9 May, 2001






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A Thought for Today

Poetry is elastic, but it should be concise... a very tight rubber band that won’t break when stretched.


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

Let me state right up front that I am a great fan of Microsoft and their software products. As a company they've achieved an astonishing amount in a relatively short space of time, even if some of their methods have been somewhat unorthodox, to say the least. From a product perspective they've produced some of the best; I personally think MS Outlook is one of the the most stunning pieces of software I've seen in quite awhile.

Not all their software measures up, however, as you're about to see for yourselves.

A friend recently gave me a Beta copy of the new MS Office XP, due for final release later this year. Very nice it is too, even if some of the changes are fairly cosmetic. The most noticeable addition to this this popular Office Suite is, however, that of a Voice Recognition facility incorporated into all the programs.

I'm a sucker for new gadgets so this I had to try! Besides, I've always been impressed with the meticulous e-mail I receive from Rosalyn, one of our regular correspondents, who I know uses this type of software for all her computing needs.

Installation took about ten minutes and I then spent another half an hour training the thing to recognize my vocal idiosyncrasies. And this thing works, let me tell you! It's terrific at opening and closing documents via menu commands but I experienced just a teensy hiccup when trying the dictation facility.

What better to test it on than a recitation of one of Rod's new poems? Out came "A Safe Place To Land" the book and I selected a poem at random for the acid test. What follows are the original McKuen version and one which I'll call the Microsoft version. The latter has not been edited in any way, shape or form.

Judge for yourselves!

Here's the original version as penned by Rod:


I am still in love
with everyone I’ve ever loved.
Why negate that first delight,
devotion, affection,
                  election to care,
even if it ended with recrimination
or convenient quarrel ?

Those moments when the sun and
soul collided are as real as the final

Age often leaves you only memories -
but, oh, what sweet and real recollections.

Love arrives and leaves in its own time,
volition. Wishing will not make it come
or go, enhance reality. As reality will.
Never will a dream in or out of being.

Passion is not tempered or deluded -
mine for you and you and you never was.
Or will be. Know I loved you all the way,
and I have no contrition for how I felt
                            and feel.

Thank you for the arms and eyes
         that never wavered.
Mine always matching yours.

- from "A Safe Place To Land", 2001

Here's the Microsoft Voice Recognition version:


One I’ve even though
Won the gate at first denied,
devotion, affection,
                   election decaying,
even if it ended with replenish
and convenient quarrel.

Those moments when the sun and
soul collided or as real as the final
                     on in H.

Often easier and the memories
of code works suite and real rate of actions.

Of our eyes and ease in its and time
of the show. Which she will not make it come
all goes in Hahn’s reality. As reality will.
Enable were dreaming in all out of the.

Patient is not tendered or deleted-
mind for you and you and your memo was.
All be. No I loved you all the way,
and I have no contrition for how I felt
                            and feel.

Thank you for your own zinnias
         that memo waited.
My always matching yours.

- © Rod McKuen & Bill Gates, 2001

People who know about these things tell me I should work on my diction and re-train the software. So be it. In the meantime, I'll go water the zinnias and collect that waiting memo.

After today's little bit of light relief, next week we'll be back to what we laughingly refer to around here as normal. If you have a favorite McKuen song or poem you'd like to share, drop me a line at and I'll publish your submission right here one Wednesday.

 - Ken, Johannesburg, May 9, 2001

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

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Ben Afleck o Bill Baird o Ethel Barrymore o Thomas Hart Benton o Robert Bolt o Napoleon Bonaparte o Lillian Carter o Julia Child o Samuel Coleridge-Taylor o Mike Connors o Abby Dalton o Linda Ellerbee o Edna Ferber o Lucas Foss o Huntz Hall o Signe Hasso o Jill Haworth o Wendy Hiller o Lawrence of Arabia o Oscar Peterson o Princess Anne of England o Rose Marie o Janice Rule o Denise Scali o Phyllis Schlafly o Sir Walter Scott o J.J. Shubert o Sylvie Vartan o Jimmy Webb o Hugo Winterhalter o Genette Yogi-Kornfield
Rod's random thoughts All the analysis people heap on poetry is enough to break some poems’ backs.

The poetry in our lives separates sanity from savagery.

The poet is a keeper of the language. Not yesterday’s or tomorrow’s, but the language of now.

for Augustos Bakus

A slow daylight. It scatters birds and causes
     shadows to go into shadow mode.

Some lovers lying on their backs have been
scooped up by the breezes and are gone;
a bunch of Chagall people
                        flying through the sky.

The sun is coming and it will not look around
for long. It will not hustle moonlight or be bound
          in anything but its own beams.
And should you wish an audience
with that great king of firestorms, you've but
to open porticos and windows and come out.

Phaethon's chariot is overdue,
is glimpsed around some bend up there,
                                                      remote and
The flames, but not at once, reach up from kindling
as something like a dog goes by in pantomime.

The sun's bodyguard, see him dip and bend,
exhorting the sky to part, telling earth to bow.
A thousand noons his robe. His pulpit nothing less
than any cloud he wishes.

                      He flexes.
Rays empty out, go pale. Oohs and ahs from spiders
                 as the yellow warms their webs.
Such splendor at the heart of yellow going orange,
such pride at being big and altogether different.

He is stretching.
His knees are comic and his elbows worse.

Further back, the dusk has gone to makeup;
some lesser beams of light excuse themselves.

In the coming light Mars will be
                as big in heaven as the moon.
In the coming days the Earth will split
                  and splinter
                            and go down.
Venus will go piddling, be done,
while suns continue giving birth to suns.
Him to whom
       all fever is a friend
will eat the road up and not cough it out,
will joust with God and be the Devil's engine.

- from "A Safe Place to Land", 2001

© 1984, 1988, 1999, 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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