Stillness Now

stillness in the form
of the hawk circling
above aging headstones
and my timeless love

warm sun embraces
the tops of my bare feet
and the grass–their grass
tickles my toes and soles

i am here now with them
meditating at their resting places
breathing with none
of the urgency–of the fear
they had so freely given me
when they walked Earth

the sun drifts lower
as evergreens and the hawk
protect me and my breath

yet i feel safer with Mom and Dad
hearing them speak
directing me to tell
my brother how much they love him
sharing that greatness
is headed my way
confident that my ex
will do well in her new life

hawk, trees, sun
all breathing with
my bare feet resting
in the warm cozy grass

literally grounded right now
i re-affirm my pledge
to not get wrapped up in doing
and instead endeavor
to embrace being

stillness now
forever now

Without

Phoenix to Windfall 10 13 2015 105

On nights when the moon died without shining
And my soul was filled with clouds
Stillness drained my heart of songs
Me, a child soldier on guard duty
Contemplating dying
Yet another death

Feelings that cascade awareness
Feel strange when they belong
To someone else: I’ve no inclination
To hold them close to my heart
To make them part of my soul

But then, oh then
When Her fear was mine
When Her hell burned me
When Her strength fortified me
I was Her then

Endless nights ‘tween midnight
And dawn so slow in coming
I so fucking hated them
And the monsters who visited
The wood outside bedroom turned bunker
In my childhood turn conscription

Still, I found words
Spinning them into worlds
Giving birth to mythical people
Who simply I could never find
In the world beyond my bunker

From son
To Man of The House
To Lord of The Flies
To orphan
I never quite returned
Or ever wanted to
Except kicking screaming
In nightmares and flashbacks

At times
I so wished I would have killed
I so wished I would have fought
Hand to hand on battlefields
I so wished I would have died
The hero’s death
Defending Her goodness
Protecting Her family

But, no, I was just a child soldier
Self-taught in the ways of fear
Self-taught in the ways of hate
Between sunset and sunrise
Without the Her I needed

Copyright © 2019 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved                                                   Photo: Tree Alone (Windfall, 2015)

Sister’s Voice (Heal)

January 11 2016 PHX PHL WFL 673 Modfied

The night that brought me sister’s voice
Was dead quiet and still as those
Midnights when Mom made her terror all mine
Over four decades and two dozen lives ago

Sister’s voice was also as quiet and still
As she talked about fear and death and failure
Just as Mom had when calmly referencing hitmen and demons
Though instead of sitting on my bed in Fassett
Her voice was thousands of miles away

Prayers and love and concern sent with all my might
Could not erase that fear from her voice
Any more than my aggression and abuse could
Calm Mom’s rising fears and pervasive terror
All those years ago

Sister, sister where have you gone
Why are you back in the hell we once knew
I couldn’t protect you then and I can’t protect you now
From the you running deeper into your darkest head

The growing split that tore her from reality
Made perfect terrifying sense to her
Just as mine did 41 years ago
When I knew in fear Tony would kill me
If he only had the chance

When I heard her voice over the phone
2018
Did not become
1997
Did not become
1973
Because I no longer am just an orphaned son
Made into the Man of The House
Burning down all around my family
Because I am stronger now
In feeling and being loved
Because I know
About hormones PTSD
Medications TIAs CVAs
Such letters and words
Part of my cells’ memory
Angels told me Sister would emerge
They spoke of turbulence
This warrior I am now summoned
The Universe to help her heal
Quieting those voices that became her fears
As wisdom slowly seeped onto her path
I did as I was told and advised from afar

Sending in Angels
Speaking in Tongues with spirits
Conversing in jargon with siblings nurses
Prayers, chants, lessons, consults
All the time knowing her voice
Would soon heal and return

Sister sister heal now through love
Wisdom flowing through me to you
Across our thousands’ miles
Strengthening your Inner Voice
As I sit alone and meditate
Unlike when I was a child
And could only hear
Hell’s voice inside Mom’s head

 

 

Copyright © 2018 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
Photo: Infinity (Lehigh Tunnel)

Victory

Lillian 8 19 2017 Chimney Rock 1st

My battle won marked by the calm of surrender
No celebratory words or songs did I shout
As the oppressive miraculously became inconsequential
Layers of pain melted away and flowed like dirtied waters
Off my skin
Off my soul
And became forever purified
At these moments of ascendancy
When bells were to ring in celebration
And my soul would discover the highest mountaintops
On which to spread my new-found and infinite bliss
Would make my once dreary world
Would make my once dreary soul
Dance with a child’s delight

Victory
Sweet sweet victory
How I had waited with all my endless hope
All my rabid persistence and obsessive planning
To even see any sign of you emerging from life’s hellish fog

