“High Road”, poem

“Eagle Landing”, Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2005

Victoria Slotto over on d’versepoets.com is asking for members to write a allegorical poem, in her prompt : Allegory: Meeting the Bar.

Haven’t a clue if this meets the criteria, but I’m game. I want to play along, learn something, but I found this prompt very hard.

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!)

 And 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, 2012 (a bit revised)

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29 Responses to ““High Road”, poem”

  1. leahJlynn Says:

    sounds very Indian shaman, or meeting a clever hitchhiker along the way of one’s life journey. cool story.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, leahJlynn….I’ll come over, Red Rover as soon as the pain meds kick in. Had two extractions today and the Novocaine is wearing off!

    Lady Nyo


  3. brian miller Says:

    fairly certain i read the first version of this…i love the old man and his wisdom…this is much fun….i wonder what he would say of a third way, maybe somewhere in between the two…ha…that is where you might find me…smiles.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Brian, sometimes you are too smart for me. I haven’t a clue.

    Thanks for reading this (revised) poem….and I’ll get by your site because I am sure you have something new and special on this allegory stuff.

    PS: I like crows mightily. Find them extremely intelligent. Eagles have special lung capacity where they can breath (and survive) on very thin air. Crows can’t.


  5. Anna Montgomery Says:

    I found this a fascinating read and enjoyed the depth of thought that went into it. Thank you.


  6. Laurie Kolp Says:

    I think you did a mighty fine job… flying like an eagle.


  7. hedgewitch Says:

    Delightful, Jane. It’s nice to think that those who harry us are actually enabling us, pushing us farther than we would otherwise go, and also spelling their own doom…mwahahahaha. Or so the allegory is reading in *my* twisted little brain anyway. ;_)


  8. Victoria C. Slotto Says:

    Jane, you’ve achieved a multi-layered allegory, as I see it. Just perfect. I enjoy the lessons in this poems and the symbols you’ve chosen: the roads, the birds and the old man.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Victoria! I am laughing my head off….If I did, it was purely by accident. I had to look up what allegory meant! LOL!

    I wrote this about 2009 I think, revised it a bit, and then again….before posting it here.

    I am flying in the dark on these things, because I have only turned to poetry in the last 4 years! Hooray!

    Thank you so much….NOW I know what allegory is.

    Jane…still laughing.


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Twist away, darling Hedge! I’m on pain meds right now for two molar (with bridge attached) extractions….and EVERYTHIHG is funny to me!

    Thank you, Joy, for reading and always your understanding, comprehension and comments.



  11. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Laurie.

    I remember when I wrote this poem originally, thinking of the difference in the lung capacity of the eagle and the crow. (I was for a short time, a falconer) That is where the idea of the eagle came from….he can fly higher than almost every other bird because of his lungs and his constrained needs for oxygen.

    Thank you again, for reading Laurie and your comment.


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Anna, you are very welcome.

    Jane…and thank you for reading and your comment. I will get to everyone tomorrow….had a rough day at the dentist.



  13. darkangelwrites Says:

    Love the wisdom from an unlikely place and the protagonist being the driving force. The crows in my life “say you can’t” and of course I then can.


  14. Shawna Says:

    “I thought him mad and cursed myself
    (asking questions of a fool!)”

    I think the mad often have the most wisdom to offer, if only we wouldn’t discount it as nonsense.

    “with eyes cast downward
    only saving a bit of energy
    learning nothing of worth”

    This is very good, Jane. I enjoyed the story along with the inspirational message.


  15. claudia Says:

    very cool…there comes wisdom from places and people we would expect it least sometimes..good to keep the eyes open to be able to see them


  16. Gay Reiser Cannon Says:

    Jane, I thought this was excellent. Brian says he has difficulty with form. For me poems such as this one seem impossible. This glides like the birds on wing. It has within it great poetry, great story-telling and an idea of how to be greater than you thought you could. Excellent!


  17. tigerbrite Says:

    This reminded me the The Alchemist. Enjoyed it thank you.


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Not familiar with that, but thank you, tigerbrite.

    Lady Nyo


  19. ladynyo Says:

    Wow! that is some praise, Gay. Thank you.

    I remember just thinking of this poem, before it was a ‘poem’ just a story. The story usually comes first with me, and then IF it has a poetry form…ok, then. It will find it. Perhaps. LOL!

