Poetry: Selections from Damon Hubbs

Arcade / Cubist Gators

the Dragon’s Den
gouache blended & stenciled
in California cool
a wraparound raster
of colorful cabinets
housing formative memories
you have a fistful of quarters,
I have a few quarters more.
we throw down the gauntlet
for the Sweet Valley High girls.
they yawn like Pierrot pin-ups
& watch asteroids vector into
darkness, our frogs bulldozed
or eaten by Cubist gators. still
we walk through the coin doors
ride high in the Tropical deco overspray
of cherries falling on the racy hoods
of sports cars
the girls don’t care a lick.
they airbrush us long distance kisses,
lips blitz clubbed like Coca-Cola tins


down the edge of the pier
past the peeling girlie billboards
and dreamland gondola rides
the Ferris wheel’s red and yellow capsules
pop and release
in the Atlantic
shimmering like refractive errors
on smooth glass green waves
one last ride
not far from land
down the edge of the pier
the mermaids hang their tails to dry
I watch the muscle boys
grow up, pass go
skeeball their seed
down the boardwalk
vow fealty to the Cat
and his family of tokens
down the edge
of the pier
dreaming empire
dime tossing
the milk bottle
until the balloon bursts
and the penny arcade’s Mystic Oracle
dispenses fortunes
bleached as whale bones


for H.C & N.H
You read murder books.
I wear sunglasses and try to stay hip.
This is first love.
We construct our days from pop songs.
We lounge at the gigolo pool
that’s what you call it
Oh Oooo
this portal of water on the state line,
moist and awkward, green-blue
bleeding boys with tennis ball throats.
We play Scrabble with your parents
every night at the motel.
The boys don’t get the message.
They’re blank tiles.
Eyes without a face.
They talk about high scores
about boardwalk kite fights
about runners and spoolers
about coating strings with glue and cut glass
about windfalls, trophies
you say “panic bells, it’s red alert.”
The boys call us bitches.
We laugh and ride the golden age carousel.
The horses have bulging necks
and eyes wild with little wars.

Damon Hubbs is the author of two chapbooks: "The Day Sharks Walk on Land" (Alien Buddha Press, 2023) and "Charm of Difference" (Back Room Poetry, forthcoming in 2024). His most recent poems can be found in Apocalypse ConfidentialSouth Broadway PressYellow MamaLothlorien Poetry Journal, D.O.R, and Fixator Press. He lives in New England.


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