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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “War Poems”

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

A million miles from home


Elton John’s ‘Daniel’ streams through my
car speakers
as if it’s 1973
quickly reminding me
I am not old enough to drive

Daniel my brother
everyone knows
you just want to shake loose those
lights and cameras
shadowing you through the fields

Word has it you have returned
home
(yet again from battle)
attempting to dissolve into the
fabric of some small Texas town
one of which children google
all the way from Afghanistan

To me Daniel
you can never get away
you are stuck inside some song
like some reluctant cosmonaut
seeking inner peace



april two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

apache helicopter down


the helicopter crashed on the side
of a hill on a sheep farm

the sheepdog was the first to arrive
followed by the sheep themselves
and finally the shepherd

the dog sniffed all the way around
the main part of the mangled mess
marking it here and there for good measure

most of the sheep vied for position
for a look-see in the cockpit
but it was vacant

“they must have jumped out before
it crashed” the shepherd murmured
under his raspy breath

there they stood on the hill
the shepherd scratching his head
and the sheepdog licking his balls
the sheep themselves looking
down at the village where the
peaceful inhabitants once lived



february two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

forgotten fragments inside virtual minefields


do you even know anymore
exactly who you are
or do parts of you disappear
or change into something else
entirely
day after day after day

there was a time
when life wasn’t too complicated
but those days are long gone
and you are left wondering
who is pushing what buttons
and when for god’s sake is it going
to be your turn

people arrive and move on in your life
like clockwork
sometimes they reappear years later
and you are left wondering
what that is all about
and just like clockwork
those in power change hands
and the wars already in motion
suddenly change course
while others begin out of nothing

and if you stick around long enough
you will see friends become enemies
only to become friends again

but wars don’t seem to bother you
but obviously they bother those
thrown in the crossfire
destined to feel the pain you can
no longer feel
sitting somewhere in the dark
motionless
pondering mundane questions
about your mundane life
about those little pieces
that used to belong to you
but have disappeared
or changed into something else
entirely



february two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

(forty-five seconds ‘til sunset)


there were birthday bashes
and wedding plans
happy anniversaries
and simple cocktail parties

(released from the atmosphere
sounds of near sonic speeds
accelerate)

there were candles burning
and balloons suspended on the ceiling
teenagers smoking secretly
and babies stirring in bassinets

(precise targets become isolated and
confirmed via encrypted
airwaves)

children in paper hats chase tails
and girls in summer dresses walk on by
there were flowers abloom in the garden
and water fountains making rainbows

(suddenly a fiery crash
turned into an expanding billowy shroud
erasing all of reality in specific vicinities
instantly)



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

taken to a nearby hospital


the city was on fire
and I was like a lost lamb
roaming past identical houses
hoping the next turn opens up
to a countryside I once knew by heart

they say the nightlife is the best here
where the most beautiful people gathered
to forget the past

but then it was gone in a flash
like a trick of the mind
there you see it
there you don’t
limbs gyrating like an egyptian
eyes mesmerized
believing just about anything

there was a man with a staff
crying out in the city center
where the river divided the land
and though I was perfectly lost
I heard him clearly above the
sirens and screams and
deadly detonations



january two thousand seventeen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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