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The Renku Sessions: A Better Look – Week 16

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A generous 146 verse offerings this time, from 28 poets. Nimi Arora makes the selection for verse sixteen and reports as follows:

“I have to start with saying that I appreciate the task of choosing that one verse all the more, having attempted it this once, as I loved so many and really struggled to choose one. Thanks to John Stevenson for his guidance and patience through the process.

One of my favourites is Peggy Hale Bilbro’s

timing the jump
off the merry-go-round

 

And then there’s Robert Kingston’s

 

children pointing at toys
in the locked down store

 

which connects to the previous verse and connects with the emotions many of us are struggling with these days.

 

Also, Ellen Compton with her beautiful wordplay in

 

having no aces
I tell him to fish

 

 

And then there is this one, the one I finally picked for its vivid images and amazing possibilities and, as John helped me understand – ‘a pretty direct link from “moonlight” to “red sun”’

 

red sun paints fire
on burnt out rooms

Jackie Maugh Robinson”

 

John speaking again:

Jackie Maugh Robinson will now be offered the opportunity to select our next verse. Please let me know, Jackie, 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.

I know that some of our experienced renku partners will see that the ruin of rooms in the new verse can be considered a back-link to “house” in verse fourteen. And perhaps that “paints” is somewhat reminiscent of the arts-related images in verses six and seven. I support its selection, even in the face of these considerations. Partly, this is because it feels bold to depart knowingly from the rules once in a while and partly because Jackie’s verse has just the sort of cauterizing effect that I hoped for in concluding the middle (ha) section of our renku.

 

And now we move on to our seventeenth verse, which is the opening verse in the third and final section of our renku (the “kyu”). Of the kyu, Professor Shinku Fukuda said, “This part should be written calmly and pleasantly. Here, again, we can say ‘we write in a suit and a tie [or other formal attire].”

 

Our seventeenth verse should:

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

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

 

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

 

red sun paints fire
on burnt out rooms

Jackie Maugh Robinson

 

Please enter your verse offers in the comments box, below. Jackie or I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Monday, December 28 (New York time zone). On Thursday, December 31, there will be a new posting containing the selection for our seventeenth verse and instructions for composition of verse eighteen.

 

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 113 Comments

  1. *
    red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms (Jackie Maugh Robinson)
    *
    declaring it
    was Mrs. Peacock
    with a candlestick

  2. Congrats to Nimi on a fine selection.
    *
    red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms (Jackie Maugh Robinson)
    *
    happy hour
    now
    a zoom call

  3. I see that my lines included a color and that is a no-no for this verse. Oops! Too bad because I really liked the first version! So here is my revised offering:

    contemplating
    another pattern for the
    bathroom tile

  4. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson

    on the bridal path
    clumps of mud make mountains
    for termites

  5. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight — Nimi Arora
    .
    red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms —Jackie Maugh Robinson
    .
    fast forward
    to the miracle
    of banksia seedlings
    .
    . . . how it all begins again (Banksias are just one example, the most obvious one)
    .

    “All Banksia exhibit serotiny to some extent. Most retain all of their seed until release is triggered by fire, but a few species release a small amount of seed spontaneously. Serotiny is achieved through the mechanism of thick, woody follicles, which are held tightly closed by resin. Seeds retained in follicles are protected from granivores and the heat of bushfire, and remain viable for around ten years. Follicles require a critical heat in order to melt the resin, so that the follicles may begin opening; . . .”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecology_of_Banksia

    1. p.s.
      .
      In case anyone asks : Some citizens of the USA might prefer the hyphenated version, “fast-forward”, to “fast forward” . This is probably because the Merriam-Webster dictionary has adopted that version. However, there are many dictionaries which will show that my local (and preferred) version is not incorrect.

    2. The nineteenth verse will be the blossom verse for this renku. A good idea, therefore, to avoid any sort of plant or vegetation images in this seventeenth verse.

      1. . . . and (duh!) I somehow miscounted, which led me to believe that the blossom verse was next, whereas of course any blossom verse would commit ‘return to last-but one’ if last-but-one had a seedling or any plant reference.

  6. Please do not include named colors in your verse 17 offers. We have named colors in the two previous verses (gold and red).

