The Home I Grew Up In

The home I grew up in
Had no roof
So that the sun could shine through
So that the moon could cast its glow
On all that I did
And
So that the clouds could cover the sun
And the rain
And the snow
Could water my body
Could water my feet
Could water my family
Whenever they needed it.

The home I grew up in
Had no exterior walls
So that wind could sweep
Out all the dust and cobwebs
Whenever they needed sweeping.

The home I grew up in
Had no doors
So that everyone living there
Could come and go
Whenever they needed coming or going.

The home I grew up in
Had no windows
So that my eyes could see
So that my ears could hear
My neighborhood
And it could see
And it could hear
As much of me as it wanted
Whenever they needed seeing or hearing.

The home I grew up in
Had no interior walls
So I could learn never to lean
So I could learn never to back against anyone
So I could learn never to back against anything
So I could learn never to be cornered
Whenever I desired leaning or backing or being cornered.

The home I grew up in
Had no floor
So that the earth could hold me
When I stood
When I ran
When I slept
When I crouched down
When I leapt with all my might
Far away from that home.

© Copyright 2017 by John David Higham. All rights reserved.

Exodus

Angel Sleep 6 16 15A life left behind on country roads
whose names grew from mere letters
to places to memories to triggers
Childhoods and adulthoods passing by
with each mile clicking
with each moment ticking

So much lived in an open-space world
kept simple by poverty and humility
through boom and bust of wood, coal, and gas
through boom and bust of love, hope, and faith
Outsiders and other fools lie when they claim that time
stands still there for it instead rages in torrents
energizing and eroding the body, mind, and soul

Exodus after so many decades of longing
and making the best and the better
than the prisons fears and failures created
I do not leave ashamed as I might have once
or so fearful that not even darkest night
could provide enough cover
I do not escape or avoid but instead
flow toward and fully embrace
a place only partially seen beyond the was

Passing through worlds
a thousand moments a mile
each flashing past in slow motion
past lives and deaths I’ve lived and died
like an snake eternally shedding
Miles and minutes only approximate
tears and smiles only convey triumph
of knowing exactly when to depart

I arrived there a man in a child’s body
departing here now a child in this man’s flesh
A multitude of my lives and deaths resting
in peace on country roads
sunsets and sunrises watching
storm and wind knowing
what they have written into my soul

© Copyright 2017 by John David Higham. All rights reserved.

Photo: Tree (Windfall, June 2016)

Fumes

What I run on
What you do not know
What fuels me with a passion
Others can only envy
Is knowing just how far beyond
Empty I am running running running

See that snow upon the land
That cloaks the earth in a dead whiteness
My soul knows it as rolling greens
And lush fields that will always provide
If I continue to allow myself to believe and be
In the spirit flowing through my soul my veins

Overdrawn bank accounts and maxed-out credit cards
And empty cupboards and empty gas tanks are no obstacles
When looking with more than the eyes
Speaking with more than the lips
Doing with more than the body
And living with more than the life

What I run on is amused by all things empty
Empty fears promoted by marketers fear mongers
So-called leaders of our land who live in shadows
Created and poured into towers of what-if-
fuming-combustibles-lacking-only-a-spark-explode-
worse-case-scenarios and who pull the strings
Of frantic marionettes thrashing around me

This puppets strings forever snapped
Connected to the power within this moment
Of unstable combustible fumes becoming
Cleansed air flowing in flowing out
With my every meditative breath

Can you hear the butterfly sing
In harmony with the air flowing
Over its translucent wings?

© 2017 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
Photo: Butterfly (Windfall, PA: 2016)

Deepest Night

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In the deepest night when the dark is darkest
The roar of the wind threatens to blow away the world
My dreams have been chased away by nightmares
The mouth made cold by words I cannot speak.

The eyes can only see the diabolical
The skin turns so brittle that even a butterfly’s touch
Makes it crumble
And dissolve into the desert sands.

I would be lost if I moved, but instead I freeze
Or worse, turn circles counterclockwise as I try twisting
Into the barren sheets in search of elusive sanctuary.

Waking alone, blue skies postponed and cancelled
Memories now prisons and plans now absurd fantasies
Flaming wreckage from all my tumbling castles
Obliterating the path and hindering my progress.

My house no longer a home in my empty bed
But still I rise and find that day, find that sunrise
That only I can see, that only I will celebrate.

May you never suffer my deepest night
The eternal strength it gives me
The optimism and hope growing stronger
After my every infinite sojourn through Hell
And re-emergence with soul and scars glowing.

© 2017 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
Photo: Desk (Windfall, PA: January 27, 2017)

When You Are Afraid

When you are afraid of crying
It is time to embrace sobbing
For fear must be swept away
In the flood of your soul’s tears.

