Thursday, April 16, 2015

#npm15 -- Rod McKuen, Twenty-Five

I'm not gonna lie. When I thought about doing this National Poetry Month series of posts, I immediately considered a Rod McKuen poem. Why? He was the first poet I "discovered" outside of the classroom. I loved his poetry, his albums. I loved his raspy voice. Mom even took me to see him perform once.

But the literati typically sneer at McKuen, so I waffled. Then I read the news of his death, and that made the decision for me.

I've mentioned before that any landing you walk away from is a good landing. Any poet who inspires you to love and read poetry is a good poet.

Twenty-Five / The Coming of the Rain
by Rod McKuen

Where were we
when the coming of the rain
made us turn from conversation to the window?

In mustard fields maybe,
                   or the love jungle,
and as we talked
we were with others, not ourselves.

I was thinking of old birthdays and holidays gone wrong
                      and pretty people seen on streetcars
          but never met.
Selling soda bottles to pay for movie matinees.
               I was twelve.
     Tarzan was the man I most resembled in those days.
How can I have grown so old without once swinging on a vine?
                Did you think of party dresses
    and high school plays
                    or hallways full of lovers not yet met?

The mind is such a junkyard;
                      it remembers candy bars
                                       but not the Gettysburg Address,
Frank Sinatra's middle name
                but not the day your best friend died.

If in your mind there is some corner
      not yet occupied with numbers you may never need,
remind your memory of the day
                      we turned to watch the rain
    and turning back forgot
             that we belonged to one another.

--- from Listen to the Warm, 1967


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