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Eulogies for Jay Zimmerman, by Michael Brockley

Buffalo Nickels and Steel Guitar Music
by Michael Brockley

for Jay Zimmerman

Last night I counted a buffalo nickel among the change left in my Levi’s. All summer, butterflies have fluttered from the shadows of the silver maples that have overgrown my fencerow. When was the last time you held a nickel? What was the last color of butterfly to land on your arm? I try to remember your poem about coming of age in Miami, but all I recall is you cruising in your Firebird along the strip of motels where Yankee teenagers on spring break gathered to drink local beers named for hurricanes. In the evening, a jazz combo lost themselves in “Kind of Blue.” The last time we talked we sat in a college bar surrounded by board games and used books. We read B. H. Fairchild’s poem about a young Mickey Mantle walloping a fastball from the green hell of steel guitar music off a water tower in Quapaw. “There’s more to it than that. It’s about men playing for redemption,” you said. The depth you always mined. I spent that night listening to Over the Rhine’s “I Won’t Eat the Darkness.” Where did you go to hear them that last time? I hide the buffalo nickel in a niche where I won’t find it and think about kissing a woman with luck tattooed on her shoulder. I want to cruise Ocean Drive in a muscle car with the songs that made me a man shaking the firmament. This isn’t the last time I’ll try to say goodbye.

Jay’s Eulogy
by Michael Brockley

You stand in against Whitey Ford on a baseball diamond in paradise while Mickey Mantle shouts instructions to you from the dugout. Keep your hands back. Follow through with your hips. The southpaw might stick a curveball in your ribs or knock you down with a “mudball,” but you’re not a Miami Little Leaguer anymore. You know how to wait deep in the box while digging in with your cleats. Know how to get back up after biting the dirt. The last time you faced this lefty, you didn’t see the ball. Said it sounded liked a strike. Since then you’ve meditated in the shade of the tree of life. Climbed a mountain with the man who had a dream. You let your soul catch your body beneath your favorite light. On the pitcher’s mound, Ford is nodding to Berra, rocking into his delivery. You’ve learned how to see the pitch. How to gauge its rotation with the sweet spot of your swing. You’re standing now on sacred ground where those you cherish most will cheer you on forever.

Bio: Michael Brockley is a quasi-retired school psychologist who still works in rural northeast Indiana. His poems have appeared in a variety of literary journals, including Atticus Review, Gargoyle, Clementine Unbound and Flying Island. "Jay Zimmerman was a teacher, poet and friend whose poems and creative nonfiction occasionally appeared in Flying Island. He passed away on August 6, 2018."

Editor's note: Here are links to Jay S Zimmerman's contributions to the Flying Island.