citing shadows

an accounting of life . . . in verse

Tanka Sequence -5-

                            years out of sight
                            your name leaps from a message
                                    I learn you have passed
                            gone the chance of reunion
                            but we meet within my tears


                            cherry Swisher Sweets
                            and a cooler of Hamm’s Draft
                                    driving one-handed
                            we fly past Deere-green cornfields
                            in your dusty Impala

                            drive-in theater
                            “Billy Jack” – third week running
                                    girls in a Plymouth
                            glance our way then keep going
                            shot down, we get ripped alone . . .


                            I sing your praises
                            to old friends who ignore them
                                    you’d done something bad
                            shunned by the faux-righteous folks
                            of lily-white Redneckville

                            so you’re buried now
                            amongst those who don’t know you
                                    my Schrödinger friend
                            dead to the unimportant
                            but alive behind my eyes

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

                            © Lee Samuels


Tanka Sequence -4-

                            I take a cold walk
                            with my companion, the past . . .
                                    I return older
                            having recalled details of
                            old sins and lost religion


                            time seats harsh juries
                            drawn from the pool in one’s mind
                                    predisposed to guilt
                            hard labor, life sentences,
                            and worst of all: wasted time


                            no resolution
                            just slow-torture and what-ifs . . .
                                    does God count time-served?
                            will He wipe the slate clean if
                            there’s been no ‘rest’ in this life?


                            it’s the crimes no one
                            knows of – that you won’t confess
                                    separating you
                            from a life of peace and freedom,
                            haunting you on a cold walk

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

                            © Lee Samuels

Haiga 2

Haiga -1-

Haiga 1

Inspired by my friend, hugr5, at

Tanka -6-

                            train, fridge, and furnace

                            noises mix in the darkness

                                    a presence sensed

                            an energy in ether

                            asking for acknowledgement

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

                            © Lee Samuels

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

Two souls occupied our house before us: an older woman with [respectfully] mental health issues, and a very quiet Native American gentleman who was her caregiver. The older woman lived in the house her entire life; a couple of years ago, she died here as well.

The old woman was a hoarder, a cat-lady, and the last of her kind. The house was bought cheap as part of an estate and the new, out-of-state owner forced the Native American caregiver to move out: even though he had nowhere to go.

We lived across the street for six years prior to July. After the old woman passed and he was forced out the caregiver stopped to talk to me a couple of times – as he lapped the block endlessly on his bicycle. He cried openly those times, but didn’t say much . . . only that he was sad about how things had turned out. After about six moths of this I never saw him again.

After the out-of-state owner had five dumpsters of “prized possessions” hauled off, his builders took the house down to the bones, rebuilt the original parts, and added on new rooms. We watched this unfold from across the street . . . and began to covet what we saw.

A large family beat us to the house. They occupied the house for a year and a half and were very hard on it; we don’t hold this against them because they were kind enough to clue us in on the fact that they were moving the house we coveted would be up for lease soon. We jumped on that information and no one else got a chance at the house!

There is an energy here: who it belongs to, the old woman, the caregiver – or the house itself – I don’t know. Honestly, it hasn’t been frightening or troublesome, but its presence ‘has’ been unsettling at times. As I was afraid to spook my wife, I didn’t talk about it much until recently. However, I have noticed that my acknowledgment of this energy has made me feel less apprehensive of it.

Perhaps acknowledgement is all it wants. . . .

Tanka -5-

                            defying Death’s pull

                            pale blue eyes, wild hippie hair

                                    granted extra years

                            to search for the right window

                            and know the beauty beyond

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

                            © Lee Samuels

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

I offer this verse in memory of a good friend who passed last Wednesday at the age of ninety-three. Four years ago she was given six months to live. My friend tossed out that verdict and lived on as if she was twenty and just getting started with her life.

Frances was a hippie who – thank God – never grew up. With the exception of her final month, spent in a nursing home cubicle, she lived her life free, easy, and entirely on her terms. In her last days she asked for nothing more than a window to sit by.

Frances donated her body to science and asked that there be no immediate service; she liked the idea that students would learn from her body then hold an appreciation ceremony for her a year from now.

I’ve no doubt that the heaven she’s gone to is tie-dyed, full of wildlife, and packed to the ceiling with thrift store finds . . . and that she has her choice of windows to sit by.

Tanka -4-

                            delicate sparkles

                            dervishes whirl in rapture

                                    breeze whispers through screen

                            ten million worlds revealed

                            in morning sun’s hologram

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

                            © Lee Samuels

Tanka Sequence -3-

                            as wild daises droop
                            yellow stars fall to the lake
                                    nervous minnows dart
                            among fading lily pads
                            my distorted reflection


                            hard, this acorn rain
                            whose random splashes portend
                                    just moments ago
                            ripples washed over someone
                            who looked like me with less time


                            cursèd awareness
                            of the brevity of life
                                    wild daisy petals
                            follow the rippling water
                            softening the mirror’s blow

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

                            © Lee Samuels

Haiku -18-

                            two clocks out of sync

                            burst of rain on the rooftop –

                            morning’s 1st movement

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

                            © Lee Samuels

Haiku -17-

                            cricket song through mist

                            steam floats from morning coffee –

                            this moment before . . .

                            ~ ~ ~ ~

                            © Lee Samuels