jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “War Poems”

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

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

the valley of bones


listen can you hear it
the changing of the guard
constructively rattling sabers
as if directed by the stars

at birth we were promised
there’d be peace in our time
yet the war machine rages on
so many years past our prime

who am I but a mercenary
or a prophet sent by the lord
reborn on this earth to deliver
a final cannonball of hope




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

portrait of a street artist


I often retell the same stories
or so I’m told
but I keep thinking I stopped doing that
once moving out of the basement

how many years has it been now
I ask mostly myself
but I remember a complete stranger
once say it’s been nine years

that was at least six seasons ago
but as far as I’m concerned
the war is never over
even though ambassadors assure me
quite confidently
otherwise

I’ve not held a job since moving
out of the basement
even though I’m told I’m as hireable
as the next one
but who wants to be the next one
not me I tell the pretty lady with a
pencil and bic pen stuck in her hair
tri-folding papers and reciting old lines

I go on to tell her
all I really need these days
are some cans of spray paint
and the next good idea
usually conjured in my head
during the overnight hours
planted there by an apologetic god




september two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

many a madman


the war rages on but there’s no telling
which side is winning
no telling precisely who’s the enemy

I’m too old to fight I tell the tin soldier
glued atop my dashboard
attempting to persuade me
to uncover my weapons
buried beneath the floorboards

I tell him I’ve long abandoned my post
and refuse to fight for anyone but me
ditching the ideals of many a madman
instead giving chase to a setting sun
slowly fading into pacified waves




august two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

this never ending war


this never ending war
call it evolution of revolution
as predictable as time itself
spinning and orbiting
one object around another

robotic tin soldiers
advancing exponentially
mercurial eyes laser sharp
lethal like the very weapons
they wield on command

the course of human history
seemingly on autopilot
at odds with peacemakers
challenging old world warlords
brokering old deals with satan




july two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

war correspondent


it’s not like I’ve not been trapped before
in the most dangerous cities in the world
keeping my sanity by recounting
what I can in my own little black box
capturing complicated stories
of lives on the move

play zones exist anyplace imaginable
especially for toy soldiers
expanding their capabilities since birth
learning to run with or without
a gun to grasp or hand to hold
duck and covering instinctively

with greater frequency I’m unable to reload
either from fear or lack of supplies
waiting on a lull in the action
a chance to buy or steal more ammunition
before once again shooting at will
at men inside boxes with eyes sewn shut




june two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

white flag


she’s in my head now
[how can she not be]
having gone off to war
without saying goodbye

she’s off to change the world
oh how I want to tell her
[but never will I speak]
how there’s nothing
left to change
only pieces to be moved

lately I’ve been dreaming
of tanks and bombs and drones
awakening my bones like clockwork
[in the year nineteen ninety-one]
waving a white flag
and bringing her back home




june two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

counter-revolutionary


the mood of the nation
weighs heavily on my mind

even though I’ve always had
my very own secret getaways
this time it feels different
as if there’s no place to hide

[getting ready for bed I take two
hail marys and one full-strength aspirin]

blood orange moon shines
brightly through bedroom window
its imperfections leaking through

sitting all alone in the dark
the house breathes quietly like me
a witness to my own transgressions

there was a time I would escape
for the sake of escaping
disappearing for days on end

but now that the mood of the nation
weighs heavily on my mind
this inherent flight to safety
is suddenly sparked by fear





may two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

black hole earth


third world angels wrap themselves
around the loneliest of children
god ever placed on earth

they amble these ancient streets
and back alleys virtually unseen
admiring the crumbling architecture
as the children somehow fall fast asleep
jet fighters crisscrossing the frozen skies
reminding everyone that this time
nothing will be different

come daybreak birds sing and angels weep
opening their wings and knowing
in a naturally universal way
that this place in time
will be neither the first nor the last





april two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

cease fire


who shall we condemn today
and who shall we elevate
picking and choosing
like gods openly playing favorites

how many times must we surrender
until peace reigns on earth
and how many times must our
hearts be tested before
proving our intentions are true

and those gods who willfully
come and go at their leisure
who’s to say they’re not the ones
continually adding fuel to the fire





