Monday, May 22, 2017

Thinking of Death

I live my life like Death will pass me by.
   I plan like there will always be tomorrow.
Convinced that only other people die,
   I mourn their loss with mixed relief and sorrow.
Death is the tiger that I cannot see;
   The jungles of the day-to-day conceal it.
Death is the knife that’s always aimed at me;
   Like happiness, just other people feel it.
Life is the great rigged game Death plays with me,
   Making me think that I am in the clover.
I get the ball for years and score scot-free.
   Death only has to play once, and Game Over.
      I hold the key, but haven’t got a clue.
      I think of death, but never think it through.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

If I Love You

If I love you, that means you give me hope.
If I love you, good deeds are bribery.
If I love you, I’ll sulk when I don’t mope.
If I love you, then you need therapy.

If I love you, my flaws can’t live without you.
If I love you, then your heart has a sentry.
Love is the novel that I write about you
So I can swear that it’s a documentary.

I’ll tell you you’re the sun to my cold earth,
I’ll make you fill a cup that has no bottom,
I’ll give your moods control over my worth,
I’ll kill your spring with my dead leaves of autumn,

And hate you for what you don’t do or say.
So if you love me, please—please—run away.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Monday, May 15, 2017

Love Is

Love is a treasure dive without the bends
   That robs a cave where green-eyed monsters lurk.
Love is like Friday night—it never ends
   And never thinks about next Monday’s work.
Love is a game where moves are all unplanned
   And rules never exist until you make them.
Love is a do-it-yourself Disneyland—
   You have to build the rides before you take them.
Love is a toll road that will not take change.
   Love dies a little without self-destruction.
Love is a singer with a three-note range
   Who only sounds good after post-production—
      A heart you’ll misplace till it goes astray
      And only find when you give it away.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fun Party

The ones who don’t, keep saying that they care.
The ones who shouldn’t, drink in great amounts.
The host parades as if he has a pair.
The hostess is the only dish that counts.

The beauty with the legs wears tiny shorts.
Her lover shows off pictures of his kids.
They’re in the bedroom making sweater forts
While Mom watches her marriage hit the skids.

The one whose lips burn like a lemon flame
Is kissing the remote and debonair.
The one you want to whisper your full name
Chats about someone hot who isn’t there.

And every drink tastes like a sweet collection
Of desperation, envy and rejection.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Monday, May 8, 2017

Love Is

Love is a wish that blesses when it curses.
Love is a dish that’s half-sublime, half-trite.
Love is a play that endlessly rehearses,
Then gets rewritten every single night.

Love is the raw suspense of the pursuit,
The biting thorn chased by the soothing feather.
Love is my shipwreck and my parachute.
I want to be included, not together.

I’m drawn to what is hopeless, vain or doomed.
I crave what sense and sanity forbid.
The loves that didn’t happen have consumed
My hungry soul more than the ones that did.

For love’s exciting—maddening—taboo—
Inconstant—steadfast—kind—like me. Like you.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I Need You Like

           “I need him like the axe needs the turkey.”
                                --The Lady Eve

I need you like the doormat needs the boot.
I need you like the dry mop needs the spill.
I need you like the foodstain needs the suit.
I need you like the bullet needs the kill.

I need you like a cataract needs eyes.
I need you like the sickness needs the host.
I need you like the firing squad needs spies.
I need you like the braggart needs the boast.

I need you like the right hook needs the chin.
I need you like self-pity needs rejection.
I need you like forgiveness needs the sin.
I need you like false gods need genuflection.

I need you like the drunk needs alcohol
Which means I really don’t need you at all.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Peter Pan

He made his move and what was there to say.
You only heard his lies each time he talked.
You had moved on, but not quite moved away.
The door was almost closed, and in he walked.

He said: “I’m sorry—it was my mistake.”
You thought: Guys don’t mistake-sleep with another.
He said: Tell me how to help heal this break.”
You thought: Bad boys always come home to mother.

