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rod mckuen



Did you tread in tepid waters?
Your toes never touching bottom
Your head never fully immersed
They called your work tepid
Yet it ignited my soul

Was purity your paradox?
Unquestionable, points made and drawn
Like constellations on a sky map
They called your work aphoristic
But your realities opened my mind

Did the words fall without effort?
A silky slide of naked truths
A penning of mindless muse
They called your work facile
As I let your clarity complicate me

Do you still listen to the warm?
Write your reveries in the clouds
Find the peace that eluded you
They called you “King of Kitsch”
But sentiment is under rated

“Eternity sneaks in
her arms full of wild promises.”
Rod McKuen, Listen to the Warm



For dVerse we are writing about poets that have inspired us. Rod McKuen had a huge impact on me as a teenager. Open, honest and straightforward, his work resonated with me and helped me to validate my own style of poetry. Only a few months ago, I decided to email Mr. McKuen to let him know how his work had influenced me. I procrastinated and the email was never sent. Weeks later in January of 2015,  I sadly read that Rod McKuen had passed away. Another life lesson…don’t wait.

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10 responses »

  1. Different styles speak uniquely to diverse people. Sad for the missed opportunity…you gave him an eloquent tribute here.

  2. The sad missed opportunity.. many are the singer-song writers that affect us, and I had not heard of him… but sometimes we need the facile.. thank you for sharing.

  3. Oh, a life lesson indeed – never leave things for later when it comes to people… I’ve had that happen to me too.
    I haven’t read him, but I’ve heard such accusations of ‘facility’ levied against May Sarton and many other poets. Still, it’s all about the pleasure these poems give to readers, there’s no right or wrong, and ‘challenging’ is not the same as clever or talented.

  4. Life is too short not to feel; and too long to make it hard..:)

  5. oh the critics… they always find something that is not good… instead of focusing on the good thing… glad that you didn’t listen to them but like his work anyway… and so sad that you never send the letter – i bet he would’ve loved to hear how much his work influenced him

  6. ‘ Open, honest and straightforward,’ – all these are reasons that would make me want to read such a poet. Give me simplicity over complexity any time. I am sorry about the missed opportunity. I emailed authors a few times and most replied in a very simple manner.

  7. Takes me way back–hadn’t thought of Rod McKuen in decades.


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