Dear Death

Death 8 21 17


I sense you
I feel your long pale fingers
As they touch and take the lives around me
Indeed, I sense the coldness of your touch
The killing frost that you are to all who could grow

Twenty-five years ago
I learned of your path into my body
You either didn’t think me a listener as you whispered
In that Reiki Master’s ear or else figured I wouldn’t feel her
Remorse when she recognized your energies entwined with mine

You fool
I had heard your dirges over a decade before
When we played together in my room late at night
A cord tied tightly ‘round my neck
As you patiently waited for my feet to step off and into your arms
Even before you seduced Mom with promises of release
As “How Long” and “When Will I See You Again”
Sang questions that I alone answered aloud to both myself
And you in the crumbling bunker of my adolescence

You didn’t scare me then
As instead the living called to action by The Angels
Forced me so deep into hell that I then begged with my razor
For you to escort me to my ancestors

As a child of nine thirteen years earlier
You caught me off-guard just once
Because then you were just something that happened
To people on TV named King and Kennedy, not Higham

You broke into my life a little at a time back then
Stealing Saturday afternoons and chess games from me
A secret companion Mom shared only after you had come and gone
On Mother’s Day as if her not mentioning you until after you stole Dad
Might make you forever disappear

I sense you
In the faces of a friend’s child
Those who ask me for prayers and energy
On Facebook
In the news
In my waking world
In my dreams or
In the future wrinkled faces
Of my children

I feel the bones the lives the families that you will shatter
As I walk among the ruins you’ve created
My tears and my grief are not for you
Even as I will continue to sense
Who you will only touch and who you will take
And how you will finally take me
But I will never again fear you
Or again deceive myself
Into believing you should
Into persuading you must
Embrace me before your time

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

Photo: Death (August 21, 2017)

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

Windfall Feb 4 2015 288

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

Daily, I would stop playin’ with trains,
Disconnect the power pack,
Open my closet door,
Gather the footstool
I had made in shop class
Climb onto my gallows
I threw the pack
Over the door’s top
And slammed it shut,
Fashioned the cord
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

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
Threw me away.

I had given myself a razor;
Just a razor?

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

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
I stepped back from death;
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)



Bike Trail April 2015 19 Marker

Recently, after a long day on Planet Wellsboro (my nickname for one of the agencies I consult with: there I conduct evaluations for children with behavioral/developmental/emotional issues), I took a 21-mile bike ride along part of the Pine Creek Trail that runs the length of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

I like this trail, particularly after having a difficult day: it cleanses my mind and soul as the day’s images and words fall away with each mile of gravel trail passing beneath my wheels.  Too, I allow myself to enter a meditative state created by my rhythmic breathing, the solitude, the woods, the creek and the extensive wilderness that wraps itself around me.  Though physically isolated and miles from civilization, I feel very safe and connected to The Universe.

On this day, I had figured that I had enough sunlight to ride to the 19 mile marker (a few miles beyond Tiadaghton) before returning to Darling Run (10.5 miles away).   As is my routine, I rode to the marker, took a few pics, then cycled back to my car.

Of course, I posted a pic of the ride on FaceBook, but this morning when I awoke and felt compelled to write, I found this one.

Mile marker 19.

Sitting at this computer, I saw in my mind’s eye the letters N-I-N-E-T-E-E-N  flowing one at a time over this image’s background as if part of a prayer wheel.


On Tuesday, the thought occurred to me how I need markers on my life’s path: they let me know where I’m at (in my here and now moments), how far I’ve come (in my reality-checking moments), and how far I have to go (in my manifesting moments).  They reflect my progress, my journey, my goals.

I know this particular marker well because I am often required to turn back at this point by the fading daylight. But, the number holds  a much greater significance on my life’s path. In May of 1979, I was nineteen and my life was, quite frankly, a mess. I won’t go into details here, but those of you who have read UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS are aware that I experienced an extremely traumatic childhood. Though I was admitted to college a year early, my life soon took a turn for the worse and I found myself homeless and dealing with even more trauma.


In a room
Furnished (double bed, dresser, nightstand),
I sat
With backpack, Nikes, and razor
To spring’s morning.

Birds chirped
Children laughed
The air smelled of birth.

I would
Go soon (of course).
I would
Go soon (please).




In a room
Furnished (faces, names, voices),
Saying what they said
Saying how they said
Doing what they did
Doing how they did.

Their words
Their actions
Revisited upon me
In the nightmare
Of my memories.

No more running
No more hiding,
Just disappearing
Like morning dew
In the warming sunshine.




But, wait,
There’s more
There’s more to me
Than you, you, and you.
There’s more
Than pain, fear, and shame.

There’s me.
There’s my hand.
There’s my hand!

In a room
Furnished (last thoughts, last feelings, last words)
I sat
Ripping up a letter
After my hand
Had forever
Lowered the razor
And banished suicide
From my path.


My entire 19 year-old life that May morning came down to a single penetrating insight that has since formed the foundation of my existence: despite everything that happened to me at the hands of other people, it was my hand on the razor blade.

This was an overwhelming revelation: I was making a conscious decision to do this to myself! I had all the power in deciding how to respond to everything. I was the only one in that rented room: the other people who had abused me and violated me weren’t there. Hell, they did even care!

What strength I embraced in that moment!

What serenity swaddled me in that moment!

In that magical moment my life opened up, preparing me to move beyond my childhood’s numerous hells to a greater awareness of myself and others.


I did not, could not change what had previously took place: I could and did, however, change my responses to not only my past, but also my present and my possible futures. As I embraced this life-changing epiphany, I became more aware of not only the waking world, but also of the dream world and learned how to safely explore both.

I have continued along the path which The Universe has laid before me. This journey has led to many wonderful realities including healing, love, parenting, self-awareness, success, creativity, and growth.

As I prepare to undertake this next part of my path including marriage to a beautiful and loving equal, and pursuing adventures in avenues of loving, healing, and creating, I remain grateful for that morning’s lesson (and its numerous offspring).

Now, if you excuse me, I feel compelled to take another bike ride, though this time it will be on River Walk in Williamsport.