  7. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    ***
    a dandy
    greeting the neighbourhood
    lobster pet in tow
    ***
    behind the stroller
    testing the neighbourhood’s
    acoustic
    ***
    burl wood
    dream from last night
    leads the tenon
    ***
    in the mail
    a congratulations letter
    and a plan
    ***
    hurrying
    between well-worn covers
    nana’ slow cook recipes
    ***

  8. Congrats, Jackie, on your very vivid verse!
    ***

    ‘red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms’
    ~ Jackie Maugh Robinson
    ***

    a sudden blush
    on his formerly
    ashen face
    ***

    looking cool
    in powder blue
    with a white bow tie
    ***

    the light
    through the curtains
    looks colored blue
    ***

    how peaceful
    since those neighbors
    moved away
    ***

    laying out
    a labyrinth
    for walking meditation

  9. Verse 9:

    the statue
    ‘lifts her lamp
    beside the golden door’

    Verse 10

    it is a great honour
    for athletes
    to carry the torch

  10. a solitary goldfish
    glitters
    in moonlight
    *
    Nimi Arora
    *
    red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    *
    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    given the award
    they go
    to the gallery

    1. Oh Carmen, Very clever! So, Nimi, do you prefer The Art House or The New York Gallery of Chinese Art?

  11. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    *
    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    Jackie, have you tried out “burnt-out” instead?”

    1. What a great question, Carmen!
      .
      Yes, I knew it would be a conventional choice to hyphenate the phrase. But for a few exceptions, you will see little punctuation and even less capitalization in my poetry. For me It is about aesthetics of the layout. The less interrupting the flow of words, the greater their appeal.
      .
      the fullness of a page
      all but empty
      tiny poem
      .
      More than you asked for. I hope you don’t mind my sharing.

  12. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    ——Jackie Maugh Robinson
    .
    smiling blue fox
    laughs as
    the world floats by
    .
    the road home
    starts by the willow
    where the water speaks

  13. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    .

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    .
    between charred trees
    the miracle of green
    banksia seedlings
    .

    dot the charred forest
    .

  14. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    fantasia without a theme
    in the improv
    amphitheater
    *
    fantasia discovering its theme
    in the ad-hoc
    amphitheater
    *

  15. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    *
    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    around the bathtub
    scented candles
    dance their shadows
    *
    the glass blower
    seems to draw iridescence
    from the air itself

  16. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    refreshing the planet
    with a host
    of new species
    *
    hope I’m not belaboring this; very taken with the article and the turning point in the poem!

  17. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    technology heralds
    an explosion
    of new species
    *
    the welcome
    explosion
    of cryptic species
    *
    welcoming
    cryptic species
    to the fold
    *
    ttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/25/discovery-of-cryptic-species-shows-earth-is-even-more-biologically-diverse-aoe

  18. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    freeing the spirit
    through a break
    in the fourth wall
    *

  19. After receiving valuable feedback from John regarding my concerns, I’d like to offer some guidance to you who have already posted ** and to those who have yet to do so.
    .
    **If you feel this pertains to your writes thus far, please feel free to offer new verses.
    .
    Just a reminder that this verse marks the movement from the middle (ha) to the ending section (kyu) in our renku and this should be evident through a strong change of tone, featuring pleasant, optimistic and serene images. My verse, which concludes the ha, features the aftermath of a disaster but it also contains an image of unexpected beauty and transformed vision. (Thank you, John!) In linking to it, please consider relating to something other than disaster since images of loss, illness, injustice, grief and the like are not what is needed in order to establish that we are moving on to the closing section of our renku.

  20. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    the hobo’s code
    guides our way
    through the city

  21. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    ——Jackie Maugh Robinson
    .
    iron benches
    replaced with beds
    in the orangerie
    .
    the wind tells
    a complicated story
    to the very blue sky

    1. Jonathan, really like the iron benches becoming beds. The orangerie is a brilliant link and shift! Chapeau!

      1. Thank you, Marianne. I meant to reply to your earlier comment about the duilián qualities of the previous two verses. Very insightful and a learning experience for me.

  22. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    a cup of tea
    with a new friend leads to
    a meetup at dawn
    *

  23. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    (Jackie Maugh Robinson)
    *
    blackout
    the uninvited phantom
    ruins the scenery
    *
    charcoal sketches
    all rolled up
    in a tube
    *
    water drips
    amplifying
    the acoustic
    *
    Thanks! Beautiful selection and explanations. Can’t wait to read the following !

