Notes from Philly weblog

The Tarpon

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Recuerdo: Frank Llaneza
March 9, 1920 – March 18, 2010

of green waters

High jumping
ordinary man

Boca Grande the kingdom
Big mouth sin llanto
Big quiet eye

Slippery in salt froth
Silver in fresh agua

Clear quiet eye
Takes time to grow
Times time to see

Big fish do this
Breathe free
to leap horizons

Slap the castanets of rod and wave
Slip the line

Beneath the seabed
coral quiver:
Eulalia’s mandolin

Long stay:
Our Silver King!

Frank Llaneza, one of the pioneers of the premium cigar business, died two weeks after his 90th birthday. He was my uncle.
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Written by Lesley Valdes

March 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm

3 Responses

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  1. This lovely poem was on the last page of the program at Frank Llaneza’s memorial mass this week in Tampa. It appeared over a photo of a much younger Frank standing next to a tarpon. The poem and photo brought tears to my eyes. Humble Frank was a giant in the cigar industry — one of the last of the truly honorable men. Even now, I am moved to tears. Thank you Lesley Valdez for the beauty of your words.

    Norman Sharp

    March 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    • Dear Mr. Sharp,
      I thank you for writing me and for being at my uncle’s memorial mass. I was unable to be there but present in spirit. I was fortunate to be at Uncle Frank’s 90th birthday celebration in Tampa, coming from Philadelphia. The poem was written for that celebration. How little did I know it would be used so soon his memorial service…I thought the tarpon a fitting metaphor for my Uncle in so many ways….
      All through my childhood, knowing of his love for that important Florida fish, and watching him go to the cigar factor, and off to tarpon fishing. Then too I cherished the stories I heard of his grandfather, my greatgrandfather, Ramon Valdespino, the poet and lector.
      Oh, yes, I agree, Uncle Frank Llaneza, was a very great and loving man. He will remain in our hearts and memories but how I wish he were still here in the flesh, too.
      Warm wishes,
      Lesley Valdes

      Lesley Valdes

      March 25, 2010 at 10:11 pm

  2. Dear Lesley,

    First of all, my apologies for misspelling your last name. I saw my mistake right after pressing the send key. Thank you for your email. I first met your uncle and aunt when I joined the Cigar Assn. of America as its president in 1981. Yet the memorial mass revealed just how little I really knew about him. You have a great gift for poetry — no doubt in large part a legacy from your great grandfather.

    Best wishes,

    Norm Sharp

    Norman Sharp

    March 29, 2010 at 6:54 pm

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