Poetry Friday: “What the Snow Clouds Know” / Rod McKuen / PFA

Before I get to today’s poem, first let me take a moment to offer my condolences for the family of Rod McKuen, poet, songwriter, and “accidental hipster,” as he was sometimes referred to.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllMcKuen came to prominence in the ’60’s and ’70’s, and although critics generally had a negative view of his work, the populace had a different opinion. An honest, earnest writer, he captured the attention of many folks who didn’t even think they liked poetry – and that popularity helped him become one of the top-selling poets of our time.

In addition to releasing many poetry collections, he also had a hand in writing hit songs for Frank Sinatra (“Love’s Been Good to Me” and Terry Jacks (“Seasons in the Sun,” a reworking of a French song) and was nominated for two Academy Awards for his musical work on the film, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and the animated feature, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”

In his poem, “Age is Better,” McKuen compares his life as a young man to his life as an older fellow – and touches a few nerves:

I have been young,
…………..a fresh faced sprout,
with agile legs, a muscled arm and smile
to charm the world I went through
……..in a rush to get a little older, sooner.

Catching my reflection while passing past
………………….a looking glass not long ago
I discovered I was older, even old. There was
no sudden melancholy or regret, and yet
some sadness in the wonder that it happened
…………………………..while I wasn’t watching…

(read the poem in its entirety HERE)



115 poets, 156 poems – in English AND Spanish – and somehow I was selected to be a part of it: it’s the latest Poetry Friday Anthology! Writers and educators Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell have once again put together an amazing collection of poems for students, teachers, and anyone who appreciates children’s poetry. Be watching for it in late March-early April! (for more info, just click the graphic)


Cybils-Logo-2014I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks – revising a picture book manuscript, completing a new picture book manuscript, working on poems for yet another manuscript, and reading all the poetry collections nominated for this year’s CYBILS Awards.

As a 2nd-round judge, it’s a joy to be able to catch up on all the tremendous writing that has been published over the past year – but it’s a lot of work!  I’ll be updating you on the status of the awards as we get closer to making the final announcement.

Somehow, in the midst of all this – and while taking care of my wife, who’s getting over the flu – I managed to accept Michelle H. Barnes’ poetry challenge to write a “Deeper Wisdom” poem at her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. Being the shrewd kind of multi-tasker that I am, I used her challenge as an opportunity to write another poem for the collection I’m working on! (Kill two birds, right?)

So I invite you to head on over to her blog and check out TODAY’S POST, where she wraps up the challenge! You can see my take on Joyce Sidman’s “Deeper Wisdom” form along with many others. And for all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings, check out Paul W. Hankins’ blog, These 4 Corners!


Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

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11 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “What the Snow Clouds Know” / Rod McKuen / PFA

  1. Joyce Ray

    Thanks for this Rod McKuen poem. I read his poetry long ago when I was “there.” I didn’t know he wrote music, too. This is my new mantra: “Age is proof you got from there to here.”

    The Snow Clouds Know is wonderful. I think the second stanza is especially strong and love the repetitive line coming at the end.


  2. Matt, thanks for you tribute to McKuen. What a wonderful poem you chose to share. As someone somewhere between there and here, it was interesting to get his take on things. Also delighted that you were able to come through with such a beautiful deeper wisdom poem, of course!


  3. Heidi

    A busy man you are–but not too busy to appreciate Rod. I enjoyed learning about his influences in music. I should have guessed that I would never be really cool by how much I loved “Seasons in the Sun.”!

    I really enjoyed how you turned the Deeper Wisdom form upside down with your last line. The coyote surprised me–but rereading, I see why he belongs there under the snow clouds.


  4. dmayr

    Matt, do you have coyotes in your town? I don’t think we have them down here in the southern part of the state… yet. We have had bears and a moose wander through. And cat-killing fisher cats.

    And speaking of cats, here are a few lines from a Rod McKuen poem:

    There has never been a cat
    Who couldn’t calm me down
    By walking slowly
    Past my chair.


  5. How awesome it must be to be part of the Poetry Friday anthology! Deepest congratulations! The poem that you shared reminded me of how tweeners nowadays are in a rush to get older faster. 😦


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