Archive for the Michael Estabrook Category

Vietnam Poetry by Michael Estabrook

Posted in Michael Estabrook with tags on April 4, 2011 by Scot


In P-town sightseeing when
a bunch of motorcyclists
ride up quiet on their smoking
hogs. I stop window-shopping
to have a look, the butter
crunch ice cream dripping
down the sugar cone into
the palm of my hand.
Older motorcyclists:
cigarettes smoldering from dark
bearded faces, long gray hair,
protruding beer bellies, faded
tattoos.  They have women
with them, hard looking women
in shiny black hip boots,
tangled blonde hair, peace
sign earrings and love beads too,
like in the 60s.
But nobody’s worried
as they park their bikes
with a clatter and dismount
because the lettering on
their jackets reads:
And somehow we feel safe then,
certain, solemn, because
they’re bigger than life, noble,
for they’ve been to hell and
returned to tell us about it
and live among us,
forgiving us still.

He was staring at something

Phil was saying how some of the boys in
his platoon killed a Vietcong guerrilla, caught
him murdering innocent civilians so they
stripped him, hung him up
from a tree and blew his balls off.
One of his victims had been a pretty young
pregnant woman he raped, then killed
by stringing her up naked and screaming,
cut open her belly with one of those big
jagged-edged jungle knives, just like that, out
there in the open in the village for all
the others to see.  So Phil and the boys
caught the dirty yellow bastard yes indeed,
and strung him up naked like the pregnant
woman, then shot away his balls, watching
him squirm and splutter and scream
his head off, eventually bleeding to death.
And it sounds terrible, certainly, and is
terrible, but they were glad of it, so glad
to watch him die like that.  They had to do it,
Phil said, or they’d never be able to live
with themselves, ever.  And during the whole
while he was telling the story there was this
glazed over look in his eyes like he was
staring at something far far away that never
really could’ve happened, ever.


Jimmy drives us to the club in his
battered Ford pickup suddenly a giant
khaki Chopper appears circling
banking stiff blades churning the hot
June air as it swoops down over
the trees, stopping, hovering right
above us:  thank God this isn’t Nam,
I say, voicing what I know is
thundering through Jimmy’s
frantic mind (smoky scenes
of bleeding broken bodies; bullets,
rockets whizzing all around)
but it doesn’t matter what I say,
he must pull over, wipe the sweat
from his face, and wait for his hands
to stop shaking before driving on.

Two Poems by Michael Estabrook

Posted in Michael Estabrook with tags on November 21, 2010 by Scot


I’m flattered my wife
told her girlfriends
I was a Renaissance man,
that I would know whether
a black bear or a brown bear
is the more dangerous of the two.
I nod, “It’s the black bear,
the black bear is more dangerous.”
“Why?” she asks, sipping her coffee.
“I thought brown bears were grizzly bears.”

“No, no, they’re two different species.
And because the brown bear
has been closer to people, to humanity,
for so many years, they’ve become
more familiar with people, and subsequently
less aggressive. Whereas
the black bear’s range is higher up
and more secluded in the mountains
of North America, making them much
more dangerous when they do
come into contact with people.”

She smiles and says,
“I also told my friends
you would make something up
if you didn’t know the answer.”

Passion Pink Polish

She drops her sewing box
on her big toe,
turning the nail black,
but it’s not at the nail base
so she won’t lose it,
it’s only turned black.
“I’m going to cover it up
with 2 coats of Passion Pink polish,”
she says. And she does,
leaving only a faint shadow
of black beneath, like a bat
against the night sky.
“Maybe I better use
a darker color,” she says,
“To be sure no one can see
the black color.”
I kneel down
like Lancelot before
the beautiful Guinevere.
“If anyone gets close enough
to actually see
that faint black shadow lurking
beneath your Passion Pink toenail,
I need to know about it,” I respond.