A Reflection on Rockwell’s “Runaway”

A Reflection on Rockwell’s “Runaway”

By Ken K. Gourdin

With apologies to the incomparable, inimitable Robert Frost, who once said that writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down, this piece was inspired by the 1958 Norman Rockwell painting “Runaway,” and is dedicated to honest, decent, caring law enforcement officers everywhere who render simple, quiet service which much of the public seldom sees (if only because so few bother to notice):

Officer gets call:





Shared meal.

(Officer’s treat.)

Pep talk.



Maybe not so bad

After all.

Public skeptical:

“Why not do more

Than write tickets?”

Perhaps many in law enforcement spend so much time each day dealing with a hardened, uncaring society and being knocked around in the “911 pinball machine” that it’s difficult to believe that today’s world even remotely resembles the one Rockwell depicts in “Runaway.” I agree.  But I hope, even if officers feel can’t make that kind of a difference to everyone they meet, that most officers at least feel they can make that kind of a difference—just a small difference—to someone they meet each day.

Update: January 3, 2014 – For some thoughts of others who appreciate Rockwell’s painting as much as I do, as well as for more background on the painting itself, see the link below to the discussion board at Officer.com.  (I’m trying to find out who owns the rights to the painting so I might get permission to have the print published along with my poem.)  I find the background on the painting fascinating, and there is a post (although its content is not attributed, and [while I don’t wish to cast aspersions on anyone, least of all a law enforcement officer] I don’t think it’s the poster’s original work) with a “where-are-they-now” perspective (at least, as of the date of the post, and it is a few years old) on the people who posed for Rockwell’s painting.  The link, last accessed today, is here: http://www.forums.officer.com/t100835/.


About kenngo1969

Just as others must breathe to live, I must write. I have been writing creatively almost ever since I learned to write, period! I have written fiction, book- and article-length nonfiction, award-winning poetry, news, sports, features, and op-eds. I hope, one day, to write some motivational nonfiction, a decent-selling novel, a stage play, and a screen play.
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