Victory
You had intermittently exposed yourself
Before desperation and despair had obscured you from my sight
To prevent you once again from accompanying me
So many conditions everyone everything told me
I would have to meet
I would have to know
I would have to be
Before
Before
Before
I could have a fleeting moment
Of hearing your voice
Of even feeling worthy
Of your briefest whisper
Of your encouraging word
Before evil and despair
Resumed their suffocating siege

Victory, now that you have made yourself
So clearly my eternal companion
And all evil has been
Defeated
Chased
Transmuted
Transcended
Annihilated
Re-framed
Forever condemned
From its perches in my waking world
And its numerous thrones in my dream world
Where its myriad grotesqueness stared me in my every face
In all the lives I lived was living and planned on living
To now merely squishing under my feet like warmed moist beach sand
I am lost, lost, lost
In a land of sunsets and pleasant surprises
Tranquility and love

What becomes of this warrior
When all my battles have been won?
When I have calmed my roughest of storms?
When I have transformed my deepest of fears into karmic punchlines
And my loving adventures have
Exterminated my fears and hyper-vigilance?

This redemption I do not know
For so long the weapons of war
I have held in my hands
In my soul
That my not grasping them feels odd
And renders me naked, vulnerable
And not nude, innocent
As Victory embraces me

Victory, how odd your warmth feels
Against my skin
Against my soul
In our forever embrace

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

Photo: Lillian’s First (Sedona: Chimney Rock Trail Looking North: August 19, 2017)

‘Round and ‘Round: My Final Choice (Playin’ With Trains)

Windfall Feb 4 2015 288

‘Round and ‘round
The Lionel train went
On
The oval track
On
This 13 year-old’s bedroom floor.

Daily, I would stop playin’ with trains,
Disconnect the power pack,
Open my closet door,
Then
Gather the footstool
I had made in shop class
And
Climb onto my gallows
As
I threw the pack
Over the door’s top
And slammed it shut,
Then
Fashioned the cord
Into
Yet another noose
I tightened ‘round my neck.

‘Round and ‘round,
I debated my sentence;
My own condemned man
Tried and convicted
By a judge and a jury
Who shared
My name and my shame
At having
Failed,
Failed,
Failed.

Did I make my final choice?
Did I kick away the stool?
Of course not,
But I never knew for sure
Each time
As I felt so free
In those twilights of my life.

I courted not death then,
But only the promise of being gone
Like Dad;
Only quicker
And not at cancer’s hand.

At 19, a razor I held in my right hand,
The veins in my left arm
Bulging one May morning.
Gone was my Lionel train,
Gone was my mother,
Gone was my family,
Gone was my home,
Gone was my innocence,
Gone was my hope;
All taken away by false saviors.

Alone with the Angel of Death
In a rented room
On Sherwood Street,
I overheard children laughing
On the sidewalk
On their way to school.

‘Round and ‘round,
I saw hellish faces
Of the children and the adults
Who had sent me to Hell’s Door;
I imagined their voices,
And once again felt
Every inflicted pain.

The blade that now scratched me
Was hungry for more of me;
But then I saw
My hand,
And only my hand,
Grasping the razor
As if the steel was
Part of my body;
As if the steel
Was my salvation.

My razor hand was all mine;
No one else’s;
They had all
Taken my everything
Then
Threw me away.

Me?
I had given myself a razor;
Just a razor?

Me?
I had given myself a final choice;
I had chosen death?

Me?
This is what I decided
In response to pain,
In response to suffering,
In response to emptiness
While children walked to school
That sunny morning?

Questions on the edge
Of self-destruction,
Queries from the doomed
That I had never before
Asked now blew apart
My mind and my plans.

The choice now made,
I lowered the useless razor,
I put salve and bandages
On my scratches,
Then embraced
The incredible power that came
From having finally chosen life
Moments before self-annihilation.

Strength is knowing
That
I stepped back from death;
That
I retreated from my brink
Without parents,
Without friends,
Without family,
Without anyone else
But me
And only me.

I alone
(All alone)
Lowered my hand,
Discarded that razor,
Claimed my body and my life,
Becoming alive from that moment onward.

‘Round and ‘round,
Almost four decades hence,
I recall that day
And rejoice with bliss
At the numerous liberations,
At the endless adventures,
At the myriad loving journeys,
At the continuing evolution
I have embraced;
All built upon the foundation
Of my final choice.

 

December 14 2015 Windfall 251

(In a N5 Caboose on The Polar Express with Lillian in December, 2015.)

 

Edmonds Oct 7 2015 058

(In a Superliner on The Empire Builder with Kathy in October, 2015)

 

February 6 2015 Windfall 130

(In a Superliner on The Southwest Limited with David and Alyssa in  July, 1998)