“High Road”, posted for OneShotPoetry.com on Tuesday

"American Bald", watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2003

 There are Bibical references to Eagles, but my interest was of another sort.  Eagles apparently have the ability to fly much higher than other birds because they have a lung capacity that can utilize the thinner air of higher atmospheres.  Other birds, hawks, crows, birds that would mob an eagle can’t tolerate the thin atmosphere and drop out of the chase.  

About the poetry:  This poem was not looked upon favorably by some.  It was  considered moralistic, banal.  I wrote it at a time where taking the ‘high road’ was a confused concept considering what I was facing: character assassination.   I got my punches in, but  realized I would appear no better than my attacker.  So, this simple, moralistic poem was more of a guideline, a reminder to me, that I had to  carefully consider my actions. 

Perhaps in a time where everything goes, and nothing is held back or forbidden, it’s good to have something that makes us consider the ‘high road’…or what we hold as this.

Lady Nyo 

HIGH ROAD

Asking directions of the High Road,

I  got shrugs and blank stares

yet knew there were two roads-

both led into infinity

both coursed through

all manner of life with pitfalls, trenches

where legs were broken

skulls rattled loose from moorings

like ships in high winds– dangerous waters.

What was the difference

and why should it matter?

The efforts cost

energy regardless the choosing.

An old man sat at the crossroads,

a bum, grizzled gray hair

sprouting porcupine’s quills,

rheumy, pale eyes staring at the world–

 little interest in what passed by.

I asked him the way to the High Road

and with a toothless grin

he stared at my feet, my hands,

lifted his eyes to my face.

I thought him mad and cursed myself

(asking questions of  a fool!)

 was moving away when I heard his voice:

“Did I know of the eagle and crow,

how they soared upon thermals

higher and higher

became dark, formless specks upon a limitless sky,

lost to human eye, invisible even to gods?”

I thought him crazed and started away-

he cackled and spat on the ground.

Something made me turn, startled,

 And saw the wisdom of Solomon in his

now- shining eyes.

“The crow harries the eagle, the eagle flies higher.

Vengeful, annoying crow flies round eagle’s wing

turning this way and that, yet the eagle flaps upward

soars upon thinning air until the crow

breathless and spent, drops to the common ground-

falls to his death.”

“The High Road, the path of the eagle.

The low road, the path of the crow,

mingling with dullards

daring nothing, with eyes cast downward

only saving a bit of energy

learning nothing of worth.”

Silently he sat, an old man

eyes glazed with age and fatigue.

With a nod to his wisdom, a toss of a coin

I gathered my strength and pushed onward,

Upwards, the lift of eagles, now under my limbs.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2011

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24 Responses to ““High Road”, posted for OneShotPoetry.com on Tuesday”

  1. Pat Hatt Says:

    Yeah never know what our actions could bring about. Nice to sometimes consider them before actually doing anything.

    Very well played too, using the eagle as the high and the crow as the low, I rhymed what do you know..haha

    Be interesting if the eagle always remained under everyone’s limbs too, great last line.

    Like

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Pat…and thanks for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  3. brian Says:

    this is a lovely tale with a great teaching mingled in…i think the old man knew a thing or two but i love him for his quirkiness too…ha. thanks for a road to ponder…and as ever your encouragement lady nyo….

    Like

  4. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Brian!

    I’m having a time trying to post comments to others poems…..everything is coming up ‘errors’…so I’ll be back later to answer when the Ether calms down.

    Thank you for reading and your comment, Brian. Some really disliked this poem, and it’s an early one (early for me, as I only started writing poetry in 08…LOL! not a long track record here…) but it remains one of my favorites.

    Later, gator.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    There are some real highs in this and a few lows, but I don’t find it preachy. I like the opening, the more discursive voice you use here, and the distinct quality that makes up a fable or parable–that’s what it reads like. Thanks also for the natural history lesson–nature is always capable of amazing us with her details. Nice one, Lady Nyo, and thanks for the perseverance on the commenting–that’s really annoying, especially when you’ve written a long detailed one. I try to remember to copy my long ones, but it seems it’s always when I forget that I lose them. ;_)

    Like

  6. coalblack Says:

    i don’t find it moralistic or banal at all, in fact i think it’s excellent. in a time when conflict and sharp words are so common, the urge to rise above that, to the rarer air, is a fine one. the way you’ve illustrated this with the eagle and with the old man coming up with unexpected wisdom, is marvelous stuff.

    cb (fireblossom)

    Like

  7. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Fireblossom!

    Thank you for reading this and your helpful comment. It’s hard, especially when you are around other poets that are more…advanced….in the writing of poetry to maintain your vision and voice in a poem. In this one in particular.

    I’ve been very conflicted about this poem more than usual.

    Yes, these times seem to be a era of conflict and sharp words: how do we rise above this? It’s so easy to ‘join in’…and I did. But I also knew that I was throwing pearls before a swine….and this drew me back.

    Someone said it harkens back to more 19th century moralistic poems, and perhaps they are right. But that isn’t necessarily bad.

    Thank you again for your comment.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Sweetie!

    What I was trying to post was this: your work always transports me to another dimension, or somewhere that evokes a lot of great ideas, some of them startling and profound. I always enjoy your work…for many reasons. It’s a mark of a very thoughtful poet and someone who functions on different levels…all good ones!

    There was more, much more, but the internet was conspiring against me.

