poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “ghosts”

ghost cats of the historic mill district

the walls are rock solid here
repurposed mill district buildings
turned into restaurants
& other retail establishments
studio & two bedroom efficiencies
on 2nd & sometimes 3rd floor
anything higher than that
allegedly under reconstruction

most of the domesticated
& feral felines of the day
enjoyed their finest of nine lives
in the late 19th & early 20th centuries
their dominance still apparent
to this very day
chasing real life moths & mice
from one building to the next

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

ghosts trapped within

you can’t keep them in chains
but sometimes that’s exactly
how they feel
waltzing through fields
or transcending down a river
fed into a never-ending story

they see each other perfectly
having shed their imperfections
here and there
gathering among the gathered
accepting the incoming storm
as if they are trapped within

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

striking a balance

autumn nearing its end
solitary specter regressing
roaming empty streets and alleys
digressing on thoughts of love
bemoaning intellectual wisdom

safehouses have no vacancy
full moon gives little solace
though somewhere in the city
a fire burns with purpose
bringing the dead back to life

november two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserve

house across the street

it seems a ghost I know may be dying
once firmly grounded
has suddenly opened second story windows
red curtains flowing outward like fire
white doves waiting in the wings

I was sitting on the front porch
right across the street
rocking on the slider and sipping
arnold palmers and drawing
cigarette smoke to my lungs

at first a single entity easily escaped
but as time quietly passed
locusts hungrily congregated
wailing and screaming and extolling
forming their very own shadow

I watched dumbfoundedly
their storm drifting northwesterly
saying under my breath ‘good riddance’
knowing it was just a matter of time
before new neighbors rolled in

august two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

who’s that knocking at the door

it’s a revolving door
that house across the street
a dozen different occupants
over past 20 years

I’m afraid to go in myself
and I can’t remember
how long it’s been since the
last time I did
afterwards lecturing my children
to never to step foot inside

of course they’re all grown up now
living their own lives with their own
memories of what may or may not
have transpired there

meanwhile I remain here
in the house they grew up in
standing in front of the picture window
curiously watching a young family
moving in like it was only yesterday

april two thousand eighteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

when sitting alone there is even less silence

fingertips tapping keypads
keep time with strings
playing in the background
recreating this little biosphere
unfolding in my mind

wind chimes and bird songs
chatter noisily over a nearby
stream and faraway train
while oscillating fan mimics
breezes blowing in my face

lonely souls and frisky ghosts
sit near the fireless pit
swapping old stories and
asking invisible gods why
their prayers linger and fade

may two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

The Pretender

I left all these little clues where you could
find me hiding in the strangest of places
sometimes squeaking quietly like a mouse
nibbling on a morsel of cheese
casting a tiny shadow against the white curtain
other times banging pots and pans
at the break of dawn
in an otherwise empty kitchen
while you were upstairs fast asleep
my reckless display was just part of a nightmare
you could never quite piece together

During the workday when the house was lifeless
I would rummage through your old vinyls
singing as loudly as my lungs would allow
somehow knowing nobody within in a million
miles would be able to hear me

When you finally came home I was too weary
to make an effort to be noticed
could barely stand to see you so worn out
so I would wander a few hours between the walls
pretending they were part of an intricate maze
pretending I still belonged outside of them
pretending you were not as sad as it seemed

june two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

through these walls

the seasons turned but I wasn’t ready for it
I was too busy looking back on the
opportunities I had squandered
brushed aside like slight inequities
rotting into things undone

I knew the snowblower in the garage
wouldn’t start so I put a blanket over it

I brought in the shovels from the shed

the snow may be the death of me I told myself
but I’ll be damned if I can’t still dig

I wasn’t ready to go back into the house
so I pulled out a beer from the fridge
and sat on the workbench
vague images of things undone coming
to mind and mixing with telephones
ringing through these walls

november two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved


she turned the handle and
let herself in
supplanting footsteps
left ages ago
when she could barely breathe

standing tall in the landing
she listened for her
heartbeat barely audible
down the hallway
eyes looking waywardly
as shoulders effortlessly
let go the knapsack

she stepped forward
and further into the past
kicking every single ghost
trying to settle back in

january two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the time eraser

fleet of foot
and quite aloof
the time eraser
runs in the background
as quiet as a ghost

as mistakes
the time eraser
springs into action
restoring sanity

troubles fade
thoughts unravel
the time eraser
injecting new cocktails

august two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

saturday in the park

sitting on a bench in green square park
one saturday morning
I detected so many ghosts
walking about

the first day of summer
was just a stone’s throw away
and the nine o’clock sun
tried to burn the foggy images
out of my mind’s eye

some wandered alone aimlessly
some marching in groups of two
or three or more
some pretending they really had no business
being here
while yet others carried bags
or pushed empty strollers
hoping to find ways to fill them

at the nearby city gardens
I spotted little ones sniffing
red roses
that always came back to life this time of year

I leaned back and marveled
at how all of the ghosts
managed to travel through time and space
just to revisit opening day
at this year’s farmers’ market

june two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

shadow dancing

one hour past midnight
the clock tapped me on the shoulder
and i opened my eyes
laying there in the dark
staring at the wall coming to life
with silent apparitions dancing to the rhythm
of the outside breeze
which filtered into the room
slightly chilling my hands and feet

i was too scared to move
and wondered if the time had come
to travel with the company
wondered if the players
would pull me out of the bed
and carry me away out through the window
into the never-ending night
where i would become a shadow
dancing on someone else’s wall

november two thousand twelve
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

The Shadow of Billy Capp

The shadow of Billy Capp
drifted along Little Mill
encouraging anyone
to venture further inside
the once private property.

It was a hundred years
to the day Billy Capp
was shot in a poker game
the ace of spades found
buried beneath his sleeve.

Legend has it he was chained
and dragged to Little Mill
where he was anchored
into a seven foot pool
that moonless autumn night.

Come springtime the body of
Billy Capp had diminished
into a spectral mist
forever daring any brave soul
to test the sterile water.

october two thousand twelve
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

children of the light

we danced in the rain
beneath the streetlamp
our minds drifting
past the invisible moon
into carelessness

we lived in a place
without birth or death
a visual paradise
where angels in the sky
longed to touch down

at night we chanted
for the moon and rain
to call the children
hiding beyond the light
to dance
and dance again

august two thousand twelve
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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