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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “Poetry”

the old grey whistle test


even the crows seem to be tired
this unusually long summer
their calls traveling less & less

the hours counting down
the shift will be subtle but felt
like that brief pause
at the top of the carnival ride

their feathers become grey
voices more boisterous than before
the sun making its grand return
sparking wave after wave after wave




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

two steps forward


we toast to the bitter taste of success
that fun-filled & fleeting drinking buddy
the one who comes & goes leisurely
each one slightly different than the last

we talk how the city managed to move
the library three blocks from the river
a feat done in months would have taken
years just a few short centuries ago

flipping pages one forward & two back
the impossible becomes doable
finally dialing in on some answers
just how far we’ve ventured from home




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

closer to the edge


it’s a dangerous place
a dozen hooded juveniles
snap snap snapping their fingers
on the tip of their toes
dancing choreographically

there’s a jungle within the city
progressing & diverging
adaptations taking place left & right
one band singing a capella
another all electrified

the alleys gather ashes
just as the moon gathers light
midnight winds introducing
unrequited winds
swirling & rising unobserved

hunger awakens the mind
whether at sunrise or high noon
invisible hands motioning
this way to the next show
desiring to audition you




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

with a greater vengeance


larger than life
that’s how it is
either you are [or are not]

lies & innuendo
casually trending
barely above the surface

praying for snow
blanketing the fire
as if it was ever in control

clouds absorbing
any & everything
gossiping & gathering
redefining volatility
with a greater vengeance




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

to the moon & back


I’m lost again but what else is new
having put the fob in my pocket

comfortably buckled inside
I engage the flashing green button

a voice demanding in so many words
where are we going this time




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

grapevine


you never get the whole story
just bits & pieces
sometimes from a single source
some of the sources
you wish you could undo

you shake your head
most of the time
an occasional laugh or chuckle
somehow getting through
an unofficial approval
wooden cane bartered at the market
for three whole bucks

the number of times
you’ve fallen fluctuates
from one source to the next
and the existence
of this so-called stick
is subject to interpretation




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

ghostwriter


I’ve made it halfway through
this book I’m reading
abruptly finding myself stranded
not out on the water
nor in the middle of nowhere
but right here at this very place
I thought belonged to me

this book has become more real
than life itself
my own self becoming displaced
by no fault of my own
no longer capable of keeping myself
from breaking into many pieces
to the point where I’m able
of being in many places at once

this I say
is what death must be like
consumed by an ordinary book
and devouring it with ferocity
ripping through page after page
before abruptly pausing
only to continue by altering all
remaining pages on your own terms




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

for hope is here to stay


sing child sing
rejoice with the rising sun
remove your mask
and smile for all to see

sing child sing
you are meant to learn
with the few & the many
your voice carrying
across virulent waves

sing child sing
let the world know
you are perfectly at ease
flying like the wind

sing child sing
lift up your innocence
open wide your arms
be true to yourself
for hope is here to stay




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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

the other side of the fence


something must be wrong
there are too many tabs open
so I shut them down
each & every one

all day long I’ve felt a bit off
so I take the backroads home
flying by & honking at this billy goat
his front hooves pressing down
on barbed-wire fence

something tells me he’s lacking
just a little patience
and next time I see him
he’ll be flagging me down
bleating in animated desperation
where might his sad woman be




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

counting down to the solstice


this poem has nothing to do with
conspiracy theories
we’ll leave those to the privileged few
who specialize at passionately
passing along the blame

if it didn’t start in someone’s
reconfigured kitchen in wuhan
then it may as well have started
in a meth lab outside of ottumwa iowa
a place where bat sacrifices
are uncommonly documented

[I keep telling myself I’m not planning
on visiting either place anytime soon]

in the meantime the sun keeps setting
earlier & earlier every other day
leaving me thinking eventually
natural light will be a thing of the past
adding more fuel to the conspiracy fire




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a collage of sorts


working on a collage of sorts
I find myself in a world other than my own
latest abridged editions of dictionary & thesaurus
nearly within an arm’s length
occasionally referring to them with eyes wide shut

by the time you walk in
I’ve managed to rearrange every single word
beyond the point of recognition
string becoming rope becoming knot
mathematically twisted by persistent trial & error




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the gods must be pleased


though questions will forever remain
there is much to be done now

consumption of all sorts is alive & well
fresh oranges from a tree
from the good earth various shades of greens
on the store shelves boxes of reds
and jars of blues & yellows

in an otherwise empty playground
two children commandeer colors of their own
crawling across the concrete like spiders
delivering subliminal messages
by stamping down grotesque images

once accomplishing the task at hand
they look at each other
at their own rainbow faces
smiling & shrugging their shoulders
telepathically agreeing
the gods must be pleased




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

to learn something by heart


there is not one sound
drifting from the speakers
placed perfectly on the wall
twelve feet apart

the room is white & wireless
and with an inner wish
you fill the air with sound
a heavy bass composition
bringing you further in
the outside sun sinking
slowly darkening the walls

a stranger appears
[perhaps your unbeknownst host]
gliding across the floor as if on ice
extinguishing the sound
via verbal command
lighting taper candlesticks
with a snap of the fingers

by way of ten thousand lumens
the walls take on the color purple
the room refilled with sound
something refreshingly familiar
something you once knew by heart




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

finding my song


when I tell them I want
to be a bird when I grow up
all I hear is laughter

not just any bird
I go on to say
but one in which I can paint
my own feathers
a different color every day
one in which I can sing
a new song until I find the one
sung directly from my heart

and when I die
my brightest of feathers
will surely fade away
but my song
oh my song
it will live forever




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

in search of october


they’re everywhere
outside the sunroom feeding
barely audible & hurrying
inside hanging like glass angels
kept afloat by invisible wires

nobody dare notices
september is here upon us
mindlessly giving & taking
asking nobody for any favors
uncomfortably sitting still

depending upon the light
doors & windows open & shut
repeating every so often
winds die down & return to life
at the slightest command

it’s best not to give in
as you see like anything else
september always ends
desperate wings all aflutter
effectively fanning the fire




september two thousand twenty
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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