28th & 29th June, 2004





















Rod 4/16/04 Photo by Billy Iz

A Thought for Today

Suspense and hope are more than just a part of love; they are the head's foreplay.



Whatís on the mind of letter writers? Well to begin with, sex and commitment. Read on.


Rod, I'm a Brit currently doing some work for American Airlines in Fort Worth, TX. This requires me to be away from my wife and family for 3 weeks out of every month, which is hard. Trying to fill in time, I went to the C.R. Smith Museum to buy gifts for my grandchildren.

I was very surprised, and delighted, to find your book "Rusting in the Rain" for sale there, and since my wife has many of your books that she bought when she was much younger, it seemed the perfect gift. (You know how, sometimes, you can go out looking for a gift for someone, and never seem to be able to find just the right thing, and sometimes, serendipity cuts in line, and the perfect gift pops up when you're not looking for it?

That's why I think we should dispense with gift-buying on birthdays and any other special occasions, and always be open to just seeing "something" that would be "perfect for so-and-so" without needing a reason).

Anyway, I digress. As I look through the book, I notice the ambiguously worded "... the author has made his home in Southern California where he lives with his brother and partner Edward ...". And my very intrusive question is simply this: "Are you gay?". And the reason I ask is because my youngest son is gay, and in a very happy relationship, and I'd like to buy them a copy. Somehow, I thought that maybe it would be more meaningful if you were, but as I write this, I realize that I have no right to even ask the question, and I'm not sure that it really makes any difference.

As your web site says: "It doesn't matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love". So I don't know that I expect an answer, and that, even if I did, it would be anything other than cryptic. I'm going to send this email anyway, if only to thank you for your poems (and for the perfect gift for my wife) that express how I feel for her in words that are far more eloquent than my own. Thank you, Brian Meekings.

Dear Brian, I'm with you on gift giving. The problem with structured gifts is that despite knowing in advance our friends and family's birth dates, Mother's & Father's Day, Christmas and all those other days greeting card companies invent for reasons of commerce, most of us screw up when it comes to selecting proper gifts. For me the pressure of hunting down presents is a little like writing deadlines, hectic and not as fulfilling as acting with leisure.

The French have a wonderful expression; luxe de l'esprit Ė which loosely translates into the luxury of the moment. I don't know about you but the most successful gifts I've given have always been impulse or spur of the moment presents. You see something and say ah, Betty or Edward or grandma would love that. More often than not they do.

Am I gay? Let me put it this way, Collectively I spend more hours brushing my teeth than having sex so I refuse to define my life in sexual terms. I've been to bed with women and men and in most cases enjoyed the experience with either sex immensely. Does that make me bi-sexual? Nope. Heterosexual? Not exclusively. Homosexual? Certainly not by my definition.

I am sexual by nature and I continue to fall in love with people and with any luck human beings of both sexes will now and again be drawn to me. I can't imagine choosing one sex over the other, that's just too limiting. I can't even honestly say I have a preference. I'm attracted to different people for different reasons.

I do identify with the Gay Rights struggle, to me that battle is about nothing more or less than human rights. I marched in the 50's and 60's to protest the treatment of Blacks in this country and I'm proud of the fact that I broke the color barrier in South Africa by being the first artist to successfully demand integrated seating at my concerts. I am a die-hard feminist and will continue to speak out for women's rights as long as they are threatened. These, of course, are all social issues and have nothing to do with my sex life (although admittedly I've met some pretty hot people of both sexes on the picket line.)

As for Edward, he is my brother, father, mother, best friend and partner in almost every way. He's a cute kid all right, but not my lover or my type. Besides, wouldnít that be incest? And, based on his past mating success it would only be a matter of time till one of us was arrested for fratricide.

So Brian I hope you will agree there is nothing cryptic about my answer to your question. Congratulations, by the way, for being such an understanding father. My best to you and your family and thanks for the comments and question. Every now and again I enjoy setting the record straight . . . so to speak. With Affection, Rod


I noticed in the FAQ that you said you weren't married, but that you were committed. Would that be to a male or female? If you don't mind my asking.MDM58

Dear MDM58, I don't mind your asking at all. The answer: Five felines. Four male & one female. Iím not against marriage as an institution, but one stretch in an institution (in my case The Nevada School of Industry when I was a kid) is enough. Cheers, Rod


I had one of your books that had a poem about marriage vows and am afraid I no longer have that book, which I am most disappointed about. If you could shed some light on the name of the book, I will search for it, as well as the name of that poem and perhaps a copy of it in your reply? I want to share that poem and more of your work with my niece who will be wedding in August. She writes poetry herself and may already have some of your books? If not, she will fall in love with your work I'm sure. I am looking forward to rediscovering your writing and music. I can't wait! Connie

Dear Connie, Sorry you had to write twice to get my attention but with the amount of e-mail that comes and goes around here sometimes that's what it takes. Thanks for being persistent. The marriage ceremony is contained in my book "An Outstretched Hand." and it's available from stanyanhouse.com. Thanks again for writing and my best to your niece for her writing and her coming marriage. Warmly, Rod


Dear Sir, My wife recently purchased a copy of Gwen Frostic's book A Place on Earth and on the flyleaf is an inscription to "Lee" that is purportedly signed by you. The inscription reads:

How tall we are
We've learned so much
Everything, it seems,
But how to stay in touch

Under that is an inscription signed Lory Fetzer and dated 1970. That inscription reads:

So many relationships are like this - how fortunate we are that we can communicate so easily and meaningfully. I am wondering if you have any memory of this. Respectfully Peter Rebmann, Gainesville, Fl.

