Hilton

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

Suddenly a rat a thick gray thing darted
from the corner of the gutter up to the peak of the roof
disappearing beneath a shingle
into the attic space above the bedroom.
“Did you see that” she squealed.
“Damn there’s a second one” he exclaimed.
“I’ll set out the traps tomorrow.”
And I’m thinking that plan would not satisfy my wife.
She’d sleep out in the car
or more likely in the Hilton across town
rather than in that bedroom.

Ragdoll

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

Suddenly a hawk drops out of the sky onto
the baby rabbit nibbling grass in our backyard
its talons digging in as it tosses
the baby about like a proverbial ragdoll.

I run downstairs and out the back door yelling
scaring the startled hawk back up
into the trees leaving his limp prey behind.

I hold the little creature in my hands
so helpless, so soft and warm, but no blood
nothing broken that I can tell
and he’s breathing but barely.

I place him carefully beneath some vines
and weeds when suddenly
he bursts into the underbrush – gone in a flash!

Must’ve been in shock or playing dead
but now back where he belongs.
Hope he learned his lesson and stays out of sight
from the demon beast spying from the treetops.

Muse

A Poem Letter by Michael Estabrook

But seriously, do I have to write a poem every time

there’s a space in my day: at the doctor’s office, the airport, the DMV,

during the kids’ basketball practice, soccer and softball.

Pull out my notebook, push on my glasses, click my pen into action.

(I’m old-fashioned, no fancy-schmancy electronic recording gadgetry for me.)

No doubt the literary world will be fine

if I simply sit and do nothing other than stare into the space around me.

But the Muse, it’s her fault I tell you, she’s always crowding around me

sticking her nose in my business, nudging me hissing in my ear:

“Come on man move it I got things to say.”

Simply Eating Her Salad

A poem by Michael Estabrook

Sometimes I become completely overwhelmed
by merely being in her presence,
like this afternoon
at McDonald’s with the grandchildren,
suddenly I’m choked with emotion,
barely able to speak,
while simply watching her
sitting there eating her salad, quietly, unassumingly.

I had to work at not crying,
(What a silly spectacle I would have been.)
dabbing at my eyes
with a crumpled McDonald’s napkin.
Guess my eyes are watering
because it’s so cold outside.
(Sure, nice try, you silly old man.)

I can understand being so smitten
when you first fall in love–how can you help it!
The beauty, the youth, the vigor and vitality,
the inescapable mystery of it all,
crashing over you like an avalanche in the Alps.
But come on! I’ve been at this now a long time,
with this woman almost half a century!
How could it be possible
that I still get all choked up watching her
sitting there simply eating her salad?

Constellations

A Prose Poem by Michael Estabrook

Old man sitting on a bench in the soft sunlight waiting for his wife inside getting her physical therapy shoulder rehabilitation. He’s trying to write a poem about nothing in particular, watching the old ladies coming and going carrying their colorful exercise balls and yoga mats, hearing the faint whir of the building air-conditioners, feeling the breeze moving the hairs on his legs ever so slightly, the smell of fresh cut grass flinging him back decades to his summer job on the golf course watering the greens at night then lying on his back memorizing the constellations twinkling billions of miles away.

His kidney transplant is six months old doing great, but he stays home afraid to move fearing it’ll be rejected and he’ll die. Understandable, I tell him as I sit down. But are you exercising? Doing some walking. I’m on this bench, aren’t I? No, I mean exercising. Can you lift weights? You need progressive resistance training to strengthen your core, you’re back, chest, legs and arms. It’ll make a new man out of you. Start with light bench presses, curls, deadlifts . . . and he’s staring wide-eyed at me like I’m trying to claw the new kidney out of his body.

LOL

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

Kickboxer

As you get older after sleeping 8 hours
you do not wake up bright and bushy but instead
stiff, sore, stuffy and groggy but what to do about it?
Googling tells me get up, hydrate and take
a kickboxing class and I laugh and laugh.

Husband

Finally the day ended with my darling wife scowling
at me because I told her I’m not doing any more
of this house-fixing-up happy-horseshit now
it’s 7 pm so there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it
I tell her, but I’m not sure she heard.

Spider

Whenever I find a spider in the house I leave it
alone but sometimes one shows up in the bedroom
and my wife says “either that spider goes or I do”
and at times I confess I’m tempted
to leave the damn thing right where she found it.

Nice to Have a Hobby

Snow and ice storms, freezing cold (minus 8 at one point), snow shovels, snow brooms, snow blowers, icicles, ice dams, ice scrapers, ice chisels, ice brushes, ice melt, salt and sand, plows and sand trucks, power outages, knocked over mailboxes, trees and wires down, cabin fever raging within over the long dark cold months turning us into virtual wild slavering beasts . . . OK so I complained like crazy about the miserable winter we had here in New England BUT! finally beginning to see the light (we waste no time, skip right over spring) summer’s on the way bursting in all its life-giving glory: lawn mowers, fertilizers, rakes, mouse traps, moles, mosquitoes and gnats, poison ivy, wasp spray . . . ah the great cycle of life goes on and on and so does my complaining, what can you do, nice to have a hobby!

Michael Estabrook

Toots

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

Retired, we only have one car,
and the wife . . . well she’s the boss you know
like all wives are
can be stingy with the car, need it
for a “business meeting”
or some special shopping urgency blah blah blah
hey wait a minute I’m the man of the house aren’t I?

I’m gonna demand the use of that car today
I’m gonna march right up to her and stare into
her pretty shining brown eyes
and state sternly
like I really mean it “I’m using the car today toots
whether you like it or not. Put that
in your pipe and smoke it!”
Well, on second thought.

