poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “homeless”

breathing back to life

it was a shapely leaf
seemingly frozen on the asphalt
burnt orange and brown
with spots of faded yellow
and streaks of barn red

I happened upon it strictly
by accident as I crawled
on my hands and knees
searching for a place to sleep
through the dead of winter

picking it up carefully
I cupped it gently in my hands
cold to the touch like the
thinnest of glass
fragile like fairy wings

as it warmed in my palms
I blew on its outer edges
its unforgiving blades shuddering
like a little baby bird
or a big colorful butterfly

october two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

angel in my oldsmobile

sometimes my inner workings hesitate
like a sixty-nine cutlass

in the back seat my hopeful angel
looks out half-opened window
elbows on arm rest
chin supported by hands

eyes cast upwards she interprets
unspoken words
as they race past silently
like high-flying clouds

the night sky indicates
low temperatures are inevitable

but who’s to say when autumn
shall begin and end

there comes a point where nobody
really cares when the dead of winter
has finally set in

and as long as I have my angel
inside my winterized oldsmobile
I’m bound to witness
the ides of march again

september two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

starving graffiti artist

downtown railroad cars
sit still in line like cows
waiting to get branded

cigarettes cost too much
but not a quart of malt liquor
or can of yellow spray paint

getting good day’s sleep
is critical for optimal performance
when working graveyard shifts

nomad apostles carry flashlights
and lighters and waxing moons
calling out on occasion to look out

not opposed to taking new requests
or collaborating on a tanker
there’s a preference for going solo
especially on kansas city southern

september two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

children without smartphones

homeless little ones
fill the city square
walking aimlessly and unsupervised
staring into the palms of their hands
slaying pokémon dragons with
whatever imagination
they can get their hands on

august two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

first signs of spring

everything came out of hiding
except of course
that which devoured
the other thing
like the worm to the robin
or the flower to the deer

trees blossom above the concrete
dwarfed by sun-hungry high rises
giving temporary shelter
to angels warming their wings

rising above the surface
transitory spirits take to the streets
assessing what the winter had done
by taking a simple counting of heads

april two thousand sixteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

but walk I must to free my troubled mind

it’s mid-morning early summer
and I leave my little office for a quick
ten minute walk through eight city blocks
passing brick and mortar and black glass
cutting through a bike trail lined
with flowers and trees and park benches

it’s somewhat humid and somewhat hot
and I loosen the knot of the tie from my neck
worrying about sweat staining the collar
of my freshly ironed
buttoned-down oxford

the city is diverse and there are certainly
many kinds to meet along the way
but for whatever reason I tend to change course
when approaching the homeless
those courageous individuals who are already
planning where to spend the night
the disadvantaged who somehow manage to smoke
cigarettes and consume cheap whiskey or wine
only to wake up in a dreamless state
forced to do it all over again
usually by holding out a hand

I tell myself making monetary pledges
and sending off checks to post office boxes
is not necessarily the answer
but it’s the easiest path to take
especially when burdened by troubles of my own

july two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

all alleys lead to sand and saltwater

walking away from the sunset
shopping for the next place to sleep
eyes remain optimistic of a tomorrow
promising pay

all alleys in this pacific coast city
lead to sand and saltwater
along the way housing is made from
cardboard and wire and unfinished dreams

familiar hopeful faces
unite and welcome the wonders of the day
their hands busily preparing
to feed five thousand

august two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

fat tuesday

it was a dreary afternoon
and the local parish priest
spent most of it in the box

i sat in a pew in the back
underneath the twelfth station
narrowing my bloodshot eyes
and focusing on the pain
in my hands and feet

i lost count the number of times
the confessional door
swung open and shut
and i imagined none of the sinners
could hold a candle to what troubled
my criminal mind

when the lights turned dim
i delivered my own penance
and ventured back home
under the bridge
in the punishing rain

march two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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