Michael Estabrook


A garter snake fatter around than most rests
like a lazy dinosaur
on the warm rocks alongside the front walk.
I’m surprised when my wife
asks me to catch him
and let him go in her flower garden.
“But he’s a snake,” I say.
“Yes,” she says,
“and I want him in my garden
to get rid of the moles and mice.” I smile.
“He will get rid of the moles and mice won’t he?”
I smile again, “Why of course, honey.”
Though I know he’s too small for that
I simply cannot resist the temptation
of putting a snake back
into the Garden at the request of a Woman.

Biophilia (Love of Nature) 

In my wife’s garden darkening at dusk
bats flit soundlessly above azaleas and forsythias.
While in the shadows below
in the final moments of twilight
paper-thin pink morning glories glow.

I don’t know what plants are growing
in the shade down beneath the bird feeder
but they’re growing so I haven’t the heart
to clip them or pluck them out or cover them up
with peat moss or mulch.

Sitting out on the back deck watching
the sky with all its blue
tumbling down through the branches and leaves
of the trees reaching
all the way to the ground.

In the middle of the pinkest bush
a single wine-red rose reflects the sun
something Van Gogh or Monet
would’ve thought to paint especially
with a final spurt of color as a bluebird streaks by.

Can’t Find You

frantically, not at first but after

a while, I’m searching everywhere throughout

the large, sprawling, rambling house

we’re in for a celebration of something or other

dark and shadowy, stuffy, no windows, no sunlight

so many rooms and more corridors

narrow and up and down

people in masks, seriously? masks?

and they are sprawled everywhere

some sleeping or sitting or standing staring

leaning against walls and closet doors

talking silently, some in whispers

nonchalantly, no one noticing me

as I search for you

going through the rooms and corridors

looking everywhere then coming back around

doing it all over again

like checking the same pocket 100 times

for a missing key

so damn dark, strange masks

no one talking to me acknowledging me

as if I’m a ghost

where have you gone my love

my job is to protect you

has always been to protect you

I am lost and forlorn, feeling more and more

hopeless checking every corner

behind every curtain, every door

on every chair and staircase

in the kitchen and bathrooms, closets

perhaps you’ve left, but without me?

no, no, I’ll go round again and again

you have to be here somewhere

you have to be.

Kakoneirophobia (Fear of Nightmares)


Like in a horror movie he’s breathless

outside himself watching himself running

from the hairy black faceless one chasing him

through the rambling old house in Nanuet

with its attics, crawlspaces, cubbies and inky closets.



Suddenly fire bursts out in the far corner

of the back basement the flames leaping

and clawing at the air but there is no smoke only flames

as I quickly close the switch all the way

but the fire rages on waking me in a cold sweat.



In a subway tunnel the walls made of blue tiles.

Snakes are everywhere wriggling snakes

some crawl through holes in the tiles. My father

shows up comes walking towards me to save me

but he can’t avoid stepping on the snakes.



I’m standing at the foot

of my father’s grave when suddenly

the dirt at the head in front of the monument

begins to crumble and dissolve

into the darkness below inviting me in.


Dead Cat

Our little dog breaks through the electric fence

runs away down the road. Damn! Find him

before one of the big wild dogs gets him! Too Late!

A big dog with our dead cat in its mouth is scrambling

up the hill across the street being chased by our little dog.