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A Thought for Today

Accept smiles from strangers, but not unwrapped candy.



. . . or in this case the five storage units that hold all the Stanyan / McKuen stuff. Dwight, Edward and I braved the must and dust on Saturday to restock Stanyan By Mail for holiday sales. The lockers contain various ‘stuff’ that badly needs sorting. I mean, how many copies of the “Kingdom Come” LP do we need to save?

Still, there are some treasures in those lockers and Dwight managed to find his share of them. He turned up copies of “Suspension Bridge,” “The World of Rod McKuen,” “Finding My Father" (bound galley’s), a songbook we haven’t offered in the past and a few more “A Man Alone” Limited Editions.

Now that we’re getting so many LP requests he found several we haven’t offered but will. Edward bitched (we were using his van and he would rather have been at the beach,) Dwight had a sneezing fit and I came home with aches and pains from lifting and shuffling cartons of books & records. You can read further descriptions of just what is being offered by the week’s end on the Stanyan By Mail site.


Many of the letters I get start out with “Where can I get?” or “How do I find?” Today’s E-mail answers address some of those questions.


Dear Mr. McKuen, In the 1960s, I bought a new Rod calendar every year as a Christmas present for a special friend. She was a great fan of yours, as I am, and always looked forward to her calendars. Then, all of a sudden, I was no longer able to find them. Do you think there is a chance that these might come out again? These calendars are collector's items just as your music and books are.

Thank you for taking the time to answer your fan's questions.
Sincerely, Lorna Smith

Dear Lorna: Please see the item above. Luv, Rod. (Well, that means if Lorna buys one for herself and another for a friend there are now only 42 copies left.


In the late seventies, I loved a man. And we, in turn, loved your
poetry. I remember one in particular had a line in it something like and I will drive you into Rome, or I will drive Rome into you.

It's been a long time since I've had that book of your poems, but I would like to find it again. Can you tell me the name of the book? Diana

Dear Diana: The poem you are referring to is “Rome Itself” and it can be found in the books “Fields of Wonder” and “Seasons in the Sun.” Here’s a copy of it.

Rome Itself

I carry
down between my legs
       Rome itself,
for you love Rome
and I would drive Rome into you
or drive you into Rome.

This room your coliseum
till you board your plane.
These arms your forum,
       cats included.

Self-propelled am I
between the morning
and the midnight
I glide along your groin
and earn my wings
by testing out your thighs
like some new willful Wiley Post.

My flight is not away
not to or from.
Above you, below you -
I soar around you
and perch upon your second pillow.

I have no need
for such mechanical devices
as winged shoes or wings.
I am made uncommon by the need to know you
and thereby come to know myself.

though in the distance
is no farther than the dresser
and not so far away
that I can’t take you there.
For me the Spanish Steps
are centered on your tongue
and Caesar could content himself
with California wine
had he your eyes to follow
and your breath to capture
with his own breath.

We’ll go to Rome
as slowly as you like
and be there by tonight.

-from “Fields of Wonder,” 1971 & “Seasons in the Sun,” 1974


Dear Rod, Every time I see a cloud, I think of your lines, "Clouds are not the cheeks of angels, you know they're only clouds." Especially, when I'm in an airplane. I don't know how many times I've quoted your words to friends.

I've sent you a couple other emails. Please read them.I'm trying to get published now, and I need your permission to quote one of your poems in my story. Saw you at the hungry i the night of my junior prom. Boy, was that a night. Regards, Ruth B. Canaway

Dear Ruth: Thanks for writing and feel free to quote away as long as the source and copyright date are given. Also, depending on how many lines are used you may have to pay a small fee to Cheval books.

Thanks especially for spending part of your “Junior Prom” evening with me at the hungry i. That has to have been in Nineteen Never Mind, Right? Affectionately, Rod


Hi Rod, Hope you are well and happily busy. Lord knows I am with my new house, a woman with a drill and chainsaw is a very freeing experience.

Anyway, I got an item on eBAY which is a photo of a detail from a painting. The detail is of you, with a glass of champagne, sitting at a table and there are tears streaming down your face. I am curious about the painting, who did it, where is it, where was it painted and what the tears represent.

If the champagne was other than Vouve, I can understand the tears (a champagne snob's reaction). Do you have the actual painting in your possession?

I am collecting some of the promo ads on eBAY and plan to have them framed and give them as gifts. Hopefully, I will collect some that are favorites of friends of mine, in time for Christmas.

Got the next shipment of The Blond and there is a bottle with your name on it. Will try to get one to you in a bit. Cheers, Jana

Dear Homemaker Jana: Congratulations on the new digs.

I find the thought of a woman with a chainsaw and a drill a frightening image, especially is she’s tanked to the gills with Tall Blonde Vodka. No pictures please!

Speaking of pictures, please send me the jpeg of the one you mentioned from the painting. This I gotta see. Have no idea of what you’re talking about. Sounds like another send-up, of which I’ve had my share. Do people really bid on that kind of stuff?

If you insist on sending me a bottle of “Blonde” I suppose I’ll have to accept. As ever, Rod


Hi there! Listening to "The Things Men Do" makes me want to make it the "National Anthem"....amen!

I have been searching through my books of your poetry and can't seem to find the lyrics ? Is it in one of the books? I want to send out the lyrics to everyone that I know and "stir the spirit". Please, tell me where the lyrics are published.

Thank you and thanks for lots of hours of peace and happiness and joy. Lucinda Hathaway

Dear Lucinda: I’ve been thinking a lot about that song lately too. Back in the 1960’s I used to sing it at every concert. The words and music are available in two different song Books “McKuen at Carnegie Hall” & “The Songs of Rod McKuen Vol. 2.” Meanwhile here are the words.

The Things Men Do

It makes me cry to see the things
Some men do to one another
Makes me cry to see the things some men do.

Every street’s a battlefield and every door’s a jail
And never the sword and not the shield
Can stay the widow’s wail.
I cannot understand, I will not understand
Why freedom stumbles in our land
And it makes me cry to see the things
Some men do to one another
Makes me cry to see the things some men do.

Every road’s a bitter road and songs are only songs
And when in church children kneel
They cannot right the wrongs
I cannot understand, I will not understand
Why terror rumbles in our land
And it makes me cry to see the things
Some men do to one another
Makes me cry to see the things some men do.

Every night’s a lonesome night that lasts a lonesome year
And torches all the brighter burn
To burn away the fear
I cannot understand, I will not understand
Why freedom staggers in our land.
And it makes me cry to see the things
Some men do to one another
Makes me cry to see the things some men do.

Words & music by Rod McKuen, 1964, 1966

I have great faith in this country and the people who live and work here. This too will pass.


Posted by LaP on The Message Board October 16:

Where am I likely, if at all, to find a copy of 'Finding my Father'? I am guessing it is out of it? I live in the UK and have made enquiries locally but no luck so far...I am still trying.

I was hoping to be able to give it as a Christmas present to a remarkable young man, who, some ten or so years ago my husband and I almost adopted. But at the age of 21 he was an adult and had family of sorts but not a happy person...he was looking for his father... Anyway I went one better and helped him find and talk to his Dad...perhaps with hindsight this was not a wise thing to do...but we survived the trauma...and I think stronger for the experience.

He, 'Poor Dear Boy', still has a long way to journey in this life ... and come to terms if accepting his presence in this world as a 'bastard child'. But he knows we are there should he need someone to talk to...I could not be more proud of him had he been my own son. His achievements over the years have astounded me. From having few qualifications...he proudly holds a Masters Degree...but that’s not all he is working steadily towards achieving the ultimate, a Doctor of Philosophy. This boy has such determination.

He is also reserve in the British Army as a Royal Engineer and at 33 years of age may be called upon to go into action should this war escalate. I cannot even bear to think about this.

So I am hoping that I can get hold of this book's hoping someone might help me locate a copy...Thanks in anticipation...LaP

Dear LaP: I don’t get a chance to read The Message Board very often and in fact the couple of times a year I do scan it, I feel like a Peeping Tom. Despite the fact that it’s called “The Rod McKuen Message Board” I’m not all that comfortable monitoring messages about myself.

You are right about “Finding My Father” being out of print but your message happened to coincide with our discovering a number of bound galley’s of the book at one of our storage lockers. A Galley Proof is like the finished book with the exception that it is softbound and lacks the photographs that were featured in the published edition. There were hundreds of thousands of copies of the commercial book offered for sale, so the Galley Proofs are a lot rarer too. Less than 200 bound galley’s were made to be given out to the press in advance of the publication date. You can find out more about how to order a copy by following the Stanyan By Mail link.

Having been there I know what not knowing who he was, or anything else about your father, can mean to a youngster. Your friend sounds like a very resourceful young man and I doubt that anything will hold him back from pursuing the goals he sets. If you do order a copy of the book please include your friends name so I can autograph it for him.

You might have already tracked down a copy of “Finding My Father” and if so, send me a bookplate and I’ll be glad to sign it. Thanks and Kindest regards, Rod


Dear Mr McKuen, I have been searching for over 20 years to get your In Search of Eros on CD. Is there a way I might be able to find some one to burn a CD for me? It was my favorite album, along with Listen to the Warm. I almost have that one memorized. Anything you could do for me I would greatly appreciate it. Also will you ever release your Sea, Earth and Sky again on CD?

Thanks so much again. Also I met a lady 72 years old in the book store over the weekend in Denver who was asking a clerk if they had any of your recordings, and he said Rod who? We have become friends because of you. Thank you for all the gifts you have given us. Chris

Dear Chris: Cassettes of “In Search of Eros” by Rod Who? are running low at Stanyan, but there are still some copies available. A CD will be released in the future but there is no scheduled date.

Later this month there will be a whole Flight Plan devoted to “The Sea” and all the other San Sebastian Strings albums and if and when they will be available on CD.

Rod Who? gives whole new meaning to the film title “What to Do in Denver When You’re Dead.” Can’t blame some of those young whippersnappers for not knowing everything. I’m glad I have folks like you and your friend to help educate them. Luv, Rod

Join Ken tomorrow for his weekly turn on the site with “This One Does It For Me.” And join me in celebrating the 70th birthday of a great reporter, Dan Rather. Till Thursday, sleep warm.

RM 10/30/2001 Previously unpublished

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays John Adams o Charles Atlas o Winifred Bailey o Ernest Flatt o Kinky Friedman o Dick Gautier o Ruth Gordon o Harry Hamlin o Ruth Hussey o Claude Lelouch o Taney Mahmoudi o Louis Malle o Diego Armando Maradona o Amey Palm o Ezra Pound o Gavin Rossdale o Grace Slick o Henry Winkler
Rod's random thoughts If we must judge, let us first use the mirror on our own wall for practice.

So few promises are kept these days that credibility must be stitched together from half-truths. That should not cause despair, only diligence.

I’ve counted moons, magnified them in Moscow glass, tripped on stars within the tropics, and shared great armfuls of dim and distant light in my own flatlands with no one but myself. No storm can stop me now.


He wears his heart
so skillfully upon his sleeve
most think it just another pocket.
Only Fred Astaire
could dance through life more easily.
If Dante came to visit
he’d ask him if the room
was warm enough
( that’s how much he wants to please ).

First he fell in love
with faces in slick magazines.
Later on he moved to billboards,
then long commercials in between
small portions of the nightly news.

Beneath the most enormous moon
October ever manufactured
he found, met, fell in love with
              and brought home
the girl he would have always
              dreamed about
if he’d known that she existed.
They started to watch TV.
She fell in love with Dan Rather.

-from “Valentines,” 1986

© 1964, 1966, 1971, 1974, 1986, 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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