SOME OF THE BEST
22 July, 1998
Photograph by Bob Gentry 8/5/99
A Thought for Today
The gossip of the hour makes the hour worthless.
I discovered A Safe Place to Land soon after it went on line in 1998. You and your web
master Ken have done an extraordinary job of making this reflective spot on the web an
important stop for me every morning. I agree with Jay Hagan that the best flight plans are
those where we learn more about Rod McKuen the human being and what is happening in his
Your diaries of the moment are the best but some of the jottings from past journals are
important because they show so many different sides of you. In July 1998 you had a flight
plan called Men at Work. I think it showed RM as the concerned human being, the poet and
the humorist. As Ken would say, This one does it for me. One more thing,
The Poet, that days poem is one of your best and one I have committed to
MEN AT WORK
It cleared today, just like that. Except for isolated puddles in gutters and especially
potholes and pockmarks in the highway pavement, there is no evidence of yesterday's storm.
The roadway needs work on every mile. It has much in common with other streets and
highways I've traveled on in the past year. Maybe the Governor or President or somebody
will discover that this country's roads and freeways are going to hell. A little while ago
The White House learned our schools aren't what they should be. Of course no solutions
were offered but we are assured a committee somewhere is studying the problem.. Leadership
conveniently forgets it's their pen that keeps teachers at sub-standard wage.
Manmade politics seems to have enroached on everything not made by man. Worse, private
industry is seldom encouraged to do those things government should butt out of. To
question your country isn't wrong. It's as fine an act as adding to it. But the river
between questioning and denigration is a wide one. Demolition should not be carried out on
a work in progress. Love of country is the same as love of self. What man is enamoured of
everything he does? If such a man exists, then he has blinders, is a braggart without
merit, or is ill educated as to mirrors. Travel and you'll always come back home. There is
no place quite like this one, anywhere.. But on home ground, contribute. Above all, never
quarrel with your country on alien soil.
I wish someone would fix the potholes.
- from a notebook, First published
7/22/98 on "A Safe Place To Land"
||He knew that life hangs on
for each of us
only as long as we are able
to be understood.
For him it was enough
if now and then a truth
bubbled to the surface
and made a little headway
through that day's lies.
And so his words and work
stayed largely private
except by those of us
to whom with age
truth becomes a way
His last book
was the hardest
to get out of him
and onto paper
for he had finally reached that time
when the lack of any need to compromise
And so it was the verses contained therein
were longer in the making,
and his best.
Why is it
people send me poems,
he once crankily said to me.
Don't they know that in this little life
there is barely time to get my own words
down on the page.
They believe in you,
I tried to reassure him.
Your opinion is their opiate.
Bullshit he replied
with unpoetic grandeur.
They seek a testimonial
and fill my postbox up with trash.
What about encouragement,
He thought a moment
then without a smile opined,
Ballroom dancers should be stopped
whenever they attempt Swan Lake.
-from The Beautiful Strangers, 1981