    Thank you, Gay, for reading and your lovely comment. I learn more from readers comments more than I do from writing a poem. It for some reason, opens it up usually.



  20. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Claudia…yeah…guess that is the point of the poem. Thank you for reading and your comment.



  21. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Shawna.

    I think the poem ‘deeper’ than I meant it. LOL! I have to say that it is in the eyes of other poets that my own poetry generally blossoms. I seem asleep at the wheel at times.

    Thank you.



  22. tigerbrite Says:

    Book by Paulo Coelho. Here’s the link for you

    Looks rather long…. hope it works 😉


  23. ladynyo Says:

    Yep! But then again, I like crows as birds. so highly intelligent.

    Years ago, at this nature center in Atlanta…there was a captured crow, in a cage outside, who played wits with my son and I over pieces of food we fed him through the bars. He was a clown, but I think it was more intelligence than that. We really debated whether to let him free, (we could have) but he was apparently found with a broken wing and couldn’t fly. We really wanted to take him home with us and establish him in our household. We didn’t because we chickened out, and the next time we went there,….he was gone. I still wonder what happened to him. He was soooo intelligent.

    Sounds like you learned a very important lesson, darkangel. I wish I had earlier on.



  24. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you for sending. I’ll look into it when I have a chance. I have a pile of books right now,…..Jung, 5 books on Haiku, Ono no Komachi, Saigyo, Wallace Stevens, William Stafford, and one on South American writers that was sent to me at Xmas by a dear friend in Canberra, AU. Yikes! I have promised myself to plow through them this spring and learn something.

    But I’ll go today and look at this author….sounds somewhat familiar. My friends are so much better with new authors than I am!

    Thanks again.

    Lady Nyo


  25. darkangelwrites Says:

    I’m not that young Jane, so I’ve had time to learn. Great Crow story :).


  26. ManicDdaily Says:

    Hi Jane! I feel more crone than crow! And I am pretty frequently harrying myself. A good parable, well told!

    I wanted to tell you I was so inspired by your poem about your father’s birthday that I wrote one myself. It was very different from yours – and maybe I should have included your link – actually I am going to do that right now. (At the time of writing and posting, I just didn’t want to include any extra explanatory material about my dad’s birthday etc. I felt it was in the poem and I just didn’t feel like adding it–writing the poem was hard enough.) But I’ve just added your link and thought you might be interested given the similar dates, etc. The poem is very different, perhaps more about my mother than him. http://manicddaily.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/dead-zone/



  27. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K! I am honored that you were inspired by my poem to write one about your father. That is the way it should go amongst poets, in my opinion.

    I’ve been recovering from a broken ankle (at the beginning of January) a serious case of vertigo (for 6 weeks now) and yesterday an extraction of two molars. Yikes! I have had PLENTY of time to sit and read, (I couldn’t really do much else for the past almost 5 months) so I have been reading Wallace Stevens, Saigyo, Bahso, William Stafford and a few others and all of these poets have inspired me in some way. A few poems have come out of this reading, but a lot more contemplation about what poetry is all about. And it really changes depending upon whom you are reading.

    I will go read your poem right now…and that is wonderful, K.



  28. ManicDdaily Says:

    So sorry about all the discomfort. You make light of it, but it sounds pretty awful. The vertigo especially. I’m sure you’ve gotten all sorts of irritating advice, but have you tried ginger? My ex-husband had terrible meuniere’s for a while, and found that that helped. K.


  29. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K….yep, you got it. The vertigo is the worse. I used ginger tea….grated a ginger root into hot water and drank it for some nasty effects on my stomach after eating a too sweet piece of cake last summer. (I’m diabetic). It was the only thing that saved me…or my stomach. I’ve had this syndrome where I am in such pain right in the middle of your chest, under the breast bone, and ginger is the only thing that relieves it.

    Thank you! And Meuniere’s disease is terrible! My therapist’s husband has it, and it flares up and he is miserable for weeks.

    I’ll seriously take any advice from anyone for this vertigo. I actually think I am turning the corner on this, though. the nausea is gone, and the vomiting and most of the dizziness I have noticed in the past few days has abated….and I am good in the morning! That is the good news.

    I don’t ever want this vertigo to strike again…I feel like a crone, too, when it did this time. It’s a terrible feeling of helplessness…!

    Thank you, K.



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