Thursday, July 30, 2015


                            for Allyson Rapisarda


Balance is what perspective brings to motion—
   Without it, we would sway from side to side,
An easy prey to every passing notion
   Or stray desire that offers us a ride.
It says “No thanks!” when Triviality
   Cries out “Here—catch!” and tosses us a ball.
What tips its scales one way must always be
   Matched by the other, if we would stand tall.
Balance sees victory in each defeat
   And benefactors inside each tormentor—
And, at its best, will always try to meet
   This off-kilter world with a steady center—
      And build, out of the conflict in our hearts,
      A whole that’s calmer than its frantic parts.


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Ones I Loved

The one I loved the least, I can’t make right with—
   The shame is just so heavy, I can’t breathe.
The one I loved the most, I didn’t fight with;
   She’s married to a man who makes her seethe.
The one who loved me most I loved far less—
   She gave her heart, and I gave her flirtation.
The one I thought I loved is such a mess—
   I use her even now for inspiration.
The one that I love now will never know it.
   I’ll never try to be more than her friend.
My heart aches for her, but I’ll never show it.
   My distance I will keep, and in the end
      She’ll be a great lost love, like all the rest—
      Adored by one who loved himself the best.


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Friday, July 24, 2015


. . . when I was twenty-nine . . .

When I was twenty-three, I knew it all.
I thought that being proud meant I had class.
The girls said “See you then!” each time I’d call.
I took dumb risks like I could kick Death’s ass. 

When I was thirty-three, I was reborn—
Living in New York really does that to you.
The streets here are like actors in hard porn:
You have to take precautions when they do you. 

When I was forty-three, I was domestic.
It was the longest that I tried to live
With someone else.  The crater was majestic.
It didn’t take, but then I didn’t give. 

When I was fifty-three, I knew enough
To know I was an idiot—but still
I chased the chaste coquettes who gave me guff
Like my heart was a hole I had to fill. 

And know I’m sixty-three, and I know shit.
Can I just say how free that makes me feel?
So self-assured that (yes) I can admit
That I need help to stand each time I kneel. 

I try to meet each sign of age with grace,
But mirrors do not lie (unlike the telly)—
The good news is, I have my father's face;
The bad news is, I have my father's belly.

And as I look ahead to sixty-four
(And sing “Birthday greetings, bottle of wine”),
I look back through that seven-decade door
At all the years, and see no great design: 

Just the great dance of someone having fun
While looking down the barrel of Life’s gun— 

A spry old salt whose inner buccaneer
Is glad to be reborn this day each year. 


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Southern Cross

I know the bigot by the skin he fears.
   I know the killer by the gun he shoots.
I know the tyrant by his mutineers.
   I know the soldier by what he salutes.
So fly whatever flag you want, you mugs.
   You think your cause is just?  Speak out!  Because
When folks are free to be their inner thugs,
   Then I will know them by their swastikas.
I want to hear that girls are breeding stock.
   Please tell me how to keep the white race purer.
Repeat the slurs you screamed at Little Rock.
   Feel free to “Sieg Heil!” to your favorite Führer.
      I need free speech to set the verbal bar—
      It’s how I find out who the assholes are.

Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells


Friday, July 17, 2015

The Deep

The wash of surf is like no other sound—
   It rises and it falls, like deep wet breathing.
The steady splashes as it licks the ground:
   An endless whoosh, part softness and part seething.
Out of the deep a small wave will appear,
   A messenger shrugged from the ocean floor.
It’s born who knows how far away from here,
   And crests before it dies upon this shore.
The reason why it washes on the beach:
   To feed the tide’s advance or its decline.
Its brief life has just one lesson to teach:
   From surface act rises the deep design.
      So if I’m just a wave upon Life’s sea,
      Then let my deeds echo the deep in me.

Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Manhattan Sonnet - Us New Yorkers


We reminisce about the good old days.
   We drop the F bomb like it’s punctuation.
We talk through concerts, movies, church and plays.
   We act like God owes us a coronation.
What Used To Be Here is our favorite game.
   The fucking subway is our favorite beef.
We act so blasé when we drop a name.
   Stylish despair is our default motif.
We’re starving for good places we can eat.
   Create a Get Real app, and we’ll install it.
The moment that our sneakers hit the street
   Twenty-five bucks vanishes from our wallet.
     Don’t ask me why, but Thursday is our Friday—
     And our song’s not “New York, New York,” but “My Way.”


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rose's Song

I watch you waltz with her and know it’s right.
   I picture you with me and know it’s wrong.
And if I give in to what I should fight,
   I’ll dance with you—but never to this song.
I watch her smile each time she hears you croon;
   She knows the verses; I just hum along.
And if she fails to harmonize your tune,
   I’ll match you word for word—but not this song.
You hold her and I see her knees go weak.
    When I came on too strong, you ran away.
We each thought that the other was unique;
   We thought our lives would be a passion play.
      But that’s a club to which I can’t belong
      Because my range is bigger than your song.


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Nothing Is Gone Until We Let It Go

                               for Sejal Patel

Nothing is gone until we let it go—
   The inconvenient truth, the useful lie,
Hope’s cradle and the open grave of woe—
   Nothing is dead until we let it die.
My mother’s laugh, my father’s mystery,
   My friends above the earth, my friends below—
Each time I think of them, they live in me.
   Nothing is gone until I let it go.
The laws of physics say that, when I die,
   My body stops, but not my energy—
So all that I’ve lived for, lived with, lived by,
   Will be a part of all that is not me
      And hang over your life like mistletoe
      And never die until you let me go.


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells


Thursday, July 2, 2015


Whittle my driftwood heart, my love, until
   There’s nothing left except what pleases you.
Shatter my soul—let its wild tongue be still
   And never speak until you tell it to.
Corner my fears onto a cliff, then shove
   Them off and watch them vanish in the rain.
Melt the cold iron of my armored love
   And leave me naked to both joy and pain.
Go earthquake my so-called stability
   Till all I see for miles is loss and rubble.
Appraise my life’s precious complacency.
   Price it for what it is—a worthless bubble.
      Strip me of all that’s frightened and untrue
      Till I can bravely lie, love, next to you.


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells