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Rod McKuen
April 29, 1922 — January 29, 2015

Rod McKuen

“It doesn’t matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love.” — Rod McKuen

I was very sad this afternoon to learn that Rod McKuen had passed away. McKuen’s poetry began feeding my soul while I was still in junior high school. He wrote poetry I could understand, and was responsible, I believe, for making me fall in love with words. He was one of the top five people in the world I would have loved to meet. And the thing I loved about him the most? I don’t care what the occasion was, formal or a day at the beach, McKuen always had on tennis shoes.

Rod McKuen’s website: A Safe Place to Land


Rod McKuen dies; mega-selling poet and performer grew up in Oakland

NEW YORK — Rod McKuen, the Oakland-born, husky-voiced “King of Kitsch” whose music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and ’70s won him Oscar nominations and made him one of the best-selling poets in history, has died. He was 81.

McKuen died Thursday morning at a rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills, where he had been treated for pneumonia and had been ill for several weeks and was unable to digest food, said his half brother, Edward McKuen Habib.

Until his sabbatical in 1981, McKuen was an astonishingly successful and prolific force in popular culture, turning out hundreds of songs and poems and records, including the Academy Award-nominated song “Jean” for the 1969 film “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” (Read the rest of the article here.)


My favorite book of McKuen’s is Sanyan Street & Other Sorrows. My favorite poem of his comes from that book as well. It’s part 3 of Stanyan Street.

We try so hard to make each other frown
I sometimes wonder
if we haven’t been together much too long.
The words that work the wonders are so few
that they seem foolish anymore.

Is this a kind of loving too,
a chocolate bar that tastes good at the time
but kills the dinner later on?
Could be our appetite will go
till even memory’s not a feast.

But there are times
when you can smile in such a way
that I’d forget a ten year war
and lie down in your shadow’s shadow
and live on sounds your stomach makes.
In these brief times
I could die against your side
and never make a warning sound
content to suffocate
within the circle of your back.

My second favorite is from part 2 of that same poem:

At night,
though half a world away,
I still hear you sigh in several sizes.
The breathing softer when you’re satisfied.
The plip-plop body machinery back to normal.
Remembering how warm you are
and how defenseless in your sleep
never fails to make me cry.
I cannot bear the thought of you
in someone else’s arms
yet imagining you alone is sad.

Singer, song writer, poet, film producer, actor… McKuen was a real Renaissance Man. Here he is doing another of my favorite poems of his, A Cat Named Sloopy.


And finally McKuen singing one of my favorite Nat King Cole songs, What a Wonderful World.


Bye, Rod… You really made the world a more wonderful place.