ron dekett

call of the wild rose

by Nan Lundeen

Rose by Ron DeKett
Rose by Ron DeKett

Inspiration or perspiration? Perfection or wild and free?

Thomas Edison’s quote that genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration is good news for those of us who slog away day after day hoping to unearth gems of inspiration. I’d venture to guess that most poetry and prose writers know that if you want to be a writer you can’t wait for lightning to strike. No, you have to sit down and actually write.

We also know that once we’ve ridden the waves of creative juices and produced a manuscript, even more perspiration is required to edit, rewrite, and polish. But how much to edit, rewrite, and polish? When is it done? I’ve heard writers say when their books were published, they felt relieved because they could stop rewriting.

The other day, my husband I and went to a flower show. There we saw the most perfect white rose in the entire universe! No, really! It was a Mozart symphony all by itself, every petal harmonious with the others. Homogenous perfection, it stood in a glass vase bedecked by a blue ribbon.

Later that day as I remembered the perfect white rose, a wild rose memory washed over me, a childhood memory of pink wild roses tumbling down the shoulders of Iowa gravel roads, perfect in their disarray. A few details, a metaphor, and a simile gave me a poem. Then the pruning began. But not a whole lot. As much as the perfect rose stirs my heart, the wild roses stir my soul. I can breathe near them; the perfect rose makes me nearly hold my breath.

How much do you strive for perfection as you write? As you edit, rewrite, and polish?

At a writing workshop I heard this advice: there’s a time to expand your work and a time to tighten. Sort of like a bellows. Can you visualize them—those contraptions with handles that breathe air onto a fire? Sometimes writing may need a breath of air. Even during editing, rewriting, and polishing, it isn’t always good to tighten, tighten, tighten. A manuscript might need more elucidation, more flights of fancy.

Robert Frost describes beautifully his Faraway Meadow’s anticipated return to wildness after it has been mowed for the last time ever in his poem “The Last Mowing.” He opens the poem by telling us “the talk at the farmhouse” is that “the meadow is finished with men.” He continues to say, “Then now is the chance for the flowers/That can’t stand mowers and plowers.”


The meadow is done with the tame.
The place of the moment is ours
For you, O tumultuous flowers,
To go to waste and go wild in,
All shapes and colors of flowers,
I needn’t call you by name.

 What do you prefer—perfection or wild and free? There is a time, I think, to let our words tumble wantonly down the shoulders of roadsides.


The author is grateful to the South Carolina Writers Workshop for first publishing this column in the Quill October 2012.

dance of the swallowtails

yellow swallowtail by Ron DeKett
yellow swallowtail by Ron DeKett

for Ron

August 26, 2012

 You stand on Lake Placid’s shore
viewfinder framing
clear water revealing
fish just hanging out,
four ducks sailing into what was nothing like
a South Carolina August afternoon
because the sun kisses gentle
while breeze lays ripples on wet
like your fingers ruffling my hair at night
when we’re falling asleep;
viewfinder framing
swallowtails—yellow wings flirting with currents,
they dance
to a sound I am sure
…Nan Lundeen


the sign says

by mary ellen lives

Musing in the Park by Ron DeKett
Musing in the Park by Ron DeKett
Playing in or around
The river
Is strongly
It is not forbidden
It is not illegal
You will not be punished
The sign is not my mother
Spreading guilt
Like overflowing water
Brown with silt
It is not my father
A boulder
Beneath the white water
The sign is calm
The sign is quiet
And only


odd number

by chris thackston

Poet in the Park by Ron DeKett
Poet in the Park by Ron DeKett
Yes, I am the odd number,
It is I, the lonely worm,
Feeling trapped in a flock of birds
They fly through the trees,
Evil eyes staring at me.
Yes, I am the odd number,
Alone and rare as a black rose,
The Daisies that surround me,
Are full of color and light,
My darkness, a shadow of life.




by k.g. mcabee

River in the Park by Ron DeKett
River in the Park by Ron DeKett
Back in the day
The mills dammed the rivers,
Damning them to stone cages,
Funneling their freedom
Into bolts of cotton and linen and denim.
Now we free the rivers
From their rocky chains.
But are they happier?
Or do they miss
Their occupation, clothing the world,
Hiding its nakedness
Under the colors of the stars:
Red giant, blue dwarf, black hole?


river watching

by m.m. griffin

Boulders in the Park by Ron DeKett
Boulders in the Park by Ron DeKett
I hear cackles from earlier generations
and echoes of past conversations
in the water’s thucks and bubbles.
The voices are wet branches against the sky.
I see images of vaguely familiar faces
and distant places in the foamy water
crashing over rocks and swirling
in the river’s spiral.
I want to wade in the shallow water
and revel in the current’s resistance,
but there is not enough time.
I watch a man toss his rod into brown water.
After three attempts, he catches a small fish.
I try to remember something unseen
and wonder how far the river flows.
I want to stay and play for a while,
but I must go.


whitewater by the mill

by marjorie garrett

Rock in the Park by Ron DeKett
Rock in the Park by Ron DeKett
That would be a fierce hydraulic
if you took it in a kayak.
I wouldn’t recommend it.
If you do, your judgment’s slack.
You will end up on a gurney
with a spine board on your back.
It will be a lonesome journey
to the rehab place and back.

summer solstice tree

Solstice Tree by Ron DeKett
Solstice Tree
Photo by Ron DeKett

Summer Solstice Tree

Saluda, North Carolina

by: Nan Lundeen

On Summer Solstice
this Blue Ridge
the tumbling
turns white
over Pearson’s Falls,
turns dark
wending between

rolls under

past turtles
orange jewelweed
plantain leaf sedge
hydrangea white and wild
scent of mint

skirts sand
bobcat prints
black bear

his jazz tune
ever improv

a block
of mossy rock
set in by a childlike
one day.

itself above the fray
a tiny tree
the middle of the block

in such a precarious
in the now
having chosen