Michael Estabrook

How can I NOT be grateful

FOUND POEMS: constructed entirely of lines from Ann Menebroker’s emails to Michael Estabrook between July 15, 2007 and December 29, 2012.


Some people don’t know whether to call me
Ann or Annie. I prefer the latter. More friendly.

While I am disgustingly optimistic to talk to,
write to, I am, to balance things, also
bitchy, slow, grumpy, judgmental, cheap, sad, all of it.
So rack up the register
and give me the right change back.

I will always be honest if asked to.

Since I’m getting older, I am grateful
for each passing year and it is
my “favorite one” until the next year.

I found I loved the kids,
and that had I, somehow, gotten into
the teaching field, I’d have been pretty good at it.
Alas, too late. I learned this too late.

And I can’t see as well at night to drive if it is
out of the downtown area, so I miss things
due to age. But aw, that’s ok.



I am reading a bit more this year, and 3 times
this month, as it is National Poetry Month
and it is my way to say thanks to the muse
for giving me the poetry community! Without poetry
I’d have been a wart.
With it, I’m a face with a wart. ha!

I still get extremely nervous.
I’ll never feel comfortable on stage. Ever.
Yet there’s a person inside me, a little theatre jockey,
who loves the stage and performers
and would-a-be performer in me,
had I not been so damn shy.

Don’t like the spotlight. But as you can tell,
I’m not at all shy with friends when I write.



It’s incredible to imagine being sweethearts
for so long in your lives. It reminds me
of those romantic movies about fate,
and not the fickle finger of fate,
but real determined connections. Beautiful.

I think I was always over-powered
by infatuation, great infatuation, large
and protruding, and lustful, and exciting.
Those I once loved with passion, that I either
did get together with, or those I never did,
if they are alive, I often am now friends with.
But so many in my generation are dying off.

I love to read novels about cops and lawyers and CIA
I read just about anything
I love movies and watch a lot of them
I love music.
I love art, music, dance, some theatre, singing, literature…
I can’t stuff it all in enough.



Our fate is already set up for us, and our gift is curiosity.

We never know. Damn. That’s
what makes it all good and sad and edgy
and fearful and curious.

Anyway, we all have hundreds and hundreds
of stories to tell to those who didn’t grow up in our lives,
or belong to them for years and years.
This will always be true.

I’m doing fine. Doing the usual
with the oncologist. Try not to think about it,
but it’s hard not to think about a sky overhead,
when I try to think of life without one. haha.

Our bodies are strangers to us in many ways.

It happens; time gallops and throws
dirt back, and I am the slow runner on the track.
Still going for the finish line.



I do love poetry. But it is only
about 49% of my life. Or, maybe my whole life
has been a poem, in thinking and being.

I seem to be half-ass into a normal world
and am, thus, a hell of a bore around poets.

That’s how all the poems build,
from the heart and from the mind
and memory of who we are.

I don’t write a lot. I don’t keep track
of where or when things are published,
and I should. But. I don’t.

When poetry speaks for us, for all of us,
it makes the ordinary utterly extraordinary.

Yes, there’s a point to poetry,
and some people, a lot of them, never get it.

My writing has changed over the years, slowly,
which is a process I believe in.
Hopefully something of me from the old days
sticks to it. Style. That’s what it is.
Who knows if it’s there.

Again, you said something no one has said
about my work before, about how it falls off the page….
I really liked the way you put it.
It’s good to know work holds up over time.

Oh hell, this could go on and on. So I’ll stop.
That’s all. I hope you and family are doing well. I am.
Which makes me feel very, very happy. To be alive, yes!


Michael Estabrook is retired. No more useless meetings under florescent lights in stuffy windowless rooms, able instead to focus on making better poems when he’s not, of course, endeavoring to satisfy his wife’s legendary Honey-Do List. His latest collection of poems is Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2016).