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The Renku Sessions: A Better Look – Week 15

renku_300

As we get to the later verses in a renku, the need to avoid topics and images already touched upon makes it more difficult to select new verses. Adding to this the strong preference to include new poets wherever possible amplifies these challenges.

Despite the technical shutdown of the website before our submission deadline, we gathered 87 verse fifteen offers this week, from 21 poets. Michael Henry Lee is our selector and reports as follows:

“My Tai Chi instructor reminds us that: the task before us is, neither difficult, nor impossible, but simply challenging. That was certainly the case for settling on our verse 15 for “A Better Look” Initially may I extend my profound thanks to John Stevenson, for his direction and clarification in the details and of course, all our participants who make this experience possible.

Interestingly enough; as I begin to compile my observations, the Haiku Foundation website is unavailable as of 4:15 PM EST. And with our cutoff date of midnight tonight, perhaps another challenge lays ahead. Most fortunately I made detailed notes of my initial impressions.

Previous contributors provided some especially appealing verses that unfortunately could not be considered in our final selection.

Here are a few of my favorites in that category:

 

the reef now
white with coral spawn
cued by the moon

Lorin Ford

 

the short night’s moon
hangs out for a while
with wet beach towels

Lorin Ford

 

a frog plops
near a manor of
a thousand moons

Michelle Beyers

 

a smear
of strawberry moon
on the copyright page

Laurie Greer

 

a clean sheet
of paper and
the pina colada moon.

Wendy Bialek

 

has the carnival
brought this pink moon
and cotton candy sky

Windy C. Bialek

 

the cormorant fisher
working by moonlight
out in the bay

Andrew Shimifield

 

In a foreshortened week here are the contenders from poets not previously included:

 

taking notes
on the mockingbird’s song
in the spotlight moon

Dana Rapisandi

“Taking notes” supplies a strong link to 14 and perhaps a summer moon with mockingbird. Mockingbirds are definitely a summer bird in most of North America but I was under the impression we were trying to stay away from regional kigo.

 

the double rainbow
sandwiches
a butter milk moon

Tracey Davidson

A lovey curious image but I didn’t find a very strong link, and the image of a double rainbow with the moon seemed rather improbable

 

the short night’s moon
poems
in her octopus pot

princess k

Close but not quite what I was looking for

 

And finally

a lonely goldfish
glitters
in moonlight

Nimi Arora

Nimi’s verse checks all the boxes. Lonely is a clear link back to verse 14 and goldfish is a summer kigo.  One suggestion to make the verse more appealing, at least for me, would be changing “lonely” to “solitary”. I thought “lonely”a bit too anthropomorphic, but John assured me that is not an issue in our renku.

So with that, my selection for week 15 is:

 

a lonely goldfish
glitters
in moonlight

Nimi Arora

With Nimi’s permission I would like the final Week 15 Verse to read:

a solitary goldfish
glitters
in moonlight”

 

John speaking again:

Nimi Arora will now be offered the opportunity to select our next verse. Please let me know, Nimi, if you would like to do so. If you prefer not to, I will step in. And, if you decide to do it, you can count on my support.

And now we move on to our sixteenth verse, which is the final verse in the middle section of our renku (the “ha”) and should close us out of that part with a good bang.

Our sixteenth verse should:

  • consist of two natural, unforced lines
  • constitute a single phrase, without a grammatical break
  • contain no seasonal element – also no moon, no love, no blossom

While you are encouraged to find your own fresh images, here are some topic areas we might explore: children, toys, games, prominently foreign words, current events, place names, technology, philosophy, mathematics.

Do not attempt to make your verse a “stand alone” poem. Renku is not a haiku sequence. Think of the sixteenth verse as making a new poem by extending and “turning” the fifteenth verse. Repeat nothing obvious from the first fourteen verses. Be especially careful not to draw our attention back to verse one or verse fourteen.

