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A Thought for Today

When young, we trust ourselves too much; when older, we trust ourselves too little.


The letters regarding “To One Absent” and the "Love Letters Unsent" continue to come in. I don’t suppose there is anything more rewarding than doing something you enjoy and hearing from others who enjoy your effort.

I like to write, but doing so on such a regular basis as I do for The Flight Plan doesn’t always allow me the thought and revision to produce my best work so I’m doubly pleased that the new poems and letters are being well received. If it seems like bragging to print the following responses, so be it.

Thanks to all of you that have written. I only printed a response to one letter but I hope you know how much I appreciate the encouragement from each and all of you. As a further thank you I’ve included in this FP “A Love Letter Unsent, V.”


Dear Rod, Your poem "To One Absent" blew me away or perhaps I should just say “WOW.” Ironically, though it’s also your statement in Flight Plan 06/02/01 that got me.

"Lately the same situation that inspired ‘To One Absent” has caused me to begin writing love letters that may never be seen by the one for whom they are intended. But I thought if the poem could touch people in ways that are meaningful to them perhaps I might let go of a few of the not too personal to be printed letters I’m writing.”

I write, and have for years, but only to reflect my feelings on paper, live the moment, throw the paper away. I easily related to those “Unsent Love Letters.” Perhaps the letters were/is all about how we want to love how we want to be loved. Maybe it’s that we’re looking for the Sunday I saw love look back at me from you.

“Do I believe you love me?
I never doubt it. I found security
the Sunday I saw love
look back at me from you.
Then is when I knew
it would be you for always. Then
is when the courage came
that will sustain me
until whatever time has passed
until the time is right for us.”

Guess this is what makes poems and music beautiful, we can all relate in different ways. Just in loving and being in love makes us all kids again...pretty neat huh? Thanks for this poem and all those over the years and mostly Rod, for just being the person you are. William P. Tyler


Dear Rod, been catching up on the last couple day's flight plans and I saw all the mail you rec'd on To One Absent. When I read the poem, I immediately thought of my mom who passed away 10 months ago. When I printed it off and read it to my 79-year-old dad, we both cried, and he asked if he could keep a copy next to his bedside and my mom's picture. That I think, is the ultimate compliment. Thank you again for just the right words. I hope you will include To One Absent in your next book. Love, Deb


"A Love Letter Unsent, III"... sometimes it takes my breath away when you write so clearly the words in my heart. Thank you Rod for the passion you can bring forth from the deepest darkest places. I thank God for you...Nancy, Bakersfield, Ca.


Dearest Bud, You did it again with your "letter". Especially when I saw the words "We Are". I don't know if I ever told you, probably not...but those two words are what held Bill and I together through some really difficult times when we were apart, and when we were together. We even had them put on our wedding cake. And they are part of the graphic on the entrance to our page"- "We Are - Bill and tara - Our Story". Even now when I get scared, lonely, depressed, feel inadequate, or unsure, Bill will pull me close and say "we are" and immediately I find a new breath of hope enter me.

You are incredible, and cause me to stop and remember so very much. I will forever be grateful for the night you came into my life 30+ years ago, for the day you came back to me and all of us with ASPTL, meeting you FINALLY and being able to say the words I have held inside for so many years (I don't even know that you heard them, or that I spoke them out loud, but they were said). THANK you thank YOU.

Bill sends a hello. He's working on getting the Message Center back up, and my email (which has been down for 11 days now). I am a better person for having lived so many years with you in my life. tara


Rod I’m incarcerated at a maximum-security facility in California and will be here for the next four years. I’m not here for something I didn’t do but for a crime I committed so I’m doing lawful time. That doesn’t make it any easier.

I wanted you to know that I feel each and every one of your unsent love letters reached me and I feel they were written for me alone. I don’t get many letters but I cherish each and every one of yours and I have committed some to memory. Love, William C.


