“High Road”

"Eagle" Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2005

“American Eagle”, Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2001

Open Link Night over at dversepoets pub.  Where you can post one poem of your own-  This is a wonderful slot at dverse where we can read some  original poems.

Although I wrote this poem a couple of years ago, it seemed rather appropriate to today.  We all have choices, and they might not be easy, but we should expect our leadership, our politicians, who say they will represent us in the political arena to exhibit the best of character.  Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the standard in practice.



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 bones 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!)
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 and 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, 2017


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32 Responses to ““High Road””

  1. sarahrussellpoetry Says:

    An appropriate poem indeed!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Sarah! I am sick by what happened this morning in DC…domestic terrorism is no different than foreigners doing the same thing here. So, sorry to say, this poem does scratch an itch. Wish it wasn’t so.

    Further, we should try to show random kindness to total strangers. Today in the grocery line, talking to strangers, I bought the man’s coke behind me. He was surprised but not as much as the cashier. She was so blown away, and almost was in tears. This was nothing, but we need to take care of each other and act with kindness and empathy. We are Americans, and we need to care about and for each other. I was so surprised at how such a little and random thing made such a difference in the eyes of others. Perhaps driving we also can show courtesy and empathy to others? I am trying to made a list of what I can do daily to lessen the burden of others. These tragedies can really reform our country. I remember the public feelings of gratitude and love during 9/11 and I remember how we as a nation felt back then. I don’t like Trump, either, but killing people for a political statement pushes us on the side of evil and terrorism.


  3. petrujviljoen Says:

    Great poem Jane! Loved the wisdom.


  4. Beverly Crawford Says:

    I am so impressed with the wisdom in your poem … such truth, such hope for wiser times. I wish it could be published on the front page of every newspaper, and read on every newscast!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    I love the theme of the choices here, the high road and the low road. A road less traveled maybe. We are different and maybe chose different paths but we should remember where we started from. Love that old wise man…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. MarinaSofia Says:

    Much harder to be kind and forgiving than to be judgemental and dismissive… The High Road indeed!


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Marina Sofia! Very few people have read this poem and I thank you for doing so. I’ll be over to your site tomorrow morning. Thank you again.


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Bjorn. It’s an old choice I am sure rather Biblical in theme, though I am not religious, but it seems a natural theme. I love that old (Eyes of Solomon) man, too. That was one of my few inspirations! LOL! Wish he were around more. Thank you, Bjorn. Will be over tomorrow morning after I feed the cats.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Oh, you are so wonderful, Bev. There are very few poems I write that have ‘legs’…or stamina…but this one I think does. I think it is a poem I wrote for myself to encourage myself to ‘take’ the High Road’. It’s not easy, is it? Well, it’s not easy for me because I tend to be judgemental, negative, etc…and the only time I pull out of this is when I write something that reminds me NOT to be that way. LOL! Prozac never worked for me. Thank you, Bev. A few people dismissed this poem as ‘preachy’, not poetical, but so it goes. (Perhaps they wouldn’t recognize the HR if they stumbled upon it?) LOL!@ I’ll be over tomorrow to your site. My eyes are shot tonight.


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hello my friend! I haven’t heard from you in a long time! Hope you are well. And thank you for reading, dearheart. It’s been such a struggle in our country over the past few months, but what has happened in the London Fire this week is truly horrible. Those poor people. God Bless Them.


  11. Jane Dougherty Says:

    I have an affection for crows. I’d probably be one of those who takes the low road but I’d be kind to the other failures I met there, I hope 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Jane! You gave me a belly laugh! First one in a long time…..LOL! I agree…I would probably take the low road too, and I love crows. Most intelligent birds I have known. If we do, we are in good company. thank you, Jane. I’ll be over tomorrow to read…My eyes are shot tonight.


  13. Jane Dougherty Says:

    Mine too. Migraine strikes again. I’m glad you had a good night laugh 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ladynyo Says:

    Oh God, Jane….I suffered from migraines for years until I went through menopause. Then they stopped cold. I was treated for sinus but it never seemed to work on migraines. Two pills of Aleve knock the stuffing out of a headache now, and I have only had a few in 22 years. I hope you can find some relief. These headaches plagued me for 40 years. Throwing up and light was unbearable. Ice on the forehead the only thing that helped a bit. You have my full sympathy and concern, Jane.


