SOME OF THE BEST
21 April, 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment

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

Thirty 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 Plan 4/21/99

Some 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
                                     for summer
and fall is hardest of them all-
                because you must not be alone
when winter comes.

I know
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
    street
                     (though smiles are plentiful)
and
I know
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

notable birthdays

MOTHER'S DAY

Beatrice Arthur o Clive Barnes o Senta Berger o Brad Dexter o Harvey Keitel o Zohra Lampert o Joe Louis o Daphne du Maurier o Robert Middleton o Dennis Rodman o Herb Ross o Sir Arthur Sullivan o Richie Valens o Zoe Wanamaker o Mary Wells o Stevie Wonder

Rod's random thoughts You always have a choice. Choose carefully.

We can always use reminders on how to better treat each other.

Many a sun sets on an empire before it hatches.

SHAKER HEIGHTS, 3

Before you leave for Shaker Heights
I must initiate
a plan for your recapture
without the aid of whiskey -
only that same chemistry
                       of need.

Turn before you go
and speak my name again
the way you did
the last time we came through
                       the door;
and then Iíll know
without another word from you -
                      Iíll know.

Let me build for you
another mound of pillows
one that you can dive into
                       and hide
from me if necessary
or from the outside world,
that world being anything but me,
                              us.

Now let me tear your pillow building
from its ill-secure foundation
until I find and hold and mouth
                      all parts of you.

The world is white all over.
And like sheets flapping on a line
it blows on aimlessly with us inside.
              Its destination nowhere.

- from ďWatch for the Wind,Ē 1983

 
© 1961, 1966, 1983, 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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