Here is what we have, so far:

 

A Better Look

 

dragonfly…
hovering back
for a better look

John Stevenson

 

the scarecrow’s hat
skims across the pond

Pauline O’Carolan

 

moonrise
finds the farm wife
undoing her braids

Ellen Compton

 

the creak
of the mailbox

Angiola Inglese

 

rising scent
of bosc pears
wrapped in cellophane

Michelle Beyers

 

his chiseled chin
and my smooth thighs

Wendy C. Bialek

 

‘after Picasso
only God’
said Dora Maar

andrew shimield

 

cat devouring
a bird

Kiti Saarinen

 

fresh snowfall
fills the tracks
of a thief

Carol Jones

 

our train chugs into
the station at the ski resort

Maxianne Berger

 

time was
a cigarette commercial
would feature here

Lorin Ford

 

the slow drawl
of her favorite cowboy

Marion Clarke

 

westernizing
the Kama Sutra
with rope tricks

Laurie Greer

 

their summer house now
her writer’s retreat

Michael Henry Lee

 

a solitary goldfish
glitters
in moonlight

Nimi Arora

 

Please enter your verse offers in the comments box, below. Nimi or I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Monday, December 21 (New York time zone). On Thursday, December 24, there will be a new posting containing the selection for our sixteenth verse and instructions for composition of verse seventeen.

 

Looking forward to seeing your offers!

John

 

 

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/code-of-conduct/

 

 

This Post Has 103 Comments

  1. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    .
    ~ Nimi Arora
    .
    adeste fidelis
    and a thousand candles
    .
    Tonight it’s Christmas Eve for me in Melbourne, Australia. A quiet one. Traditionally, Melbourne has a ‘Carols by Candlelight’ event, attended by thousands (but that’d be crazy this year of the pandemic)
    .
    My warm wishes to John and to all of the participants in this renku, I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas or whatever each of you likes to celebrate at this time of the year.
    .
    – Lorin

    ***

  2. solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    ——Nimi Arora
    .
    breakers wash into the harbor
    without a care
    .
    diamond dust settles
    on the family tree

  3. Verse 2:

    Christmas in lockdown
    is the last straw

    Verse 3:

    London in lockdown
    is the final straw

    Verse 4:

    hunting whales
    in the Southern Ocean

    Verse 5:

    hunting whales
    in the North Sea

    1. grey into grey
      streets with no name

      Michelle Beyers
      Copyright © 12/20/20

      ***

      grey into grey
      street with no name

      Michelle Beyers
      Copyright © 12/21/20

      ***

      grey into grey
      street without a name

      Michelle Beyers
      Copyright © 12/21/20

  4. the Fibonacci sequence
    exploring the Milky Way
    *
    automatic voice
    at the highway exit
    *
    hula hoop in space
    with saturn rings
    *
    a woman on the bus
    reminds me of my mother
    *
    from the serving hatch
    they come and go flat
    *
    fathers and sons lined up
    the latest Ipad for the exit
    *
    voices of people on the street
    on the day of the vote
    *
    a running race
    through the streets of the historic center
    *
    from the mega-screen on the waterfront
    the rings of saturn
    *
    in the planetarium room
    the light of a cell phone

  5. that plastic patch the size
    of two Lone Star states
    *
    the Pacific Garbage Patch now
    the size of two Lone Star states
    * *

    always another plastic
    in the sea
    ***

  6. that plastic patch the size
    of two Lone Star states
    *
    the Pacific Garbage Patch now
    the size of two Lone Star states
    *

    always another plastic
    in the sea
    *

  7. the new vaccine
    reviving hope
    *
    this year I hope to see
    the planets alignment
    *
    in my inbox a lot
    of unread messages

  8. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight

    Nimi Arora

    under influence adults
    share the space hopper

    worse for wear adults race
    on space hoppers

  9. Thanks to Michael and Linda, and again, to all who’ve wished me well in my return!

    To borrow from an infamous Bush quote involving fish:

    we can co-exist
    peacefully

    proportio divina
    ≈ 1.618

    approximately
    1.618

    the perfect ratio
    could be somewhere

  10. rating the service
    on a scale of one to ten
    *
    twin hearts beat as one
    in the sonogram
    *
    two hearts
    brighten the sonogram
    *

  11. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    feeling less alone
    as they/their/them
    *
    finding solidarity
    with they/their/them
    *
    adding a line
    for they/their/them
    *

  12. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    . . .
    Kudos, Nimi! Such an evocative image. Makes me smile.

