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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “Poetry”

making amends


where I grew up the mississippi
flowed from east to west
and if you were a visitor
you’re bearings would be tested

for some reason i can’t cross the river
my curiosity extinguished
at lock & dam thirteen
where sun dogs gather and lie

you said you’d meet me there
once every other lifetime
as if you understood
dying tonight is impossible





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

while supper slowly cooks in the kitchen


it’s thursday night & the cocktail making
is in full-force in the basement
men & women & children
participating in the assembly line
loosely following handed-down recipes
remarking how they’ve circulated
over the past century from country
to country & continent to continent

local & social media continue to remind
anyone who may be interested
that the charity run starts
eight o’clock sharp on saturday morning

and all those down below
agree they’ll easily be ready by then





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

angels in my peripheral


I kept believing in my peripheral
but there was nothing there
rural mailbox not a hitchhiker
yellow utility pole not a giraffe

three angels work in the east room
validating dice & drawing straws

you said it was a good place
to unlock & unload
& so away I went to converse
with the sounds inside the woods

once inside I doubted my return
two or three angels in my peripheral





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

daily commute


sitting on a ledge with switchblade
in hand
either lost in thought or ultra-focused
asking questions below &
expecting answers from above
this is how life & death decisions
are made

the world is on edge
billions living on the fringe
a number too large to comprehend
especially when sitting on a ledge
with a good book in hand
making life & death decisions
without any outside help

outside looking in
this is how it will be in the end
sitting alone on the edge
waiting for the last train





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

rediscovering launch code road


buried beneath the rubble
a new city was being born
based on a model never before seen

I thought I had jotted down some words
turns out they were mere numbers
buried inside some bureaucratic rathole

I hadn’t realized how far deep I was in
until eventually recalling
what the numbers used to mean





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

one-room schoolhouse


the entire classroom was lost in thought

wrens were bouncing off the window
as if the outside world
had become scarier than usual

the children were reading solzhenitsyn
as the substitute teacher paced
back & forth along the blackboard
questioning every line

one by one the wrens went away
only to be replaced by morning doves
forming a simple line on the ledge

later there was a debate
exactly what year it was
unable to come to an agreement
they decided to move on to salinger

there would be no recess
due to the ongoing conditions
the kids tired of math & science & dead birds
all they wanted to do was read books
like ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’





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

ancient mariners


the clock strikes seven
an arc of fire in the sky
someone shoots at the moon
& arrows fly from nation
to nation to nation

nobody is to be spared
that’s the beauty of it all
men & women off to war
near zero to lose
& everything to gain

ancient ambitions
remain well stitched within
a strand of hope if you will
the clans reunited
refocusing on the stars





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

in the land of plastic immortals


there was this piece of land
where all the plastic aliens lived
exiled for no apparent crime
other than the color of their skin


they wore red & white or purple & black
or various shades of pink & brown
standing anywhere from three feet short
to ten feet tall
all of them speaking different dialects
of the same language
every single one of them misunderstood

beneath the surface
below all the various shades of plastic colors
there were no vital organs
no hearts to love
no lungs to breathe
no eyes to lock onto
no lips to kiss

without ever procreating
their numbers increased every time
the tide came in
the mortality rate on their piece of land
an absolute zero





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

circa seventeen seventy-six


there is hammering on the rooftops
in the not so distant past
fading from the west
echoing in a rhythmic pattern
like an ode on a grecian urn

autumn appears on the horizon
& hell not far behind
communications
arriving from all directions
be it by wind or bird or plane

I’ve yet decided what century
I shall waste the next
thirteen hundred dreams
lost in the city of brotherly love
pretending to be mere mortal





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

surviving the night


dating with time
the forever young man
dances with the ancient princess
gray-haired & lithe

the night could not
possibly last forever
or so she whispers in his ear
seducing a smile

but of course he has
countless memories
having survived the rise & fall
of many an empire





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

finding water on the moon


the world is on edge
or has it always been
& I’m just starting to notice

what year have you got
I got a quarter past apocalypse

somehow I managed
to maintain all of my limbs
drifting along with the walking dead
talking to angels who once had wings

word has it major prophets
are being born this year
destined to redefine mother earth
[& her satellite]
twenty-some years from now





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

Eureka


Slow things down my friend
before you burn out before
the morning light

Experiments are taking place
in the least expected places
kitchens & garages & wineries
roadside parks & inground pools

Secret recipes pass
by way of blood or bribery
the open market buying & selling
the sweeter the better

Burning the midnight oil
most often backfires
but when it doesn’t
oh but when it doesn’t





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

nothing else matters


be careful baby your wishes
tend to be dangerous
now that you find yourself
far from the shelf you once held
your most precious secrets

from start to finish you’ve
always been your own girl
your own soulful voice
teaching me to sing
as you lay yourself to sleep





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

it’s no big thing


that card she flipped
has got to be good karma
no matter how you look at it

it’s that time of year
the garden stretches itself
inviting unwelcome guests
when nobody is watching

she brings in more forces
earthly or otherwise
amassing swords at the border
repeating a pluperfect past

somehow the inevitable meltdown
becomes nothing
but a nonevent
leaving you with a bogey in hand
and a joker to your right





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

caught in a web of lies


what you wouldn’t give to be
someone else
how does it work that way
the heart & brain
at odds with each other
daily deciphering conflicts of interest
by way of the past

oh yes the past is a problem
but you cannot pick your ancestors
no matter what terrible
things they did to whole
groups of people
to dwell there is living there
with no correction in sight

you want to believe you’re
the misunderstood victim
but it doesn’t work that way
not when you’re the aggressor
dishing out hatred
by way of blind ignorance
born into a world without resolve





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

like a tulip or a monarch


skyscrapers rise & fall
no thanks to mere mortals
able to destroy that which they build
like a flawed god
constantly seeking attention

the gradual unfolding of a field
exposing all that is real
be it friend or flora or foe
young & old bones alike
buried so far below

bricks build these roads
one on top of another
a city layered in storied centuries
living & dying & born again
like a tulip or a monarch





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

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