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Photo by Bob Gentry 2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

When we are home, we are in a better place.



Soldiers from another war, memories of another time when a dime was a dime and love was something G.I's only read about: He leans against the bar and sings fantastic songs. The Marine named Carl, a long way from home and lonely like the rest of us. His brown eyes seek out the friendly ones and he sings to them. While the high hipped girl in the corner cries because she can’t understand the language. All this for a glass of beer and anyone will tell you it’s worth it.


Some soldiers fight their daily battles, not in body but in mind: Private Spence has a problem. His eyes are lonelier than most. And people misinterpret his looks. I saw a big woman follow him home once when that wasn’t what he wanted at all.


Soldiering is more than coming through the trenches still intact, it's threading minefields still unmined: She struggled over chocolate cake, toying with an unfamiliar fork. Looking into the lieutenant’s eyes, who but an hour ago, was only another stranger. Under the cruel light her pale green dress and yellow beads seem a little out of place. And as her fingers fumbled with the fork, she now and then would try to smile. The lieutenant’s eyes were cold. Devouring her as she devoured chocolate cake. In another place, another war ago, it had been the same. A walk through the rain to a small cafe, with another girl, who never got to know his name.


Some soldiers come from long lines of soldiers. Soldiering runs in the family. Some become soldiers to run from the family: Lieutenant Paul Smith, Marine. Son of a Boston lawyer. His mother played bridge in Westchester County. This is his first night on the Ginza. He dances well. His Japanese girl comes to his chin. And they move with easy motion on the dance floor. The motions will be quicker after dark. Everything is okay. The moth chases the flame. The bees still pollinate. The grass is green on spring mountains. The haze of the evening is soft blue. And Lieutenant Paul Smith waltzes endlessly, with an Oriental head against his shoulder.


Soldiers from another war, memories of another time when a dime was a dime and love was something G.I's only read about: Long before we decided the fate of that retched woman at the Prince Hotel and laughed into the night, conjuring ways to upset her. I had thought of the possibility of falling in love with you. Even after I knew there were others. I was determined not to. Not at this time. Not when I was going home. Knowing there was anybody else who loved you. But as it happened, you turned to me in bed, and smiled. And we were very warm.

- Written in Taegu, Korea, 1954. Some of this material was used in the album "Time of Desire", 1957. With new material, 1998.

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays Bonnie Blair o Smiley Burnette o Irene Cara o Neville Chamberlain o Grover Cleveland o F.W. de Klerk o Kevin Dobson o Andy Granatelli o Peter Graves o Edward Everett Horton o John Kander o Guy LaPointe o Queen Latifa o Devin Lima o Mollie Parnis o Wilson Pickett o George Plimpton o Charley Pride o Nikolal Rimski-Korsakov o John Updike o Vanessa Williams
Rod's random thoughts Life quartered, life divided, is not life at all.

Learning how to fly gets you more than off the ground.

The truth is no one listens.


I go out slowly first,
like a bather testing water,
I scrutinize the night.
Will the dangers this time
outnumber the rewards ?

Where I have been
impatient in past lives
I am content just now
to venture slowly, if at all,
into the darkness.

I know that love
is ladled out,
in the market place
like bananas
and transistor radios
and those things
made to last
were built pre-1940.

And still I look
not necessarily to find
but more concerned
that if I lower
my binoculars
I'll lose my place.

How fortunate
the whistle stops
and factory towns
elect to keep my secrets
as they hold their own,
though a secret
is little more
than information
too dull to be passed
from ear to ear
as gossip -
too boring to be news.

if it were up to me
I'd hide nothing
except my face
in private pillows.
For I have almost no one
to protect.
And yet I'm glad
that cities still
continue as our guard
and guardian.

I've stayed within
my rabbit hole
too late, too long.
Perhaps I now enjoy
the solitude
I always fought 
so hard against.

What have I learned
as I've gone traveling ?
That I'd lie motionless
forever maybe
or die easily
within some known
or unknown arms
that wrap me up
and leave me
for the morning's mischief.

One more man, I am,
trying every way I know
to make it through
even one more day.

                       - from "Coming Close to the Earth," 1977

1957, 1960, 1977, 1998, 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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