On Bob Baker

The steady hum of the ballgame on TV in the other room, or the distant banging of a hammer against a nail, always let me know where he was. Sometimes, on summer evenings, his song rang out over the open countryside, his fingers strumming an accompanying rhythm on his guitar strings. When I walked in the door, he greeted me with a booming hello. When I had to leave, he never said goodbye, just “see you later.” Because of course he would see me later.

The steady hum of the ballgame on TV in the other room, or the distant banging of a hammer against a nail, always let me know where he was. Sometimes, on summer evenings, his song rang out over the open countryside, his fingers strumming an accompanying rhythm on his guitar strings. When I walked in the door, he greeted me with a booming hello. When I had to leave, he never said goodbye, just “see you later.” Because of course he would see me later.

He taught me how to sing and he taught me how to swear. He taught me how to use my voice to stand up for what moves me. He lived loud and allowed me space enough to yell.

He was the sound of home.

On Michael Sanders II

He was a point of stillness in a maelstrom. To find him in a whirling, busy crowd, you had only to look for the one anchored to the earth like a steadfast pillar. When he smiled, and stretched out his hand, it was to the quiet ones, the displaced ones, the rejected ones. He helped us up and brought us into his place of peace.

He was a point of stillness in a maelstrom. To find him in a whirling, busy crowd, you had only to look for the one anchored to the earth like a steadfast pillar. When he smiled, and stretched out his hand, it was to the quiet ones, the displaced ones, the rejected ones. He helped us up and brought us into his place of peace.

We conversed for hours, me and him and others, well into the night. Puns, jokes, silly things. Measuring out minutes with his warm voice, so that it felt like no time passed at all. He made us feel welcomed, accepted. Capable of facing the storm again when we stepped back out into the world. His wave and murmured “good luck” were enough to get us by for a while, until someday when it would be time to come back.

On Destiny Perez

She was a tall tree, strong as an oak, with wisdom flowing through her branches and a sense of home stretching into the earth alongside her roots. Her trunk was hollowed out by adversity and time, a comfortable space for the passing weary traveler to rest, a place to forget your troubles for a while.

She was a tall tree, strong as an oak, with wisdom flowing through her branches and a sense of home stretching into the earth alongside her roots. Her trunk was hollowed out by adversity and time, a comfortable space for the passing weary traveler to rest, a place to forget your troubles for a while.

Her leaves sighed and whispered in the breeze like a telephone conversation in the middle of the night. Or they pattered and chattered as she told those seated at her feet stories she’d heard on the wind. Her protective canopy provided equal parts shade from the sun and cover from storms.

I found when I felt lost in my journey, my steps often turned toward her. When I needed comfort, that hollow space would squeeze my shoulders just enough to be a hug. I wasn’t the only one, either. Many others bided their time with me, with her. She was our tree. We knew she would always be there for us.

On Jay Gurley

Between the silvered trunks of a mighty, alien forest, I came upon a wounded man. He sat next to a small campfire, one he had built himself. Pensiveness filled his eyes. A heavy, lead-lined cloak dragged at his shoulders, the red and gold hem crusted with mud. He had one hand pressed to his side and a puddle of crimson surrounded him, too much for him to still live.

Between the silvered trunks of a mighty, alien forest, I came upon a wounded man. He sat next to a small campfire, one he had built himself. Pensiveness filled his eyes. A heavy, lead-lined cloak dragged at his shoulders, the red and gold hem crusted with mud. He had one hand pressed to his side and a puddle of crimson surrounded him, too much for him to still live.

When I gasped, he looked up at me. “I’m fine,” he said, flashing me a cocky grin.

“You’re not,” I retorted.

But when he pulled his hand away from his side, there was no blood. He showed his clean palm to me. “See? Nothing wrong.”

More blood seeped up from the ground, the puddle growing larger until it lapped at my bare toes. I went away from that place, feeling that I had let the world down somehow. I think he must have been a magician. A tricksy one, who pulled a blindfold down over my eyes.

On Joshua Edwards

His was a voice that often followed mine. I could drop a snappy comment and he would snatch it up, shift the trick sideways, and lob it back at me. You had to be quick on your toes around him, because you found that you didn’t want to disappoint him by dropping the ball.

His was a voice that often followed mine. I could drop a snappy comment and he would snatch it up, shift the trick sideways, and lob it back at me. You had to be quick on your toes around him, because you found that you didn’t want to disappoint him by dropping the ball.

Conversely, if he believed in you, you could do anything.

In his words was the wistfulness of a dreamer. He gave much and asked for little in return. But if you watched closely enough, you could see how, when he believed no one was looking, his gaze would drift toward the stars, the ache in his heart for something more becoming the ache in your own. I think he thought himself unnoticeable, invisible, and if you’re shifty enough, you can be. But I saw him. He’s real. If you’re quick enough to catch him, cup him gently in your palm, because starlight cannot be imprisoned.

On Adam Zielinski

Forever in my mind, he relaxed at a table surrounded by friends, the neck of a beer bottle held loosely between long fingers, his other hand gesturing a narrative point to support his story. He had an intensity about him, the electromagnetic capacity to hold his audience spellbound in a way I never could. But no matter the gravity of a topic, he couldn’t remain serious for long, often dissolving into laughter, along with the rest of us. When he listened, he listened. When he spoke, he spoke. But, I thought, when someone could make him laugh, that person gifted us with something small, yet wonderful.

Forever in my mind, he relaxed at a table surrounded by friends, the neck of a beer bottle held loosely between long fingers, his other hand gesturing a narrative point to support his story. He had an intensity about him, the electromagnetic capacity to hold his audience spellbound in a way I never could. But no matter the gravity of a topic, he couldn’t remain serious for long, often dissolving into laughter, along with the rest of us. When he listened, he listened. When he spoke, he spoke. But, I thought, when someone could make him laugh, that person gifted us with something small, yet wonderful.

On Lyle Hall

I came upon a solitary scarecrow in the middle of an empty field. At first, he wasn’t there, and then he was, just in the corner of my vision. He hunched against the elements, head bowed in the red evening sunlight. When I approached him, he seemed nearly translucent, so faded with the sun and the wind. But in his very human eyes I found a glint of mischief; humor was tucked into the corners of his smiling mouth.

I came upon a solitary scarecrow in the middle of an empty field. At first, he wasn’t there, and then he was, just in the corner of my vision. He hunched against the elements, head bowed in the red evening sunlight. When I approached him, he seemed nearly translucent, so faded with the sun and the wind. But in his very human eyes I found a glint of mischief; humor was tucked into the corners of his smiling mouth.

I asked him which way to go and he pointed me in the right direction, keen to help. As he did, he became tangible again, not from my acknowledgement of his existence, but from his direct impact on reality. He had made change. Before I went on my way, he slipped a witty quip into my pocket. I keep it folded there even now, in case of nosey crows.