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by Michael Estabrook






I recall the first time I read

Dante’s Divine Comedy

all the way through

as a medical sales rep

carrying it with me faithfully

as I trudged through airport lounges and hotel hallways

diners, company lobbies, doctors waiting rooms . . .


Not because I was trying to show off

traipsing around with such an important

work of literature

but instead because reading it lifted me up and out

of my humdrum existence

into a world I scarcely could’ve imagined

with demons and torture, angels and sunlight

and everything in between.


Expecting that the mere reading of every word

would save my soul somehow.



a line, (a short blue one)



Rocking Chair


I wonder what

my grandfather did every day

in his little room

off the living room at the front of the house.

I know he’d sit in his rocker

read newspapers both The Daily

Home News and the New York Post

but you can’t read newspapers all day long

so what else did he do?

There was nothing else in there

that I could see

no books or hobbies or TV

not even a deck of cards.

Sometimes I’d glance in

and he’d be sitting in his rocker

staring out the window into the street

at nothing in particular.



a line, (a short blue one)





My brother’s soulmate throughout his life

was a high school girlfriend they


did everything together but life got

in the way sent them down


different paths she married some other

guy and he never married at all.


When the end came too soon

he admitted he should have never


let her get away and he

was angry she married some other


guy. And then he passed away.

A couple years later that other


guy cheated on her dragged her

through a miserable divorce. If my


brother knew (and maybe he does)


he would’ve been inconsolably torn apart

hating him and needing to heal


her would’ve stopped at nothing to

bring happiness back into her life


they were soulmates after all.



a line, (a short blue one)



Woodstock 50


Yes I know

it’s the 50 year anniversary of Woodstock

the granddaddy of all music festivals

featured many of the bands and performers

I still love:

Jimi, Janis, The Who, Jefferson Airplane,

Joe Cocker, Canned Heat, Mountain,

Grateful Dead, Santana, Country Joe and the Fish,

Crosby, Stills & Nash . . . But no I didn’t go.

I was working three jobs

at the time saving to buy my girl’s

engagement ring.


But I confess I never

would’ve taken her there anyway

too uncertain too dangerous.

Caught in the rain and mud

crammed in among thousands of strangers

wasn’t my idea of a good time.

I wasn’t that much

of a free spirit back then (or now actually).

Besides, what was I supposed to tell her dad:

I’m taking your daughter hundreds

of miles away to sleep in a muddy field

for three nights with thousands

of drugged-out whack-a-doodles. Nope,

that never would’ve worked.



a line, (a short blue one)



My Conscience


I see you from the corner of my eye:

that mocking look

on your face reminding me

I’m acting like an ass.

Hear your voice

admonishing me for something insensitive

or stupid I’ve said

relieved you are still being my conscience.

I know I needed your criticism and guidance

finding comfort and assurance

in your vigilant attention

to my never-ending sophomoric behavior.

Even though you’ve been gone

five years it doesn’t surprise me

that I still see and hear you.

I expect you

to still be hovering around

making a pest of yourself until the end of my days.

“What else are brothers for” I hear you say.



a line, (a short blue one)



Give or Take


The fancy-pants astrophysicist

with the big glasses and crazy hair explains

in logical scientific detail that in 5 billion years (give or take)

our Milky Way Galaxy will collide

with our neighbor the so much larger Andromeda Galaxy

and be torn apart.

Oh no! I think and begin to worry

but abruptly realize – 5 billion years, seriously!

Even I can’t be that stupid to worry

about something 5 billion years down the road

I tell myself as I see the Devil in his corner

shaking his head not having to say anything

this time for a change.



a line, (a blue one)


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