jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “War Poems”

occupying time


they keep missing their targets
these so-called sharp shooters
raised from the dead
passing puberty in a heartbeat
breaking in long-range rifles
pointing bayonets toward the sky


there are worse things than
becoming the next casualty
picked off by an assassin
who goes by so many names
whether cuban or texan
or from the lower east side

I’ve been down this road before
hunting down the bad guys
only to surrender
by no fault of my own
ordered to march in single file
as if these streets are not my own




july two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

center of the universe


an explosion at the end of the street
chased all the strays out of the backyard
of the empty house for sale next door

only half a block away
my windows shook but all remained intact

multiple sirens sounded closer every millisecond

I looked out the bay window but all I saw
was smoke billowing
upward in the once clear blue sky
like a fat charcoal snake twisting & turning vertically
as if commanded by its charmer

what used to be a quiet street
became anything but
curiosity seekers gathering at an alarming rate
to what appeared to be the new

center of the universe
a place becoming more dangerous by the hour




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

dead to right


all I wanted to do was play baseball
but world wars got in the way

throwing fastballs & sliders
big fat curveballs exploding in the sky

the airwaves were full of danger
yankees overtaking bases

bearded men in kneehigh red socks
slaughtering the entire field

of course it’s justified by orthodoxy
IEDs & suicide squeezes

inside foxholes older men in uniforms
chew tobacco & flash signs

though they’re waving me in
instincts tell me I must be dead to right




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

singing the dead march song


they busted the enemy
into bits & pieces
piling some into stacks
tossing others into bins
boy soldiers starting fires
in the alleyways & the woods
talking amongst themselves
how peace is a 60/40 proposition

cabinet makers started putting
out heart-shaped boxes
sold to the military at below cost

they say the casualties
have declined since the rising
of the blue moon
a pseudo cease-fire
a sleight of hand opening
& closing once colorful eyes
burial goers breaking out in song




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

celebrating another year of peace


it was her birthday the other day
so I sent her some feathers
it wasn’t exactly an inside joke
but she was most appreciative

we were supposed to hang low
instead took a trip elsewhere
two tickets to nowhere
though we were far from alone

I kept having to make changes
turning feathers into stones
stones into double roses
with hardly a place to grow

there was water everywhere
inside this landlocked nation
cleansing all the feathers & stones
continually accumulating




may two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

he only wanted to be a country boy


story after story
guns & knives & ideological hatred
I try to imagine a world without it

he always said he wanted
to be a country boy
but that’s not likely
once sentenced to thirty years

we keep killing
young ones at an alarming rate
whether by war or neglect or hunger
and those pushers behind bars
easily recycle misinformation




march two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

mass evacuations & caravans


the air became thinner than usual
as if it was ghosting right through me

last night a series of explosions
ripped through the city like a cat 5 tornado

for whatever reason I lost my sense of smell
back when we were crawling on highway 13

I’m reminded of the latest prophecy
that anything gas-powered will no longer work

come sunrise there was nothing but big sky
far from a metropolis that may or may not exist




march two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the partisan & the mercenary


after all we know
fighting like hell to solve differences
plotting & treading
I recruit thyself
not having to disclose my date of birth
thrown into action
and somersaulting
straight to the front lines
awaiting further orders

why is it so hard
to do the right thing
those things politicians preach
honor & praise
where do such commendable intentions
run & hide
once all hell breaks loose
becoming like a
frightened foot soldier
positioned in a fox hole
frozen in body
and in mind




february two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

learning the lay of the land


challenges always lie ahead
past triumphs & travesties
routinely rolling out to sea
never to be seen

by nature I’d been enlisted
to fight and love and fight again
for causes undefined
and passions ill-advised

if I go
it will be called predestination
and if I don’t
I will have missed out
on an arguable adventure
one in which I have zero control

but what control do I possess
by taking an alternative path
one of isolation
leaving behind not one crumb
learning that the mountain walls
too have eyes
and underground rivers speak to me
in a language precisely my own




january two thousand twenty-one
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a pause in the action


all is quiet on the frontlines
or so it seems one of the sides
has declared sunday as a holiday
giving the good guys & gals plenty of time
to rearrange the chairs on the deck

they’ll be a day when fencing
is nothing but a sword-flashing serenade
the enemy of the state
simply an award-winning film
premiering in seventeen seventy-six




january two thousand twenty-one
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

reading braille


once the war
was so many years old
the children picked up braille
& began reading again
fairly easily


august two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

thunder & lightning


something wakes me up
after only a few hours of sleep
rising to my feet in darkness
somehow feeling fully recharged
at two or three in the morning

who is there I ask
and what could you possibly want
at this hour of the day
preventing me from entering
the next stage of sleep
where I am accustomed to consulting
with the dead & the living
guest spirits guiding me
toward the eastern light

but now I live in a different world
left to wander on someone else’s terms
sometimes solving complex problems
but mostly stuck inside a foxhole
attempting to outlast the pounding




july two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

never imitate (and never die young)


never imitate but be yourself
my mama once told me

but who am I mama but a boy
like all other boys
wondering when I will become a man

never hurry son and never imitate
learn to love yourself first

but who am I mama but a boy
dreaming of going to war
and dying a courageous death

oh no child you will never go to war
take that silly notion out of your head
learn to never imitate and remain yourself
even when you are lost and alone

but mama I don’t want to be
lost and alone
I want to go off to war
and never come back
and make you as proud as you can be




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Those cold November days


I heard we lost the war again
when will we ever learn
from what I can tell probably never
not as long as the profits keep rolling in

Back in the old neighborhood
kids come and kids go
each generation playing with
weapons just as lethal as the next
most living to tell their stories
precious few never coming home again

When we return year after year
we don’t have a lot to say
though we all know what happened
out in the fields
will always feel like it was yesterday




january two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

ready. aim. fire.


wielding rifle or bow and arrow
shooting apples out of the sky
see how they fall one by one
nobody on the ground to catch them

a collection basket on sunday
quickly filling with thoughts and prayers
empty promises passed from one
lost soul to the next
hush money as they say
as if the original atrocity wasn’t enough

watch where you’re aiming young man
otherwise your fiery missile
could miss and hit
the broadside of the moon
thereby unleashing untold consequences




january two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: