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poetry by j matthew waters

Archive for the tag “war poem”

saving the next city


how many miles we traveled
far from shore I do not know
the early morning city lights
flickering atop gentle waves
skyscrapers sinking into their
self-induced holes as
madmen rush to resurrect them

the fish were striking at an incredible
pace and the captain had trouble
resetting all the downriggers
while house flies persistently bit
the whitest of legs
reminding the youngest of men
everything comes with a price

at the end of the day as the boat
drifted back to shore
there were no women or children
welcoming them back home

there were no lights
no music streaming from pipes

but the streets
the streets they were weeping
streets littered by madmen
already destroying the next city



june two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the killing fields


I hallucinated the worst was over
had traveled across fire
and rice alongside
thousands who looked nothing like me

this waking dream propelled me
back to 1972
when I was just eighteen
and volunteered to free the world

when the war ended I chose to stay
crossed state lines
as an american civilian
aiding and amusing innocent children

many times I had been captured and died
the slowest of deaths
reborn into the same fields
that used to feed a starving people



may two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

fighting over rings and things


we can’t ever forget hate
it’s tattooed on our biceps
trademarked on baseball bats
and army issued khaki pants

we walk around with grudges
taped on our faces like some
splintered biblical family that never
went to church on sundays
nor practiced what they preached

real estate is abundantly spacious
once you are dead and gone
catapulted into the farthest
reaches of the unknown
but in the meantime
we treat it like some precious ring
nobody in this world
deserves to possess


february two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

lord of my machines


he took the microphone
and introduced himself
men without souls below him
fists raising and voices cheering
redefining their short-lived lives
chanting ingrained mantras

he convinced them they are
more than mere machines
destined to find praise and glory
long after the killing is done


january two thousand fifteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

more dangerous dead


twenty-five lifetimes ago
there I was
witnessing the truth with my
very own eyes
chronicling
the birth
the childhood lessons
the ministry of the baptist
(and his beheading)
the sermon on the mount
the riding into town on a donkey

since then throughout
all these centuries
I’ve watched this beautifully
tolerant notion of community
torn down and
snatched by ordinary thugs
manipulated and maligned
encompassing the earth
like thin strands of truth
woven from east to west

and if you pluck one here
or strum a few over there
you just might create
a little harmony

or a whole lot of war


december two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

spinning further and further out of control


time has brought change though it seems
everything remains the same
except that there are more of us going about our lives
doing the things we love to do and
doing nothing about the things we hate
because the challenge is just too daunting

so we allow all-powerful corporations to
continue making profits on weaponry and war
allow all-powerful governments to preach
peace while covertly perpetuating
conflict in faraway places
maintaining instability that has lasted
thousands of years
where lives are continually torn down and
wearily rebuilt over and over again
where faces of children
don’t understand the meaning of happiness
because they are forced to live in a world
continually spinning in a direction that is
contradictory to everything decent and just



december two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

angels of mercy


birds of all nations storm
war-torn suburbia
switchblades and derringers
concealed under wing
blanketing rooftops and lining live wires
waiting patiently for night to fall

predawn fog smothers the moon
and silences the stars
cloaking angels of mercy
and their effortless wings
zeroing in on and sweeping away
newly orphaned refugees


november two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

who’ll stop the charade


there is a storm brewing
simmering in a big black pot
stirred by faceless warlords
pretending life
doesn’t matter much

high winds blow madness
into the next town
precisely honed strikes
wiping out historic deception
as new chief lays down
new laws

war drums beat relentlessly
inside children’s dreams
bringing showers
to the desert and
drought to the streams
turning camels into arks and
temples into zoos

from the beginning we are told
there is no time to write home
there is only more life
and more land
to claim for our own


october two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

imagine


these neighborhoods
reside in underworld riddles
subjected to laws
systematically enforced
by remote controls

stepping on stones
children experience daring truths
along boundary lines
carving their world from another
looking from afar

latest weapons
brutally scratch hard surfaces
buckling the pavement
like tectonic plates exploding
and consuming homes

lord have mercy
mothers lament repeatedly
sprawled on city streets
grown children riddled with bullets
limp in barren arms

lifeless bodies
encircle living among dead
pleading up on high
beating breasts and shouting for world
to imagine peace



july two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

we regret to inform you


let it ring
don’t answer that

nobody’s home right now
especially now

outside it’s raining and sometimes
it seems the doorbell is ringing
but it’s just the rain
ringing in my ear

and that pounding
the pounding on the door
that’s just my head
repeatedly shouting
no no no don’t answer that
don’t you dare let anyone in


april two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the treaty of good riddance


let go of the anger
leave it at the doorstep
ring the bell and run away

there is no room for it
anywhere or anymore

all it does is drag you down
leaving you
and everyone around you
exhausted

let go of the anger
and reach out to someone
in need
someone you’d never thought
would need help
or someone on the other side

let go of the anger
and instead practice humility
and patience
and gratitude
start proving to yourself
you can live without it
and be someone better
than you were the day before

think of the restraints anger
puts on your life
how it prolongs your depression
and reinforces your addictions
preventing you from ever truly
enjoying the benefits of positivity
hospitality and endless creativity

think about it
think about how losing your anger
would be the best thing the world
would ever know

food will taste better
the air will smell sweeter
and those streaks of light
racing through the sky
will be nothing but beautifully peaceful


january two thousand fourteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

Infantry


He was born with a suicide pack
strapped around his waist
not too far from where Jesus the prophet died
nor too far from where the once trendiest cafe in town
is now a basketball court

Through the age of seven he pleased Allah
by wearing the gift with pride
fully understanding his duty
was more powerful
than his circumcised phallus

As the eventual light self-destructed
into angelic chaos of heavenly proportions
he leapt into the next dimension
and into the arms
of seventy-two virgins


august two thousand thirteen
original version october two thousand seven
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

the prince and the peacemaker


the children are being watched
by men with weapons
acting as protectors
from foreign forces

they volunteer as escorts
for the elders
protecting them from snipers
and negotiators with knives

it’s easy getting educated
at such a young age
quickly picking up maps
and languages
of many legions

as long as they refrain
from strapping on suicide packs
their prophesy of negotiating
lasting peace
will one day ring true



march two thousand thirteen
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

a promise enlisted


i gave you my promise
and you ran with it
all the way across the country
where you boarded a ship
destination i don’t know

you tried saving the planet
with my promise
attached to you at all times
like it was part of the dog tags
hanging from your neck

by the time they shipped you
back to the states
the promise had expired
lost to the heavens
awaiting for me there


september two thousand twelve
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

toy soldier


how old can you be before understanding
who you are? is there an hour if missed
makes it undefined? or does the inner self
turn back time and take you to a place
where you just started to breathe?

what event is truly more life-changing
than whatever happens today?
and what happens if someone today
stands in your way?
do you just mow them down?



may two thousand seven
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

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