I, the storm through me Destroying all Making darker darkest night I, the inferno Burning through me I, the burning tree I, the remaining ash I, the love Coursing through me Not mine, not sent Though embraced I call The Angels They heed my calls In ways you will never know Rescuing you in ways They prohibit me from sharing I, the keeper of secrets At times I, the secret fool At other times I, this path Few understand When vision after vision Come to pass Long ago I, this path learned Verdicts to be read Judgments to be passed Flowing through me Though not of me And, always (always, always) I live the question “What is my role?” Voices, thoughts talking Directing me Allowing me I, this little boy Deep inside To smile. Copyright © 2020 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
all rights reserved
photo: poetic air (12/19/19)
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
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
To Man of The House
To Lord of The Flies
I never quite returned
Or ever wanted to
Except kicking screaming
In nightmares and flashbacks
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)
I want to again hear my name called out
From the depths of Hell
To be again summoned to fights demons
I want to again smell their deaths
I want to again cry tears of blood
And feel lightening tearing through my viscera
As it renders me a charred heap
I want to again feel the sound of bones cracking
As steel stone and fist peel my flesh away
Tearing apart my organs
I want to again stand naked in the blizzard
And watch my skin turn purple and black
Against the white-out enveloping me
I want to again hear my throat scream words
No one else hears in the hell that consumes and decimates
As I am again crushed in humiliating defeat
And reduced to grains of sand blown
By the winds
That had once been confined deep within this me
I want to again rage up against the ferocious storms
That flood the valleys and level the mountains
And gives desperation and despair new meaning
Dismembering me as I fight will all my fury
To stop the tidal waves and rebuild the mountains
Soon I will go into that evil night
With sword and wits sharpened
Ready to spill blood and sip wine
In the name of love and self-loathing
Of never feeling good enough for this or that
Until after being put beyond the harshest test
And again emerging miraculously intact
How I await the darkness to wage incessant war
On all my remaining haunting fears
Each moment my serenity my rage building
Forging additional weapons for deployment
As my evolution continues
Copyright © 2018 by John David Higham: All Rights Reserved
Photo: Into The Storm (Sedona, 2018)
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
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
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)
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
‘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
My name and my shame
Did I make my final choice?
Did I kick away the stool?
Of course not,
But I never knew for sure
As I felt so free
In those twilights of my life.
I courted not death then,
But only the promise of being gone
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
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
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,
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 anyone else
And only me.
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.
(In a N5 Caboose on The Polar Express with Lillian in December, 2015.)
(In a Superliner on The Empire Builder with Kathy in October, 2015)
(In a Superliner on The Southwest Limited with David and Alyssa in July, 1998)
“Goodnight, Paris. I love you,”
My daughter Lillian said
After I tucked her in.
Like me, she knew not
Or the details.
And like me,
She knows only love.
And, like her,
I knew that
Who they were
What they used
I know who they are,
having seen them
so many times
before on my path:
in some ways.
Always the same
in just one way.
And, like my daughter,
I know exactly how
to deal with them.
I love you…
Sending in The Angels.
At night, when The Angels
Surround my bed
That it is not yet my time
They show me all colors
Remind me that my Mind’s Eye
At night, when I converse
Those who have crossed
Read their words
Printed on red leather pages
Journey in the dream world
Their souls joined to me.
At night, when I see
My waking world
Angelic essences swirl
My dream bed.
At night, sweet night
I fly about
Know such things
The waking me
I am emancipated…
Held down by our heaviness,
The drag of our inertia,
The weight of our fears,
The burden of our baggage,
We stay tight to our world.
We fight to remain not only grounded
But so firmly attached to our idea of life
That movement is impossible.
In the laws of spiritual metaphysics,
Propulsion and lift
Gravity and drag.
Propel, propel, propel!
By all you have achieved,
By the infinite ways
Survived and thrived
Measured ONLY against you!
By the love and other gifts
By your drive to be, love, and grow!
Lift, lift, lift!
By those who love you
They be animal, human, or spirit!
By the gifts you are receiving!
Be lifted by those who
Believe in you (even when you won’t)!
Build your runway
From your dreams
To run down
At full speed,
With all your passion,
With all your energy,
With all your faith and surrender!
Sleek and streamlined,
Feel the air glide
Your body, mind, soul, and life
And create a cushion beneath you:
Watch your wheels lift off,
Watch your ground break away,
Watch your old world fall away,
Watch your sky approach!