Friday, March 1, 2013

Three Poems by Michael Estabrook


Early gray morning sun,
a smudge in the sky,
nudges the city awake,
men bearing attaché cases stride along
in business suits, women carry purses,
a garbage truck throbs,
a tired bus spews smoke,
an occasional taxi horn honking.
I cannot yet hear any birds.
But I know there will be some
soon hoping about in the patches
of dirt beneath the few trees
guarding the street,
pecking, pecking, searching for food.
Yesterday in a crisp sky,
above a clutter of old buildings
I saw birds, a formation of ducks flying,
or maybe they were geese,
so pretty nevertheless, symmetrical
and precise as a Michelangelo drawing.
Out along the fire escape I notice
Lynn’s row of flowerpots
with their dead flowers, brown leaves,
shrunken, wilted, hanging
lifeless and limp,
on this February morning in the City,
and think about spring,
wondering where the ducks, or the geese,
were going so early in the day.

Bad Attitude

In the Boardroom,
with all the other Middle Managers,
a kick-off meeting of the Core Launch Team
for the new line of 740D cassettes
and capsules targeted
for use in the influenza vaccine market.

These exemplary products, an exciting extension
of our bioprocess product platform,
a full-range of standard 60-cm path length devices,
offer superior separation performance profiles
and efficient packing densities, potentially
higher membrane selectivity
minimizing cross-contamination,
enabling cost-effective flow capacity coupled
with preliminary purification for our customers, and –

Frankly, to be honest, (just between you and me)
I don’t give a damn. Bad attitude, terrible attitude
I know but I can’t help it.
All I can think about is getting out of work early today,
so I can get outside into
the fresh air and sunshine.


I’m in yet another useless, stupid meeting at work.
Jerry’s explaining about the recent engineering problems

in manufacturing the Six-Stacks. He’s a
sharp young engineer from a good school, working

for The Company, a Fortune 500 company, and he’s eager
to forge a successful career for himself in business.

I notice his stiff, starched white shirt, and stylish brown
businessman’s tie. His demeanor is calm but firm,

assured. I notice the trim cut of his hair,
his clean, neat nails, and shiny polished shoes.

“The plan is to purge the first batch for 24 hours
and then test on the new test stand. Process optimization
will follow from there.”

He’s making a note with a magic marker on a broad white
sheet of easel paper, when suddenly I see my Father

in the dirt driveway of our old house on Northfield Avenue.
He has one foot up on the dented bumper

of the green ’53 Buick he’s fixing-up. The hood is up.
His hands and shirt and coveralls are covered

with grease and oil and dirt. He’s holding a can of beer
in one hand, a Pall Mall’s dangling from the corner
of his mouth, and he’s smiling at me.

Michael Estabrook is a baby boomer who began getting his poetry published in the late 1980s. Over the years he has published 15 poetry chapbooks, his most recent entitled “When the Muse Speaks.” His interests include history, art, music, theatre, opera, and his wife who just happens to be the most beautiful woman he has ever known.

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