    Thank you, Hedgewitch for reading and your comment. I am Hungarian (partly) and we are fable weavers! It’s in the genes.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  9. Elizabeth Young Says:

    I absolutely love this brilliant piece. May God grant us the grace to walk the high road when critisised, falsely accused, judged wrongly, condemned or brow beaten. It is not the easiest road to walk, but in the end reaps the greatest rewards for our self esteem remains intact. Thank you for sharing this memorable poem.

    Like

  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Elizabeth!

    Well, I can’t thank you enough for the validation. This time has been very hard emotionally…my dear doggie died two weeks ago exactly, and I have finally, with the support of my husband and grown son…stopped an exchange with some people I was close to. I have wavered as to how to deal with all of this but this poem is a guide for me right now: I know that I am going to catch hell by my distance but sometimes, Elizabeth, you have to take extreme measures for your self worth and sanity. I have delayed this long enough.

    I think for most of us, we write poetry to work out our moral positions in life, or perhaps better said: our convictions? Perhaps poetry is our path to these things.

    For me right now, the High Road involves distance, silence and recovery. The Low Road would be to continue in the old fashion with people that are toxic and I have a family who begs me to cut and run.

    So…sometimes what we write comes in handy. It’s moral lessons or practical guidance for immediate life.

    Thank you so much for reading and your most supportive comment.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  11. ayala Says:

    A beautiful poem-excellent 🙂

    Like

  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Ayala!

    Thank you so much for reading and your comment. I’m going to look at yours and others websites tomorrow, because tonight my eyes are poooped out.

    Hugs,
    Lady Nyo

    Like

  13. rmpWritings Says:

    wonderfully told tale. i love how you speak to each road be fraught with obstacles. i also love the crazy old man; he fit perfectly, for it always seems the crazy looking old dwellers on the side of the road have wisdom beyond our understanding (either that or i read too many fairy tales). the tale of the eagle and the crow was most definitely a wise one. i’d like to think that all of us had the lungs of the eagle, but we are a diverse flock. i can only hope that those two roads converge upon occasions allowing us to cross over from time to time into an altitude fitting for our lungs.

    i definitely enjoyed this piece. left me with much to ponder. thank you for sharing even through your reservations.

    Like

  14. goodbyereality411 Says:

    I really liked this line “The High Road, the path of the eagle.

    The low road, the path of the crow”.

    Like

  15. Steve Isaak Says:

    Love this poem!

    Morality, when it’s done right – e.g., this poem, or Aesop’s Fables – is necessary. When it’s heavy handed (e.g., in the Hayes Codes-era Hollywood films), it sinks to the level of crowdom, an unthinking adherence to dogma.

    Excellent work, thanks for posting this.

    Like

  16. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Steve!

    Good to hear from you! I know you are really busy, and I thank you for reading and your comment on “High Road”.

    I felt conflicted about this poem, written during the ERWA years….there it was called ‘dull morality’ but what the hell! LOL! Some of those people really had some moral screws loose! It came from a period of personal conflict and I think these times push us in different ways, perhaps ways, paths of poetry we wouldn’t have gone?

    Thanks again, buddy.

    Jane

    Like

  17. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you! Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  18. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, RMP,

    I am…or was conflicted about this poem. It’s more of a ‘fable’ telling, construction, and I have done that only rarely. I can think of one other poem I have posted here: “O Absalom” that was also in this fable/fairy tale mode. I think these fable poems construct themselves because there is a solid storyiine and once we have that, the poetry seems to form itself.

    Sometimes….LOL! I also would like to thing that all of us have the lungs of an eagle, and attempt to take the High Road…which isn’t easy and seems pretty much lacking traffic right now.

    Thank you again for your reading of “High Road” and your very thoughtful comment. Again, I learn more from comments about my own poetry than I could ever come up with myself. That is a learning process that is valuable beyond gold to me.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  19. Claudia Says:

    wow – this was breathtaking..i was…how does it develop…? what will he say next..? What was the difference
    and why should it matter? great line – and then we meet this old man – and i can see him…this was amazing storytelling and more..

    Like

  20. Kavita Says:

    Terrific! It is our quest to learn and achieve (no matter what) is what gets us to that high road.. and we don’t get there by bringing others down.. we get there by pushing ourselves higher..
    What an inspirational poem, Lady Nyo… really wonderful!!

    Like

  21. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you so much, Kavita.

    I had such reservations about this poem, and it’s an early one….but I think it serves a purpose…at least it did (and does when I think about it) for me.

    Thank you for reading “High Road” and LIKING it! LOL!

    Hugs,
    Lady Nyo

    Like

  22. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Claudia.

    This was a strange poem, because it didn’t wander around much…it seemed to have a purpose and was driven by that purpose…..so it pretty much wrote itself.

    The old man is the vehicle of wisdom, but like much in our societies, he is a castoff, and perhaps a pariah. That at least seemed so to me. Perhaps that is another underlying ‘moral’ lesson of this poem?

    Thank you, Sweetheart~ For reading this and your lovely comment.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  23. Olivia Says:

    I gathered my strength and pushed onward,
    Upwards, the lift of eagles, now under my limbs.

    I am inspired!
    I believe there is no end to learning.. Quest is only a catalyst!

    hugs xoxox

    Like

  24. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Olivia!

    I agree with you! There IS no end to learning….and in this, we hone our voices and get closer to the real supportable lessons of life!

    Thank you for reading and your comment!

    Hugs back!

    Lady Nyo, xoxoxo

    Like

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