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A Thought for Today

Enterprise is finding out what people need and want before they know it themselves.


Today is Election Day in many places throughout the United States. You know what I say about elections: “Vote, it entitles you to bitch for the next four years.” Please don’t take the right to vote for granted, DO IT.

Here are some letters and some answers.


Hello, Well, not too many people post their websites on their WebPages anymore. I came just found out about your works, though it appears that you've been writing for a few years now.

My father is a big fan of yours, and so I figured I might as well check out who this "McKuen" fellow is. See, my father is turning fifty five soon and my sister bought him one of your CD's, and it has always been his job to play new CD's constantly to the family. When she told me that she was getting one of your CD's for him, I asked right away about your work. She just said that my father likes your work more than Simon and Garfunkel, which is the biggest compliment anyone could ever receive from my father, LOL.

Anyway, I must say that after viewing your site I plan on getting some of your published works. Your poetry captures many of the true essences of life, from all aspects, and still flows gracefully. Well, I would just like to thank you personally for your works--as stupid as that might sound--they are truly inspiring to me.

Start a fan club, so I could get a shirt or something. Sincerely, Brian Auger (new fan)

Dear Brian: There’s nothing better for any artist than adding folks to his or her ‘fan base.’ So your letter has certainly made this day. As I’ve said before I owe a lot to the families who have passed my work from one generation to another. Welcome aboard.

Please give your dad a Happy Birthday hug for me. I hope you’ll continue to return to ASPTL not only for the archives but for lots of changes including more downloads of songs and perhaps video clips (courtesy of Eric Yeager), a wider variety of material in the current and future archives (with the help of Melinda Smith), more unpublished poetry and prose (with the assist of Jay Hagan), and Dwight Michaels offering even more “stuff” at Stanyan By Mail. Speaking of Stanyan By Mail there are two different T Shirts available at that site so you needn’t wait for a fan club.

The sustaining site and the orchestration of the changes will continue to be handled by Web-meister (he usually deletes it when I refer to him as a brewer, but that is indeed what he is): Ok, WEB-MASTER, Ken Blackie.

Again, Brian, Welcome and Thanks. Warmly, Rod


Thirty years have passed and I am still in awe of your poetry. You write what you are feeling, as if something woke you up in the wee hours and spoke the words into your mind. And it was just a matter of writing it down on paper.

If I should someday meet you it will probably be somewhere in
those wee hours as our thoughts cross a path that has not yet been discovered. I have your book and several old records, but the past remains where it is and I will see you again someday even if only in my mind. Have a good life Rod, you deserve it! You have inspired many! Deborah M. Howell

Dear Deborah: And yes I continue to love and feel responsible even more to those of you who have stuck with me for so long.

I’m a little worried by your “have a good life” comment because it sounds like one of us is going somewhere. Not me. I do continue on this best of all journeys, Life; and on the Sunday evening I’ve chosen to answer your letter I’m momentarily off to feed ‘the beasts’ (Rocky, Dinah, Kub & Sunny) but in the immortal words of Arnold “I’ll be back” to finish this Flight Plan.

Thanks for a sweet letter, Deborah and don’t you go any place either. Luv, Rod

Boxes cleaned, cats fed, wood brought upstairs for a fire tonight (it’s cold in these California Hills) and various other chores done, I’m back.


Several years ago you had a program or was it on a television show and you had written a poem about your cat (Sloopy).

I have tried to find this poem. Please let me know how I can get a copy of this wonderful poem. I have cats and I remember this poem very well. Thank you for your time and help. Bethy Erdenberger and my 8 cats.

Dear Bethy: “A Cat Named Sloopy” is the opening poem in my 1967 book “Listen to the Warm” and over the years I’ve performed it many times on TV.

The last time we printed “Sloopy” in the Flight Plan was August 6, 2000. You can access it and print it out by going to the Flight Plan Archives link at the bottom of this page. Best regards & thanks for asking, Rod


Hi! Rod, Glenn Yarbrough will be reading, "The Forgotten Carols" on 11/25 at the local theatre at 3:00pm. This info was
forwarded to me when I asked about the show. A footnote
was added that Mr. Yarbrough will not sing to the disappoint-
ment of MANY. Since I told you of his show, I thought I'd pass
this on. Jane

Dear Jane, Thanks for the news on Glenn’s appearance. There is some misinformation regarding “The Forgotten Carols,” Glenn performs eight of the songs in the show. So, don’t let the thought of his non-participation vocally prevent you from attending. I spoke with my friend Jerry Lonn – who in addition to setting up and managing my concerts takes care of Glenn’s appearances and asked him to send me a complete list of the stops on Glenn’s “Forgotten Carols” tour. Here it is.

