jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

lights out in the heartland


the grass was covered in ash
a delicate dirty white
easily blown by the wind
waving through the neighborhood
like a thin blanket slightly floating

dogs without leashes herded
themselves through the narrow street
as if instructed to follow some leader

the sirens never went off
and any kind of free or paid service
simultaneously became inoperable

whatever it was that fell from the sky
shaking the earth for maybe sixty seconds
arrived with an incomparable sound
leaving silence in its wake

or had we all become deaf





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

repairing old circuitry


things easier said than done
drifting sideways like a ghost
pacing a subway platform
once grand ideas drifting
from the left to the right
within reach but untouchable


what I would like to say
stays inside this prison cell
eating away at a past
that was far from perfect
all the while retooling (by)
rewiring the memory board





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

shadows dancing in the darkness


the city is in danger
but the population is not scared


going about their business
before the lights go out

there is a vision shared by
some local mystics

brought to the center of
attention by way of

the prior administration
somehow stuck in the airwaves

the micro & the radio waves
the healing waves of the pacific

aligning mysterious thoughts
with those of the newest moon





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

looking out the third floor window


of course I’ve done this before
adjusting the past like some light
that only wants to flicker

the more you adjust the rearview
the less the picture fails to change
sunsets sounding like analog sirens
serious misdemeanors like grave sins

I’ve been seeing red again
random spots in a field of cotton
perhaps cast by a surveillance drone
sent to uncover the mystery of
crop circles & all things unexplained





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

none of this will ever end


check your resting heart rate
that watch should tell you

nobody knows how accurate it really is
I mean isn’t that true about everything

it takes ten thousand steps
to get from me to you
and I’d do it thousands of times
if I truly had to

how long had we been lost in the woods
and how much longer did it take
before finding our way out

I still remember that time when I said
none of this will ever end





september 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

making amends


where I grew up the mississippi
flowed from east to west
and if you were a visitor
you’re bearings would be tested

for some reason i can’t cross the river
my curiosity extinguished
at lock & dam thirteen
where sun dogs gather and lie

you said you’d meet me there
once every other lifetime
as if you understood
dying tonight is impossible





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

while supper slowly cooks in the kitchen


it’s thursday night & the cocktail making
is in full-force in the basement
men & women & children
participating in the assembly line
loosely following handed-down recipes
remarking how they’ve circulated
over the past century from country
to country & continent to continent

local & social media continue to remind
anyone who may be interested
that the charity run starts
eight o’clock sharp on saturday morning

and all those down below
agree they’ll easily be ready by then





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

angels in my peripheral


I kept believing in my peripheral
but there was nothing there
rural mailbox not a hitchhiker
yellow utility pole not a giraffe

three angels work in the east room
validating dice & drawing straws

you said it was a good place
to unlock & unload
& so away I went to converse
with the sounds inside the woods

once inside I doubted my return
two or three angels in my peripheral





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

daily commute


sitting on a ledge with switchblade
in hand
either lost in thought or ultra-focused
asking questions below &
expecting answers from above
this is how life & death decisions
are made

the world is on edge
billions living on the fringe
a number too large to comprehend
especially when sitting on a ledge
with a good book in hand
making life & death decisions
without any outside help

outside looking in
this is how it will be in the end
sitting alone on the edge
waiting for the last train





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

the reprise of autumn


at some point I will return
& nothing will be as it seemed

highway 52 has since turned green
all the way from cinnamon roll hill
past the flourishing hamlet of saint donut

the river still runs through everything
creating new veins along the way
mainly thanks to the passage of time
existing in the imagination

the rust on the rocks
have long dusted themselves off
& artificial creations
once made to be transparent
have returned to their original
peacock-like colors





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

one-room schoolhouse


the entire classroom was lost in thought

wrens were bouncing off the window
as if the outside world
had become scarier than usual

the children were reading solzhenitsyn
as the substitute teacher paced
back & forth along the blackboard
questioning every line

one by one the wrens went away
only to be replaced by morning doves
forming a simple line on the ledge

later there was a debate
exactly what year it was
unable to come to an agreement
they decided to move on to salinger

there would be no recess
due to the ongoing conditions
the kids tired of math & science & dead birds
all they wanted to do was read books
like ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’





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

in the land of plastic immortals


there was this piece of land
where all the plastic aliens lived
exiled for no apparent crime
other than the color of their skin


they wore red & white or purple & black
or various shades of pink & brown
standing anywhere from three feet short
to ten feet tall
all of them speaking different dialects
of the same language
every single one of them misunderstood

beneath the surface
below all the various shades of plastic colors
there were no vital organs
no hearts to love
no lungs to breathe
no eyes to lock onto
no lips to kiss

without ever procreating
their numbers increased every time
the tide came in
the mortality rate on their piece of land
an absolute zero





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

circa seventeen seventy-six


there is hammering on the rooftops
in the not so distant past
fading from the west
echoing in a rhythmic pattern
like an ode on a grecian urn

autumn appears on the horizon
& hell not far behind
communications
arriving from all directions
be it by wind or bird or plane

I’ve yet decided what century
I shall waste the next
thirteen hundred dreams
lost in the city of brotherly love
pretending to be mere mortal





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

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