home a safe place to land
 todays flight plan archives
Flight Plan

       SOME OF THE BEST
2 September, 1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the Stanyan logo to subscribe to the McKuen Mailing List

Photo by Dan Chapman ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

We cannot presume the fatherhood of God without assuming the brotherhood of man.

 

What follows is some pretty early McKuen writing. It dates back nearly half a century. Whew!

SOLDIERS FROM ANOTHER WAR 

I.
Soldiers from another war, memories of another time when a dime was a dime and love was something G.I's only read about: He leans against the bar and sings fantastic songs. The Marine named Carl, a long way from home and lonely like the rest of us. His brown eyes seek out the friendly ones and he sings to them. While the high hipped girl in the corner cries because she canít understand the language. All this for a glass of beer and anyone will tell you itís worth it.

II.
Some soldiers fight their daily battles, not in body but in mind: Private Spence has a problem. His eyes are lonelier than most. And people misinterpret his looks. I saw a big woman follow him home once when that wasnít what he wanted at all.

III.
Soldiering is more than coming through the trenches still intact, it's threading minefields still unmined: She struggled over chocolate cake, toying with an unfamiliar fork. Looking into the lieutenantís eyes, who but an hour ago, was only another stranger. Under the cruel light her pale green dress and yellow beads seem a little out of place. And as her fingers fumbled with the fork, she now and then would try to smile. The lieutenantís eyes were cold. Devouring her as she devoured chocolate cake. In another place, another war ago, it had been the same. A walk through the rain to a small cafe, with another girl, who never got to know his name.

IV.
Some soldiers come from long lines of soldiers. Soldiering runs in the family. Some become soldiers to run from the family: Lieutenant Paul Smith, Marine. Son of a Boston lawyer. His mother played bridge in Westchester County. This is his first night on the Ginza. He dances well. His Japanese girl comes to his chin. And they move with easy motion on the dance floor. The motions will be quicker after dark. Everything is okay. The moth chases the flame. The bees still pollinate. The grass is green on spring mountains. The haze of the evening is soft blue. And Lieutenant Paul Smith waltzes endlessly, with an Oriental head against his shoulder.

V.
Soldiers from another war, memories of another time when a dime was a dime and love was something G.I's only read about: Long before we decided the fate of that retched woman at the Prince Hotel and laughed into the night, conjuring ways to upset her. I had thought of the possibility of falling in love with you. Even after I knew there were others. I was determined not to. Not at this time. Not when I was going home. Knowing there was anybody else who loved you. But as it happened, you turned to me in bed, and smiled. And we were very warm.

- Written in Taegu, Korea, 1954. Some of this material was used in the album "Time of Desire", 1957. With new material, 1998.


Tomorrow some news on a brand new album. Sleep warm.

 - RM 07/01/01

Updated McKuen biography just posted! Click below for more details:

Rod McKuen Biography

notable birthdays

CANADA DAY

Dan Ackroyd o Pamela Anderson o Karen Black o Genevieve Bujold o James M. Cain o Leslie Caron o Myron Cohen o Diana, Princess of Wales o Jamie Farr o Farley Granger o Deborah Harry o Olivia de Havilland o Hans Werner Henze o Charles Laughton o Carl Lewis o Jean Marsh o Alan Ruck o George Sand o Roberta Sherwood o Jean Stafford o Twyla Tharp o Liv Tyler o William Wyler

Rod's random thoughts September is the turning point . . .the time that takes us home.

The more we attempt to explain our lives, the less we have to justify.

Exaggeration is a poor magician.

You don't need to know anything about life to enjoy it.

SUMMER GAMES

They swoop at you like larks
or quarterbacks in forward runs
of either sex or neither sex
without formation or a plan;
unless the worked-out play
is to make the lonesome cry
                      or cry out,
cause the looker-on to weep
at glimpses and snippets
                  of great beauty
in long distance runner
or the smile of loping jogger -
here then gone forever in the crowd.
Headband, headset firm in place,
dodging honking autos and the cursing tourist,
hearing music from some other sphere.

Distant eyes and yet aware, aware
of damage done by muscled leg
                       and thrusting arm.
Such sleek machinery coming from,
moving from such supple trunks.

I tell you just the sight of them
can cause pedestrian heart to pound,
can set off bells in heads
that were not there or never rang before.

If age-old steeples toppled to the ground
                          at their mere passing
I would not feign surprise.
Should traffic stop and drivers die
                        while shifting gears.
As these sprinters sprinted traffic lights
                               and bounded corners,
it would not make the papers
                                    or the nightly news.
These runners are the body commonplace
and so uncommon as to melt the sidewalk,
                                        wilt the rose.

I would I were the vendor on the street
dispensing water and refreshment
                                    to the sweated brow,
if only just to gain another momentary look
at Venus and Adonis too in colored underwear.

The joy to be stone pony on the carousel
awarding rings to every arm-stretched runner.
Oh, I have seen the future
               running in each retina -
it is brown bodies tumbling in summer games,
and afterward more summer games,
                                          and afterward...

You, runner, coming at me
catch my breath and eat it up.
Wipe your forehead on my chest
with knifelike slash that draws
a cup of blood to prove I have one.
Smother me with arms and legs
                         and piston trunk.
Trample me with feet
that do not touch the ground.
It would be easy death to one
who having trod a dozen blocks on summer days
now returns to unlit rooms
and to such memories that kill a man
with the slowest kind of passion poison.

- from "The Sound of Solitude", 1983

© 1984, 1988, 1999 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
Want to comment on today's Flight Plan?
Send e-mail to Rod McKuen or post a message at the Rod McKuen Message Center
home page   today's flight plan   flight plan archives   search this site   site map
stanyan