Nov 20 - R.H.Johnson Social Hall, Sun City West (Phoenix) AZ
Nov 24 - Yreka Community Theatre, Yreka, CA
Nov 25 - State Theatre, Oroville, CA
Nov 27 - Jacoby Theatre, Roseberg, OR
Nov 28 - Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue, WA
Nov 29 - Tacoma Elks, Tacoma, WA
Nov 30 - Winthrop Auditorium, Winthrop, WA
Dec 2 - Nelson Performing Arts Center, Powell, WY
Dec 3-4 - Mainstage Theatre, Jackson, WY
Dec 8 - Eastern Wyoming College Auditorium, Torrington, WY
Dec 9 - High School Auditorium, Buffalo, WY
Dec 12 - Center for the Arts, Glenwood Springs, CO
Dec 14-15 - with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 17 - with the Utah Symphony in Ogden, UT
Dec 18 - Community Schools Arts Center, Three Rivers, MI
Dec 19 - High School Performing Arts Center, Greenville, MI
Dec 21 - Civic Auditorium, Tecumseh, MI
Dec 22 - Hemmens Cultural Center, Elgin, IL

So, Jane for you and all of us Glenn Yarbrough fans, ENJOY. As ever, Rod


Is there any chance that you and Glenn Yarbrough will ever appear in concert together? Miles Korman

Dear Miles: I get asked that question a lot. I’ve always been open to the idea and Jerry has broached it more than once with Glenn. I have to say there hasn’t been much interest on his part, whether as Jerry suspects, Glenn was unwilling to commit to the rehearsal and pre-production time it would take to put a concert together or he just didn’t like the idea, I’ll never know.

A while back I asked Jerry to drop the proposed project so I wouldn’t bet on a live reunion anytime soon. I am putting together a new CD of Glenn performing my songs and it will include some previously unreleased material (Maybe even a duet.)


Dear Rod McKuen, Hello! I have a request for you and I hope you can help me. When I was a child my parents had one of your books around the house. I read it several times and one of the poems really struck a chord. The poem was titled "The Race". I do not remember the title of the book though. I am getting married soon so we are reviewing several poems as a candidates for a reading by my step mom. Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, Chris Blum

Dear Chis: Since I’ve never written a poem entitled “The Race” I was stumped by this one so I passed it on to Jay Hagan. Here’s his reply:

“Good Morning Rod, This one is wide open. I haven't a clue but we can start with this one.

“Take Me Home Again.” from Pastures Green. It’s also in the album “Seasons in the Sun,” & the songbook “Kaleidoscope.”

Take Me Home Again

I ran the race and I did pretty well
though I some times stumbled or slipped and fell.
But I’d pick me up and try again
sure this time I was bound to win
now with no more shadows to beat
I’m finally willing to admit defeat.

Take me home again when the summer’s done
when the leaves fall down and I’ve got no one.
When I’ve tried my best and I’ve lost again
take me home again, take me home again.

When the heart was empty and my pockets full
I’d go some times with the mad crowds pull
and stumble home in the blue gray dawn
and wonder how I could carry on
but I always did or at least I tried
and only some times the sad heart cried.
Take me home again when I lose the sky
to the meadow green where the lovers lie
where the wild deer run and the winds begin
take me home again, take me home again.

When the nights were long and I got no rest
I’d hunch up a pillow against my chest
and pretend someone was next to me
it’s a lonely business but who’s to see
who’s to know that I’ve got no one
and the heart’s in need of a little sun.
Take me home again when the summer’s done
leaves are falling down through an autumn sun
all my dreams are there drowning in the rain
take me home again take me home again.

When away I wandered through winter’s chill
past the gold gray gutters and the cold gray hill
I’d seek out strangers for a little time
I never learned their names they never knew mine
still we’d talk as one for a little while
and if I were lucky I’d rate a smile.
Take me home again now I’ve tried to fly
take me home again where the heart can die
for there’s just no place that I haven’t been
take me home again, take me home again.

words by Rod McKuen, music by Ron Stephenson & Skip Redwine © 1964 by Stanyan Music

Or it could be this one from Folio. No. 35

The Winner

I ran the race and won.
I’m in the winner’s circle
with my ill-fitting laurel wreath
because nobody told me
winning would be hard.
Had I known what they say now
( how exhausted I should be,
               how ready for a rest )
I’d have been afraid
to even pay the entrance fee.