And mothers always take their wastrels back.
He’s Peter Pan, you’re Wendy, and it blows.
He gives you magic, and you give him slack,
Which keeps him immature. And so it goes

Until he leaves to live with lost boys and
Some little bitch from Never-Never Land.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Game of Hearts

Hearts speak to hearts in knowledge beyond words.
   They bleed into each other when they meet.
They nest in feathered warmth like mating birds.
   “Ah—there you are!” they say. “Now I’m complete.”
Hearts give themselves to hearts like Christmas toys—
   Some soothe you in your sleep, like quilts of cotton;
Some pierce your soul with never-ending joys;
   Some end up in a chest, lost and forgotten.
Hearts can break other hearts because they care
   For nothing but the smugness of the vain.
But hearts bring hearts to life each time they share
   Their every gift, without a thought for gain,
      And light the way past envy and regret—
      Like yours to mine did, on the day we met.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Month Of Couplets

From The Daily Couplet:


“Been saying this for years!” gets no belief
When uttered by our smug Liar-In-Chief.


              Jared Kushner Drinks
                 A Truth Serum

“Let’s run the country like a company!
“But since it’s Trump’s, prepare for bankruptcy!”


When his deals fail, flop, die, or are undone,
Only a charlatan insists he won.


“Bad boy!” Santa Trump tells Climate Control.
“You get a stocking full of lumps of coal.”


“I never said that!” cries the falsifier.
“And anyone who proves it is a liar.”


Doomed Love

His kind of heart keeps thinking it can save
What her unkind heart’s kicking to the grave.


There’s no talking to men who are all talk.
Their words are sneakers that won’t walk the walk.


                 FOX NEWS

A propaganda blender for the Right
That makes a smoothie of each racist white.


What I regret most are the sins I never
Committed so that we’d be one forever.


“We settled! That means I never attacked her!”
Guilt-free harassment: the O’Reilly factor.


When sycophants enthrone incompetence,
Opinions kneel to blind obedience.


Because you risk your tongue when you give lip,
Intimidation breeds self-censorship.


               Today’s Executive Order

“Those who speak out against air strikes in Syria
Will get a one-way ticket to Siberia.”


The thug’s excuse for violence is numbing—
“I clobbered him because he had it coming.”


Governing, talking, thinking? Trump’s a mess at.
Murdering children? THAT, he’s a success at.


                           Two Ideas of Love

Just do it her way—that’s what she calls sharing.
Your feelings don’t count—that’s what he calls caring.


                          Two Ideas Of Love

She always smiles, but inside she’s a mourner;
Her cheery manner is what makes him scorn her.


                      Logic à la Trump

When we minimize threats, it’ll be with escalations.
If we go it alone, it’ll be with other nations.


        Two Ideas Of Love

He’s honest about his duplicity;
She’s heartfelt in her insincerity.


There’s nothing like despair to make you see
That losing is our common destiny.


Trust in the work, no matter who’s booing it,
And make it like you want to die doing it.


The only thing that gives Trump an erection:
Bragging about how he won the election.


My guards watch me—but though I can’t see them,
I know enough to shun what they condemn.


The villains that you really have to fear
Are those who say “There are no villains here.”


             Two Ideas Of Love

His heart’s the miracle for which she’s living—
The one thing he’s incapable of giving.


            Two Ideas Of Love

She needs approval to be self-reliant;
He only praises you when you’re his client.


Hungry for hope, I gobble up despair
And drown myself in you, looking for air.


No sooner met than looked, and loved, and sighed—
Now joined in joy well-earned and glorified.


                  Democracy In Action

“Cast your vote for Candidate Balderdash!—
So his vote can be bought by corporate cash!”


               Left Wing Blues

We’re Democrats! Instead of doing more,
We’ll just screw up the way we did before!


               Left Wing Blues

Show me three Democrats, and I’ll show you
Four factions who say “Real change? No can do.”


                Left Wing Blues

Liberals will fight each other like mad dogs
But let Conservatives be racist hogs.

                 Left Wing Blues

The middle of the road has crushed muskrats,
Dead armadillos, and live Democrats.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Down In the Dumps

I see tomorrow's failure, not its hope.
I hear how my guitar strings are untuned.
I live my life through the past’s microscope—
It makes my smallest flaw gape like a wound.

No matter what I own, I feel my lack.
No matter where I go, I never stay.
My freeway winds up in a cul de sac.
Hard work has got me nowhere, day by day.

