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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “War Poems”

strategizing using alcohol


what do you want
and I’ll make it for you
an oatmeal cookie
a washington apple
an irish pipe bomb
whatever it is
I’m sure I can make it

even if I’m not familiar
with the vernacular
I’ll google it & improvise
variate old recipes
guaranteed to blow your mind
not to mention opening
possibilities
of retaking previously
conceded territories





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

beyond the burning cities


at what point does the truth not matter
after the walls have crumbled down
and the fighting men have retreated


past neutral borders into safer cities
abandoning their own identities
past the point the truth doesn’t matter

blending in to regroup & relearn
a language other than their own
spoken by fighters who have retreated

dying to live another peaceful day
abandoning a pledge & a promise
at what point does the truth not matter

recruiting women & children into their fold
sabotaging their own bridges
fighting men fearful & in full retreat

abandoning their own ideals
turning their weapons into passports
at what point does the truth not matter
as once fighting men stage a full retreat





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

Wichita


If I catch you coming back my way
I’m gonna serve it to you

                        ―John Anthony White

She pinned a tail to my behind
as if I were a donkey
somehow tied a string to my underbelly
and away she sent me sailing

With each tug & pull
[and adding more line]
I became less & less vulnerable
relaying signals
that no Seven Nation Army
could ever hold us back





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

five thousand miles away


I broke my fast with a beer
it’s been a day
& a half
the moon flirting with the sun
on a saturday morning
after the arrival of the
screech owl in the tallest pine
but before the paperboy
hand delivers
absentmindedness

I say no news is good news
but we all know better
displaced men & women
& children
learning as they go
one eye squinting
the other zeroed in on the sight
picking off one target
after another until
the last one surrenders





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

a radical change of pace


we keep the doors locked
when at home
and unlocked when gone
seems like the most reasonable
thing to do

most of the neighbors
have been replaced
—since we never talked to the old ones
[in the first place]
we’re not speaking
to the new

it’s like we’re living
inside a hitchcock movie
strangers viewable
through their rear windows
training birds of prey
right there
in broad daylight
the ones without feathers
probably drones





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

The Art of War


Once the weather radio started freaking out
all things went to hell in a handbasket

There’s one thing I know about the climate
it’s always in a constant state of flux

After the storms passed we counted
the damages on ledger paper
one for physical
two for mental
and three for extraterrestrial

The mess is becoming a bigger mess
mother nature at war with herself
randomly precise & indiscriminate
hitting targets from any & all directions
whether in the air
or on land
or at sea





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

the days I lived alone


I am trapped inside this house
a house without mirrors
all of them stolen
by mice & men

here I am left to own devices
setting traps
& replaying forty-fives
with the volume on high
as I attempt to wipe away
all the evidence
all the blood
from the bathroom
& the kitchen
and down below
where the furnace roars

I don’t really live here
anymore
it seems the mice
have taken over
a transitional situation
to say the least





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

hitching a ride out of the war zone


the television is too loud
and the radio plays softly
the ambient air
cooler than it needs to be

the clouds are low
puffy like pink elephants
roaming the skies
in search of a little drink
or a romp in a puddle of mud

all the noise from the inside
evaporates in a heartbeat
courtesy of a smart bomb
delivered from the far side

caravans become as common
as the latest virus
instinctively searching
for clear skies
like wolves or jackals
or hyenas would do





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

Chief Nuclear Commander


Forging a new path is rarely easy
as any historian knows
societies flipping on their sides
defying the odds
by way of switching associations

Paying a price is never an option
no matter which side loses
ask any responsible citizen
pledging allegiance
to the latest & the greatest





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

inside the apothecary shop


as history continues to repeat itself
I idly peruse the apothecary shop
filling my empty bread basket
casually
as if the atrocities of the latest century
can be replaced by non-
prescription drugs
newly arrived from omaha
or columbia or singapore
or maybe from the neighbor next door
the latter growing their own shrooms
& dabbling in synthetics
telling you how they’ve recently added
gambling to their repertoire





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

mining for peace


afraid of silence
we anticipate the next explosion

while some mine for any kind
of real or virtual metal
we are mining for peace
located one & two stories
beneath the streets

in such places one learns
to strategize carefully
and breathe shallowly

every sleepless night
but a simple reminder
never to forget
the art of reciprocation





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

sorrowful pilgrimage


it was the day after
our bones tattered & torn
knowing not if we were
dead of alive

overnight the crows
became nocturnal
as if the poles had reversed
after a century
of fluctuating

they had become
our field guide
and though we asked
they wouldn’t say if we were
dead or alive

time passed as if
in reverse
each lifeless town we reached
showed no sign of
blood or skin or bone

wildflowers grew by the roadside
we picked them
we put them to our noses
but to no avail

the crows said it was okay to eat them

and so we did

as we traveled further
back in time
the crows became
eerily quiet
in the dead of night

and we knew not if we were
dead or alive





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

trapdoor


listen up there’s
a new world order
brewing

in the kitchen
fm radio blaring
emergency
broadcast signal

everywhere you go
something’s
missing
a sock
a mitten
a cherished memory
taken away
by dream thieves

listen up
hut two three four
we’ve made it official
& we’re doing it in style
stumbling headlong
through the newly
constructed
trapdoor





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

inside Putin’s pockets


they arrived by boat
and once docked
the boat imploded

was it a staged event
or a sad accident
rumors circulating

the number of deaths
underreported due to
understaffing
the pandemic
the supply chain
you name it

those who made it
were no longer
themselves
(no longer boat people)
merely survivors
relearning how to live
(and let live)
on foreign soil





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

Recalling the Day I Died


I’ve become dizzied

    ~ spinning faster than a top
or something known as a whirling dervish

struggling to recall the day’s events
I’ve given up on the present

there is much digging going on

          in the garden

                it is springtime

& the commotion is overwhelming

            the year nineteen fourteen
the last time I was alive





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

while in the pursuit of happiness


today’s glass
wiped of memories
eliminated by tanks since
destroyed

yesterday’s was
half empty
scattered thoughts
incapable of
piecing together a single thing

tomorrow’s glass
is yet to exist
its contents incubating
awaiting on a toast
to the victor
goes the spoils

boo/hiss to the insatiable





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

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