A blog for Joe Henry fans

vrijdag 17 augustus 2018

Read Joe Henry's poetic words on Aretha Franklin's passing.

Yesterday, Aretha Franklin passed away. The entire world mourns, and everyone pays their respects.

I generally don't share the amazing words Joe offers in repsect of those that are hard to honour in spoken language. But this one hit me full frontal.

On his Social Media Joe wrote his goodbye. Its words are strong and beautiful, Pure poetry. The lay-out of it, even shares its beauty. This is how you honor a Queen.

RIP Aretha Franklin, and from here on, I'll offer this space to Joe's words.


I shall say up front that to approach this engagement
requires first that one sleep on rocks, drink
from shoes; become naked
and marked with bramble,
weep bitter tears:

Aretha Franklin is dead.

She not queen for a season or region
but forever and for all, as if by
Biblical prophecy;
she of the storied mountain and too
the train steaming through its most
reluctant and unforgiving chapters;

She like no river so much as the Mississippi
that has run forward and back and has
born upon its shoulders the building blocks
of our confused and bloody history
and spied from the center of rushes lauded cities
in flames ––consumed by our own
unrelenting and misshapen desires;

She of all time and none;

She the winter of ’29, the
spring of ’33 ––the fall of ’63 wherein
churches burned and pilgrims
sank before harbor;
she not only of Sam’s fierce grace and slide
but of Ray’s grim crawl, Georgia to Washington,
carrying red dirt in his cuffs
and fish sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper;

She not only of Martin but of Malcolm;

She of scrubbed hands and tired feet,
the childless and the over-run with children.

She not of industry but of mystical vision:
smokestack, sack-
cloth and ashes; thunder and
chain lightening; she of unmarked graves,
and words beyond ringing words; she of

fire and fury and breathless wonder, the gospel
according to love and loneliness and bound for
no other glory but that of she
who has been

remains ex-

actly what you

first took

be that bright

noon calling
a passing

car the

voice of

herself she



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