  15. Gay Reiser Cannon Says:

    Inimitably yours Jane. The storytelling both careful and poetic, the metaphor undeniable; but the journey was uplifting, reassuring, hopeful as we all must try to be when presented with two paths in a darkened wood. As usual excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jane Dougherty Says:

    They told me it was sinuses to begin with then decided it was classic migraine and the drugs would do it. They stopped when I was pregnant and breast feeding which meant relief from them for almost thirteen years! I hit the menopause a year ago but haven’t had any symptoms at all. Not complaining, but the migraines haven’t stopped either. Oh well, maybe I’m just a late developer. Bed for me. The drugs knock me out.


  17. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Gay! I just wrote a hello on dverse to you. So glad to hear from you….I have missed you so much. And no one can write a critique like you! Yes, hopeful as we all must try to be nowadays. It is a dark time, but I am hopeful with some investigating that perhaps the tone and tenor of our nation will be lightened up soon. Boy! What interesting times we live in, neh? As for storytelling, being half Hungarian must be where it comes from. Hungarians are great storytellers, myth makers and great liars. LOL! thank you, Gay…so great and good to hear from you again. Will be over tomorrow morning…when the eyes can focus.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. ladynyo Says:

    Sleep tight, Jane. yes, the drugs do knock you out. Tomorrow, dear friend.


  19. ladynyo Says:

    Also, I am firm in believing that migraines are based in hormones…..you will find that they will stop in a while.


  20. Seana Says:

    These are my favorite sections:

    “a bum, grizzled gray hair
    sprouting porcupine’s quills,
    rheumy, pale eyes”

    “I thought him crazed and started away-
    he cackled and spat on the ground.”


  21. Grace Says:

    We have choices…and we sometimes choose without thinking of the consequences in the long run ~ Love the analogy and story Jane ~


  22. kanzensakura Says:

    Very Zen, very wise, very true. I read this and just identified with it so much. It is often hard to take the high road but it is something we must aspire to as you so eloquently wrote it out. Excellent work!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Toni. Sometimes I surprise myself….LOL! And I do agree….it is often hard to take the high road, and I think our nation right now needs to really consider what that is. I know that there are many times I haven’t. Pettiness, meanness, all sorts of violations of what we call character. Perhaps we have to work through life before we understand the high road. I do know now that what I see in DC isn’t the High Road. Nothing close to it. But the issue of Pathological Narcissism will always block that particular road. I have many decades dealing with a close relative who is such and the HR is something that she really avoids for convenience. Hers. So, seeing this up close, it does impress upon you what is and isn’t the correct path. But, for most of us, it is a struggle…even into the very minute places of life. Thank you, Toni.


  24. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Grace. Since I have had a sometime history of taking the Low Road, this poem surprises me. It’s a warning to me most of all. We learn, or….we don’t learn. Thank you, Grace, for reading and your comment.


  25. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Seana. I guess this is narrative poetry? I don’t know, but I find description of characters within a poem can make it relatable to readers. It does for me.


  26. livesinstone Says:

    I really love the first two lines. “Asking directions to the high road,
    I got shrugs and blank stares”. Lovely poem.


  27. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, livesinstone. What an interesting name!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. anmol(alias HA) Says:

    “a bum, grizzled gray hair/sprouting porcupine’s quills,/rheumy, pale eyes staring at the world” : This reminded me of The Ancient Mariner.
    How beautifully you have imbibed the eagle and crow as symbols in the current political scenario! A thoroughly interesting read.


  29. livesinstone Says:

    Thanks. 🙂


  30. Jane Dougherty Says:



  31. Jane Dougherty Says:

    That’s what the doctor says too. I can’t wait!


  32. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ha! Thank you for reading and your comment. yes, unfortunately, this works for what we are suffering today in our country. Sad.


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