reason
one mistruth leads to another
          but at some point
all good things must come to end

imagine now
everything you ever imagined
never belonged to you




december two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

preparing for the next exam


there is no test tonight only theory
a flashing picture show
beaming from your eyes onto the white wall
an abandoned starling adolescent
gathering himself on the window ledge
you spend a moment trying to read his mind

you blink and suddenly he’s gone once & for all
the color of your eyes change from blue to green
from your vantage point all you see
is what’s behind the ledge
something blue & something brown
you untangle yourself & rise to your feet

what you expect is no different from yesterday
the same day you gave out dollar bills
one after another to complete strangers
emotionless & robotic you carried on
everyone around you gracious & concerned
some of them calling you the chosen one




november two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sabotage


beastie boys in moscow
everything’s

in black & white
an effort by the locals

to disguise the day & year
by keeping their kettle clean

there are no subtitles
translations or misunderstandings

the nights are always grey
and lights dimly bright

the music barely loud enough
to keep the youth at bay




november two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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

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