My progress has no movement—only motion.
Because I fear defeat, it worships me.
I wear self-pity like it’s suntan lotion.
I throw away the lock to spite the key.

But why? Why crawl as if the ground might drop me?
I’m on my own. So who is there to stop me?

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Monday, April 24, 2017

Life Says

Life says: “I am the only thing you get.”
   I say: “Then I will make you what I need.”
Life says: “You want to win? Then make a bet!”
   I say: “It’s not the winning—it’s the deed.”
Life says: “All your achievements I’ll anoint.”
   I say: “Yeah; right—maybe posthumously.”
Life says: “I really hate to disappoint.”
   I say: “You sure love doing it to me.”
Life says: “Swallow your pride and win a medal.”
   I say: “I take pride in what I’ve created.”
Life says: “I will not love you till you settle.”
   I say: “Then I’ll be happy to be hated.”
      Life says: “Then there is nothing I can give you.”
      I say: “Then my gift is, I get to live you.”

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Life iIn 14 Lines - 24: The Past

The Past’s an unforgiving dictionary,
Defining me by what I did and said.
Its purpose is to keep me stationary.
It paints me in what’s over, done and dead.

The past’s a lover who just won’t move on—
Telling me that her feelings mean I owe her,
Guilting me with a duty that’s long gone,
Blaming me because I dared to outgrow her.

Dressing me up in what no longer fits—
Humming me like an old familiar song—
Freezing my heart and licking it to bits—
Making me feel like growth and change are wrong—

My past defines me, on this one condition:
It cannot haunt me without my permission.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Go Be

Go be the sun that lights the darkest sky.
Go be the faith that nothing can betray.
Go be the pattern others measure by.
Go be the one and only every day.

Go slay the dragons that would hoard your treasure.
Go grin at hurdles and take home the gold.
Go stray down every path that leads to pleasure.
Go skin your knees like you were ten years old.

Go ski the Everest of your destiny;
Set free your inner slave, give her a crown.
Go cup your hands and drink audacity.
Go up your game. Never let yourself down.

Go tree a future that you’re worthy of
And be the soul that I will always love.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Life In 14 Lines - 23

My love’s an angry guard dog on a chain.
My hate’s a warming campfire in the cold.
My feelings never make it to my brain—
They melt and harden in a bullet mold.

My afternoons are what I take a nap in.
My nights are all about the exploration.
The disappointment when it doesn’t happen
Is ten times stronger than the expectation.

I hug the chaos but I hate the shoddy.
I love tradition but despise the rut.
Only my fingerprints are on my body.
The doorway to my heart is rusted shut.

Yet they will all dissolve, these fears that freeze me,
When someone looks at me and truly sees me.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Club Mateo

My inner life’s an after-hours club—
   It is my nemesis and my salvation.
I sing along to someone else’s dub;
   I dance to Hurts (they’re always on rotation).
Desire gets me drunk and feeds me sweets.
   I know I’m being played, but can’t renounce her.
Resentment sits down next to me and tweets—
   Somehow he always slips in past the bouncer.
The bar fills up with dreams who always say
   “I’m yours!” so they can party on my dough.
I slow dance with the one I want to stay.
   But always she has somewhere else to go
      And blows me kisses from her taxicab,
      Leaving me with a promise and the tab.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Month Of Couplets

From The Daily Couplet:


The real enemies of Democracy:
Kings who demand unquestioned loyalty.


All governments end up like the Titanic:
The only state is one of sinking panic.


So many of the best women are driven
To men who always need to be forgiven.


Always online, the Universe is waiting
For keywords loving, caring and creating.


The pains of torture, poison, vivisection,
Are heaven to the hell of love’s rejection.


Cloudy or bright, failure or paragon:
The day is always daughter to the dawn.


If I can't give without an expectation,
Then generosity becomes flirtation.


Look forward: potholes, detours, nothing clear.
Look back: a smooth wide road, straight as a spear.


When men are robbed, they’ll fight like tigers born
But act like sheep when regularly shorn.


You can train apes to read the printed page
But that won’t change their bullying or rage.


       How Trump Defines Watching The News

Stay glued to all your screens like some dumb Rhesus
For news that’s just rewritten press releases.


     How Trump Defines A Free Press

The Press must praise our phony attributes
And never point out that we’re empty suits.