It’s my good fortune that no experts
got to me beforehand
warning me that I was ill prepared.

Persistence didn’t win the purse,
lack of training in defeat
caused me to reach the ribbon first
and keep on going half a mile
                        past the finish line.

From folio #35, 1980

“Try these... if they won't work ask for more clues. Waterfalls,

How about it, Chris, do either of the above ring a bell? Cheers, Rod


I recall watching a movie in the early 70's which had a lot of your songs and/or poetry in it. I recall the poem "If I had longer arms I would reach up and push the clouds away...". I believe it was a poem by you. If so, which movie was it featured in and the name of the poem and is the movie available on video?

I had the privilege of attending your concert in Chattanooga, Tenn. in the 70's and you were wonderful! I have checked your tour schedule. Do you have any plans on touring the south any time soon? If so, where and when? Would enjoy seeing you again. Thanks for your reply. Gloria Corn

Dear Gloria: Boy, Chattanooga, that’s a long while back. I love that part of Tennessee and the first time I appeared there it was for a charity event organized by my late friend Farol Seratean. Farol was one of the most generous people I ever met and among her many contributions she left enough seed money in her will to endow The Marilyn Horne Foundation.

A couple of years later I performed a concert at the Grand ‘Ol Opry in Nashville that was recorded but never commercially released. It will finally make its debut on CD in the spring. No plans for touring The South at the moment (a promoter has to ask, you know) but I’m ready willing and able.

Your question puzzles me and this time I feel pretty sure I’m not having a senior moment. For “Pushing the Clouds Away” from “The Sea” to have been included in a film Anita Kerr or myself would have had to approve it and the files show no license for such a use. It’s also featured as poem “Eight” in “Listen to the Warm.” Could it have been a school project? Or, maybe you caught me reciting it on TV. Anybody else out there got a clue as to what Gloria might be alluding to?

Thanks for the memory however and your kind thoughts. The text of “Pushing the Clouds Away” can be called up from the following Flight Plans May 6, 2000 and February 13, 2001, Affectionately, Rod.

The reason Wednesdays are interesting around here is because Ken has made it your day. Each week he selects a letter from someone who says “This One Does It For Me” and then proceeds to publish that letter and the selection chosen. And he always presents the feature in his own distinct way. So join me tomorrow for Webmaster Blackie’s feature “This One Does it for Me.” Sleep warm.

RM 11/4/01 Previously unpublished.

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays

Election Day (USA)

Ray Conniff o Brad Davis o Sally Field o Glenn Frey o Juanita Hall o Ethan Hawke o Walter Perry Johnson o James Jones o Gus Kahn o Lance Kerwin o Frances Lederer o James Naismith o Mike Nichols o Ignace Jan Paderewski o Kelly Rutherford o Jean Shrimpton o Maria Shriver o John Philip Sousa o Simon Wiesenthal

Rod's random thoughts No time given to work is lost.

As bigots or as people who fail to take into account other people’s thoughts and needs and ideas, we can never hope to be in God’s good grace, nor understand ourselves.

If you run the corridors and highways of the heart for too long, you’ll find it difficult to pause, let alone to stop.


Finally the wind has finished
piling up November leaves.
Now it turns
to drive the snow in drifts
along the fences of December farms.

Below the ice, the water rolls and runs
like a lemming
with no knowledge of its destination.
Or if it knows,
it knows only that it’s moving forward
                              and away.

The cattle come slow
       or not at all.
They scratch their backs
against the barnyard doors.
The dialogue,
even as they grind their endless cud,
is low and mournful.

They venture outside only
for a cooling nuzzle
and a taste of snow.
The wise among them
stay inside the barn
switching tails at what few flies
now survive the early winter.

Lie back.
The wind is on the move.
And till the bare tree limbs
stand still again
we’ve no need to move at all.

Turn not away from me
but if you turn toward me
do it slowly
in a lazy way.

It’s winter
the bear is hibernating
all his movements are now slow.

This year of loving you
would have wrenched the reflexes
of animals of anger or of peace.

A peaceful man I am
so let me sleep a minute more.
When the coffee starts to perking,
come to me with smiles.

-from the album “Pastorale,” 1971

© 1964, 1970, 1971, 1980, 1987, 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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