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       SOME THOUGHTS 
ON BALLOONING
Folio No.19 - Fall 1978

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Dan Chapman ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

A soldier doesn't need to grunt to be a soldier and a lover needn't pant to make his point.

 

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Sun Spots
Squinting, I see atoms. Pulling back, the eyeís lens broaden for a wider angle, the atoms split and disappear. Sun spots perhaps but atoms in the abstract, as wave on wave of sunlight set my eyes to dancing or to staring straight ahead, hoping I can split the atoms or cause the spots to come together in a single blur.

Sometime last year, or has it been two years or six, I gave up taking sleeping pills. Why do I sleep easy now ? Because I know that there is something I do not know - not necessarily cosmic or identifiable but something in between perhaps. Few people talk about it but itís there, as sure as I see atoms. Certain as the sun spots that dart along our telescopes.

Playground
Three tanks to fire up three tons of air. Eight stories of bright nylon, billowing and bulging. A wicker basket wide enough for two, no more. I doubt that I will traverse any trails as yet untraveled or come home from a new Atlantic crossing. Oh, but itís wide enough to wander through Godís playground, saluting him by being careful. Now we have a common meeting place - wider than the massive church for masses - taller, deeper, longer than the planned cathedral. Godís own backyard, birds pause in passing and carefully perch upon the basketís edge.

Beyond
Waking up with cotton mouth, come with me. The mist is thick enough to wash your face. Hurry, the countdownís started. We are together, as the universeís small perimeters. Hurry. I want to be the first in line.

My Brother Edward
Edward made for me not just my own private sky, but trees to frame it. Ferns to reach the wide, fat trunk of every tree, roses where no rose sought to bloom. Grassy knolls for barefoot carpet so that I might cast my eyes heavenward, undisturbed by open ground. He induced an owl to wake me, almost nightly, to be sure no sliced or open moon escapes my eyes.

Stringing out the stars he made them visible and indivisible so that I might waste no time in calling up astronomers.

I painted Edwardís porch and balcony and regularly I wash and clean his rabbit hutch.

It isnít much - but he has everything. Still for my little brother Iím working on devising more. Heís yet to coast through clouds on his way to nowhere. I intend to take him there.

Topping the Trees
Up at 6 a.m., I track the near horizon while the sun is tracking me. My balloon hopscotches trees, and skims the lakes and barnyard fences like a skater on a pond trying to be dangerous by feigning figure 8's to gain attention. It lifts me higher than Iíve yet gone. Iím careful not to tamper with the unknown except to make it better known to myself.

Once I thought the closest I would come to heaven was to climb a tree.

Breaking and Entering
Youíve but to push your fist through mist and haze to penetrate the clouds. They are an easy mark for airplanes and space ships, easier even for the dreamer. The man whoís dead to dreaming lives within a cloud and so his chance of entering the stratosphere is slimmer than that of most. I do not expect to close my eyes to dreaming, only long enough to dream.

Sky
Mysterious ? Yes. The sky, vaster than the widest ocean, should afford the thinker more mystery - but while the oceanís deep itís also murky and seemingly without a bottom.

Looking up one feels, however endless it may seem, that he surely sees the ceiling if not the rooftop of all heaven.

Like the body of a well-known lover, the sky is void of much new magic, that is unless you try to meet it as an equal.

The Long Run
Once I thought Iíd die at fifty. I had no reason or rationale for thinking so, merely that I would have spent the hours allotted to me and it would be time for me to move through the distance to whatever waits when we are separated from the life we so far know. Now I know that I will not go easy. I enjoy too much the sparring, the skirmishes, and the long runs that only life affords.

Runner
I have no time to hate, Iím in a hurry. But Iíve got all the hours in the day still left to me to waste on love. And what a waste of Godís free time to not love readily and straight ahead.

RM From Folio #19, Fall 1978

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

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Lola Albright o Theda Bara o Thomas Berger o Kim Carnes o Chris Cornell o Chuck Daly o Donna Dixon o Elizabeth Dole o Verna Felton o Sir Edmund Hillary o Sally Ann Howes o Jean Martin o Petrarch o Simon Rex o Elliot Richardson o Diana Rigg o Carlos Santana o Alberto Santos-Dumont o T.G. Sheppard o Ralph James Wass o Natalie Wood
Rod's random thoughts If age has not made me a man agreeable, still I'm less demanding.

Rest assured that you will never rest assured. Not in this world.

I am only one more man trying all the best ways I know to make it through one more day.

BALLOON ONE
Perris, California

The first is up,
or going up.
It lifts off slowly.
Twin fires combine
like some eternal flame
to push and prod warm air
into that vast compartment
with its seven story
                      ceiling.

Soon the quiet
soon the clouds,
as now another
tufted circle
is entering
the angel's playground
starts ascending.

Two there are
they could be
harbingers of hundreds.
A space age army
                 or armada
seeking space.

The grass still wet,
the sky just opening
woodchucks scatter in the lea
as foot by foot
and yard by cubic yard
the air is channeled
forced into another
and yet another
bright and billowing balloon.

Crows are crowing
hold the tether
don't let go
until we all let go.
Now douse the fire
and finish off the coffee.
The mist once heavy
as the heavens
            now subsides
as up we go -
fast at first
then slower, slow.

Below us
all the world
spreads out and opens.
Now too, the sky
begins to open up
around, above us
                 rim to rim
one horizon to another.

Dogs and children
chase our shadow.
Trees are shrubs
And houses dots and dashes.

Along the coastline
we dip to skim the water,
then rise higher to avoid
             an early splashdown.

Reach out and grab a handful
of the nearest cloud
as we sail even with
             now past the sun.

Far below
birds track our course.
If this is not land's end
         coming up,
I know no better
Or more beautiful
Final finish line.

                                - from "We Touch The Sky," 1979
NOTE: This is the original version of the poem that originated in the British Edition. It was substantially rewritten for the US version published in 1980.

© 1970, 1979, 1986, 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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