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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “Poetry”

Adrenaline


She knows my name though
we’ve never met
sprite or phantom or angel
whispering in my ear
saying things only I should know
desert spring or april snow

We’ve walked this path before
but it was centuries ago
strange how some things
never change

When I need her most
she’s far beyond my realm of thought
traveling by the speed of light
most likely saving someone else
leaving me breathing heavily
and spellbound




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sunshine almost always


I could die before you
oh how would that be
how the tables
would have turned
whatever in the world
that means

we’ve talked about this
off and on again
names and numbers
as if really matters
keys and combinations
holding our collective breath

I could die before you
or vice versa
oh how we’ve talked
until the sweet sweet sun
rises and falls
far beyond our dying days




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

ever since I was young


there is much to remember and so much
more to forget
how we pick and choose what we will
butterflies in nets and fireflies
in mason jars
making sure they breathe
long enough to remember
this is only the beginning

old photograph in hand
it’s as if it was yesterday all over again
a moment in time immeasurable
in any earthly language
especially when considering
today might possibly be
the start of something beautiful

I’ve been here so many times
I’ve lost count
each time seemingly starting from scratch
a stark reminder the past
builds upon the past
while the present builds upon
possibilities




november two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

not a single one


november beckons differently
than all other lunar cycles
there are no lions or lambs
just sheer madness
whether it be for better or worse
or ‘til death do us part

there may be anniversaries
or birthdays or holidays
they take a back seat
to the reality of november
its unpredictability and certainty
of death and sex and taxes

not a single one is alike
varying by degrees immeasurable
even the moon knows not
what to do come november
either boasting pure beauty
or bashful like a hungry child




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

tug of war


I’ve secrets so old I’ve long forgotten
where they may be stashed

how I wanted to let you in
release clues as to my state of mind

I’ve been replaying childhood dreams
reawakening past events

if memory serves me right
there’s a trap door around every corner

sometimes I open it sometimes I don’t
the tug of war continues




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the conservatory


I’ve been taking notes
casual observations
that tree is dying
and that one is healthy
will soon be taller than
a thousand stories

the queen wasp
outdid herself this year
somehow knowing
the winter will be long
ensuring her progeny
even greater success

I did the best I could
sealing all the cracks
and crevices in this
drafty conservatory
regulated by heat tape
and crafty ingenuity

as for the spiders
they are my friends
stealthily paralzying
their innocent victims
holding them hostage
forever and a day




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

beautiful are the fields


we’ve been here before
admiring this land of possibilities
minefields once again restored back to
their original condition
long before anyone ever set eye or foot
colorful fields described by word of mouth
to those who had no idea such beauty
existed in this contradictory world
descriptions eventually voice recorded
illustrated onto rock and paper and cloud
made especially for generations yet to come




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

iowa city sunset


the university resides on both
sides of the river
and for as long as I remember
there is nothing divisive
about this city

how many years have transpired
since finding myself recalling
bits and pieces of my stay there
of the many evenings relaxing
at the lagoon shelter house
the three of us sitting cross-legged on the deck
easily adjusting our attitudes
culminated by soundless fireworks
courtesy of a slowly descending sun




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

rapid eye movement


I don’t want to call home anymore
afraid nobody will answer

it just rings and rings and rings
reminding me of the days I lived there
a signal it was safe to sneak in
through the back porch door
quietly tip-toe up the stairs
and into the solitude of my bedroom

from there I can hear the telephone ring
and ring and ring in the other room
I yawn and turn over onto my other side
ignoring everything in the outside world
blue eyes blinking feverishly
reliving days and months and years
in a matter of mere minutes

hours later the southern sun shines
through a second story window
one I’ve known all too well




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

physical empathy


there was a problem with my shoulder
but the x-rays contradicted my word
and when the good doctor pressed here
and prodded there I responded
I could feel no discomfort

my parting orders included the words
‘acute pain’ and it was then I realized
the health system can be like a chameleon

and so I made an appointment with a
physical therapist and she
easily found my trouble spots
exposing them as true weaknesses
addressing and describing them in such a way
that left me smiling and nodding my head

as time went by I assured her
exercises and effort were making a difference
but I sensed she thought otherwise

and though she never called me a liar
she nonchalantly explained how the pain
in my shoulder would never go away
much like the weight placed upon this world