Dear Peter, The inscription is taken from one of my poems but it must have been quoted by the original book giver. The reason being I wouldn't dream of writing something of my own of the flyleaf of another authorís work. That's a little bit too ego centric for this author. All the best to you and thanks for writing. Rod


Rod-- Is there any way I can purchase both of these items. Please let me know. Balosee

Dear Balosee, I remastered the soundtrack to Joanna in 1993 for the 25th anniversary of the films original release. The resulting CD was released on the SLC label in Japan and Stanyan House imported it for sale in the USA. Because of the extra playing time that compact discs afford I was able to add 15 songs and cues not available on the original LP for a grand total of 29 tracks.

Now for the bad news. The CD of Joanna is currently out of print and as far as I know Fox Video has no plans to release a video/DVD of the film. The American Cinemateque played it last year at The Egyptian Theatre to a nearly sell-out audience.
Joanna enjoys a kind of cult status and there is a pirate DVD of it making the rounds, again in The Far East. Gee, I wish I had a copy of it. All Good wishes, Rod


I am trying to locate a poem that I loved when I was 17 and I believe it was one of yours - I do not remember the title but one of the lines went "remembering the color of his eyes". It was about a girl who didn't notice the spring or much around her beyond the loss of a love and remembering the color of his eyes. Julie Carrigan

Dear Julie, thatís not much to go on so Iím stumped. Jay Hagan, our McPoem Guru, thinks you might be referring to this passage from the album In Search of Eros:

You moved to turn off the light.

I remember nothing more of that moment.
Only awakening in the middle of the night
                                     do I remember well
and finding my head in the small arc of your back
and feeling the warmness of you swell upon my forehead.
Lying very still and warm
praying that morning might be late
just this once...late.

Suddenly I cannot remember
the color of your eyes or the things we said
       as we stood together for the last time.

Suddenly my mind is blurred
trees are not important anymore
                                    they are only trees.

© 1960, 1963 by Rod McKuen

I hope this helps Julie and thanks for the help, Jay. Best regards, Rod


Kyletta sent this nifty naughty along, so donít shoot the messenger.

The administrator of a local hospital was showing a newly hired intern throughout the hospital and during their tour of the floors they passed a room where a male patient was masturbating.

"Oh my God", said the young female intern, "that's disgraceful, what is the meaning of this?"

The administrator leading the tour explained, "Ma'am, this man has a very serious condition where the testicles rapidly fill with semen. If he doesn't do that at least 5 times a day, he'll become swollen."

"Oh, I am so sorry", said the intern, "I was unaware that such a medical problem existed."

On the same floor, they soon passed a room where a young nurse was giving a patient oral sex. "Oh my God!!!", said the naive intern, "what's happening in there?" she exclaimed.

The administrator responded "It's the same as the other patient ... just a better HMO."

Join Ken on Wednesday for This One Does it for Me. Bellingham returns on Thursday and Iíll be back to help you celebrate the 4th of July weekend. Sleep warm.

RM 6/28/2004 12:18AM PDST

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notable birthdays

Monday 28 June

Eric Ambler o Kathy Bates o Don Baylor o Danielle Brisebois o Mel Brooks o Maren Brown o Steve Burton o John Cusack o Bruce Davison o John Dillinger o John Elway o Lester Flatt o King Henry VIII of England o Maureen Howard o George Lloyd o Ashley Montagu o Pat Morita o Luigi Pirandello o Gilda Radner o Richard Rogers o Jean Jacques Rousseau o Otis Skinner o John Wesley

Tuesday 29 June

Ian Bannen o Gary Busey o Stokely Carmichael o Joan Davis o Amanda Donohoe o Nelson Eddy o Robert Evans o Fred Grandy o Rafael Kubelik o Sharon Lawrence o Richard Lewis o Frank Loesser o William James Mayo o Anne Sophie Mutter o Slim Pickens o Sue Richardson o Peter Rubens o Antoine de Saint-Exupery o Dick Spangler o Dizzy Trout o Ruth Warrick o Cara Williams

Rod's random thoughts To be original, be yourself.

Imagine love without a letter home, without a letter back.

The day you start insulting yourself others will join you.

for Charles Osgood

The archers aim,
the straining bow,
the whistling arrow
through the air.
the victims cry,
the awful fall
as body and earth
meet up as one.

The trumpet bridge
that moves us then
to stratagem's hall
behind the line.
An argument, then
a new war plan.
Our Hero's foot
on the marble floor.

And now a harp
as lovers meet
a last embrace
a close of the door.

Here in your head
you saw it all
without a blink
of camera's eye.
you were the victim.
You were the winner.
The falling soldier,
the arrow spinner.

Yours was the mind
conceiving the plan
to win the battle
by hours end.
You played the harp
and the voluntary,
colored the sky
and the hero's hair.

Amazing the sights,
springing from sound
that move unbound
through the air.

-from "Intervals," 1986

© 1960, 1963, 1986, 2003, 2004 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 o Sound & Fury Dr. Eric Yeager o Webmaster Ken Blackie
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