poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “aging”

the fading protagonist

I am the last of a dying breed
how many times have you heard such a thing
my irish-backed whiteness
and lack of an accent [due to my
american upbringing]
couldn’t make me any more

inkless & pierceless & without
nary a conviction
I look & sound exactly as expected
 —predictably beaten

            I say do not interview me
I’ve nothing interesting to add to the

I like to talk about all the times
I’ve almost died
but nobody wants to hear those
cat stories anymore
if only they had changed over the years
embellished & unbelievably heroic
perhaps they could have
transitioned into lives of their own

instead I’m the interviewer
& the interviewee
a super long list of imperious questions
going unanswered
hour after hour after hour

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

recollection sunday

usually nothing comes to mind
due to the clutter inside
having built up over a lifetime
only occasionally sortable
though mainly a jumbled mess
making little to no sense

the pictures are uncountable
yet interchangeable
moving in & out of recesses
with emotionless abandon
the audio like birds of various colors
but mostly in shades of black

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

a waste of my precious time

there’s nothing to do here
all the windows need cleaning
looking out
past the tree tops
the sky is blue & red & green

the circus is in town
or is it the carnival
on saturday the farmer’s market
arrives downtown
it’s kind of like a moveable feast
or so I tell people
and mostly a waste of my precious time

there’s nothing to do here
don’t bother coming
paradise left back in the late sixties
now there’s just a bunch of nothing
going on
I can personally testify

the ballclub from fort wayne
rolled into town last night
I heard they’ll probably kick our ass

to boot some sort of pop rock band
is playing at sundown
at the outdoor amphitheater

I’m sure the place will be packed

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

the other room

there is a song playing
in the other room
sounding somewhat familiar
but too faint to make out

of course the other room
is incapable of playing music
and so you venture there
to see what is what

the curtains are open
and so are the windows
you stand in the other room
as the song draws to a close

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

going through the motions

everything was crystal clear
in my mind
what I wanted to say
but when the time came to act
I froze in my own tracks
one foot in front of the other
body in full motion
memory failing

I called my mother today
to see how they were doing
aches and pains
too proud to hire a maid
it took some doing
coaxing a laugh via chit chat
neither of us interested
delving deeper than that

august two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

just in case

I’ve not been taking calls
but somehow this one came through

I’d been smoking and coughing
complaining about not getting
enough to eat or drink
beginning to wonder
if anyone would be visiting
again anytime soon

when the phone rang
I pressed ‘answer’ out of curiosity

nobody was on the other end
but at least I had another button
to push if need be

I looked over at the end table
and there I saw
an unopened pack of camels
and my anxiety
suddenly lessened

june two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

120 moons

when life can’t get any better
something hits you with
indiscriminate authority
leaving you reeling and rewinding
forcing you to go underground

fast forward and here you stand
garden spade in hand
having dug your way out
over a period of 120 moons
well rested after presumed dead

the old outer you no longer exists
unlike your inner revolution
which continues to evolve
redefining a checkered past
with a future that has no end

january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

one fresh lemon and frozen peas

carrots & celery & radishes
those are the easy ones to remember

instead of making a list
I try to recall what’s in the fruit basket
lazy susan and freezer

if only I didn’t have to stop at the pharmacy
everyone hates me there
plus they have my number and long memories

I rarely go down the middle aisles
afraid I may never come out
instead stick to the edges
where I can see real people
peddling real ideas

I tell my text-by-psychiatrist
that I’m not a druggie and never was
but I do like to get high
in the strangest possible ways
and most conspicuous places

she tells me to go on but I don’t
believing she’s really not a she
but rather an under-age sex-bot created
by four freshmen software engineers
at iowa state university

