Friday, July 29, 2016


Let love and patience be my light and guide
   When I walk down the alley of despair.
Let every act I do be justified
   And every word I speak be true and fair.
Let me be kind, but not from neediness—
   Be generous, but never give for gain.
Let me not add to folly, leave a mess,
   Or share the hurt whenever I feel pain.
Let me look down on my stupidity
   But no one else’s—be a student of
My faith and not its preacher—aid the free—
   Hearken to trust, and listen out of love.
      And when the time comes to depart this place,
      May I leave as I lived, with wit and grace.


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Coney Island

I see you with him on the beach. He looks
   At you in your bikini. My heart cringes
At how your eyes open up like two books
   And let him read a heart that yearns and singes.
It’s a look that you never gave to me.
   I feel it stab up under my rib cage.
You’ll show him chapters I will never see.
   He’ll lick his fingers as he turns each page.
He reaches for you. You reach back. Hands touch.
   Then grab. Then squeeze, fingers warm and entangled.
A brief connection—really, not that much—
   Just enough to make me feel like I’m strangled.
      I know what’s next. Eyes and hands gave it motion.
      And that’s when I start walking towards the ocean.

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Birthday Sonnet

It’s all about the movement, not the motion;
   There has to be a Where each time I walk—
A target at which I aim my devotion,
   Even when I just stand there and take stock.
It’s not just standing, but what I stand for:
   Steadfastness, faith, truth, trust and loyalty,
And always moving when I can explore
   What no one either can—or wants to—see.
I look out on the morning of this day
   And choose to be a verb, not just a noun,
And know that—should I move or should I stay—
   I will not ever once let myself down,
      For when I walk, I do not walk alone;
      And where I stand is today’s stepping stone.


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells



Let’s see . . .


LOSING MY HAIR? Double check.
RECEPTION OF  VALENTINE? Don’t make me laugh. The last one I ever got was  6 years ago. And oddly enough, I just found it while I was going through some old notebooks. Talk about getting your heart punched. 

BIRTHDAY GREETINGS? Yes, but there’s always somebody I want to hear from who never gets in touch. 

BOTTLE OF WINE? Hell no—at least 2. And red or rosé please.  

STAYING OUT TILL QUARTER TO THREE? At least once a month. 

LOCKED OUT BY YOU WHEN I GET HOME?  There is no “you.” 

WILL YOU STILL NEED ME?  Seriously—who the fuck is “you?” 

WILL YOU STILL FEED ME?  What are you, my mother? 

WHEN I’M 64? That would be today. So, a big N-O to all of that, okay? 

YOU'LL BE OLDER TOO?  Older? Hah! NFW! Seriously—do you even know me? (Cue “Stop dating millennials!” speech from Felicity.) 

COULD I STAY WITH YOU IF YOU SAY THE WORD? Sure—but only if you’re the WRONG you. Which means you don’t have to say a word at all, and I’ll stay no matter what. Because I am 12. 

CAN I BE HANDY?  Let me show you the bookcase I built. You can find it in the surrealist room at MOMA. 

MENDING FUSES WHEN THE LIGHTS BLOW? Not in my wheelhouse. And what, you don’t like the dark? 

WILL YOU KNIT A SWEATER BY THE FIRESIDE? You may be able to knit, but there is no way in hell that I am ever going to be able to afford to live where there’s a fireplace. 

SUNDAY MORNINGS GO FOR A RIDE? Sunday mornings go to Kips Bay for a half-price matinee. 

DOING THE GARDEN; DIGGING THE WEEDS?  Going to the Garden; in the weeds. 

WHO COULD ASK FOR MORE? Me. Remember me? The old coot who’s losing his hair? 

WILL YOU STILL NEED ME?  If the “you” here is who I think it is, she never needed me in the first place. 

WILL YOU STILL FEED ME?  She just fed me a line that she needed me. 

WHEN I’M 64? And when she found out that my salary was only 64K, she dumped me. 

SUMMER RENTAL OF A COTTAGE IN THE ISLE OF WIGHT, IF IT’S NOT TOO EXPENSIVE. Cape Cod, maybe—but the Isle of Fucking Wight? Who do I look like, Agatha Christie? 

SCRIMPING AND SAVING? Okay—yes—that I can guarantee. Because I’ll be on Social Security. 

GRANDCHILDREN ON YOUR KNEE?  Only if they’re from your first marriage. 

VERA, CHUCK & DAVE? Who names their kids that? It sounds like a Fifties folk group. “And now, here’s Vera, Chuck And Dave singing their top ten answer to ‘Masters of War,’  ‘Kitchen Of Peace.’ ” 

SEND ME POSTCARDS OR LETTERS IN WHICH YOU STATE YOUR POV.  Actually I’d be happier if you just returned my fucking texts. I’m not holding my breath. 

BE VERY PRECISE ABOUT WHAT YOU MEAN TO SAY?  Okay—that narrows it down—now I know EXACTLY who the “you” is. 