When you are afraid of speaking
It is time to shout at the top of your lungs
Until you have eliminated fear’s voice
And have replaced it with your own.

When you are afraid of moving
It is time to use all your energy to dance
With all your passion and your strength
As your limbs pummel fear into submission.

When you are afraid of the world
It is time to step into it and force yourself
Beyond who you were when held in your box
And push back at fear with your every breath.

When you are afraid of seeing yourself
It is time to strip naked and stand in front of the mirror
Until you can see the beauty in your every scar and bruise
And prove to yourself that fear no longer cloaks you.

When you are afraid of pausing and being still
It is time to give your body, mind, and spirit
The gift of stillness so that you will be mindful
Of the infinite worlds beyond fear.

When you are afraid to seek help
It is time to allow yourself to be loved
And celebrate it as a source of great strength
That will restore all that fear had hidden from you.

© 2017 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved

I Am the Sun

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When the sky darkens
With the approaching storm,
When the sky darkens
With the fading day,
I will not retreat.

When the shouts drown out the smiles
And children stop being happy,
When sadness becomes infectious
And metastasizes into gloom,
I will not despair.

When the numbers overwhelm
And all feelings become scary,
When all lose forever all hope
And desperation paints all into corners,
I will not surrender.

When heavy rains turn creeks into torrents
Of heavy brown turbulent mud
That erodes both earth and lives,
I will not get swept away.

When death and its stench
Foul the land and our nostrils,
When sobbing is the only
Sound greeting the morning,
I will not stop living.

I will not succumb
To all the hells that have been
To all the hells all around me
To all the hells that will be.

I am burning bright even in darkest night
Glowing above the most terrifying storm
Not dimmed by events on Earth or in sky;
My eternal joy, hope and optimism burn
Stronger than mere dogma, fear, and power.

I am the sun.

© 2017 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
Sky, Sun, and Earth (Windfall Road, January 21, 2017)

The School Bus Ride

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Lifetimes ago, school bus children
Chanted, “We hate the Highams,”
And I watched the driver drive his bus as if none
Of it mattered because those were only words
Don’t you know?

Like a weed that burst forth from fear
Fertilized by my family being different
In a land of assumed homogeneity,
We undoubtedly earned the right to be hated
And this hatred to be made part of our bus ride
Back and forth to school each day
Its own daily lesson in humility and restraint.

And, the driver drove, saying goodnight and smiling
At every stop; even ours, because he was so kind.

Did the kids know how we prepared for their attack
On our home in the woods?
Did they know how I trained my brothers
And ran our house like a military camp
For what my psychotic mother and I
Knew would be their final violation?

I doubt it. After all, they were merely teasing
Pleased with the reactions they were evoking
And how each of the six of us dealt differently
With their incessant barrage. They watched TV
In their homes each day and never mentioned
Their ride, I’d guess.

These little children and their foul little mouths
Taught me the gift of stillness, the gift of awareness
In the here and now. Those lessons lasted only as long
As the bus ride home, then the hell they had sent to us
Erupted in the home once the bus had left.

We watched TV in our home and fought with punches
And kicks, slamming doors and breaking walls.
A child hated easily finds enemies, even among family,
Because such a child wants peace and harmony
And love that flows as naturally as each breath but feels
Instead too alien in the world that now drags him down.

Therapy, meditation, and living in the here and now
Transformed such trauma into numerous evolutions
Still evolving in so many directions: I do not recognize
That angry self-hating child I was on the bus ride.

But still, I must ask: Are we on another school bus ride?
Have the schoolchildren become adults?
Has the teasing turned into denunciations and accusations
Fertilized by mutual disrespect and intolerance
Coupled with an unwillingness to communicate?

And, will this driver stop and hold us accountable
Or, will he merely drive to his destination?
Can we who are denouncing and accusing instead
Silence ourselves and remember that we are
All riding the same school bus? Can we share the love
We have for ourselves with people who live differently?

If not, it doesn’t matter who drives the school bus for soon
We will all be hateful little children fighting each other
Instead of investing our energies into our shared destiny.

© 2017 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
Photo: Eagle and Strength (Sedona, October 2016)

They Who Will Sit at the Table (Ode to the Oxfam Eight)

img_2612-they-who-sit-at-the-table-final-1-17-17-final

Eight places are set,
The cloth napkins folded, chairs dusted and polished
And silverware placed; salad fork, regular fork, desert fork
Knife, steak knife, and spoon all laid waiting
For the eight pairs of golden hands to use them
To move around their food before eating.

Eight chairs ready, their wood dusted and polished
And spaced so that each diner can enjoy his meal
And pleasant conversation.

Eight menus waiting, the waiters and the cooks too
Ready to jump into service and cater to they who will sit
At the table and enjoy their meals, whether they be simple
Or sophisticated.

