One Thousand on the Road

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 02, 2018

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Submitted: June 02, 2018



I watched one thousand people walk along a darkened road –

A road which, leading nowhere, passed nearby my poor abode.

All steady and without a sound they moved as by one mind.

I waited by my door to ask them what they thought to find.


The first came near enough to hear me shout aloud “hullo;

You know this path is endless and to nothing does it go,

And yet you walk it stubbornly as if an aim it hath.”

“It matters not,” he said to me; “at least it is a path.”


He never slowed his steady gait, still questions did I dare:

“But sir, what of these thousand souls who walk without a care?

They follow in your every step, why lead you them astray?”

“It matters not,” he said again; “for is it not a way?”


He kept his eyes unshifting on the path before his feet,

As if he feared to leave that comfort confine of the street.

I stepped aside to let him pass – I’d naught from him to gain –

Then focused on the dogged crowd that followed in his train.


The dismal one who came behind had eyes so full of tears

That as he turned to look at me I knew he’d wept for years.

I asked him why he trudged along so far without an aim;

He wiped his cheeks and answered me in words betraying shame:


“I was afraid to walk the road that long I yearned to try,

Till seeing how another man could walk it, so did I.

I made us two upon the road, a quest that promised fame.

Yet here I am, no glory gained, and still without a name.”


His weak resolve bewildered me and prompted me to ask:

“Why do you not, for glory sought, reverse your futile task?”

Now as he walked he wept again, and answered with a moan:

“It is my fear that keeps me here; I will not walk alone.”


I let him go his burdened way, since pity had I none.

In questioning one thousand souls, I hoped at least for one

To give me useful reasons why so many were inclined

To walk that useless road on end; could all of them be blind?


The third in line walked smugly with a self-important stride.

When asked the worth of walking, his response was one of pride.

“Behind me are one thousand men and ever there are more.

We men who walk before them are the men they must adore.”


The crowd went on – I questioned more to find their common goal.

One said: “I go because I must,” another: “tis a stroll.”

For some it was a merry march, for others ‘twas a chore,

But of some consequential end I could not gather more.


So wearied of my queries as I gave up hope at last,

I stopped and stood back helplessly as still they crowded past.

The column turned into a stream, the stream into a mob,

And filled the road like shadows with a weighty footfall throb.


In flocks of mindless hundreds drove the dreary rabble by,

Till counting, I did wonder that the end was nowhere nigh.

I’d quite astutely tallied up one thousand at the first,

But in the time I waited many thousands had traversed.


For countless days I waited for the multitude to pass,

Struck dumb in captivation at the mesmerizing mass.

I rubbed my eyes as I espied a void around the bend,

As all at once like fleeting clouds the crowd came to an end.


I stood in desolation in the vacant aftermath,

The object of my intrigue having gone along the path.

Unhappy with the empty silence ‘round my poor abode,

I walked to catch that aimless crowd upon this nameless road.


© Copyright 2018 John M. Broadhead. All rights reserved.

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