    * * *
    red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Pavarotti’s perfect note
    sends sound waves through water

    old pair of wanderlust sandals
    wait by the open door

  13. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    .
    Nimi Arora
    *
    the astronaut seals his helmet
    ready for blast off
    *
    self-isolating
    after a positive test
    *
    in jail again
    on the Monopoly board

  14. solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    .
    Nimi Arora

    *
    the uncharted path
    of coronavirus

    *
    children follow
    an empty tin can

  15. Such a lovely verse Nimi. Thank you Michael for the insightful commentary on your selection process and to John for all his behind-the-scenes assistance to this renku party.
    *
    a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    my inbox overflowing
    with phishing emails

  16. zither wind in the pines
    as an eagle drops a feather

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 12/18/20

    ***

    sparkling dew seeps
    in moss by the cave

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 12/18/20

    ***

    an eagle circles in
    zither wind over the pines

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 12/18/20

  17. Congratulations to Nimi! And thank you to Michael.
    ***

    a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight

    ~ Nimi Arora

    ***
    we bury her boardwalk prize
    among its predecessors

    ***
    auctioning an antique scale
    from Sutter’s Mill

    ***
    they say the neon’s bright
    in Wuhan

    ***
    a needle’s point glints
    against the atmosphere

    ***
    one tiny prick away
    from breathing easier

  18. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    room for muppet twins
    among the cramped refugees
    *

    ttps://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2020/jun/29/not-fit-for-a-human-coronavirus-in-coxs-bazar-refugee-camps

  19. 1)all breaking bubbles
    in single row
    **

    2) hands clasped
    in tightening affection

    **
    3) all pebbles
    in their rhythm of play
    **
    4) this hourlong headache
    ends in my haiku write

    *
    lost my book of verses
    in rush hour

  20. As always fun to read all the offerings, the commentary and the reasoning for the final choice. Congratulations Nimi.

    a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    .
    Nimi Arora
    .
    timing the jump
    off the merry-go-round
    .
    a flash of zirconia
    in the brass ring

  21. his loss releases
    her schadenfreude
    ***
    COVID leaps
    between species
    ***
    the child
    flushes her prize away
    ***
    the scales
    a fraction less

  22. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    building herd immunity
    shot by shot
    *
    everyone eager for a shot
    at herd immunity
    *
    leaving environmental protection
    decimated
    *
    pristine ANWR
    going going…
    *

  23. I’m glad you have recovered Matt!!!
    ******************************************
    and now just for fun:
    **************************
    down in one gulp
    of the Green Fairy

  24. from Paradise to Hell
    is a Michigan day trip
    (I think it is about 330 miles from Hell, Michigan to Paradise, Michigan)

  25. Congratulations to Michael Henry for his insightful commentary, and to Nimi for a beautiful image.

    Verse 1:

    prick of the syringe
    very welcome

  26. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    .
    la mer
    a bercé mon cœur pour la vie
    .
    the sea
    has rocked my heart for life

        1. Thank you, Lorin. I feel like that song sings my heart soul although I had never heard it before. Pure poetry! I love all the inagery, the silver reflections of la mer!😃

          “See (see)
          Voyez (voyez)

          These white birds (these white birds)
          Ces oiseaux blancs (ces oiseaux blancs)

          And these rusty houses (la-la-la-la-la-la)
          Et ces maisons rouillées (la-la-la-la-la-la)”

          1. ” I feel like that song sings my heart soul”. – Michelle.
            .
            Yes, how true that is, for me too, Michelle. How to say it, when it hits home so well? I don’ t know , but that French man did it, a year before I was born. I don’t even speak French and it doesn’t matter one bit, in this case.
            .

