Poetry: Selections from Damon Hubbs

Pier Boys
leaning into the rails
we watch the drones
and the drones
watch us
the fishing pier
on Avenue K——
has fillet tables set
with blood
men slap
on folding
card tables
krishnas salute the sun
om krishnaya namah
& beatifically
from pockets
we talk
shipping lanes, ventanas
take out 3 million dollar tanks
with $200 grenades
the roar of waves
drag racing
on hard cast sand


guy at the bowl-la-
    rama has woolen slippers and a slow horse 
         look, a striking 
oh, Vienna smile 
    he spares only the swordtails 
         and mollies tanked against 
              the wall 
by the Pro Shop and Keno screen. 
    Mollies get aggressive
         if their tank mates 
              aren’t peaceful enough.  
in from the cold, our birdwatcher
    master of flaps and seals, or 
         a ghoul playing candlepin 
              on cemetery lane
no bumpers, games without 
    frontiers, take a stitch, drop 
         a stitch, the specific combination 
of knits and purls 
    passing secret messages 
         in the warmth 
              of woolen slippers—
identity blown, the backstop bowl-la
    rama as outdated as an innocent 
it’s twenty-two degrees in Berlin. 
    you can’t go gray 
         with woolens in NH

The Tannery
I have a coffee at The Tannery.
I don’t normally go out for coffee
let alone have a coffee at The Tannery.
The Tannery is in one of those coastal New England towns
known for whale watching.
It’s possible summering was invented in this coastal
New England town but I don’t know
for sure and haven’t seen it mentioned
on any of the town’s many historical plaques.  
What I do know is that when you’re between things
it’s not impossible to find yourself
at a place like The Tannery,
having a coffee, waiting it out.
The Tannery has many upscale shops
home goods, mostly, with names
like Beach Plum and The Clipper Shop
or something and something by-the-sea.
The sign on the door of the Dance Studio
says No Wet Boots in Dance Studio.
Before it was a marketplace with coffee shops
upscale home goods stores and a Dance Studio,
The Tannery was a factory that used raw animals hides
to make leather shoes, gloves and handbags.
For years the vestiges and waste of the leather
tanning operation bled into the soil and nearby river
arsenic, chromium, oil, dioxins —the ground so saturated
with chemicals that work crews hit chunks of blue dirt
five feet under the foundation. This isn’t mentioned
on any of the town’s many historical plaques
but it’s something you think about
when you’re between things, having a coffee at The Tannery
trying to make a poem from scraps and hides,
watching women with fine and long-fingered hands
dredge phones from overpriced bags.

The Rescue
I’m on the balcony
when an on-board butler
appears with a tray
of vodka and cranberry
winged infusions flat washed
like blood in an IV, a good return
and just a shade
off the color of the sun
plunging the horizon to the awwww
of 3,200 passengers
the rooms so luxurious
you don’t want to close your eyes
but the sunsets
really bring it home
so when the captain spots a boat
cobbled together
with metal and Styrofoam
the feeling of loss
hits us hard
will the Cruise Director
stand under the spotlight
near the grand piano
as he has done every night
for the past week
to introduce the entertainment act?
The operation takes less than an hour.
Love letters, prayer books, toothbrushes
I.D. cards, glasses, headphones, jewelry
and Fanta soda cans float in the wake.
We have a quick lunch in The Galley
and watch “the rescue.”

Numbers Stations
on the radio
cockpit shot in darkness blue
and orange gauges
the dashboard’s dual zone
deck of Luckies in the console  
windburned melody, band to band
new wave
a voice counts in German
through the denied areas.
a child recites letters in English
through the discreet areas.
Nancy Adams Susan.
The Swedish Rhapsody.
“Now we’ll begin a mathematics
review assignment for members
of the 27th expeditionary unit of the
distance learning university.”
cruising, the big black gullwing bucket
past Asphodel Fields
where men pretend to feed the ducks
around a pond
bloodshot with pitiless moon
pulling, at last
down a private drive,
dog on a chain, the house
of Hades floodlit in the distance

Damon Hubbs is interested in pulpy paperbacks and films with over-saturated colors. His poems have been featured in Book of MatchesLothlorien Poetry JournalOtolithsRoi Fainéant Press, Cajun Mutt PressA Thin Slice of AnxietyHorror Sleaze Trash, The Beatnik Cowboy, and others. Damon lives in New England.