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26 APRIL 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

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Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

We must learn to celebrate not criticize each other's differences.

 

“Dear Rod: As we pause to commemorate the second anniversary of what happened at our school, would you please reprint the words you wrote for all of us at that time? Thank you, JoAnne DeLuca, Jefferson County, Colorado.”

Dear JoAnne, What I wrote was not enough, nothing could be. Many of us are still numb, but we only watched our television sets as unbelieving voyeurs. You and your friends who went through it will never be the same. For what it is worth, this country has big arms and they are still around all of you. Love,
Rod

Last week was not a kind one for the world, the country or anyone. There are no words for the kind of grief that has spread from Littleton High School in Colorado to the world at large. Often out of grief and blame comes change. Since there is enough blame to go around for all of us who grieve, each of us has to work at finding some way to help change the circumstances that brought about this newest disaster. 

Will we work together? Arrive at a series of solutions separately? Will change come soon? If history is any kind of teacher, probably not. But get involved, because whether or not you like it you are involved. It's your country and your world. A good start might be today's thought; learn to celebrate not criticize each other's differences. There isn’t anyone, you can not learn from. But if you don't find something that pleases or fascinates you about someone you meet and you feel there's no way of relating to them, fine. Avoid them. Grudges and meanness are a waste of time. But try to understand other people’s want and needs because no one is a waste of time.

I wrote this poem nearly thirty years ago. For one reason or another it came to mind this week.

DRIVING THROUGH DAVIS

I woke up listening
where swallows
had been known to sing
and I heard nothing.

The morning followed the sun
not the sun the morning.
And as the day slipped
from out the last
into the next
nothing happened but the grey
moving in to take the whiteness.

I find any sleep
that claims to be
a sleep of reason
unreasonable and fitful,
yet each night
I fall down in darkness
all the same
wondering what new land
knows the sound
of singing swallows.

I wonder too
at teachers who demand
instead of teach.

One man - a professor now
(a sort of poet once
until his talent dried and died
from lack of and nourishment
or truth or understanding ) -
makes a proper living
out of damning me
because the God that I believe in 
lets me damn no man.

He wrote that I
was fostering unrest.
So I am.
And so I am.

Do not rest until you reach
a pair of friendly arms.
That's radical and wrong for him
but right for those of us who love.


And I say kill no man
nor murder his ideas
before they've had a chance
to surface from his mind.

Let men think and speak
even that poor white-haired loser
whose thoughts are lost
on children he would chain
and minds he'd not mind plundering
if even that skill he could master.

Let him help to foster masons
at his school
instead of militants with matches.
Man has learned by building
but even superman
cannot see past a fire.

The clergy
who drum into their congregations
litanies that have
no bond with common speech
have begun to worry me as well.

Until my life began to move
across the hill and down
I was unaware that God
was such a complicated man.
He was never Latin for me
nor Sanskrit till translation.

I want a man
that I can understand
to govern me,
for I need love
and understanding too.
And so I hope that God the friend
and not the father
will come banging at my door.

Were I your preacher
your teacher or your dad
I'd ask that you hate no man,
but yourself sometimes.
That can be of use
if only in putting on the brakes.

Stumble if you need to
but stumble on your own ground only.
Consider any man that you can help
        your friend,
and double friend
that man so selfless
as to offer help to you.
I'll never be a proper teacher
for I have learning yet ahead of me
far beyond my years.
But place my small brain
in the feeble hands
of some white-haired loser
operating still without a learner's permit
in the love of all mankind ?

One day I'll make a pilgrimage
to his dusty desk
if only just to take him
this year's calendar.

Surely all men need to know
what year it is they're living in. 

                         
- from "Fields of Wonder," 1971

Today is Earth Day. It ought to be considered one of the most important holidays of every year because by celebrating it we celebrate our only home.

Tomorrow is Monday and the e-mail box is bulging. And, I hope tomorrow will be a special day for all of you as I reveal for the first time the contents of the new book and CD set. Sleep warm

                                      RM 4/21/2001

New Riverton Summer concert details announced! Details can be obtained via the link below:

Rod McKuen Concerts & Appearances

notable birthdays

EARTH DAY

Eddie Albert o Joseph Bottoms o Glen Campbell o Marilyn Chambers o Henry Fielding o Peter Frampton o Queen Isabella I o Daniel Johns o Immanuel Kent o Sheryl Lee o Vladimir Ilyich Lenin o Yehudi Menuhin o Charles Mingus o Vladimir Nabokov o Jack Nicholson o Betty Page o Lillian Tosca Pearce o Ingo Rademacher o Charlotte Rae o Aaron Spelling

Rod's random thoughts The earth is all we have. We abuse it at our peril.

We should be nicer to each other, we’re all we’ve got.

Nobody likes bullies but too many of us continue to imitate them.

REACH DOWN

I grasp
a handful 
of good ground
in doing so
I touch the heel
and the toe of God,
the arteries of angels.

Best of all
by coming closer
to the earth
I see myself
the way I should be.

                      
-from “Coming Close to the Earth,” 1978
© 1965, 1971, 1978, 1999, 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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