poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “genealogy”

Dead Relative Society

Bill & Becky lived downtown
on Ligonier Street in Latrobe PA

Rebecca was born with my last name
but died a Beatty
back in nineteen o’three

William died twenty-three years earlier
the exact date unknown at the time
of this writing

We’ve been looking for both of them
for a good thirty moons now
and finally they surfaced
as if knowing we were looking
uninterested in dishing out one dime
to find them

Tonight we celebrate with champagne
and hash under glass
toasting to the stars belonging to them
for tomorrow we rest before moving on
knowing the key to their door
opens up the next three hundred years

september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

portrait of a thirty-year-old orphan

for thirty years he found his way
from one place to the next
accepted by contemporaries
and admired for his insistence
on making the world a better place

orphaned at the age of three
he left his birthplace Latrobe
with a motherless family of five
his adoptive father
a tanner turned farmer
staking a claim in eastern Iowa

though a member of no church
his views on nature reflected
the good there is in man
all the while exercising charity
and condemning none

wherever he worked
innovation soon followed
his adventurous spirit a godsend
to each community he served

though illness plagued him
wherever he traveled
he never murmured nor complained
boldly facing the inevitable
crossing the dark waters
with a firm reliance
on mercy and love and destiny

december two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserve

the day of the descendant

I’ve studied and analyzed
so many
who have come before me
reconstructing their lives through
research and poetry

As I lay here daydreaming
(perhaps dying)
motionless (projecting translucence)
I bid adieu to friends and foes
by clicking my heels
and tipping my old gray hat
spiritedly introducing to the world
those we’ve yet to know

february two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Researching the Madness

The lines go back far they do
lines drawn on a map
from somewhere in Pennsylvania
via Antwerp and Brussels.

The little girl grew into an iron-fisted
Matriarch who rang the bell at five
to feed her boys the holiest of bread
while reciting hymnals of fear and guilt.

Her shepherdless husband
followed her trail to Illinois
to a sleepy town her brother first discovered
years before boarding SS Vaderland.

It was there tempers raged within
from the ethnically charged populous
but she managed self-restraint
and seldom raised her hand
against her own Motherland.

But for her brother the chains broke
and wickedness unleashed itself
on Christmas Day
as the quietness of the neighborhood
exploded with a single shot of insanity.

That dying branch still hangs crooked
on the corner of Rose and Lexington
its venomous DNA lingering
inside a sleepy little child.

february two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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