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A Thought for Today

Don't wait for love, but do attend it when it comes.


Dear Ken,

The other day I was going over an email that I had written to a friend and in it I mentioned the Flight Plan from August 30, 1998. August 30, 1997 was the date I ended one life and started another. One year later I was reading Rod's Flight Plan and it stuck in my memory enough for me to comment about it to a friend.

I went back and read that Flight Plan tonight to see what had captured me so. As I did I decided to send it to you as a recommendation for Some of the Best. It contains the kind of information that people who are finding Rod again enjoy reading. Also it captures a little of what Rod must be feeling as he again gets ready to publish a new book.

I sure am anxious to see the new ASPTL. Love to you and yours and keep up the wonderful work, Ken.

Rita Bartlow

Thanks for an interesting choice, Rita. I can think of absolutely no reason why favorite Flight Plans can't feature in this column so I'm delighted to re-publish this one today.

By now most of you have received "A Safe Place To Land" the book and I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am. For those of you who don't yet have a copy, place your order now by clicking on the link below:

Order ASPTL from Stanyan By Mail

Here's the full Flight Plan from August 30, 1998.


My first book, "and autumn came. . ." was published in 1954. A friend, Bill Henderson, paid for it to be issued by a small vanity press.. I met Bill through a really close chum, Bea Sandy. Well, she was more than a chum, I had a crush on her that to this day has never ended. Alas for me, but good news for the poor, downtrodden and disenfranchised, she chose Christ as a husband. That is to say, she became a nun.. Talk about competition, I never had [pardon the pun] a prayer..

Sister Mark is to this day a close friend and confidante and but for her prayers and advice I'm sure I would have strayed more than I have. And God and Sister Mark know I've strayed as much as some and more than most.. She always believed in me and spread the word and so thanks to her and Bill, just as I was finishing boot camp at Fort Ord, "and autumn came" was published.

A modest 500, maybe less, copies were printed. There wasn't any fanfare & I don't remember receiving any royalties, but I purchased a lot of copies at $2.00 a pop and gave them to friends and was thrilled to see my work in print. Friends seemed to like it or said they did, fellow GI's, I'm sure considered me a pansy or at best an odd ball. "What the hell is a poet?. . .it sure ain't no manly occupation." In an effort to 'make a man out of me', I'm sure my share of KP, guard duty & cleaning the latrines might have been an over share. Still don't know if it worked in the army's eyes or even my own.. [Another story for another time]

Fourteen years later, my brother Edward and I pooled our meager finances and self published "Stanyan Street & Other Sorrows." Most of you know the rest. But old loves die hard. "and autumn came . . ." was my first love & first child.. Around that time I met a young artist and designer named Anthony Goldschmidt and he and I decided that AAC should be re - released but in a special way. He would hand letter the entire book and provide illustrations.

It was designed with fine linen binding, boxed, numbered, printed on only the best art paper measuring 14X14'' and contracted to be printed by The Jeffries Lithograph Co. of Los Angeles, who specialized in printing banknotes. It would now be described as a coffee table book to sell at fifty bucks a copy---and even at that price, we would lose money. [Hey, Tony's a genius & doesn't think small..]

The more I looked at the original $2.00 book, however, the more I began to pick at it, didn't tinker very much, but probably too much. Ain't hindsight wonderful. Part of the caveat to the new edition stated "In this current edition several lines have been tightened, a poem deleted and a half dozen phrases rewritten, otherwise the manuscript remains exactly as first published in 1954." Hmm.

Today for The Flight Plan I've chosen a poem from AAC to reproduce in its original form & in the revised form. Write and let me know what you think..

Aside from all this, I can't possibly ignore this chance to thank the Late Bill Henderson for his getting me off the ground as a poet, Sister Mark for always encouraging me to live my dream and the talented, visionary Tony Goldschmidt who I'd give anything to work with again. And we will.

- August 17, 1998 • previously unpublished

Don't forget this is your column so if you have a favorite McKuen song or poem (or Flight Plan) you'd like to share, drop me a line at ken@mckuen.com and I'll do the rest.

 - Ken, Johannesburg, May 2

notable birthdays Brian Aherne o Theodore Bikel o Roscoe Lee Brown o Vernon Castle o Catherine The Great o Bing Crosby o Larry Gatlin o Lesley Gore o Lorenz Hart o Englebert Humperdinck o Bianca Jagger o Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson o Pinky Lee o Siobhan McKenna o Satyajat Ray o Alessandro Scarlatti o Dr. Benjamin Spock o Baron Von Richthofen
Rod's random thoughts True men of pride concern themselves with the worth of smaller things.

A family with a yard needs a dog. A dog with a family needs a yard.

Those who view success as a turnstile will never get the keys to the executive washroom.



this is an august night
but with the fog . . .I wouldn't swear to it
this is autumn . . .but the mist is cheating us of the stars

i mark this spot on my calendar
this 30th day of august that tells me you're gone
like the days in muir woods
like the nights on morgan hill

i circle it in red
so next year I can remember
laugh and say I over-dramatized your leaving

but next year will never come without you  

-from "and autumn came. . ." 1954

Revised Version, 1969

this is an august night
but the mist is cheating us of the stars

i mark this spot on my calendar
this 30th day of august that tells me you're
like the days in muir woods
like the nights on morgan hill

i circle it in red
so next year I can remember
laugh and say I over-dramatized your leaving

but will next year come

 - from "and autumn came. . ." Revised, 1969

© 1954, 1969, 1998,  2001 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
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