new mexico

I can tell that because I see the outline of her bra-cup holding-up a rather hefty although not, at least from this vantage point, unattractive breast…”


by michael estabrook


Bent over at the Chiropractor’s my first visit ever suddenly I’m feeling so old Dr. Joe they call him (from a “school” someplace in New Mexico) he’s a nice young man choppy dark unkempt hair a few scars gleaming from his forehead and the bridge of his nose, his arms too long for his body. He shows me the X-rays of my spinal column tilting like a lopsided stack of coins “the stiffness in your lower back, your acute tortipelvis, the exacerbation of bilateral lumbar strain with vertebral subluxation complexes and associated paravertebral myalgia along with muscle spasms and antalgic posture deformation, is caused by advanced diffuse lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration resulting from the surgical fusion of the L4/L5 motor unit that was done on you years ago.” OK, well, that’s cool I stand cocked at the hip the pains shooting down my wobbly legs while he circles the problem areas with a red grease-pencil flicks on another X-ray panel to show me what a healthy normal back looks like (of a woman he says and I can tell that because I see the outline of her bra-cup holding-up a rather hefty although not, at least from this vantage point, unattractive breast). Next I lie down on this table with a “drop-down” middle he positions himself over me hovering like one of those fat-bellied choppers they used in Nam then he pounces snaps down hard Jesus on the bones of my spine they make loud cracking-popping noises like the sounds of giant hand knuckles being cracked I gasp as he rolls me over and does it again on the other side, then onto my neck crack-pop to let the carbon dioxide out of the spaces in the joints. (Come now you can’t expect anyone to believe such silliness can you?) Next it’s off to this medieval torture chamber wall-to-wall racks and rolling-pin-like contraptions I lie face-down for my Cryotherapy a young Igoresque woman with pimples and no make-up sticks 4 cold electrodes across my lower back slaps on one of those ice-cold-packs then turns on the electricity holy cow “if your muscles start to spasm just give a holler” and off she stumps. I lie listening to the muffled sounds of back crackings and contorted gruntings, lie still as a cement post feeling old decrepit with my cracked-popped spine cold and sizzling at the same time, lie here wondering when they’ll be bringing in the leeches and where on my limp pathetic body they’ll be sticking them.

Originally published:
Issue Forty-Eight
April 2007


(illustration: john richen )

Seems I’ve been writing poetry for so long that Methuselah should be taking notice, but in reality, time is simply doing its thing streaking ahead blithely pulling all of us along for the wild ride whether we like it or not; reminds me, I’ve published 15 chapbooks over the years, the last one being “when Patti would fall asleep” by Liquid Paper Press in 2003, guess it’s time to work on another one. — Michael Estabrook. More stories from Michael Estabrook can be found in the Vault of Smoke.


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