march two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

dreaming of clearing skies


the air is heavy from constant
bombardment
rolling in every three or four days
like a recurring freight train

there’s plenty to do besides
worry and wait
and it matters not if you think
more of less about the next
certain lethal blast

on clear and silent nights
children gaze at the stars in
amazement
curiously wondering if they too
were made by man





february two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a gathering of armies


they held the stars for ransom
loveless creatures of the night
coming and going as they please
like outlaw angels on the run

it’s difficult to track that which
leaps from moon to moon
pitting fire against magic
and heaven from hell

this is not the first or last time
boarding chartered flights
eyes shut tight and chasing
death to armageddon and back




january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

like wars fought near and far


I’ve been practicing my lines
sometimes while drinking
other times in my sleep
saying them out loud when
nobody’s around
whispering them under my
breath at check out lines or
while idling at red lights

though the world is dying
the coming winter should
slow the process down
allowing for pause
and consideration
whether well rehearsed lines
(like wars fought near and far)
actually require repeating




october two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

white dove


stories we tell
sometimes disguised as poetry
reveal most everything
you need to know
about current state of affairs

tales from the jungle
always gives you the jimmies
yet you keep going back
somehow believing
the ending will be different

history repeating
always playing your part
sometimes like a tin soldier
marching in the fields
praying for winter to come




october two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

crows of aleppo


crow followed me home
like a shadow over my sorrow
squawking like a dog does
not knowing where to turn

by the time I got there
it had burned to the ground
that crow following me home
suddenly a dozen or more

as they circled up above
a calm enveloped my being
those crows following me home
neither ally nor enemy




june two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

no time for baseball


it’s the bottom of the ninth
and nobody’s keeping score
and though the lights are on
the stadium is nearly empty

in the comfort of my own home
I can’t reach the game on am radio
instead switch to fm and listen to
jimi hendrix covering bob dylan

early morning news feed arrives
bold headlines scream no-hitter
followed by abbreviated stories
regurgitating tales of mass destruction

weatherman breaks in unannounced
low lying fog chemically unbalanced
possibly canceling the school day
if not the entire baseball season




april two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

patient like the blackbird


in my isolation blackbird does appear
stammering about calmly impatient
deliberately explaining to me
my imaginary predicament

he says we’ve flown many times
into the unknown
much like a dream that repeats
but only after long intervals
like how distant planet orbits her sun

I’ve rescued you many times
(he goes on to explain)
taking you to the safety of the towers
where you witness firsthand
flocks of blackbirds
feasting into the night




april two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

tip-toeing


opposition forces positioned themselves
in the most peculiar way
so much so nobody seemed to notice
exactly who they were
or what they were doing

last fall foot soldiers were ordered to plant
thousands of tulip bulbs in the minefields
but not all that went in came back alive
and the ones who did rested uncomfortably
for the rest of their lives

by the time spring solstice arrived
the enemy had mysteriously withdrawn
and all the local children awakened with smiles
welcoming the newly risen sun
proceeding to run cautiously
through her once glorious meadows




april two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

land of radioactive blossoms


the truth started long before jesus
and the common era
crowd obsessed with lynching anyone
they could never quite
understand

if you can’t hang the one you’ve
got your finger on
find their next of kin
they’re pretty much one in the
same

passersby and bystanders turn a blind eye
just like good old peter once did
(god how we never do learn)

land of paradise is nowhere to be found
not in these here parts
and that place where milk and honey
flow freely
well that’s just some fairy tale etched upon
stone

though the flowers growing in disputed lands
can be quite beautiful
somewhere along the line
they simply become part of the battlefield
buried in the past with inevitable
probability of resurrecting
some warm midsummer
day




april two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

counting down the days


after the invasion we stopped lighting candles
instead looked to the stars for answers

the children were best at hide-and-go seek
despite the risk of never being seen again

days of routine left us long after the last train
and now what remains is this suffocating reality
where dreams and nightmares are but one in the same

there are no more rivers to cross or towns to destroy
no more ghosts to disperse or spirits to dispel
no more lessons to be learned
no more ransoms to be paid
no more saviors to be born
no more lives to be saved