YOUR SIGN THE LETTER “YOURS SINCERELY, WASTING AWAY?” Not even a pathologically honest desiccated corpse would sign a letter to me that way.  

ANSWER REQUESTED? It’ll be no, right? I thought so. 

FORM FILLED IN? Ah, if you could only fill in that form the way you fill in your own. Ba-dump-psh-sh-sh. 

MINE FOR EVERMORE? The three most terrifying words a male will ever ever hear. 

WILL YOU STILL NEED ME?  What I need is a drink. 

WILL YOU STILL FEED ME? And some nachos.
WHEN I'M SIXTY-FOUR. I’ll take a shot for each year, please. Jamey shots for the odd years and Powers shots for the even.

HOO?  Me!


Friday, July 22, 2016



You crack my heart open like it’s an egg.
   You calm my fears away until they’re vapor.
Your smile makes my guard dogs sit up and beg.
   You knock down all my walls like they’re rice paper.
You war against my great army of doubt;
   It cries surrender when you take the field.
You kiss my dry parched soul and end its drought.
   You touch my heart and all its scars are healed.
You do all that and more for me by living,
   Because your heart’s a mansion—and all I
Want is one room where I can keep on giving
   All that and more to you until I die.
      Whether or not you let me through those doors,
      What little that I am and have is yours. 


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wait For It

When my thoughts turn to love, they point at you.
   I want you, and imagine all that could be—
And then, to bridge the gap between the two,
   I try to turn what is into what could be.
“How can I make this work?” I think, and never
   Consider that—if I’m doing the work
To make it work—then I’ll do it forever,
   And never be its play date—just its clerk.
I want the magic so much I could die,
   So I use sleight of hand to bring the heat
And fail—because no matter how you try,
   You can’t sweep yourself up off your own feet.
      It can’t be called—it has to be there, waiting.
      Love’s what I should be feeling—not creating.


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Secret Identity

Identity depends on who I’m with.
   When I’m alone, I’m sitting with a stranger—
His anger makes him evil as The Sith;
   His hopes make him as pure as The Lone Ranger.
When I’m with friends, I am their Cruise Director.
   When I’m with strangers, I’m the witty clown.
With happy couples, gloomy as a specter;
   With little kids, the coolest coot in town.
When I’m with the successful, I give up.
   When I’m with the secure, I’m panicky.
But you—with you—I’m someone who’ll live up
   To all that you believe is best in me.
      And that is why, no matter what I do,
      I whisper to myself: “This is for you.” 


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Queen Of Fairyland

Your every wish is my command.
Your faith and favor make me brave.
You are the Queen of Fairyland.
I am a mortal and your slave.
And when I reach, it’s for your hand.
And when I dream, I see your face.
You are the Queen of Fairyland
And men have died for your embrace. 

But they were young and I am old
And though to win your heart I burn,
The thought of losing leaves me cold,
So to my world I must return 

And nevermore beside you stand
And feel regret down to my grave.
You are the Queen of Fairyland
And I will always be your slave.

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Monday, July 18, 2016

Byron and Shelley and the Parish Priest

“Priests are all hypocrites,” Shelley declared one day.  

“And how would you know that,” Byron replied, “since you never go to Mass?”  Which was the truth. As a profound atheist, Shelley was in the habit of avoiding church services, while as a profound ironist, Byron attended as many as possible. 

“I speak from personal Experience,” Shelley explained. “When I was young, our parish pastor was Meek, modest, self-effacing, and a gentle Friend to everyone in the community. But the moment he stepped up to the Pulpit, he became  a completely different person. A vain, conceited, self-loving Narcissist. A pompous Ass who only spoke about Himself.” 

“That is not surprising,” Byron said with a shrug. 

“Not surprising!” Shelley cried. “He turned into a completely Different person!” 

“Of course he did,” Byron said. “Doesn’t every priest have an altar ego?”
Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why Are We Here?

          for Amey Rhodes

Why are we here? What’s the big takeaway?
Darwin would say we’re here to reproduce.
Other than that, why not just romp and play
And do whatever will avoid the noose? 

Religion says we’re here to never sin;
Self-interest claims that sin is just a choice—
Two negatives which can, like heroin,
Kill us when they become our drug of choice. 

Time says that we are here to clean the mess
Our parents left behind, and try to keep
This place as spotless as a wedding dress
So that our children won’t see it and weep. 

The poor would say they’re here to be convicted;
The rich, that we must shut up and be ruled;
Believers that God smiles when we’re evicted
Because this playground is where we get schooled. 

The Protestant Work Ethic says we’re slaves
To mundane labor for our daily bread,
And every time a mortal misbehaves,
The God Jehovah smiles and strikes him dead. 

The Atheist cries: “Wake up! There’s no point!
This life is all we get; there’s nothing after.
You say no God means Life is out of joint?
There is no joint! Just universal laughter! 

Space is an empty sandbox; we’re one grain.
Eternity could care less how we cling
To crazy caveman habits. Life’s insane.
We don’t need God—we can do anything.”