With loss, the echo stabs more than the deed.
I don’t know I’ve been wounded till I bleed.


                    Trump’s America

A ship of state that pushes overboard
The wretched refuse and the dark-skinned horde.


No matter how it ends, goes or begins—
The game we play is rigged. God always wins.


By its pain racked and on its pleasures gorged,
This life’s an anvil where my soul is forged.


Women see Trump and recognize an ape
Who rules like he can get away with rape.


Joy follows grief in one brief frantic blur
Untasted—unless sipped like sweet liqueur.


The credulous say crooks are civilized
Whenever they don’t rob as advertised.


When assholes come down on me like confetti,
I’m sick of being big. Can I be petty?


I’m proud of two things—how I play Love’s game
And the scar on your heart that has my name.


Freedom is not the right to pick and choose
Who gets its gifts. Do that, and we all lose.


Women and Blacks are part of an invasion
When “real American” means “male Caucasian.”


         A Postcard To The White House

No matter how you lie, the truth will strike back.
(And Adolf Hitler called—he wants his Reich back.)


         A Postcard To The White House

Freedom’s like Trumpcare: our masters have whored it,
And we can’t get it if we can’t afford it.


          A Postcard To The White House

You’d rather be obeyed and cheered than fair.
(And Adolf Hitler called. He loves your hair.)


This life breeds strangers far too easily.
Find kindred spirits. Make them family.


Happy Birthday, Patrick McGoohan

Count me and classify me if you can—
I’m not a number; I am a free man.


          How The White House Defines
               “Personal Freedom”

“Your rights won’t disappear—we’ll just consider
Selling them to the highest corporate bidder.”


The Christian Right believes that charity
Means never giving anything for free.


        Republican Senators on the
        Judiciary Committee Agree:

“How dare you say our nominee’s not fit
After the way we treated yours like shit?”


                   The Current Motto of
             The Department of Education

Since the well-educated want to screw us,
Let’s keep their kids so dumb they can’t see through us.


               The Trump-Approved
                   Republican Motto

Nothing you say or do can terrify us—
Unless, of course, you’re rich enough to buy us.


Like criminals will always self-impeach,
The overbearing always overreach.


             Except For My Friends

It’s not constant rejection that I mind—
It’s that the world is boneheaded and blind.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Friday, March 24, 2017

City Life

The momentary is my daily diet.
A sinking feeling is my gut’s sea level.
I seek the Holy Grail of peace and quiet
But calm and silence normalize the Devil.

All that I grasp, with passion or in rage,
Slips through my hands like powder through a grapnel.
There’s no geography—space is a stage
Where Paris gunshots trigger New York shrapnel.

Nervous by day and trembling in the dark,
I claw at any pleasure that leaves scratches—
Part of an army searching for a spark,
All packed together like a box of matches—

Burning to find a cause that’s worth the fight
And see by more than momentary light.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Friends All Say I’m Brilliant

My friends all think that what I write is brilliant.
Producers rate my work 2 out of 10.
Life says: “Buck up and learn to be resilient!
I could care less what comes out of your pen.”

My friends all tell me I deserve success.
Success just laughs each time I ask her out.
She makes a date, then loses my address.
Life laughs, and says: “That’s what I’m all about.”

My friends all say I’m lovable as hell.
But love is bull, and I am its torero.
Life says: “Given your heart? It’s just as well.
You’ll never hear Te Amo—just Te Quiero.”

Such highs and lows—you’d think I’d get the bends.
I don’t. I never will. Thanks to my friends.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells


Monday, March 20, 2017


Sometimes my heart feels like a phantom limb.
Pain stabs it, even though it isn't there.
And something weeps that used to sing a hymn.
And something bleeds that can't afford to care.

And there I am, reliving it again:
The ugly battle and the pointless fight,
The wounds we took at our own Devil's Den
When Love bled out till it was cold and white.

That finished me for war. And yet the need,
Behind the loss that haunts me, has revealed
An emptiness in me I cannot feed
Unless I stand upon that battlefield,

Loving and hating the unfeeling knife
That had to amputate you from my life.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Life In 14 Lines - 22

I back away whenever I’m too close.
I make a joke whenever it’s too real.
Love is the drug on which I overdose.
Feeling it makes me feel as if I feel.

Days are for loss and struggle, nights for grieving.
Dreams are for digging tunnels till I’m free.
I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help believing
If I don’t move, the world will come to me.

The self-worth car I’m driving is a clunker.
I weave the rope on which my hopes are hung.
Deep down inside, I’m Hitler in the bunker
Hallucinating Götterdämmerung.

And when I’m dead, my life will be a quarrel
That offers either false hope or a moral.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Speed Of Life

It’s all a blur: death, grief, success, love, loss.
They pass me by like taxis in the rain.
Urgency rules. Haste is my albatross.
Reasons dissolve before I can ask why.

I cannot see the raindrops for the fountains.
An algorithm tells me what I like.
Perspective’s dead—events are now all mountains
That last no longer than a lightning strike.

My world’s full of unmet anticipation.
The fleeting trifle has authority.
The only rhythm is acceleration.
The only constant is inconstancy.

What comes won’t stay; what counts goes by too fast.
Death, grief, success, love, loss—they never last.

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Life In 14 Lines - 21

I look down on the fools who dare to love me.
I look up to the dead for ways to live.
Since I can’t read minds, friends don’t think well of me.
Since my heart’s pawned, there’s nothing there to give.

Yesterday’s “Not a chance!” is today’s go-to.
Remembered slights are poison in my cup.
I feel rejected by what I said no to.
I feel abandoned by what I gave up.

I carry so much that I’ll never need.
I’ll leave behind much more that is undone.
Is hope the curse I dine on or I feed?
Is love the finish or the race I run?

Is life the hidden prospect or the mask?
And who am I—and who am I—to ask?

Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Charlotte Coughlan 1924-2017

The space you lived in was a single room.
The hole you left behind is a whole world—
An almost-century of faith and gloom,
Of loves and births and passions—each one pearled

In your life’s necklace. You outlived it all
Except survival, and the love you felt
For blood and non-blood was a waterfall
That could make sinners clean and hatred melt.

It’s like an ocean has evaporated
And all it nursed flounders and gasps for air—
The lives you touched, the lives that you created.
Where can I swim now, Charlotte? It’s not fair.

I stumble, crippled by the loss of you
Though you’ll be with me now in all I do.

Copyright 2017 Mathew J Wells

Monday, February 27, 2017

Happy Birthday, Ayla!

         for Ayla Huguenot

Ayla! You are now 13!
Ask yourself—what does that mean?
Hear that noise, half-scream half-shout?
That’s your mom! She’s freaking out!

So what’s 13? It’s a trip!
Trust me—I served on that ship.
I was 13 once too. (Damn.
That was during Vietnam.)

I know—that’s ancient history.
But ancient is what YOU will be.
You’ll think your life is all but done—
Y’know—when you turn 21.

But until then—and even after—
Fill up your days with songs and laughter.
This is your time to take the wheel
And aim yourself at an ideal

And take off like a thunderclap
Down roads that only you can map
Full of great sights and cool rest stops
(And hopefully free of traffic cops).

And so, from one whose teens were mad—
I was protesting war! And fighting with Dad!—
Who’s lived till (drum roll) 64—
Here are some rules you will ignore:

Hold and hug, but never clutch.
Don’t be someone else’s crutch.
Make the time to write and play.
Live the now, not yesterday.

When you don’t feel, don’t pretend it.
When your heart breaks, Time will mend it.
When in doubt, be like Joe Strummer.
Never—ever—date a drummer.

Daring is your magic wand.
Always reach for what’s beyond.
When you see a challenge? Do it!
Trust your gut!—just don’t add to it.

Don’t do more than two encores.
Remember—looks will open doors
But they don’t furnish the room.
Always prepare; never assume.

Be a troubadour at heart.
Finish everything you start.
When your life’s attacked by schmucks,
Please give zero rhymes-with-ducks.

Grow a garden. Fill a hole.
Risk rejection. Feed your soul.
Stroll when others push and shove.
The heart has no sex—let it love.

Listen closely. Use your voice.
Guard your freedoms—speech and choice.
Never fail to right a wrong.
Tell your story. Be a song.


Copyright 2017 Matthew J Wells