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A Thought for Today

Love works best when we don’t work at it.


I’m sure today’s Flight Plan will be a bit different than what you have come to expect from me on Saturdays. Based on the number of hits this Website receives Saturday is one of our slowest days and that makes it an ideal day to introduce what might become a new feature.


Last Saturday when I published a new poem entitled “To One Absent” I had no way of knowing the kind of mail it would generate. It was taken very personally by many and they read into it different things. That’s, of course, the way it should be. A poem is only what each reader believes it is, nothing more.

It did start me to thinking, however. Lately the same situation that inspired ‘To One Absent” has caused me to begin writing love letters that may never be seen by the one for whom they are intended. It’s all too complicated to get into but I thought if the poem could touch people in ways that are meaningful to them perhaps I might let go of a few of the not too personal to be printed letters I’m writing. You’ll find one such letter at the end of this flight plan.

But first, here are excerpts from some of the e-mails I received concerning “To One Absent.” Since many letters were very personal I am not including the names of the authors I’ve quoted.

“My husband was a POW for four years in Vietnam. I wish I could have sent him your poem then, but we shared it over a glass of wine tonight. Better late…”


“In your poem, are you talking about this life, or the next one?”


“In “To One Absent” you have told the story this woman is going through at this very moment. It started in a chat room, soon we were IM’ing and finally exchanging telephone calls. I love him and I am sure he is in love with me. Both of us are in unhappy relationships and your words said it all for us.”


I am a 21-year-old man going to college and I am in love with another man. This is the first time I have said it out loud or written about it to anyone. “The One” I love is gay too, but nothing has happened between the two of us. I am pretty sure he knows my feelings but is afraid to become involved in case someone here at school finds out. Your poem “To One Absent” made me realize that time is passing and I don’t want to miss the chance to get to know this beautiful man better.”


“Oh My God. This verse, almost entirely, is one so fitting. Just spent the evening with The One. The One and his wife. Before ya' think the 'usual', we're all friend terms only. I've known him since I was 5. Her? Since high school when we all met. "He" was never "him" to me, we had one date in all those years. They've been married "forever".

She's an invalid; though bright/alert, she's always been an inspiration to me. Her spirit, her wit, her being. Her health has worsened recently. She now has the use of only one arm. He is devoted to her/cares for her daily. She asks me to come to dinner to visit. Her "friends" have abandoned her. Most of her family has died.

He and I see each other in an entirely new light...guarded, but deeply into each other. Yep, I'm setting myself up for heartache, but, they both need a friend. I've not had such good fortune seeking my own intimate friend for any length of time, and I'm not
giving up. But, for now, He, The One Absent, has my heart, and doesn't even know it. This situation is about as complex as it can get.”


“Your poem that is in today’s Flight Plan is really beautiful and has a special meaning as I read it. At first I thought it an extension to an earlier piece”


“The One” lives next door. She doesn’t know I love her and although we are both widowers I am afraid to let her know my true feelings because I don’t want to ruin our friendship. Occasionally I think she understands, but the closest we have come to a date is a weekly Bingo game.”


“She” sits two seats in front of me in HomeRoom. Last year I knew she was flunking out so I figured out a way to stay in the same grade too. Call it “puppy love” but it is love. I printed out your poem and let her think it was from me. She smiled a very big smile and so maybe there is a future for us. If something more develops, I’ll let you know.“


"I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful poem To One Absent is. It reminds me of someone dear to me and I know I will read it many, many times. Thank you for sharing your new poem with us.”


“Dear Rod, I just read your flight plan for today and had to comment on the beautiful poem "To One Absent". It had special meaning for me and is truly one of your best. I have followed you for over 4 decades, have seen you in concert 4 times, most recently in Aurora. Don't know what I'd do without ASPTL to look forward to each day.”


“I read with much interest your flight plan of today and the new poem blew me away. My first thought was that it was unbelievably kind just as was your poem almost a year ago about (name deleted). I'm not sure if you meant the poem for --- or not. Of course every woman you hugged that Sunday morning in Aurora can also imagine that the poem is for her.”


“Oh Rod, this new poem is so beautiful. I don't ever recall that you have written a love poem about being with and loving some one *always.* .... *always* means forever ”


“We only met once Rod and it was a Iong time ago. I have always wondered if you remembered me but after reading your poem today I am satisfied that you wrote it especially for me”

From Jay, of course I got a more practical and useful opinion.

“I liked the poem for today. Very simple and straight to the heart. But you need to have someone proofread your stuff for you. To think of you and know that one day' (comma) some day, some when,

and the pillow (you I) hold to me (is this right ?) throughout the whole of night.”

Thanks Jay, I needed that.

Sleep warm.

5/31/2001 Previously unpublished

"Live at the Lensic" benefit appearance in Santa Fe just announced.

Booking for "An Evening with Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for more details:

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Chuck Barris o Diana Canova o Sir Edward Elgar o Ben Grauer o Gary Grimes o Marvin Hamlisch o Thomas Hardy o Hedda Hopper o Stacy Keach, Jr. o Sally Kellerman o Jerry Mathers o Barbara Pym o Jon Peter o Marques de Sade o Joel Tobeck o Charlie Watts o Johnny Weissmuller
Rod's random thoughts The supply of love will never exceed the demand, but it should.

The sea invents, we rearrange. The sea takes out a patent, we infringe. The sea holds all the copyrights to all the most important works, speaking truth that even time won’t change. And still we steal from her.

Need can drive you down the darkest alley and leave you beached and bloody, waiting for the next encounter.


Dear You,

I hope this reaches you safe and smiling. Hard to believe that June is here. Is it age, circumstance or imagination that makes it seem as if time departs at faster speeds each day?

Since our condition is now dictated by other peoples clocks I no longer tick off days and months as I once did, matter of factly and with resignation. I let them go by without a count or feeling of remorse and yet weeks-end finds me wondering when when will come. The time that sees us seeing one the other face to face. The spoon-sleep of after love is missed as much as love itself if not more, because it is of longer duration.

There are times when holding that great pillow is not enough.

Impatient? Of course. And while I know that I can wait because our love is sure it does not ease some aches that only your arm ‘round my shoulder, my hand on your chest, sliding to your belly can alleviate.

I awaken sometimes because you touch me in an odd way or because I feel the warmth of you too much to manage without a loosening of my grip around you or a position change. Of course you are not there, but then I hurry back to sleep to make it so again. Once, last night I think it was, I had my hand halfway inside of you and I could feel your steady pulse as if it were a beating heart that I was reaching out to grasp. (I pray no doctor discovers my new accessing rhythm method or dares to take such liberties.)

Did I imagine that you called me ‘darling’ on the telephone? I warn you I am unaccustomed to pet names but, oh they come from off your tongue so naturally that I could grow to love and miss them as much as you are missed if those new to me endearments stopped dripping from your mouth in our too short conversations.

It is mid-afternoon here, outside birds are silent because they drowse in shade. Yes, the sun has finally deigned to shine a bit and so the garden is getting attention from one other than me. It could use your hoe and weeding hand. I do not, dare not, wish that we will be two-gether soon enough to harvest what is growing now. I am waiting out the lives we started alone that we will reap in concert.

However longer, I maintain the stay. I love you,


5/30/01 3:30 PM

First publication 6/2/01

© 1964, 1996, 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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