jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the category “War Poems”

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

made in america


playing monopoly halfway seriously
building hotels on mediterranean avenue
all the while dabbling in regional politics

you might find expats inside crossfire cafe
plying chocolate lattes and rolling dice
taking undue risks for a small piece of the pie

since when were any of us ever really safe
whether rebuilding railroads or utilities
dodging bullets or thrown shoes
all of which were likely made in america




january two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the gardens of babylon


as my memory fails me
I attempt to recapture
my chain of thought
especially concerning
what we’re fighting for

the gardens of babylon
belong to every man
woman and child
created by a power
mightier than any sword

yet destruction reigns
the gardens simmering
with smoke and fire
wiped out by a million
and one shooting stars

taking in my final breaths
I rejoice believing
the gardens of babylon
will return in all their glory
free from any threat of war




december two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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

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