          2. I agree, Lorin. I put his music on and played it all night till I fell asleep. Such a soothing and pleasant melodious voice like a day a la mer itself…

  27. Congratulations Nimi, I enjoyed your verse and read it several times
    *
    sipping adios and kwa heri
    in my alphabet soup

  28. Congratulations, Nimi. An excellent choice by Michael! (Out of curiosity, I looked up ‘goldfish’ in Haiku World, and sure enough, there it is, with its own entry and separate from ‘carp’ (which is also in the ‘all seasons’ category)
    .
    Thanks , Micheal for mentioning those two of mine (especially the coral spawning . . . it was happening at the time, up off Cairns . . . our summers officially begin on the 1st of December.)

  29. Thank you, Michael, for the commentary and for appreciating my manor of a thousand moon verse.

    Congratulations, Nimi! Onwards and upwards we go!!

  30. eeking out fossils of feathers
    and bones in the canyon

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 12/17/20

    ***

    flint eeking out fossils of
    feathers and bones

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 12/17/20

  31. she sifts flour
    hangs the sieve on wall

    hitting rock
    with his ax

    full cat
    of house

    saffron
    on pomander

    coming into question
    cat’s tail

  32. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    the sparkle bomb bursting on
    an unwary porch pirate
    *
    a slow screen saver with
    renewable energy
    *
    little bubbles drift up
    to an empty thought balloon

  33. congrats to Nimi and the goldfish .. and thanks, Michael, for interesting comments .. now to think of some just-for-fun follow-ups ..

  34. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    mesmerized by the bubbles
    aerating the aquarium
    *
    …and then
    there were none
    *

  35. what a calm. peaceful green and unique, creative
    typography in the new format! glad to see the site
    and members back!
    *
    hi, john, thanks for your continued guidance.
    *
    great pick(s) and clear, concise commentary, michael h. lee.
    (thrilled that you enjoyed my pina colada and pink moon verses. )
    *
    nimi….what a beautiful verse you have contributed. am looking forward to your
    participation of selecting…and commentary.

    a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *

    the rush of room-
    tempered corona vaccine

    *
    will seafood allergies
    become a corona concern?

    *
    how many doses
    float in that vial ?

  36. It’s been a while, guys! I hope all are healthy and happy! I was in the hospital with pneumonia at the end of November for ten days, which didn’t help. I tested negative for coronavirus twice, yet they still moved me to an isolation room since a family member had tested positive (We are both doing great now!). Surprisingly, my haiku writing and creativity was diminished during and after my stay. I feel I have failed that test of the haiku tradition, à la Shiki et al., yet onward I march! My eyes are still adjusting to the new site, but it’s looking good, and more importantly, this renku is a fun read thus far!

    down another road paved
    with good intentions

    the crowded line of cars
    at the food bank

    missing three more meals
    while waiting at the food bank

    the Mercedes idling
    at the food bank

    the mother fasting
    just to feed her kids

    El Dorado,
    Arkansas

    riding the elevator
    to the COVID floor

    saying goodbye through the glass
    of the isolation room

    some waves breaking
    through the chaos

    1. Good to hear you’ve recovered and are well now, Matt. (Your story makes me glad I had my flu shots this year!)

      1. Much appreciated, Lorin! I see your renku game is still sharp! I had the flu shot and am eagerly awaiting the covid shot now that I’m paranoid about returning to the hospital anytime soon.

  37. Enjoyed your commentary and choices Michael Henry. Thank you John for keeping us whole to begin again.

    solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    vaccine garlands
    decorate planet earth
    *

  38. solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    DC soon to be home
    for two first pets
    *
    the country no longer bereft
    of first pets
    *

  39. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    A beautiful choice, Michael Henry! Congratulations, Nimi!
    *
    endlessly coding
    with 1s and 0s

  40. A delightful choice, Michel Henry. A lovely image and fits the bill.
    .
    Congratulations, Nimi, and to all the poets that had a poem considered for verse fifteen.

  41. Congratulations Nimi, and great commentary Michael. The renku is looking good.

    children pointing at toys
    in the locked down store

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