  24. probably too many parts of houses already, but this is only for fun 😉
    **
    newspapers
    where the door used to be
    become rubble too

  25. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    *
    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    making the natural next move
    from checkers
    to chess
    *
    the flash-in-the-pan
    career
    of the average
    chess prodigy
    *

  26. hope all who celebrate holidays have done and will do it responsibly….with only spreading joy!
    .
    i’m a little late, in congrats!
    suffering from migraine-producing juniper allergies in az.
    .
    thank you, john and nimi for bringing this intense image into our renku.
    .
    and thank you. jackie for creating it.
    .
    red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson

    *
    end game
    played out
    on a ceiling

    1. sorry about your allergies Wendy, take care and keep your guard up … and, I guess, juniper allergies means no slow gin in your New Year toddies …. clysta

      1. thanks for your warm concerns, clysta!
        now, i hadn’t known a juniper connection with gin.
        that may explain my passing out in my mid-teens from one sip
        of gin at a new year’s eve party, i slept through the loud noise makers
        and the descent of the times square ball.
        *
        LOL!!! the only drinks we have are vir-gin.
        *
        wishing you many haiku moments in 2021!

          1. or perhaps Wendy, since the databases ‘know all’ the machine slowed the sloe gin just for you. My apologies if I offended. your vir ‘gin’ is a keeper.

  27. **
    red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    **
    in lab coats
    they search though the debris
    for new church windows

  28. lift forward
    this life despite
    impediments

    **

    2) quick rub
    of handkerchief on
    sweating neck

    **

    3) handy sketch
    of paint brush
    on oil smeared wall

    **

    4) beginning
    of a new novel
    on the tiny mound

    5) point out your hand
    on thief jumping
    over the wall

  29. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    .
    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    .
    a decade on
    the valley still studded
    with brick chimneys
    .
    brick chimneys
    still stud the landscape
    a decade on
    .
    the memory
    of stale cigar smoke
    lingers still
    .

    .

    1. Hi Lorin

      Thanks for the link. A wonderful read.
      Brought to mind a programme I listened to, Christmas eve, BBC radio 4, Something Understood – hope in an age of adversity-
      How so many find inspiration, joy and light in times of darkness by lighting that one candle.

      Best wishes, now, and for the future.

      Carol x

      1. Thanks, Carol. I found the program you mention and there’s some really lovely music included, as well as wise thoughts and poetry.

        1. Thanks for taking the time to seek this out. Programmes such as this fan
          the flames of creativity in my mind . . . and doesn’t that fan have to work overtime 🙂

          have a peaceful and creative new year

  30. season’s greetings to all.

    ~

    exhausted
    but together we must
    carry on

    ~

    wildlife decimated
    yet today there’s signs
    of hope

    ~

    conspiracies
    from under the bed
    forever convincing

    ~

    untold
    their dark secrets
    ravished by flames

  31. Verse 1:

    we toast
    marshmallows
    and tell tall tales

    Verse 2:

    say kind words
    and so good deeds
    before bedtime

    Verse 3:

    scraping wallpaper
    and finding
    hidden treasure

    Verse 4:

    three chimneys
    were all that remained
    of his other life

    Verse 5:

    there is nothing
    more frightening
    than a man with a gun

    Verse 6:

    oh to go to sleep
    until we wake
    in 2021!

    Verse 7:

    the Chinese flag
    raised high
    over the Pacific

    Verse 8:

    shinrin-yoku
    is perfect
    for the weary and stressed

    1. say kind words
      and so good deeds
      before bedtime

      Hey Pauline,
      .
      Just so I have this right: Is “so” in line two a typo? Did you intend it to read, “and do good deeds” ??

  32. I’ve discovered that this is fun! Thanks, John, for your guidance for us beginners.

    red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms
    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    …….
    contemplating
    another color for the
    orange wall
    …..
    sun hat
    at just the right angle hides
    her chick lit novel
    ……
    wondering if
    blackened marshmallows
    will ruin the s’mores

    1. O no Peggy.
      .
      The only thing that could ruin any recipe containing chocolate is beets. Can’t abide ‘em.

  33. Congratulations, Jackie and an interesting choice, Nimi and John. The image (red sun seeming to “paint fire” on the “burnt out rooms”) is stunningly real to me, , since I’ve witnessed this effect of a red sun casting a red glow on black, charred timber, of both forest trees and people’s homes. (I believe the effect has to do with particles of ash in the air cancelling out the blue spectrum. )
    .
    I have to say, though, that such an image with ‘red sun’ or ‘red moon’ instantly evokes the bushfire season which is generally considered to be summer in Australia. However I doubt that ‘bushfire/ wildfire’ is in any Japanese or USA saijiki list. (‘bushfire’ = USA ‘wildfire’ and not USA ‘brushfire’ )
    .
    I left a ‘Happy Christmas’ message on last week’s thread…somehow forgot that it was too late
    https://thehaikufoundation.org/the-renku-sessions-a-better-look-week-15/
    so I’ll simply copy it to here:
    .
    ” December 24, 2020 at 4:43 am
    .
    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.”
    .

