SOME OF THE BEST
21 April, 1999
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Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001
A Thought for Today
The best thing about age is that everyone
feels differently about it.
Hereís a letter that brought
back some memories and stirred a coal or two.
ON TURNING TWENTY-SEVEN
years ago on my 27th birthday my friend sent me a copy of your poem " To
(someone) On His 27th Birthday". I saved it and sent it to several others
who also cherished it. Now my daughter is turning 27 and I'd like to send
it to her but can't find it. Can you give me the exact title of the poem
and where I can find it or would it be possible to respond with the entire
poem? Thanks so much. Theresa
Dear Theresa, This is a poem I get a lot of requests for and yet it hasnít
been anthologized in any of my books, beyond "Stanyan Street & Other
Sorrows." I wrote it 40 years ago while I was living in New York City in a
3 flight walk-up apartment on East 55th Street. The rent was $300.00 a
month and more than once I sold blood and rented other body parts to pay
the rent. Benson was my best friend and much better off than me. He had a
steady job as the assistant director on the Captain Kangaroo Show.
Iím not sure why 27 is a difficult year, but judging by my own experiences
and the mail IĎve received over the years, leaving 26 seems traumatic for
many people. In my own case, Iíd been suspended from Universal, for
refusing to do a film assigned to me, and was not allowed to work as an
actor for any other company in Hollywood Ė not that anyone was breaking
down my doors. I moved to New York to resume a career as a singer and
songwriter. My fortunes were about to change, but hadnít yet.
This ought to give courage to those three years from thirty and still
feeling unfulfilled. Thatís exactly what I wanted to say to Benson and why
I wrote the poem. Recently Iíve had some real hands on experience with
someone of twenty-seven years, I canít pretend to say that after all these
years I understand todayís 27 year olds . . . but Iím giving it the old
college try. Thanks, Theresa, for asking about "Some Thoughts For Benson
Green On His Twenty-Seventh Birthday." Here it is and tell your daughter
Happy Birthday from me, Rod.
- First published in Flight
Thoughts For Benson Green
On His Twenty-Seventh Birthday
Having just gone through the year myself
I know that twenty-seven can be hard.
But there are Sunday breakfasts
and April fields
and blue on blue
and green growing things
to change all that.
I know that spring is hard because you wait
and fall is hardest of them all-
because you must not be alone
when winter comes.
that love is worth the time it takes to find.
Think of that
when all the world seems made of walk-up rooms
and hands in empty pockets.
I know your smile
and it is much too warm to waste on people in the
(though smiles are plentiful)
that if you keep the empty heart alive a little longer
love will come.
It always does,
maybe just at the last moment, but it will come
You must believe that
or there isnít any reason to be twenty-seven.
- from "Stanyan Street & Other
Sorrows". Written in 1961 & first published in 1966