And obviously your public does too (6/2). And the 6/1 photo is okay - but I like them better when you're smiling. Love 'n prayers, Bea


Dear Rod, Thanks for the posting of the letters. (How appropriate that such a wide range of emotional responses would come on Elgar's birthday!)

I was overwhelmed when I first read the poem (and still am), but not only for myself. Although my close friend reads your page, I forwarded the poem to him anyway as it read just like something he would have written for his beloved -- or maybe even something his lover would have sent from the other
side. Love, Rocky

P.S. The new CD is like a giant box of Godiva -- so rich it's impossible to devour all at once.


I couldn’t guess where the inspiration comes from that has caused you to write such plain but intimate and beautiful love letters, but I hope they do not go unsent.

Whoever it is – someone real or only in your mind – it has to be someone very special and so I hope that you will be together one day for the always that you speak about. Mitch


Good Evening, Rod! This has haunted me all night in my sleep and upon awakening it is still heavy on my mind...

“A private conceit, known only to two people, ties the two poems together. Let’s see how long the other party to the secret can keep it that way”

It dawned on me that, how in the world can the other party keep it a secret, when you have already told thousands of people on the Internet that there is a private conceit? It's not known between only two people now you silly! *giggling*! S.

Dear “S”, You couldn’t be more wrong in thinking this is a secret that is now shared by more than two people. One of the reasons this is such an important relationship is that it is built on trust. No one but the one the letters are intended for will ever know the ‘secret.’ Not ever. I couldn’t be more confident of that. I don’t even consider it dangerous to say that there is no possible way anyone will ever find out unless one of us talks about it. We won’t. R.


I love this line from the other day's Love Letters Unsent "I don't suppose I'll ever know how much of us is memory and how much made up because of my awful need to be with you." I can totally relate to that one.

Someday I'll write you about my long distance love and all the could haves and what ifs. I have discovered that there is an interesting relationship that forms when you actively love someone but you never see them or spend time with them. Just a voice, in the darkness, on the other end of the telephone. Friend or lover.

The relationship morphs on its own in your mind. And distinguishing between fact and fiction is nonexistent. You tend to make your own reality I suppose. Simran


Dear Rod, Finally received my copy of ASPTL, absolutely marvelous. Age is Better is the most wonderful and positive statement I have ever heard or read about growing older. I have often lamented the passing of my youth, but your line about those we mourn who never finished the journey real hit home, my husband died at 27, my dad at 54, and my Mom at 61. Mom and dad were quite young, now that I view those years from the ripe old age of 52. Thanks to your poem and your spirit I will now celebrate my years and grow proud of each one I add.

May I also say the unsent love letters really touch my soul? I too have letters that have never been sent. Do you ever feel any regret for not sending them? I never did until now. Almost makes me wish they could reach the person that the were intended for.

Please keep writing, if you can only do this once a week so be it. I would rather have something new sometimes, then nothing at all. We all love you, and personally you have added a new layer of richness and wonder to my life. Thank you and God Bless and keep you. Love, Laura


How beautiful your letter. So once again some other love comes through the door or through the wires, or a computer screen, or on the wind even?

Is it that we fall in love with love, and then seek to personify it in the person who comes closest and who lets us touch them while they're touching us? I truly don't know.... I think maybe only God - however one perceives him - can truly fill the deep hollow space, small - yet boundless - that exits in some hearts and souls. Or else we haven't found THE "one"

I write so many letters I will never send to a man I know now I will never find. We have to write in physical terms - how else to express? But I often wonder if those love letters are not, in fact, letters to God - and that is why the man is unknowable. Perhaps the quest is always for home - not a place so much as a return of essence.

I'm grateful, though, for other kinds of love - for warmth and wetness, someone deep inside, the adjustment of each breath to suit another's...inhale....exhale…. It's a special place to be ...caught between breaths in some imperfect love.

As usual, your writing touches me more than words can ever say....but I say them anyway....Take care, be loved and love. Miss Pris


rod..the recent love letters you've published have just been beautiful...I can just imagine the ones you are keeping private. she's a very lucky woman...just as you are to have someone so special who can inspire such words. whoever she is, I wish you both the very best.

it was always my dream to find someone who would care for me in the way you care for her. I believe that I found it once and now I know that I'll not find it again. life is so short, rod. do whatever it takes to make you and her both happy...don't wait. if it remains just your love letters, then keep writing them and hopefully someday, whoever she is will know without a doubt that one of the most special men I have ever known...loves her. what a gift that will be for her...share those feelings with her, if you're not already. and if you're waiting, don't wait for "someday"...that day could never come. trust me.

you sound so happy and so content with your life...that makes me smile :) thank you for sharing that part of you with all of us....

take care of yourself and enjoy that feeling of love...I remember how incredible that can be. love, melinda

The month of July is going to be a rough one. I’ll be on the road or in the studio and Ken is moving house and family to a brand new residence. To make things a little easier I thought I might fill some of the days with Flight Plans from the past. I’d appreciate suggestion from anyone who has a favorite FP or two from the past three years that I can offer up again. Now and again when time permits I’ll try to send some postings from the road.

Sleep warm.

RM 6/17/01 Previously unpublished.

Two new appearance dates just announced!

Booking for "An Evening with Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for more details:

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Eva Bartok o Philip Barry o Richard Boone o Kurt Browning o Sammy Cahn o Ian Carmichael o Bud Collyer o Richard Kornnfield o Peter Donohoe o Roger Ebert o Carol Kane o Kay Kyser o Keye Luke o Paul McCartney o Jeanette MacDonald o E.G. Marshall o Nathan Morris o Syliva Porter o John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV o Isabella Rosselini o Blanche Sweet
Rod's random thoughts In love there is no East or West.

Love will always give us reason, if not means, to exist.

Love never questions even it doesn’t know the answer.


Dear You,

The phone will ring within the hour and you’ll be there. How have I divined this with no prearranged signal from you, no flag raised, smoke signal sent? I know it to be so, that’s all. Our minds are so in sync across the miles that I can feel and see you moving to the telephone as I preoccupy myself with foreplay on the page.

I finally got a haircut, did some mail, paid a bill or two and cleared the way for real work this weekend, so the morning has seen some of life’s business shuffled through removed from mental list. The cats have trapped and tease a spider, excuse me for a minute while I save the day.

I am listening to a new recording of music from “The Cardinal,” I miss the lyric “Stay with Me” that is not included. Come home and I will sing it for you, meaning every word. Carolyn Leigh wrote the words to Jerome Moross’ music. I don’t know why this song affects me as much as it does but I can hear the Sinatra recording of it and weep. When I sing it at concerts I approach it as equal parts love song and inspirational anthem. I can seldom get through it without my concentration faltering so I don’t perform it often.

I closed an album (Early Harvest) with a recording of “Stay with Me” that had never been released. Even though I didn’t write it, it seemed to me to sum up everything that had gone on in my life to that point. That was seven years ago and before you came into my life again. I am so humbled by the experience of loving you and knowing this is my final lasting love that I have the urge to perform it again. I’m sure if I do it I'll sing it differently now.

Paragraphs like these last two don’t belong in a love letter but I suppose I’m trying to provide you a crash course in getting to know me. And who else but you can I talk to about such things.

I get frightened only sometimes now, scared I might not finish all of what I’ve started, worried circumstances might keep us from one final embrace – one long, last encounter. Then I remember how much memory of you I squirreled away against such times and that’s enough. Although I draw from it often there is always plenty.

The afternoon is ending here and the telephone is ringing. Before I answer it, ‘all that I can do is pray, stay with me, stay with me.’


RM June 8th, 2001 5:40 PM First Publication 6/18/2001

© 1967, 1975, 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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