I stand and wait for them, not as a member of the staff
Or as someone seeking a selfie or pieces of golden advice
So that I may someday have a place set for me.
But I instead want to know, to observe these eight
Like a tourist on photographic safari watching savage beasts.

Who are they who sit at the table and earn more in each breath’s time
Than most make in one life? Whose every decision can create heaven
Or hell for the legions trailing in their wakes? Whose fingers poke into
Countless lives as fortunes are made or lost, dreams made manifest
Or into nightmares?

Are they heroes, villains,or both? Are they the wealth they’ve created or captured?
Or are they more (or less) than that? I do not know these things as I stand
And wait, becoming invisible in my educational and economic insignificance,
Simultaneously feeling enamored and intimidated; like a boy upon becoming a man
And being among other men but still wondering what to expect.

They who will sit at this table must have blood in their veins, their bodies of flesh and sinew as you and I both have. They must rest when weary and have love in their hearts. They know passion, pride, and pain in good measure, I’m sure, and laugh when amused. I’m certain they must have these attributes or they would surely be just beasts dressed in finery.

Might I sit at that table? Might we all sit at that table?
Might we, for at least a moment? Say for a salad? Or, dessert?
It seats so few and there are so many of us standing, limping, or crawling.
Some push forward to look or a chance to steal a seat as if playing musical chairs.

I tell myself that I am content with my love, my family, my spirit (et cetera).
I hear my endless list, a chant that channels all my desire and ambition.
Still, they who sit at the table inspire those of us standing to know that someday we May eat at our own table, modest as it may be, unless they prohibit that.
Then, will we walk away and neglect their table or become savage beasts and tear it All apart?

© 2017 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
Photo: El Tovar Dining Room (Grand Canyon Village, 1/2/17)

When the Sunrise Finds You (Ode to MLK)

img_3166-when-the-sunrise-1-16-17

When the sunrise finds you
And the new day’s promises fill your soul
With joy and eager expectation of abundance
Will you allow it to flow through you
And touch everyone on your path
Or will you instead keep it just for yourself
And those you alone deem worthy?

When crops sprout from the earth
In a celebration of growth and the abundant harvest
Will you feed not only those at your table
But also though who can’t find a place at the feast
And must subsist on those scraps you’ve dropped?

When you discover the warmth of love and tenderness
Knowing and surrendering to your lover’s touch and embracing
The world as only beautiful moments and possibilities
Will you endeavor to create and support this for everyone
Or only those who look, act, and love like you?

When you know your strength and it blossoms your hope
Will you use it to help others who do not know hope
Or will you instead enslave it and make good coin
As you distance yourself from the misery you now created?

When evil comes in the form of hatred and threatens all you are
Will you protect only yourself by running and hiding, sheltering
Yourself in dogma and fear instead of becoming a lifeboat
That others may embrace to know the safety that you’ve always had?

When the sunrise finds you
Will you share your sunrises
Will you share your feasts
Will you share your love
Will you share your strength
Will you share your safety
And spread this sunrise all across this land?

© 2017 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
Photo: MLK Sunrise (Windfall, 1/16/17)

I Don’t Know You (But I Believe in You)

PHL to SETAC to Sedona 3 20 16 413 FInal

I don’t know you
But I believe in you
Not because I’m being flirty
Or because I want you to like me;
My faith in you arises from seeing the you
That you can’t or won’t allow yourself to see.
That you can’t or won’t allow yourself to embrace:
I sense your greater self in your words, your gestures, your eyes
And know that soon you will look in your soul’s mirror.

I don’t know the details of your pain
But I know that you will heal
Not because I can’t deal with your trauma
Or because I am an incurable optimist;
My faith in you comes directly from the you
That has healed so far beyond others who have succumbed
To pains so much lesser than what you have sojourned through.

I don’t know your face
But I know that it will soon own a smile
Not because I want you to be fake or insincere;
My faith in you comes from sensing your child-like innocence and hope
That is alive and vibrant at the innermost core of your soul.

I don’t know your fears
But I know you will render them useless
Not because I have an agenda for you;
My faith in you comes from knowing you through your vibration
And seeing The Angels all around you waiting to give you bliss.

I don’t know your hopes
But I know you will realize them
Not because I dismiss your obstacles;
My faith in you comes from knowing the you
That can survive and thrive and become
Even more open to manifesting miracles.

I don’t know how to teach you
But I know that you will continue to learn
Not because I am bored or uninspired by you;
My faith in you comes from sensing in you
That your wisest teacher is in your mirror
And that your brightest pupil is in your shoes.

© copyright 2016 John David Higham: All Rights Reserved

Photo: Reflections (Poulsbo, WA: 3/16)