The Sound of Rod McKuen’s Solitude


Good news Dear Reaers!  I was milling around my favorite thrift store yesterday when I found this poetry book written by slighty-creepy-seventies poet extraordinaire, Rod McKuen — world renowned for his random-carriage-return, arbitrary-space-bar poetry!       

The Sound of Solitude by Rod McKuen
The Sound of Solitude by Rod McKuen. The inside jacket tells us it’s the most moving, private and essential collection he’s been willing to share  with his millions of readers (at only $9.95 per share)

I looked up the price of  The Sound of Solitude on Abe Books.  It’s worth a dollar.  And I got it for 50-cents! Ha ha!  Suckers! 

Okay, let’s get serious now and open to a poem at random from The Sound of Solitude by Rod McKuen: 

 After-Hours Acrobatics

I light one candle

With another’s flame

And getting up to leak

I look across at you

First of all, Rod, it is very dangerous to sleep with candles lit.  You really need to blow them out!  For heaven sakes, you’re going to burn the house down!  

Secondly, I’m a little concerned that you are leaking. I’m assuming you are referring to a shrapnel injury incurred while in the war, but at least you seem to be aware that leaking while lying down only makes things worse.  Okay, keep going Rod.

Still curled and sleeping

Coming back I start to pass

a mirror

I stop. Stand back and see me

naked in the candlelight

See? What did I tell you?  If you would have blown out those candles like you should have, you wouldn’t have that problem now would you?

Was I ever beautiful,

ever young or wise

deserving of your arms or other’s?

Tiny suggestion Rod,  Don’t you think saying: “deserving of your arms or, failing that, other’s would be kinder to whomever you are referring to? They might read this poem, you now.

Head-on is even harsh by candleglow

love handles bulge on either side.

 Just a thought . . . could it be that it’s your love handles that are leaking?  (I know a good Love-Handle specialist you might want to consult.)

Of what was once an unfilled frame that I hung hopes on,

never excess flesh

Oh I know what you mean! I always put excess flesh in dryer.

I look at you a second time

hoping I can dive beneath the covers

before you catch my silhouette

against the wall.

My pulse thumps loud enough

to blunt the metronome of cicada

calling to cicada,

OMG Rod!  How did you ever get yourself into such a poetic pickle?  See how complicated life gets when you don’t blow out the candles?

Now you’re going to have to call the exterminators to get rid of the cicada infestion.  I hope you’ve learned your lesson!  

(Oh and be sure to get that pulse thump checked out when you go see the Love-Handle specialist.)

Safe. I hit third base

and slide to home.

You only turn and grumble in your sleep

I do not go back to sleep

Well, maybe all you need is a few hours at the batting cages . . .

All life is spent erecting barricades

that none of us can get through

when love finally comes

And none of this would have even been an issue, Rod, if you would have just taken the time to blow out the candles.  I hate to say I told you so, but . . . well I wont’ say it, I wouldn’t want to upset you.  You might start leaking again.

Until next time . . . I love (handle specialist) you

27 thoughts on “The Sound of Rod McKuen’s Solitude

  1. I’d forgotten just how awful he was/is(?) as a poet. The only thing to surpass his awfulness is the ‘poem’ written by Kristen Stewart I read online today. Let’s just say her acting is surpassed by her writing–both are bland, confusing and horrific.

  2. The leaking is due to a bladder control issue, Linda. The use of the words “errecting” and baseball analogy are poor attempts to infuse erotica into a rather sad and dreary episode of getting up to pee in the night. But then, this was in the creepy seventies and those kind of things happened.

    • It’s just such a stupid poem on every level!. And just think, Russell, I’ve got a whole book of stupid where that stupid came from! Which of course I shall keep handy for future blog fodder!

  3. Some Rod Mcken poetry was required reading in a course I took in college. (!968-1971)
    It was typical 1960’s flavor. I also took a Psychology course where we sat in the dark, listened to The Moody Blues, and found our inner selves. My parents would have been pissed if they knew they had paid for that!

    • Really? Rod McKuen was required reading. Oh that is so funny! Now I wouldn’t have minded listening in the dark to the Moody Blues back then. But listening to them now is a big disappointment. (Inner selves must have been easier to find back then than they are now.) I just don’t think they held up very well. I’m so curious now where you went to college.

  4. Did you know that in, or around, 1971 I actually went to a Rod McKuen concert at the Royal Albert Hall no less (true). Whilst he couldn’t sing a note and his recital’s left something to be desired I shall always be grateful to him for his translations of Jacques Brel songs into English. I’m thinking here, If You Go; The Port of Amsterdam; Seasons in the Sun and many more. Shamefully I even have an album from that period stored away on my IPod thing. Great post – memories come flooding back.

    • Mike! Wow! And he couldn’t sing either? But he really was a jack of all trades wasn’t he? He did a lot of things besides write poetry. Well he certainly did enjoy huge success. Somebody commented here that he was required reading in their college class! HA! Who’d a thunk it! 😀

      • Well I guess to make the Albert Hall he must have had something although I read better poets every day on the blog! Whilst he translated The Port of Amsterdam I recall his rendition was beyond belief – maybe he should have stuck with translation? I’m presuming he must have snuffed it by now?

  5. Uhhhhh… I can’t believe I’m about to interject a good word about “Leaky Rod” McKuen! Here goes: he wrote some excellent songs– providing they’re performed by people who can sing, i.e., not sung by LR himself.

    Check out Isle In The Water by The Kingston Trio sometime– a real winner! Of course, the best part might be their little spoken intro (they did it live):

    “Isle In The Water…”

    “Not in my pool, you won’t!” : )

    • Ahah! I noticed that he’s written quite a bit of music and I will check that out, thanks, Mark, for the heads up (in order to keep it out of the pool — keeping my eyes closed and mouth tightly shut too until I can safely get out . . . )

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