Thursday, October 6, 2016


Elegy for Grover Cleveland Franks Jr.

The moment I got the text from my mom
saying "daddy's gone"
I felt that
In the most subtle way

Here He Is!
stronger than ever
It was as if all the spirit
that had been caged
in his infirm body
had been unbound
and was now swelling up to
it's true
and vast proportions
and reaching out to me
Reaching out to me
And speaking inside of me
(Like Obi One Kenobi
if instead of a Jedi
Obi One had been a preacher
and telephone repairman
from Southern Missouri.)
I loved Grandpa's voice
It rings in my ear
even clearer now
than before
the rhythmic booming voice
of the preacher coming through
the "telephone" wire loud and clear
I can still hear
clear as day
the lilt of his long
sonorous vowels
the way he would
caress the words
stretch them out
for emphasis
the creak of his baritone
as the cadences of his speech
rose up into a kind of song
For me Grandpa's essence
could be heard in his tones
It was even there
in his grunts
and his groans
It was there
in his sneezes
the loudest sneezes
I have ever heard
And it was there
in his explosive laughter too
But mostly it was there
in the Way he said things
He could really talk so beautifully!
I may not have always agreed
with what he was saying
but I always agreed
with the way he said it
In fact it was when
I learned to just listen to his voice
instead of argue with his words
that I learned how to love him
for who he Really was
free of the expectation
of who I thought he should be
That was such a liberating moment
from anger into love
from disagreement
into acceptance
letting go
of difference
and just listening
to the entrancing music
Of his cadence
That was when I went from
avoiding those seemingly endless sermons
To asking for them
To wanting to sit and listen for hours
hoping they would never end
I remember being
completely and utterly lulled
in the rhythms of his words
the waves of words
the emphatic Nouns
The Force of the verbs
I learned to love
the push and pull
of language
the very pulse
of it
When I was really listening to him
I could sense
a transformation
in Grandpa too
He slowly began to
come through the words then
emerge from the words
When he first began talking to me
he would often begin by preaching
It was a kind of habit I think
But left alone to talk
for long enough
he eventually began
to just be in the moment
And in the moment
he would become more human
and the more human he became
it seemed to me
the more free
As he was listened to
he was released
All of the listening
I did then
helps me hear
him better now
He feels more
alive to me now
than he did before
I love him now
Even more

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