    .

    1. Thank you Lorin. Yes. I was envisioning casualties, not only of the wildfires across so many of our states this past season, but the devastating tragedy of massive bushfires in your homeland. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada and we experienced days and days of red sunlight. On a windy walk, I saw normally white pampas grass fronds that looked exactly like flaming torches.
      .
      Your adeste fidelis verse is beautiful. I love your poetry.
      .
      Happy Christmas and a healthy and peaceful new year. —J

      1. Jackie, yes, I surmised that you’d actually experienced that weird ‘red sunlight’ effect. The image in your verse is striking. And (yikes!) that pampas grass on fire is so typical of the spotfires that are caused by flying sparks from the original fire, which can be miles away.

  34. Well chosen, Nimi! Congratulations Jackie on a stunning verse. And thank you Nimi for noticing my haiku. I think we are all ready to jump off this eternal Covid lockdown merry-go-round.

  35. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    cups rimmed
    with intricate curlicues
    ready for the kiln

  36. Merry Christmas from Australia!

    Well chosen, Nimi, and a great verse, Jackie. Looking forward to trying to link and shift once the festivities are over.

    We are so lucky where I am. Cricket match in the street, other neighbours hosting friends, my man and me drinking champagne while he cooks duck a l’orange.

    My very best to all of you doing it tough! Please keep safe and healthy.

  37. Well done and congratulations to, Nimi, on your selection, and Jackie for your chosen vibrant verse.

    Maxianne, I enjoyed reading your thoughts, interesting, and something to read up on.

    Have a wonderful festive holiday, everyone 🙂

    1. Nice work Nimi. I too enjoyed all your choices. Jackie, congratulations on a vibrant 15th verse:
      *
      red sun paints fire
      on burnt out rooms

      Jackie Maugh Robinson
      *
      above the aurora
      meteors backbeat
      with the Sàmi
      *
      the song-chant joiks
      of the Sàmi people
      fill the air
      *

      1. Thanks Clysta. Your verses sent me on an expedition to find the Sàmi people in the Nordic regions they inhabit and Joiks they chant. A fascinating travelogue on Wikipedia.

        1. thank you Jackie, glad you followed up. I was thinking of reindeer when i wrote it and the people who cooperate with them… always interesting what elements of other cultures embed in ours.

      2. Lovely verses, Clysta. The New York Time (online) ran a series of photos of the Sami, their reindeer, and the aurora borealis. Your verses really spoke to me.

    2. Nimi, Haikudos for hosting and I’m truly grateful you felt my verse merited your selection.
      .
      Thank you Carol, for your kind words. Looking forward to the next session.
      May we all stay safe in the coming months. Write on!

  38. congrats to Jackie Maugh Robinson .. I love the colourfulness of this verse .. and I enjoyed Nimi Arora’s other choices, too ☺
    although not technically a match-match, I can’t help but think of Chinese duilián couplets in seeing the two consecutive verses with their similar syntax and antithetical content:
    *
    a solitary goldfish glitters in moonlight
    red sun paints fire on burnt out rooms
    *
    okay, admittedly far-fetched, but the *feeling* of duilián is there .. night/ day, cool/ heat .. “feeling” ..
    shall try to come up with some follow-up, for fun ☺ thanks, John, for keeping us going, and Jackie, enjoy the fun of choosing!

    1. Thank you, Maxianne. While not familiar with the Chinese reference, I quite like finding contrasting, and/or “contradicting” images in poems and tend to use the technique liberally in mine.

      1. Jackie, that is an approach I’d never thought of .. must try it .. when I first learned of duilián from a Chinese poet in our local haiku group, he gave the example, then very current, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ..

  39. oops–
    I guess a mythic bird is still a bird. And “a” creature is too close to a solitary goldfish.
    Maybe:
    *
    cornered shadows
    contemplate
    a next move
    *
    calm shadows
    contemplate
    a next move
    *

  40. red sun paints fire
    on burnt out rooms

    Jackie Maugh Robinson
    *
    a cornered Phoenix
    contemplates
    a next move
    *
    Congratulations, Jackie! And well chosen, Nimi.
    Happy holidays to all, and stay safe!

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