Thursday, May 19, 2011

weekend update 5/19/11

Freddy Franks

Strange how when someone goes
they instantly become myth,
the most of the that that they were.
There is an essence, a spirit

that stays behind in which we can feel
the whole arc of the life.
He preached the gospel every
Sunday for fifty eight years

at the Silver Moon Full Gospel Church
in Granby Missouri. You can imagine
how good he was at the end after all
that practice. (He never retired.)

To give you an idea consider
that he played baseball in college
and could have gone pro, but
instead became a pastor.

(That is the stuff legend is made of,
the All American future baseball star
giving up fame and fortune for
the tending to of a few.)

So just imagine all the heat of the great athlete
directed into the performance at the pulpit,
a little bit of Jerry Lee Lewis' great balls of fire
crossed with the charm of Elvis Presley

and the vocal inflections of Woody Guthrie.
It is a special music that I can hear in my own voice sometimes,
but just barely. This special voice is shared by my grandfather too.
I wish I could hear even more of the sound in me.

Perhaps in homage to these men I will begin to imitate them
and draw out my adverbs, juuuuust for emphasis,
and throw in more "shoots", "brother", "sister"
"man" and "friend" into my language too.

. . .

Think of the vulnerability at the pulpit, the humility
necessary in baring your soul before a congregation
week after week, for thousands of weeks. My Land!
I love to walk in the graveyard in Granby

that Freddy tended and in which he will be buried Saturday.
My Grandfather has taken me through this cemetery
several times and likes to tell stories about the people
buried there, dozens of which, I would imagine,

Freddy helped bury. Even in death
a community will stick together, held together
by the names carved on the stones
and the memories of the living.

. . .

Often as I'm feeling something powerful
I find the music I just happen to be listening to will suddenly
mean something. As I'm writing this I'm listening to a CD
by a songwriter that hopes to play the D Note, John Statz.

The one-line chorus of this beautiful song
repeats over and over, "They mean everything to me."
These words seem to me now to embody
the very meaning of the Granby cemetery.

And it feels appropriate that these words
should come to me in song. Fred
had a beautiful voice and often
led the congregation in song.

I can hear him now in my voice, friend,
ever alive in my vowels, singing
with the angels in heaven and sung
for an lo o o ng time to come.

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