I sort of come back down to earth
when the bell rings and they ask me
if I found everything all right
leaving me scratching my head
and fumbling for my car keys

january two thousand nineteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the last migration

nobody talks about birds
growing older
but here we are
sitting on park benches
bread crumbs in our hands

this sitting down is for birds
I say out loud
and you naturally agree
without speaking a word

it’s a warm winter’s day
and our shadows
are barely visible on the
black asphalt
like skinny icicles hanging
ever slowly changing

december two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

beer cans and forget-me-nots

the beer cans used to be blue or
but now they’re gold with a splash
of lavender…it’s all very confusing

I went to the grocery store to purchase
some stamps and a lottery ticket
and pick up a twelve pack of that
beer in gold cans and
lavender lettering

when I got home and walked into the house
(by way of the garage)
the dog stared at me from my favorite chair
his ears lit up like some stupid jack rabbit

oh son-of-a-bitch I say to the jack rabbit
I forget to pick me up
some of that damn beer

august two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

those good old days

they sit in the great room
watching golf with the sound
turned up rather loudly
commenting how none of the
golfers have visible tattoos
like so many other athletes

what’s this cloud they talk about
she queries
pointing at the microsoft commercial
airing on the television

what’s that he shouts back

the cloud she repeats
what is this cloud all about

beats the hell out of me he says

but I thought you knew everything
she says

for the last time he says
I once knew everything
now all I know is jack squat

picking up the remote
he turns the volume up even louder

march two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

let the weekend begin

everyone I know is getting older
and some are even dying without
a moment’s notice
never getting a chance to say
good-bye sweet world

in the grocery store I ran into Joe
and asked him how his wife was doing

she’s gone man where have you been

I’m sorry I say and walk away

out in the parking lot everyone is
a ghost of their former selves
systematically going about their lives
running out of bright ideas
to reverse the inevitable

but not me I am perfectly fine
no wrinkles on my face
a rosy glow still on my cheeks

I tell myself this is the last time
I’m going shopping here
and I rev up the engine and
drive my case of american pale ale
back home where we belong

august two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

yet another trip to the landfill

there is an empty dumpster sitting in a
driveway down the street

it was delivered there yesterday I said

what the hell are you talking about she said
that dumpster got dropped off last friday

I exhale some sort of harumph
and step into the next room
quickly standing squarely in front
of the bay window
dumbfounded and staring at that thing

tomorrow will make it a week
I say to myself
almost certain tomorrow is friday again

I wonder if I they need any help over there
I yelled back toward the kitchen

not even a “what-did-you-say”

I wonder if I should go fishing
I tell myself
and try to figure out exactly why
a perfectly quiet neighbor
is throwing away his life

may two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a perfect promise

I didn’t expect this empty space
to be this warm
the quiet space where heartbeats
keep time with thoughts
that never rhyme

I remember you telling me
to keep the door shut
but I never did figure out why
or exactly what was out there
you didn’t want to be seen

I can’t see much light
passing through your ageless eyes
once dashing but now
hopeless like a waning moon
casting half-lies

while forgetfulness lurks
truth stalks along the outer edges
promising a perfect distraction
while washing youthfulness away

march two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the start of a brand new day

there’s something missing he said
opening the refrigerator
pulling out a mcintosh and
gutting it with the round steel slicer

deliberately he ate slice after slice in
complete silence
focusing on the uneasy feeling
deep inside his core

outside on the front patio he heard
the daily paper kicking the door

out back a stray cat cried in the cold
garnering the attention of camouflaged chickadees
sitting quietly from within the pines

a gust of wind brought forth new life
from the many wind chimes

beneath his feet he feels the morning train
beginning to roll from a few miles away
a good forty minutes late he tells himself

as the first whistle blows
the sun breaks free from the clouds

january two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the sound of winter

room by room he drifted
attending to the windows
first shutting the storm
then locking the
lower sash with the upper

he moved mechanically
like an old timepiece
powered by the sun
the swift hand moving
hesitatingly from lack of light
his thoughts fleeting
like the gray winds outside

leaning on the last window
he felt oddly safe
but desperately alone
the sound of winter
forever secured inside

november two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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