jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “War Poems”

on reforming a terrorist


she died as a homegrown terrorist
having succumbed
to the voices
inside her complicated mind

it wasn’t the first or last time
she’d have died
so violently
this time by way of chemicals
mixed precisely so

how she wished she had
a dying wish
something she’d learned about
throughout the centuries
but for some reason until now
never had a chance to express





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

hanging out at the motorpool


you tell me people you don’t know but love
keep dying

I tell you I’m sorry
but there’s not much we can do about it
now that the cat’s out of the bag

I keep thinking about the crisis unfolding
on the border between Ukraine & Russia
wondering what the hell Snowden
has to do with it

you know I’m dying don’t you
you say
but since I can’t see you I say yes
in all probability you acquired the virus

I don’t ask if you’re vaccinated because
I could give a rat’s ass
now beginning to wonder why you bothered
to call

a decade ago I wouldn’t have answered
having been stationed in Afghanistan
keeping all the Humvees running

I can hear you breathing from the speaker
as if you’re upstairs in the bedroom
and I’m sitting at the kitchen table
pouring myself a shot of Jack





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

boots on & off the ground


so what else is new
I heard someone say
talking to nobody in particular

they were on their own
fully armed & marching lazingly
as if in a trance

local reporters ran
with their camera people
out of breath & reaching out
with their absurd microphones

of course nothing was going on here
it’s just an exercise one said
yeah we’re just exercising
others chimed in

rumor has it the boomers
are to blame for why people are dying
to live on the moon
further blurring the difference
between fact & fiction
much like how
parade routes are now advertised
as just another way out





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

King of Macedonia


What’s in a name
or a date
such as Alexander the Great
or three twenty-three before Christ

Questions such as these
lead to others
uncovering a string of
undefeated battles
ranging across vast regions

How is it the war
within man
is unstoppable
as if the original instructions
flowing through the bloodstream
had been altered
by a God with a wry sense of humor





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

The art of disturbing the peace


The world has never been
a safe place
not in 1969 or the roaring nineties
whether in Sandwich Illinois
or half a world away

Past revolutions & world wars
at times take a back seat
to today’s atrocities
perpetuated by lone wolves
or governments (seemingly)
legitimate or otherwise

As the writer Baldwin
once eloquently illustrated
security is but an illusion
created by society
uniquely necessary
for reasons inexplicable





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

test pilot


I’ve got this idea
there’s no such thing as life
that there are only snippets
of time you stuff inside your pockets
and then one day
you lay them all out
like a general inside a map room
using a conductor’s baton
to point here & to point there
& before you know it
the war is over





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

hello my name is principal


there are toys spread out
from one room to the next
I’m almost fearful of them
this time around

I’m not used to being this alone
all the while so many eyes
obviously spying on me
as if they’ve nothing else to do

hello my name is principal
and I need more time
deciding who should die
& who should replace me

I’ve been back from war
for what seems like centuries
the world I left & the one
I now live indistinguishable





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

rediscovering launch code road


buried beneath the rubble
a new city was being born
based on a model never before seen

I thought I had jotted down some words
turns out they were mere numbers
buried inside some bureaucratic rathole

I hadn’t realized how far deep I was in
until eventually recalling
what the numbers used to mean





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

ancient mariners


the clock strikes seven
an arc of fire in the sky
someone shoots at the moon
& arrows fly from nation
to nation to nation

nobody is to be spared
that’s the beauty of it all
men & women off to war
near zero to lose
& everything to gain

ancient ambitions
remain well stitched within
a strand of hope if you will
the clans reunited
refocusing on the stars





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

caught in a web of lies


what you wouldn’t give to be
someone else
how does it work that way
the heart & brain
at odds with each other
daily deciphering conflicts of interest
by way of the past

oh yes the past is a problem
but you cannot pick your ancestors
no matter what terrible
things they did to whole
groups of people
to dwell there is living there
with no correction in sight

you want to believe you’re
the misunderstood victim
but it doesn’t work that way
not when you’re the aggressor
dishing out hatred
by way of blind ignorance
born into a world without resolve





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

outside afghanistan


it’s not explainable
be it fish or fowl
or alien invasion
so many miles
from the shoreline

out on the lake
I saw it unfolding
in slow motion
like a weather event
swiftly moving in

how none of the
witnesses rememberedOUT
a thing is baffling
leaving me on the inside
refusing to look out

from what I hear
I’ve made the short list
but now I’m absent
far removed from the sea
& probably landlocked





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

one step closer to golden valley


the last of the great cities fell
piecemeal in a matter of minutes

it was the year the music
died for the third time
in all of human history

this must be it
or so said a cult of survivors
having managed to run off with
the whiskey & rye

they followed the stars by night
(and slept by day)
the owl & the red fox & fireflies
becoming their champions

the smell of destruction
gradually faded
from town to town
the only signs of life continuing
to be their own entourage





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

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

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