“High Road”


"Eagle" Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2005


(Bald Eagle, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels,2000) 


Asking directions to 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 effort 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, 2015


4 Responses to ““High Road””

  1. Sherry Marr Says:

    I read this with such delight. Love the story, and how you told it. And love, especially, the lift of wings (and hearts) at the end.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Sherry. It’s one of my first poems actually…around 2009 I believe, or a few years earlier. I remember that it was not received well, from a group of poets, but I guess we were different in our expressions of creativity. I believe this is an example of narrative poetry? Well, you know how you draw upon previous investigations for poetry: I was first a bird painter, (these paintings on the blog are mine, but people seldom realize that I’m the painter…LOL)and studied whatever I could find about the species I was painting. Apparently Eagles have the ability to fly on very thin air…so they go higher. I love crows, but they don’t have the ‘right stuff’ for all that. There’s something I am told in the Bible about this.

    In any case, thank you so much for reading and dropping a comment.



  3. phoartetry Says:

    I’ve been watching and photographing two eaglets and their parents the last few weeks, your words -” how they soar upon thermals, higher and higher, became dark, formless specks upon limitless sky, lost to human eye, invisible even to gods” and “yet the eagle flaps upward soars upon thinning air” (also) “I gathered my strength and pushed on ward, upwards, the lift of eagles now under my limbs.” – these words made my soul strengthen and fly along with you. The eagle is a powerful and a wise bird. I not only love your poem, but your eagle painting, superbly done.



  4. ladynyo Says:

    Connie, thank you so much. I am in awe of your own work, and it does take concentrated observations. Eagles are indeed remarkable, powerful birds, and the lung capacity is an important part of their anatomy, but I do love the crows, too. LOL! They are so intelligent. I had a short relationship with a caged crow. My young son and I watched him for hours, and watched his mannerisms. My son wanted to free him but there was a reason he was caged: injured and apparently not able to fly well. We came back a number of times and sneaked him treats, and he was so expressive and wise. And funny, too.

    Soul strengthening is a good thing, especially in the chaotic time. Thank you.
    That painting I started, and left off for 3 years until I could decide how to finish. I had just started painting in watercolors….and there was an adjustment because I had been in oils for years. You know the issues. LOL! They say ‘save the white of the paper’ but some times that’s hard to do…so I used a couple of rough streaks of acrylic white to boost particular feathers. Now I think I can do these things without too much trouble, but backgrounds are always trouble. LOL~!


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