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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “poem”

business as usual


it doesn’t feel any different this time
but go ahead and try to convince yourself
and everyone around you that it is
and maybe a little panic might set in

this is not the last resort but with a little
improvisational creativity it certainly can be

out of an abundance of caution
we didn’t leave the house for twelve days
and when we finally did set foot outside
the local birds twitched their necks in disbelief

contrary to popular opinion it’s still safe
breathing in and breathing out this earth air

believe it or not things will get much worse
before starting to get better
but until then the wars continue to rage
and the hungry still hunger




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

putting the wheels in motion


it’s past midnight
but the night is still young
well lit by a fattening moon

we meet by chance at the ranch
you arriving unannounced
me home on spring break
a few grain belts and half pack of
winstons all that’s left

we’re not exactly using our inside voices
but whoever happens to be here
is fast asleep on the second floor

it’s so much easier
to keep the lights on than not
easier to fuel up in the kitchen before
hitting the road for the river
a quick stop along the way
a twelve-pack and smokes
and whatever it is the man says
the catfish are striking




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

standing in line


yes it’s true the world is dying
[is always dying]
and we are a witness to its death
[its glorious death]
a slow and painstaking process
mysteriously inevitable
and eternally unanswerable

the airports are nearly empty
and the streets eerily silent
filled with long lines of masked pantomimes
arms extended and palms open
shadowed closely by feathery creatures
unable to fly and feverishly
sweeping up the crumbs

high above the skyscrapers
far beyond the tallest of trees
patches of blue begin to emerge
perhaps a sign of better times yet to come
or simply a figment
of every child’s imagination




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

make yourself


it’s a saturday morning
and you’re busily taking yourself apart
just you and a youtube video
illustrating how piece by piece
and bit by bit

rear man door and overhead fluorescent
give you all the light you need
tools sprawled out on the garage floor
each one serving a specific purpose

this isn’t the first time
you’ve tried to make yourself
and most likely won’t be the last
but maybe (just maybe) this time
you’ll be good to go come monday




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

all alone in no uncertain terms


in the early hours the grass was frosted over
from a thin layer of overnight snow
but by afternoon everything turned green again

it was a long and dark morning
eventually brightened by a weak december sun

we found ourselves either walking arm in arm
or standing hand in hand
speaking seldomly and listening to birds chattering
women young and old praying and weeping
their breathing variable and visible
a runaway child laughing and hopping through the field
like a puppy dog chasing a butterfly

by midday the gathering suddenly dispersed
and we found ourselves back where we started
retracing our footprints and our thoughts
all alone in no uncertain terms




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

on becoming a god


here I am again
magnifying glass in hand
examining the fly in the spiderweb
making fire with the sun

whether from a torn fingernail
or a crack in the porcelain
there’s plenty of room for anything
to enter or depart this biosphere

up close things look either worse
or beautifully exaggerated
like the death of the executioner
or my own facial striations




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

orchestrated violence in the night sky


sixty minutes and counting
where did everyone go
they must not realize
the fun is just beginning

it may be true some things
we stopped talking about
but that doesn’t mean
we can’t continue to celebrate
what little wins we have left

thirty minutes and counting
lost souls beginning to wonder
should they come back to earth
and try this all over again

why do we shelter our children
when we know most of them
eventually become adults
more than capable of deciding
what’s in their best interest

tee minus ten as they say
time to decide once and for all
do we blast off enthusiastically
or remain forever grounded




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

how long this time


there’s nothing complicated about it she says
but I disagree without saying a word
stuffing whatever personal belongings
I can find into my weatherworn backpack

a lone violin begins playing on the radio
and suddenly I am transported to another day

she continues to talk above the music
most likely of money and promises and roses
but all I can hear is the violin lifting my spirits

she rises off of the bed and reaches for the radio
asking how long I’ll be gone this time
knowing full well the answer is probably forever




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

purloined hearts and assassinations


I keep counting on my fingers
like I’m five years old
solving one equation after the next
as if it’s nothing but a thing

I’ve quietly learned to separate
distance from time
without having to use my fingers
or any other cognitive skills

I once fell in love with an assassin
with a selfless attitude
and the quickest seven fingers
(I’ve ever seen)
this side of the mississippi

oh lord how she stole my beating heart




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

special delivery


unused wishes
and patches of blue
peek through wintry skies

floor lamp on low dim
exposing raindrops
suspended on frozen glass

solitary thoughts
packed heavily like snow
grow weary day by day

cursive writing
beautiful postcard scene
airmail stamp and brevity




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

whispering


I felt hungry and weak
having fallen asleep
for forty-five moons
never once was I asked
my name
long after awakening

this place is not like
the last
and I imagine so
for good reason
the world as I know it
changing before my eyes




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

younger than I really am


there is art in the air
you can see it
smell it
feel it
you can breathe it in
and exhale with a complete
sense of satisfaction

there is a sense of security
that art brings
to the table
whether seen or heard
or simply vibrating
through the atmosphere
like a hundred billion molecules

play me a song with your fingers
painting surreal pictures
inside my head
making me younger
than I really am
and giving me the courage
to start all over again




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

days after the riot


I am not who you think I am
freely walking these city streets
eyes looking forward
unafraid to be noticed as some
outsider instigator
as one who should have been arrested
with all the other hooligans
from the other night

I tell you I don’t know any of them
and despite
your inherent prejudice
I remain remarkably comfortable
in my own skin




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

it filters through


some birds are back but the temps
are well below zero
either they never got the memo
or they’ve come back early
for some unknown reason

I slowed down for a murder of crows
while taking the long way home
a hundred or so
cleaning up a spill of sorts near
the corn sweetener plant
once in my rearview
anxiously getting back at it

shifting gears past the hill
the music meets the sun
and the speeding locomotive
sounding off along the river
eagles circling high above
sparrows racing in my peripheral
nearly anything with wings
busily chasing dreams




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Expecting Jane’s Return


She once told me no more lies
but that was a half-life ago
I’ve since forgotten
the illogic circumstance
leading to such a proclamation

Smoke and mirrors always adored her
changing little lies into white lines
appearing and disappearing just like that
leaving me with hands in pockets
stuck again paying the rent

Jane always left for no good reason
out looking for something
she’s yet been able to define
block party still a go a week from today
everyone expecting to see her there




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved




Kudos to ‘Jane Says’ by Jane’s Addiction which I’d heard on the radio
on the drive home the night I wrote this poem.

Bravo!


I’ll have no part of this tragedy
handed down from one
actor to the next
lead role playing out vicariously
some saying posthumously

They keep prognosticating
that the winds are directionless
but anyone with a set of eyes
can tell they come and go
mostly from stage right
it’s a wonder everyone’s
not banging into one another

Each year the party seems to be
getting smaller and smaller
before you know it
it’ll be a one-man show
and then I’ll have no excuse
but to rise and clap above my head




february two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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