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Flight Plan

30 August, 1998

Photo by Bob Gentry 2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

The calm that comes of ones own making is the most delicious of all treats.


"Rod, this Flight Plan always amazes me for its candor. Please print it again for those who may not have seen it. Troy Sitkovertsky"


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 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, first published in Flight Plan 8/30/98

I hope this last day of your weekend is quiet and that you have some healthy down time. Sleep warm.                              

Details of Rod's upcoming concerts and appearances can be obtained via the link below:

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays Charles Addams o St. Bernadette o William Peter Blatty o Nicholas Cage o David Caruso o Katie Couric o Alvin Dark o Orval Faubus o Millard Fillmore o Vincent Gardenia o Douglas Kiker o Jim Lefebvre o Kenny Loggins o Butterfly McQueen o Terry Moore o Jean-Pierre Rampal o Shirley Ross o Gary Smith o Jann Wenner o David Yost o Adloph Zukor
Rod's random thoughts Don't wait for love, but do attend it when it comes.

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.

True men of pride concern themselves with the worth of smaller things.


1954 Version

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

1954, 1969, 1998, 2000, 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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