“High Road”…..a poem

Sea Eagle, Janekohutbartels, wc, 2006

Sea Eagle, Janekohutbartels, wc, 2006



“High Road” is in  the new book, “Pitcher of Moon”, available at Amazon.com. 





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, 2014 







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4 Responses to ““High Road”…..a poem”

  1. czbz Says:

    Thank you, Jane. I really enjoyed reading this poem today.



  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CZ….thank you for reading this poem.

    I think many are stressed out about choices: good or bad. This newest news about our continued and heightened involvement in what is a civil war in Iraq adds to this. It certainly does for me.

    And….being ACONs means we always have to weigh our choices…something we didn’t learn early enough.

    Some poets thought “High Road” was preachy. Tough. If poets can’t attempt to lead in the better directions of our country, our society, then we are really abdicating a responsibility. Leave it to the self-serving politicians and the military? Geez.




  3. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Hi Jane of my heart. Been away for awhile on much-needed vacation. this poem is Wordsworth-like, but not in an imitative way. It has your signature twists and koan moments. As always, I love how you surprise with syntax. “Preachy”? hardly. I think it’s wonderful. You don’t DO preachy in your art. sending you love. CS


  4. ladynyo Says:

    What a lovely comment to read this morning. And great that you have had a long deserved vacation! I envy you!

    Wordsworth? A great compliment that. Though I have been very shy on reading him and I expect my ignorance to catch up with me soon enough. But I think I understand what you mean by Wordsworth. A narrative, I would think. That is so much easier for some poets to compose, because after all….we are story tellers….and we live amongst words like something overrunning within the garden. Stories around us, as is Nature, who is usually the impetus for our creativity.

    Thank you, CS of my heart and brain. It’s so good to hear from you, at any time of the season.

    Love, Jane


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