“Anything,” says the Fatalist, “except,
Oh, live forever. Because Life is death.
The blind and hopeful led by the inept
Up to and out of that great ninetieth 

Floor window that will claim us all with pleasure.
And what’s the point of that? To climb the building?
To love each other? How is THAT a treasure?
When it’s not fool’s gold, it’s just yellow gilding.” 

“Talk about blindness,” said the Pragmatist.
“It’s what we reach for, not what we can hold.
It’s what our hands can make besides a fist.
It’s not what’s gold—it’s what we turn to gold. 

This life won’t mean more than a waiting grave
Unless we do our best, while we are here,
To make that wait a pleasant one, and save
The innocent from pain, despair, and fear.” 

“Except that this world is run by the guilty,”
The Cynic sneers. “And you can bet your life
That anyone who’s soul is foul and silty
Believes the innocent deserve the knife. 

That’s what Life is—the dripping, blood-caked blade
Of Power slitting Weakness in the throat.
The criminals who make the law afraid;
The first-class fools who think they own the boat.” 

“And boats all sink,” the Pessimist points out.
“Not all the power in the world can stop it.
Losing is what this life is all about.
No matter what we hold—we always drop it.” 

“But we still hold it!” cries the Optimist.
“And while we have this gift, our hands can use it
To make some good that does not yet exist.
When life’s a gift like that, you can’t refuse it.” 

“Of course you can,” the Hedonist declares,
“Because the real gift here is feeling pleasure.
Anything else is servitude to squares.
We’re here to be the slaves of thrills and leisure.” 

“Then you are here to die!” declare the ones
Who are so sure this world is sick with fever—
The righteous faithful, who—with bombs and guns—
Will spread God’s mercy to the unbeliever. 

And on and on it goes, the great debate,
Where everyone is right and nothing’s clear—
The endless fight of freedom versus fate.
(Which is—yes—why those two armies are here.) 

And me? My heart says love’s what I should feel,
My lips that I must spend my days in kissing,
My eyes that beauty is this world’s ideal,
My brain that there is always something missing. 

My hands tell me that I must reach and touch,
My legs that I can’t stand here for too long,
My faults that I must find a sturdy crutch,
My doubts that there is always something wrong; 

My gut that there’s a hunger I must feed,
My skill that—what I do—I must do well,
My vanity that there’s nothing I need,
My pride that out’s the one thing I can’t sell. 

My conscience says I’m here to feel each wrong
As if it were an insult to my mother.
My soul says “Always try to get along
Because all we can do is help each other.” 

Why am I here? To live. What does that mean?
My answer’s not yours, and yours is not mine.
But we will each fall into a routine
And claim that it’s all part of some design 

When we are the designers. It’s on us,
As caretakers, to give and take such care
That we can be both fierce and chivalrous
On this beleaguered hopeful quest we share. 

It’s not as if Life’s lost and we must find it;
It’s harder than that, and more promising.
Life is a knot—we all try to unwind it
Because we’re tied to something in the string. 

So the real question is not why, but whether
We’re brave enough to make a braid of life
Till yours and mine, woven so tight together,
Can be our shield against Hate’s sharpest knife. 

Why am I here? To share my gifts in kind.
Why are we here? To leave no one behind. 


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Kind Of Love

There is a kind of love that’s like a sliver
   Beneath your fingernail—it bites and aches—
A love where every gift will wound the giver,
   A love that will feel empty when it takes—
A love that makes you want to claw your chest
   To tear your heart out—that makes you a hearse
At weddings, kick cute puppies, and infest
   The world with what you suffer from: the curse
Of honesty. Because it’s true—love lies
   When it says “Feel me and you’ll feel no pain.”
There’s always pain! It just comes in disguise,
   Like a great bowl of sweets that hides ptomaine.
      A love that happily wears Hate’s tattoo—
      And that’s the kind of love I feel for you.


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Monday, July 11, 2016

Byron and Shelley and the Philosophical Treatise


“And what are you working on now?” Byron asked, as he walked in on Shelley to find him writing furiously, and then crossing out what he had just penned.  

“It is a philosophical Treatise of the highest Order,” Shelley declared, “which demonstrates the commensurate Causal Agency between reading David Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature and his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, and engaging in tying, binding, or restraining a  sexual partner for the purposes of erotic Stimulation. I just can’t think of a title.” 

“That’s easy,” said Byron. “Call it Of Hume And Bondage.” 


 Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bad Dream

I dreamed I saw a white man getting choked
   By black policemen for a minor crime.
The courts said what they did was unprovoked,
   And every single one of them got time.
I dreamed I saw a white man getting shot
   By two black cops because he raised his voice.
The cops were executed on the spot
   While Fox News tried (and failed) not to rejoice.
I woke to one more black man full of lead
   Because his skin has no place in the dream
Of equal rights. Why else would he be dead?
   If you would know who threatens a regime
      And who its masters think need Emmett Tilling,
      See who their thugs can get away with killing.


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells