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A Thought for Today

In friendship, silence is more important than words.


Dear Ken,

I never cease to be amazed by the depth and breadth of Rod's writing. I think, when younger, I used to relate to the sheer romanticism of it. I'm not sure I appreciated the craft skill of free verse nor even related to the art of it. I only knew that it reached down inside me, touched me in my soul, held my heart very very gently yet still with great passion, and cherished my emotions as it taught me to do the same for myself.

Years went past, as years do, and for all of the eighties and most of the nineties I was too busy finding my own voice to pay too much attention to Rod's. 

I didn't discover Suspension Bridge until Larry Baillie gave it to me in August of '98. It had associations with bad emotional things going on in my life that year and so I really didn't devour it passionately until just these past few weeks.

What a wonderful gift this book is to anyone who has reached a place where they know who they are and see no need to change to someone else's image. Perhaps fifty ( or thereabouts) is where one learns this...perhaps we stop fighting and competing for what we never were, and come to peace with who we truly are.

Suspension Bridge is an epiphany in poetry for me.... I catch my breath every time I read it, as though suspended between life and death, knowing and believing.... BEING between the words, not in them.

And The Voice Of Independent Means is as fine a poem as I ever expect to read by anyone, anywhere.

I don't think ASPTL has ever printed it before. I certainly don't remember, though sometimes when I am in the middle of a series I get lost in the writing and don't know what month, let alone what day, it is.

But I can honestly say This One Does It For Me... and I would love it if you printed it some Wednesday.

Thank you Ken, thank you Larry, and thank you Rod for awakening MY voice of independent means.

As Always


Not much I can add to your wonderful letter, Coral, except to say how delighted I am you submitted something from "Suspension Bridge". 

It's one of the few McKuen books I haven't read, an omission I'll have to rectify soon. Everyone I've spoken to who has read it has reacted in much the same manner as you, making me feel as though I've missed out on something really special. With the news of ASPTL - The Book/CD earlier this week, looks like I have a lot of reading ahead of me!

Thanks for a terrific contribution, Coral.

ken@mckuen.com is the address to write to if you have a favorite McKuen song or poem you'd like to share with us. Hope to hear from you soon.

                                     - Ken, Johannesburg, February 21

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

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays W.H. Auden o William Baldwin o Richard Beymer o Erma Bombeck o Lucille Bremer o Charlotte Church o Tyne Daly o David Geffen o Hubert Givenchy o Kelsey Grammer o Jennifer Love Hewitt o Barbara Jordan o Arline Judge o Gary Lockwood o Rue McClanahan o Peter McEnery o Nikita Magaloff o John Henry Newman o Anais Nin o Tricia Nixon o Sam Peckinpah o Alan Rickman o Zachary Scott o Andres Segovia o Ann Sheridan o Nina Simone o Alan Trammell o August von Wasserman
Rod's random thoughts Always look forward, back is never better.

Only look back to gain perspective.

Conscience is the hardest weight to lift.


if I could read you then I would.
Life goes on forever.
Youth lasts an hour, maybe less.
As the gangplank comes in nearer
I speed away behind an engine
warming up, left running.
Could I erase the deficit
                          and start again
I would not.
The beast too listens in the dark
for words that will not come,
is frightened by the stars
                          and goes off running
like the rest of us.

All out there, stars and signposts
           voices too in twos and threes,
I know you are not enemies,
                                      but friends
not yet so labeled
             and collected.

Twilight passes like the tide
                         all hushed and strange.
We only see time's changes
when it is late and growing later.
Gabriel does not rejoice
                          at each new crowd
he only waits.

Oh lover, singing
out beyond the wood
do not bruise me with false cries.
             Lullabies, lullabies,
sing me only lullabies.
Yours is the only song
that soars above the rest
and yours the only voice
of independent means.

Stars I'd reach and pick you
                                       if I could
and ancient, newer loves
               I'd do the same.

We'll all go home when winter comes
for now the seasons will not change
they are a shawl of ribbons, paper, rags
a willow dragging branches in the water.
Those voices and that voice
still singing in the not so wilderness,
still offering a song so sweet
that all the stars now take it up
and pass it down and on to us.

                                - from "Suspension Bridge", 1984

1984, 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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