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

“as soon as I am able”


turn down the volume
and listen to the raccoon’s story
doc’s fingers resting on his wrist
counting beats per second
heart racing for good reason

nobody has the time
to take everything into account
so we condense his story
into a nineteen sixty-eight song
one we love to play over
and over again

some scars heal and
others simply live to tell another tale
much like that of good rocky’s revival




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

inside my head


newly learned equations and nursery rhymes
running inside my head
up above shooting stars flash by
on a late summer night
sitting quietly on the front porch step
mother whispering this is
the perfect time to make a wish

first kiss and catcher in the rye
escaping out into the night
not a cloud in the sky
easily going back as far as we like
after all it’s inside my head
automatically recorded and easily
triggered for instant playback

random generators do not discriminate
bringing back to life the dead
reliving anything that once existed
charles lamb essays and red red roses
goldfinches and garter snakes
a baby’s cry or delightful laugh
residing comfortably inside my mind




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

sane for a day


stabbing practice takes place
in the second hour
children flashing big knives
and little swords
some pretending
to be bilbo with sting
others luke skywalker wielding
imaginary lightsabers

from an early age they learn
to deflect bullets
flying from all directions
whether head on
or through windows and walls
using state of the art
mind over matter techniques

teachers keep proclaiming
world sanity day is not far away
but in the meantime daily
practice and simulated attacks
coexist with pop quizzes
and outdoor recesses




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

don’t let the world bring you down


I owe someone a call
a friend from yesterday
catch up to speed as they say
repeating everything is fine
and bending other lies

who are you again
listening until the end of the time
gradually second-guessing
old-school acquaintance
from modern day adversary

don’t we all end up
in the same place in the end
or is that just another untruth
handed down from
one conversation to the next

a simple dial tone seques
into a busy signal
leaving me somewhat amused
convinced anything said
was a matter of recorded time




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

how may I find you


how may I find you when you are nowhere to be found
barely beneath the surface like a sunflower seed

you are like a love song evolving out of thin air
lyrics and notes and chords coming together seamlessly

believe in me and I will believe in your every single word
regardless if you are blooming near or worlds away




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

where the mississippi flows east to west


I know where I’ve been
but not necessarily where I’m going
these city streets all look the same
some running parallel with the river
others perpendicular

without the river I am lost
and sometimes
I find myself running in circles
passing the same dairy queen
once or twice or trice
eventually pulling over
for a chocolate coated dilly bar

as the young lady
hands me back my change
I ask about the river
she rolls her eyes and points
past my shoulder
as if she’s told me a hundred times




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

I heard a little girl say she’s in love with him


I see you from afar
comfortable in your own skin
a color often found in dreams
lighter than olive drab
and darker than brown sugar
especially complemented
by an absorbent southern sun

I heard a little girl say
someone’s in love
with an american soldier
passing out dark chocolate
and I can only imagine she’s
repeating something she heard
from a black and white movie

but that was long ago
and today is a different story
those american boys
now more than long gone
nothing but an unrelenting image
like bombs falling from the sky
displacing once bright colors




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

you can run you can run


you find yourself asking
is this all there is
surrounded by strangers
feverishly attempting
to pump life
back inside you

there’s a resident priest
hanging outside the doorway
adjusting his off white collar
you’ve enough strength to yell
he’s on the wrong floor

they push against your shoulders
until your head sinks
back into the pillow
promising not to
suffocate you with it
as long as you stop all this fighting

reluctantly you agree
under a number of conditions
including to kindly ask the angel
sitting silently in the far corner
to get the hell out of dodge




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

exceeding expectations


these things I don’t do
how long can the list possibly be
an empty bucket
kicked countless times
its surface looking like
the lighter side of the moon
its once accumulating contents
now free-floating in outer space

only centuries earlier we’d
smoke cigarettes in the alleyways
walking to and from school
convincing ourselves
we had all the time in the world
to do whatever it is
we were born to accomplish
on this unstoppable orbit




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

of the almighty sun


who is he hiding in the shadows
among the naked trees
changing size and color and shape
coming and going as he pleases
depending upon
the angle of the sun

