Two Poems by Damon Hubbs

Doll Country

In doll country
we are building a miniature
replica of our home,
a nutshell study
of rooms and hallways
forensically scaled
and measured.
There is hot and cold water
and a garage with cars
with running motors.
The locks on the doors
and windows work
with the mimed precision
of a Black Forest cuckoo clock,
its bird call and woodland scene
of hares and deer like the summer diorama
we watch from our backyard patio,
the moon as small as a penknife
in a polymer sky.

In the miniature replica
of our home
in doll country,
tiny felt tiebacks hold open
a repository stage-set with unburials—
like hunger stones revealed
in a drought ravaged river,
they tell us to weep.
Our visitors are entertained
and delighted
by our small sufferings.
And to think
that the parch marks
suggest something more—
a nesting doll
persisting, outliving us
and returning with the dark force
of sleeping giants.

“Doll Country” was first published by Roi Fainéant Press.

High Summer

We’ve jumped for centuries
clocked to the theurgy of stone and water.
Poised on the lip of the quarry’s dark summit
preparing backflips, readying cannonballs—
the spring-fed water bracing to skelp our skin
in its oozing crater.

To dream before the bending of the sky,
between the source and the mouth
is like an hourglass tipped on its side—
a bulbed, two-headed flower
as iridescent as a rainbow worming passage
through the submerged shadows of the quarry-cave.

Looking into the gold, and beyond the gold
and already the moment has passed.
Sun floaters drift like spores
threshed from an ancient combine.
The sky cataracts with thunderheads

and sudden death cap currents prickle
and sting the horizon.
The wind’s hot, buzzing swarm
gathers on our necks
and rankles our distant reflections.

We’ve jumped for centuries
clocked to the theurgy of stone and water.
Preparing backflips, readying cannonballs—
youth unfurls behind us,
and summer’s shadows lengthen
like dragon wings thrashing against extinction.

Damon Hubbs lives in a small town in Massachusetts. He graduated with a BA in World Literature from Bradford College. When not writing, Damon can be found growing microgreens, divining the flight pattern of birds, and ambling the forests and beaches of New England with his wife and two children. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Book of Matches, The Dawntreader, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Chamber Magazine, and Young Ravens Literary Review.

Two Poems by Fran Schumer

High Summer

I trudged through the day,
figured and refigured
plane routes, train routes
which buses to take
to see my aging parents.

My husband and our neighbor
would figure it out on the spot,
in the station, on the platform
bang bang it’s done — in situ
but I am not an in situ girl.

I plan
I worry.

Different parts of their bodies fail
lungs, livers, my father’s skin so delicate
it tears on the sheets at night.
Only their hearts keep beating
their ancient hearts
their faithful, ancient hearts
keep beating
keep loving us
keep us loving them.

Their kind doctors speak
in numbers, percentages, odds.

At dusk, I finish packing when I notice
the light, low and golden.
It’s high summer, early August
sunset still an hour off
the days warm and lasting.

Why not, I think, and carry my dinner
out to the deck where I listen
to the birds, the flap from the oven vent
tap tap-ing against the wall
watch the golden light
lick every leaf of oak and beech
until they glisten.
And I wonder
What did I ever do to deserve such happiness?

Ghost Writer

Who knew what a good job
it was for me who loved
to pretend I was someone else,
the only way
I knew to be myself.

They told me their stories
and I became a young lawyer
fired for marrying her boss;
an actress who gained and
lost and re-gained weight;
a thief; a bulimic; a druggie.

I slipped into their bodies
like ghosts in old movies,
cast spells to make them
heroes, victims, saints
and martyrs — and writers!

When we finished, I missed
them. But when I tried to
write my own book, the spirit
vanished. All that remained
was a ghost-white page.

Fran Schumer is a journalist and author. Her poetry has been published in The New Verse News, Hole In The Head Review, and Contrary. Another poem is forthcoming in Prospectus. In 2021, she won a second-place poetry fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She majored in Social Studies at college but wishes she had spent the time studying Keats.