FLIGHT FROM THE PAST
12 August, 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rod in action at The Riverton Rendezvous, July 2001. 
Photograph courtesy Jay Hagan.

A Thought for Today

The quality of the moment is more important than the number of our days.

 

Rod is on the road for a couple of weeks and will be back with you at the beginning of September.

A LETTER TO KEN

Dear Ken,

The moon on the lakes is especially nice in middle age or otherwise and there are so many moons ahead the ones gone by will seem like nothing. Not that memories aren't sweet and something to be savored, but they are only yesterdays. Tomorrow is where the real adventures are. All the surprises hide ahead.

How do I know? Because I've had quite a few more tomorrows than you have and they seem to be getting better. The laughs are better, love is better and even the trouble I still manage to get myself into is more interesting. Harder to get out of, but demanding resources and intelligence I never thought I had. The opponents are tougher, but the victories sweeter.

It took me a long time to appreciate what lies ahead instead of dwelling on the day before yesterdays missed opportunities. Even now I have a lapse or two, but not for long. I bring all of this up because today is your birthday. And this one is another milestone.

When I turned fifty I didn't know whether to throw a party or hide under the bed. I remember looking in my dresser drawer and sighing to myself, "Well, I've got all the underwear I'll ever need." Not only did I wear that batch out long ago, I switched from Y fronts to boxers -- more ballroom, and after fifty dancing of one kind and another is a healthy, heavenly sport.

Hard to believe that we've been friends for such a little time, of course that isn't so. You are an old soul Ken, and we've done all of this and more together before. There was no Internet then and friendships had to be forged eye to eye, but ours hasn't taken any shortcuts due to distance. We share more secrets than most friends do face to face in daily conversation.

All of this is to remind you again, old friend, that after you pass fifty, everything else is a breeze. Mind you I wouldn't trade sixty-six to be fifty again . . . well, maybe fifty-five.

Love and Happy 50th Birthday, Rod

PS: Below is a poem I wrote just after turning fifty.

- RM 8/12/99

NOTE: Today Ken celebrates his 52nd Birthday. All the best Ken for today and always. Love, Rod.

- RM 8/12/01

Rod McKuen concert and appearance details can be obtained via the link below.

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Casey Affleck o Ken Blackie o Cantinflas o Kid Creole Cecil B. De Mille o John Derek o Pauline Frederick o William Goldman o George Hamilton o Oscar Homolka o Parnelli Jones o Kurt Kasznar o Michael Kidd o Marion Lorne o Wayne Massie o Buck Owens o Mary Roberts Rinehart o Pete Sampras o Dominque Swain o Porter Wagoner o Jane Wyatt
Rod's random thoughts Without friends or purpose, genius wastes its breath.

There will never be too many lit-up mornings when life does its sorting, makes its decisions.

Silence with friends is comfort.

STILL LIFE AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
for Jeri Southern

How is it now
at a quarter past three -
difficult, lovely, painful, good.
The moon on the lake is especially nice
                    in middle age or otherwise.
All of the intervals meeting at once,
                     those in music,
those in time, those that cross
and meld in the mind. Coming together
staying apart, lost in the diversions
                                        dancing starts.


Friends remembered, new friends made,
old friends dependable whatever the hour.
Not every dream fulfilled.
                  But not every dream thought up.
Always some new door opening
the same day an old one closes.
Mama buried for fourteen years
and still the bush throws off roses.

Still the romantic
                believing love
the brick, the mortar, building block.
Handel discovered, Mozart renewed.
Mahler and Bartok at last understood,
                     and I lived to see it.
My own concertos moving along
(not fully aloft, but not moribound).
Part of the perimeter Rachmaninoff,
but room for Stravinsky,
                           the Copland crowd,
the widow of Weill, the sons of Strauss,
Ella, et al, both Marsalis boys.
              Endless lists in a life unending.

And what of the fires that burn awhile
and then go out without mystery -
is there regret, a shrug of resign,
bafflement at lack of warning,
                                  a cry, UNFAIR ?
All the above and more.
Bewilderment. Betrayal.
                           Self-hate swarming.

But, there are the travels
through difficult books,
               unfriendly lands,
torment at the hands of experts
with a last minute fall into grace.
However thick the mind gets with thickets
there's always a clearing,
            a twang of birds,
a black leopard cat
on his way home from Zion
who'll give you a ride on his back.
Still one more Autumn to crawl through.
Still one more Alice-hole-in-the-wall
                               to fall through.
And always and ever au suivant.
The next and the next, and the next
                                          after that.

Indelible impressions,
                    like digital audio tape,
some of the soul is missing
but everything clear and in shape.

Sighs, not breezes. Songs unlike wind.
Nothing coming easy. Everything redefined.

If there's a creed
               floating over it all
(this nonsense and stuff
to be gotten through),
It's some kind of love into everything.
Some kind of selflessness
                             out of self.
A kernel of truth distilled from the lie.

If someone rocks the cradle
be glad it's not the ark.
If someone falls and will not rise,
               still run to help him up.

Because I cannot fill every want
                             my needs are more.
My wants are greater each time out.
But I have nothing any more
                   I would not exchange,
                                or give away,
for a little more talent,
                 a little more time,
a little more sense of focus.
Focus is the juncture where it all began
                                    to unravel.

Legend says that Li Po tried,
           while drinking in a boat one night,
to reach and grasp and hold
                          the moon's reflection...
Alas, he lost his balance, fell overboard
                                        and drowned.

Any poet worth his words will tell you
the moon on the lake is especially nice
             in middle age or otherwise.

- from "Intervals," 1986

Happy Landings - see you tomorrow
1986, 1988, 1999, 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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