Michael Estabrook



buildings always buildings and I’m lost in them

. . . in a skyscraper with fast moving elevators that don’t stop that go up to the roof and beyond the roof and I’m alone in there in this small all-glass skyscraper elevator and I can’t get out . . .

. . . in this Victorian mansion with hidden rooms and musty-smelling crawlspaces and pantries I’m in the attic climbing in and out windows being chased by something dark and heavy and hairy through the attic out onto the roof back into the attic again and again . . .

. . . in a sprawling dusty farmhouse long endless crooked hallways rusty smell of damp grain . . .

. . . in a giant college classroom building wide stairways alcoves echoing alcoves windows tiny windows that peer out over an empty quad and I can’t find my classroom it’s exam time and I’m late and I haven’t been to this classroom in months I don’t know why I think I’ve simply forgotten this class and I’m searching up and down the wide stairways alone in the alcoves peering out the empty windows I can’t find my classroom . . .

in my dreams I’m always in buildings lost in buildings in my dreams I’m lost in buildings


fish tank heater & light

it hasn’t snowed here yet, strange after 18 snowstorms last year - & it’s not that I talk often about the weather but here’s the point - it’s not snowing here because I finally went out and borrowed money and bought a god-damned snow blower. yeah. also, I had a dream last night about the fish tank we have downstairs it’s a big one 30 gallons I think, with 4 goldfish & a catfish & some snails in there so I had this dream about a giant fish tank as big almost as a room & I’m trying to put a heater in it & I’m having some trouble putting the heater in, then I wake up, fix myself a cup of coffee, meander downstairs, turn on the fish tank pump & the light & the damn light doesn’t work.



The two of us leave
town, wander through fields
as an orange sun sets. We feel
  like Reapers
looking out over the golden
grain sheaves and haystacks
majestic in the stillness
  of Harvest.

Suddenly! Thunder! Thunder!
from somewhere but how can this
  be? We raise our heads,
a Storm in
the West; dark gray funnel dropping
from an Angry Sky
a Tornado moving toward us,
swirling, whirling,
  shuddering, clattering
with debris; closer & closer.

We stand alone, unprotected,
in this open field,
nowhere to go, no place to
  hide. It threads
it's path heedfully
around the simple houses,
  around my house too.
I'm stiff with fear,
mouth open.     It stops
before us, whirling, clattering,
blowing cool over my face
& neck, blowing back
  my hair.

There in the bottom of
the Tornado is a Woman,
a metallic-faced Woman,
dark blue eyes unblinking,
sticks & leaves
& little fishes swirling
  around Her, stuck in
Her long black hair.
(All this motion, spinning,
blurry, hard to see. Is that me
in there? No. Impossible.
Of course not! I'm out here,
looking in.) Her shining
eyes stare out as She
  says I
must choose the houses to
be cleansed, to be purified.

Purified? Purified?
I'm confused. What can this
  mean? I shake my head.
I won't make
this decision, won't
hurt anyone. "No no I can't,
no no I won't!" I try to back
away. But the Face remains
  solid metal, eyes unblinking,
insisting. "No, I can't!
I'm not responsible. I shouldn't
have to decide
this. I won't." But my words
  are unheard. She
tells me if I don't choose,
She'll destroy every house,
  including mine.
I want to cry, but don't.
I want to run, but can't.
  Taking a deep breath
I decide to choose troubled houses
  for purification. Yes!
That's reasonable, choose houses
  already with problems --
drugs or poverty or crime or HIV.
  I name names, point out
these homes.

Off She goes in
Her clattering Tornado leaving
the path clean in
Her passage through the town.
  She guts some houses.
They vanish or remain only
rubble; others She merely
  strips off clapboard or
removes the roof.

And we remain standing, watching,
helpless, in the open
  field at Harvest knowing
we have the Power, but not
knowing how
  to use it.

past simple home