When Our Eyes Would Meet At The Station

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

One Friday night the winter of 1971
I got the last seat on the bus home, back row
in the middle, the worst seat.
Sleet and snow turned
the one hour ride into two
and the woman beside me fell asleep
on my shoulder her name was Jean,
24 years old working at Fortunoff’s
in New York City.

She was tall, pretty and pleasant,
with long brown hair. We’d say hi
when our eyes would meet at the station.
I liked her and watched her closely
could tell she hated it when men—
especially middle-aged businessmen
with plump wives and kids in college—
made passes at her.

But I never did that, I only said hi
when our eyes would meet at the station.
But that was enough for me
because I was young, life
was still a mystery
and she never
fell asleep on any of their shoulders
like she had on mine.

Magic Dragon

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

In Studio Grow Children’s Play Space
with our two granddaughters:

stacking blocks into barns, buildings and bridges
knocking them down again

climbing over the wooden slat bridge then crawling
through the long slinky plastic tunnel to freedom

making salads and waffles and triple-decker burgers
in the play kitchen then play-eating them

assembling a tall chimney on Tom the Builder’s Lego House
that he shares with Nurse Betty and sometimes Dr. John

doing a dinosaur puzzle and a farm animal puzzle
sometimes mixing them up into a confused clutter

playing a turtle, a seagull, and a tiger
in the Make Believe Puppet Theatre laughing

uncontrollably as the bar holding the curtains
falls down

Then Peter, Paul and Mary’s Puff
comes on over the studio stereo

and suddenly I’m struggling
to hold back tears no idea why

A Swarming of Bees

A Work of Prose by Michael Estabrook

Last spring the bees were swarming searching for a new place to build a hive. Such a rare and special event you are so blessed the Bee Huggers tell us. And it is a marvel, almost romantic, watching them collect, 40,000 workers strong surrounding their Queen.

But we should have them removed: “They could sting the grandchildren or end up in your eaves or walls or chimney and then you’ll have real problems.” So we pay $525 to have the soccer ball sized swarm hanging from a branch above our driveway removed. The Bee Busters don’t use chemicals, don’t kill them, that’s a very good thing. Instead at dusk they vacuum them up in their torpid state and move them to a hive in another town kind of like a witness protection program for bees.

Dear Cousin Linda

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

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.

A Letter Poem by Michael Estabrook

Dear Lennie

Because of the awful winter we had here in New England we’ve been enduring a spate of workers in and around the house (jackals, hyenas, vultures, a lion or 2 feasting upon a fallen wildebeest)
Had a new roof put on
And then today having a new ceiling put in the kitchen
And a new floor in the family room
And the walls in the garage torn down and rebuilt
All thanks to the water damage from the monster ice dams it has been such fun
Time to move to a condo I think
I’ll do the painting, save a few bucks that way anyway
Unless of course I fall the hell off the ladder!
It’s all a test you know, God checking to see if we can or cannot stand the rigors of Hell!
Anyway, thought it might be time to check in send along a few of poems for your consideration.
thanks as always for your time and consideration,
and I hope all is well

Michael Estabrook

Laughter

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

My mother called today
wants to pay for her funeral
in advance so you boys don’t have
to worry about it.
But I’m not sure how
one does that, who do you pay
after all she may live
another 15 years so I say
just write me a check you can trust me
$20,000 ought to cover it.
Been a long time
since I’ve heard her laugh so hard.

Not to Be

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

All you needed Bobby
(I believe you’d agree, I know you’d agree)
to keep you content, challenged, engaged, excited,
and interested in life, to keep you alive
was a woman. That’s it, all you needed,
a woman like Patti or Linda
(who you had huge crushes on
all the way back in high school).

I know you wanted a woman, had a long-distance
relationship for years with Beth Ann
all the way across the country. But, alas,
it never worked out, never developed
into something lasting and close,
closer than 3,000 miles that is.

You were so excited after your latest le liaisons dangerous:
“It was wonderful. Especially the Watley Inn.
You have to try it. We had a room and dinner,
the “Staycation.” The food was awesome.
The room was fine too.”

So you dated now and then, here and there,
but let’s face it,
you were not comfortable with women, or even girls
back in the day. Girls are tricky,
many you encountered not intellectual enough
for your tastes, more bundles of emotional turmoil
and uncertainty, leaving you rudderless
in navigating through the shark-infested dating waters.

Because of Global Warming

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

Fiddle-de-de as Scarlet would say.
I’ve learned over my long, long lifetime
there are a handful of things best not to ignore:
Mother Nature, the IRS, my boss,
an angry cat (or dog, or gorilla for that matter),
a throbbing tooth, a seemingly benign rash,
a tornado swirling way off in the distance,
ringing fire alarms, an ominous fin
sticking up out of the water
(and moving towards you)
and—most importantly—your Wife
(with a capital “W” like Chaucer would write).

Simply Eating Her Salad

 

A poem by Michael Estabrook
 
Sometimes I become completely overwhelmed
by merely being in her presence,
like this afternoon
at McDonald’s with the grandchildren,
suddenly I’m choked with emotion,
barely able to speak,
while simply watching her
sitting there eating her salad, quietly, unassumingly.

I had to work at not crying,
(What a silly spectacle I would have been.)
dabbing at my eyes
with a crumpled McDonald’s napkin.
Guess my eyes are watering
because it’s so cold outside.
(Sure, nice try, you silly old man.)

I can understand being so smitten
when you first fall in love–how can you help it!
The beauty, the youth, the vigor and vitality,
the inescapable mystery of it all,
crashing over you like an avalanche in the Alps.
But come on! I’ve been at this now a long time,
with this woman almost half a century!
How could it be possible
that I still get all choked up watching her
sitting there simply eating her salad?