march two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

promises made in haste


we learned to swim in arizona bay
long after the great shake
the one predicted ad nauseum
for a century or more
predicated on the fact
tectonic plates eventually
can’t help themselves

we talked often about migrating
down to all saints bay
but by the time paper dreams
developed into concrete plans
santa monica was already
crumbling into the sea

flashbacks take over in no particular order
replaying those days somewhere
near baghdad
digging trenches west of the euphrates
smoking camels and breathing
out fire and sand
promising ourselves under starlight
one day we’ll make it back
all the way to southern california




march two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

before the invasion


there is intimacy in the air
you can feel it like an imminent
thunderstorm on a midsummer afternoon

instruments shake and shout
going off the charts (as they say)
little ones hunkered further down
seated in circle of arms interlocked
chanting brand new psalms

preparations embrace for the inevitable
battening down hatches
buttoning down last minute details
counting down time
like some spaceship launch

there is intimacy in the air
you breathe it in deeply (embracing it)
knowing full well
you may never feel again





december two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

beyond next prosaic hill


champagne corks will pop like wild
wild west pistols shooting for the moon
like fireworks on the fourth of july
quickly consumed by darker forces

many will die but many will take their place
and they will do it over and over again
time and time again
for the sake of exercise
repeating without comprehending

more champagne follows each advance
short celebrations followed by praise
more ale for brothers and sisters in arms
their invisible halos dying to be seen





december two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

radio free america


play-by-play deejay
dominating the airwaves
feets stomping and voices shouting
ordinary citizens rejoicing in city square

they pipe in radio from the clouds
or so the children are told
it’s absolutely magic they cry
dancing the night away

far away high-stepping drum majors
lead troops out of war zones
prisoners bound and singing
bringing up the rear

meanwhile baseball diamond
becomes makeshift refugee camp
address announcer recounting
nineteen sixty-seven world series



september two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

destined to live and die here


wild horses stampede across
artificial hill outside waterloo
approximate to major shift
mountains and men bleeding
causing much exhilaration

kilometers away once free men
soon comprehend how bravado
and bondage have consequences
banished behind underground bars
joyous songs piping in

it’s been seven months or more
since the sun has shined
yet people continue to arrive
pilgrims and commoners and nobility
partaking in the simplest pleasures
praising daily powers that be



september two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

commissioned to the colorful meadow


when I reached one hundred years
there were no celebrations
for the world was at war yet again

though unable to wield bow & arrow
I could still shoot a rifle
I tried to explain to the chieftain
but he pushed me aside
and called for the next in line

three days passed
and I showed up yet again
this time with shovel in hand
explaining how a man my age
could still dig graves

he kissed me on both cheeks
first this one and then the next
followed by shouting out
my marching orders



august two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

line in the sand


I never saw so much whiteness
how it frightened me so
mountains giving chase to
skyscrapers
crumbling into seas

oh how I thought earth had died
and I alone sang the blues
the thrill gone
vacuumed inside mushroom clouds

survivors if any are free at last
washing ashore
(dead or alive) onto tiny islands
unclaimed by any government
legitimate or otherwise



august two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

resurrecting false blue indigo


false blue clouds hang over
from day before
blotting out an anxious sun
adding worries to an already
dramatically murderous summer

it was the year nothing bloomed
as world wars waged on

but the vegetables we grew
and harvested (underneath the radar)
were more than completely edible
but keeping it secret
played out to be impossible



august two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

taking hiatus from the city


the cease fire was nothing
more than fake news
declared by gluttonous warlords
seeking enigmatic furloughs for
scores of armies needing to be fed

meanwhile acid attacks continue
at an alarming rate
terrorizing a cautious citizenry
keeping pace with an expanding
and luxurious underground

whole cities no longer exist
while even more slowly crumble
subjected to a stronger will
and dying to be rehabilitated by
way of artistic interpretation



july two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

stopping the impending doom


jet fighters crisscross the skies
like high flying bishops
licensed to fly

at control central pawns
surround the queen
fanning her with anything
they can get their hands on

at all four corners
white men wage war against
all other colors
wielding maces and knives
flashing suicide switches against
her majesty’s wishes

all the while horsemen
silently breathe into the fog
anxious for that chance
to live and die another day





june two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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