I’ve come to accept his presence
yet still I wonder who is he
hiding in the shadows
ever changing
approaching and receding
with a blink or two of an eye

neither friend nor foe
inevitably he will show his face
as prophesied in my dream
flexing his crimson or ivory wings
depending upon the angle
of the almighty sun




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

transplanting poppy fields


I listened to the sad sad story
how the war had taken its toll
it left me wondering of the fields
and when they would ever bloom

the story never seems to end
borders constantly changing
women and children marching on
poppies pinned to their hearts




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

seeing through things


it’s sunday evening and I’m starting
to see through things
much like I did when I was child

it’s cool and clear and the open air
is filled with electricity
rifling through my quiet complexity

I’ve kept to myself throughout this day
yet I’ve been everywhere
picking and choosing points in between

though there’s nobody remotely near
I can feel your company
your eyes penetrating right through me




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

standing the test of time


with age comes discovery
rising above the ordinary
whether major or minor
each a treasure in their own right
realized or still transforming

that old familiar friend
advancing its slow approach
as clear as crows flying
along darkened shoreline
cawing in and out of reality

nobody lives to tell the tale
or at least that’s what they say
but truth be told we’re all
remapping chartered territories
and rewriting age-old stories




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

One beautiful dream


I dreamed of African violets
uprooted and transplanted and repackaged
transported from their ancestral lands
introduced to newly formed territories

I found myself walking unfamiliar streets
passing one storefront window after the next
each one blossoming with the latest
sensation of the season

How am I to distinguish the real
from the imaginary from the ever falling rain
replenishing the good earth with new life
one beautiful dream at a time




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a brief visitor from the unknown


I want to be that comet [or whatever
you want to call it]
that the average person off the street
can’t even begin to pronounce

you may or may not know
what I’m talking about
but it doesn’t matter to any
rogue interstellar traveler
entering the milky way
hell bent on targeting the sun

imagine if you will
lost souls attached to its tail
long ago cast away to find inner peace
hanging on fearlessly
throughout countless galaxies
occasionally returning home
leaving those bound to the surface
mesmerized by its fleeting beauty




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

fish and toast on sunday morning


and then there were just
the two of us
yielding to the god of wine
on the back deck
minutes before sunrise

the rest said
they were going down to the river
to see if the catfish were biting

that was at least a couple of hours ago

they took with them the last of the red
but I said do not worry darling
we’ve yet to open the last of the white




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

prodigal son


it was time I went back home
perhaps for the last time
to pay my respects
just as the commandments
had once taught me

I arrived clean shaven
and with half an appetite
sitting at the table
there was nothing but chit chat
and I dare not admit
the last time I’d made it
to confession

the house was too big
much bigger than
even I had remembered
somehow they’d managed
to keep it well kept
and up-to-date all these years

in the kitchen a little placard read
‘heaven hath no dust’

after lunch we settled into
the screened in porch
a baseball game streaming on the
muted television set
each of us with a beer in hand
silently asking for forgiveness
and giving thanks to god




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

paying attention to the cosmos


it knows everything about you
and over the course of a lifetime
gradually lets you in on your
own little secrets

birth charts and palm lines
reciting and memorizing
practicing as if for the first time
words and phrases capturing
past and future events

resurrecting houseplants
from the brink of death
dealing cards by candlelight
gradually realizing
accumulating knowledge
can be a dangerous thing

there comes a point in time
everything circling around you
explodes into complete focus
leaving you empowered
at least momentarily
transported at your command
at one with the cosmos




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

lesson for the day


when applied earnestly there is something
special about solitude

the sun is always your friend but the moon
now she’s another story

for most of us today should be sufficient
and tomorrow can easily wait

for everyone else simply enjoy the ride




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

places I’ve yet to be


I thought I was in some place that I was not
how the mind bends reality leaving you
rethinking everything you’ve learned thus far

how many lies must I tell before becoming truth
mind beginning to believe anything I say or do

I’ve been told there is an ocean on the other
side of this magnificent purple mountain
the very one I will have surfed endless times




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

morning view


the clock has struck midnight
and here I remain
similar to yesterday’s self
but somehow slightly different
I can’t quite put my finger on

changing seasons once again
a battle between wind
and cricket and creation
a jealous crescent moon
simply an innocent bystander

I sit and wonder by the window
does anyone ever win
morning sun coming into view
colored pencils on cottony paper
attempting to capture it all




october two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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