Michael Estabrook

After reading Gertrude Stein or was it Clark Coolidge

Across the room a child’s rocking chair still life in the sunlight to the
pigeon coop out back out in the back yard from which Mike and Venus
the pigeons would take flight when Dad that scamp would point the
garden hose from the back yard through the basement window at me on
the inside slyly as if fixing the old Buick in the driveway by sorting
nuts and bolts would somehow be beneficial in some way any way but
smell the coffee percolating on the stove all the way into the back
bedroom shared by my brother and me with the picture of Jesus
hanging in the closet empty yogurt cups stacked behind the door the
hamster cages the saxophone in its case if only it could play its own
damn self such an embarrassment like the crumbling curb out front the
weeds and that time the giant spider with the hairy legs startled mom in
her bedroom after dad died and she screamed out and those ubiquitous
shiny black water beetles always scurrying beneath everything in the
basement: the Army rations barbells bookshelves washing machine tool
bench while upstairs on the wall in the hall the phone rang and rang but
nobody heard except Kerry but he didn’t answer because he hated that
place and was gone by then anyway.


King Arthur Died in AD 538

Things are about the same
here, same as always, snowy out
another boring lunch.

Did you know that King Arthur
(of the Round Table and all that)
was real and died in 538?

Simply trying to imagine
538 is difficult, nearly impossible
so long ago, so vague and dark.

Most likely King Arthur was a Roman general

Tons of rubbish written
about the Arthurian Legends.
Just like there has been
concerning trying to find the historical Jesus.

Albert Schweitzer, for example, tried diligently and failed.
But questing after the historical Arthur
could prove fruitful.

The big problem is having to learn
all those archaic languages: Saxon, Anglo,
Celtic, Kentish, Pictish, Jutish, Cumbric, Irish.

Welsh too, don’t forget Welsh.
Forget it. Just getting modern English
down has kept me occupied for decades.

No, no Arthur for me.
Besides I gotta go make myself
a sandwich or something.


The best doctor is the one you run to and can’t find.
                    Denis Diderot (1713-1784)

His doctor yells “I don’t want you doing that!
no heavy weightlifting at your age
with your history of high blood pressure!”
So he goes home loads even more weight onto the bar.
“Fucking doctors,” he says as he begins his lift.

Uncle Johnny lived 12 years longer
than his doctors predicted after
being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Nobody knows precisely why but Alice believed
it was the shark cartilage powder he took every day.

After Gramps fried-up the bacon he’d turn off
the burner, cook the eggs in the hot bacon grease.
Wouldn’t do that today the saturated fats would kill me
in 15 seconds. But then again, he lived
to be 84, never saw a damn doctor until the end.


Dear Cousin Linda

Thanks a million for sending the gravel pictures my Dad made
back in 1963. We have accounted for all of them except
for The Last Supper that used to hang in Grammy’s dining room.

Are you going to answer that?

His disease prevented him from working but he couldn’t stand
not being useful in some way so he turned to making
these gravel pictures. Therapy for him too I suppose.

Of course I can’t eat that I’m on a diet

Such a coincidence, a couple days ago I began a letter to you
then yours shows up in the mail bulging with photos
thanks for sending them.

I can’t get these damn glasses clean
can’t see anything

I tried to let Aunt Dottie know I was thinking about her
a couple times a year anyway
by sending a card and some photos.

Don’t yell at me till I drop the damn ball

Bill sent me some photos of her when she first got married
back in 1942. I’ve only known her as a mature woman,
never realized she was so pretty!

Two wrongs don’t make a right

Did you know that she had a daughter?
I don’t recall the circumstances of this child, she must’ve stayed
with her father or Dorothy gave her up for adoption?

No I can’t read anything he’s written
it’s all very thin gruel

Enclosing a photo of her with my grandfather Fred
taken back in 1946 at his gas station.
She must’ve been 2 or so in that picture.

Ring twice when you get there

Since I was retired a year ago can’t figure out how I ever
had the time to work! I have been busier than ever
with our 2 grandchildren who live right across the street.

So if David decided to jump off a cliff you would too?
If Billy jumped in a lake so would you?

I take my 7-year old grandson Connor to gymnastics every week
which gives me a special pleasure
seeing as I was a gymnast back in high school.

Eat your dinner the children in China are starving

On top of all this I’ve been studying for our upcoming trip
to Italy. Did I tell you about that? To celebrate
Patti and me being together for 50 years I’m taking her to Italy.

Whatever your little heart desires

Both of us have always wanted to visit Italy
with all the art and history, especially Florence, the city
of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Da Vinci

If I’ve told you once I’ve told you 1000 times

and of course, Dante (learned Italian just to read the Divine Comedy
in the original and almost did my PhD on Dante).
I intend on knowing more than the tour guides!

History is written by the victors.

Well ok, guess that’s it for now. I hope you are making the most
of any extra time you might have since Dorothy
has left us. But I know you miss her too.

The Continuity Of Life2


Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. Hopefully with each passing decade the poems have become more succinct and precise, clear and relatable, more appealing and “universal.” He has published over 20 collections, the latest being Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2014).