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The Renku Sessions: A Better Look – Week 17

renku_300

Verse offerings totaled 93 this time, from 22 poets. Jackie Maugh Robinson is our selector and here is her report:

“Choosing among these verses has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my time writing poetry. I learned so much thanks to John’s generous and patient guidance. This acknowledgement would not be complete without expressing the admiration for and inspiration from the work of the lovely members of this community. Bless you one and all.

My favorites of this week’s verses are:

I don’t know what lies beneath the knotty, almost grotesque, aging burl tree bark. But a dream of its lumber rebuilding the ruins of a home, using ancient woodworking techniques quite caught my imagination. Lovely Sandra.

burl wood
dream from last night
leads the tenon

Sandra St-Laurent

And my choice for verse seventeen is this exquisite image. Is it an unfathomably untouched survivor of some disastrous event? The music will go on. As will my memory of Tracy’s poem. Thank you for sharing it with us.

not a scratch
on the baby
grand piano

Tracy Davidson

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For two years I belonged to an improv troupe. The first rule of improvisation is: no matter what an acting partner tosses in your lap, your response is some form of, “yes, and…” You “Never say NO” (deny/contradict). To do so stops the scene action’s forward movement.

On the contrary, renku poets are presented with exclusionary guidelines. In the seventeenth verse we’re asked to eschew various elements from previous verses: roads, parts of houses, food and critters. To be mindful of what’s to come. This time, no seasons, moon, love, blossoms (vegetation), art or colors. This seventeenth verse begins the kyu section which changes tone and should feature pleasant, optimistic and serene images and move away from disaster, darkness and drama.

I’m emphasizing all this to say that many of you wrote verses that happened to contain some of the above exclusions. But because they were just downright wondermous anyway, I include some of them below in a group I title:

 

Yes, and…

 

fast forward
to the miracle
of banksia seedlings

Lorin Ford

 

the light touch
of tannin
in my Beaujolais

Ellen Compton

 

cups rimmed
with intricate curlicues
ready for the kiln

Maxianne Berger

 

signs of life emerge
from fertile.
empty spaces

Carol Jones

 

the oven packed
with half-baked
tarts

Laurie Greer

 

catching
the falling glass
just inches from floor

Debbie Feller

 

we toast
marshmallows
and tell tall tales

Pauline O’Carolan

 

kites flying above
barbed wire in the
refugee camp

Dan Campbell

 

contemplating
another color for the
orange wall

Peggy Hale Bilbro

 

in lab coats
they search through the debris
for new church windows

Alfred Booth

 

above the aurora
meteors backbeat
with the Sàmi

Clysta Seney

 

how peaceful
since those neighbors
moved away

Dana Rapisardi

 

the road home
starts by the willow
where the water speaks

Johnathan Alderfer”

 

John speaking again:

Tracy Davidson will now be offered the opportunity to select our next verse. Please let me know, Tracy, 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 eighteenth verse, which is the first of three spring verses that will conclude our renku.

 

Our eighteenth verse should:

  • consist of two natural, unforced lines
  • constitute a single phrase, without a grammatical break
  • contain a spring seasonal reference (kigo) – but not a blossom (which will be required in the next verse)

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

 

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

 

not a scratch
on the baby
grand piano

Tracy Davidson

 

Please enter your verse offers in the comments box, below. Tracy or I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Monday, January 4 (New York time zone). On Thursday, January 7, there will be a new posting containing the selection for our eighteenth verse and instructions for composition of verse nineteen.

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 73 Comments

    1. Oops. My apologies! We are in the closing movement, and the erased smiles are a downer. How about
      .
      spring training puts the smile
      on a Little Leaguer’s face

  1. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    ——Tracy Davidson
    .
    a fighting kite performs
    under a balcony of clouds
    .
    and now the wind
    is just the wind

  2. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    *
    Tracy Davidson
    *
    the planes of the Delta kite
    battered with flexing
    *
    playing too hard
    with the multi-plane kite
    *
    too many ways to play hard
    with the multi-plane

  3. Thank you to Jackie for picking my verse, and to everyone else for their lovely comments about it.
    Alas, I didn’t have time to join in this week. But have been enjoying this renku challenge very much.

  4. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    *
    Tracy Davidson
    *
    kites at play
    in the balmy breeze
    *
    not one to soft pedal
    the first balmy breeze
    *

    1. oops–scratch the second one–
      no need to start with another “not.” or another “one” after the solitary goldfish.

    1. Laughing at the advice in this article, Lorin. Thanks for providing it. I’ve only lived in So. California and Las Vegas, Nevada and there it’s the mockingbirds you need to beware of. My springer spaniel had the kind of coat that produced what I call feathers. Those on her head were targets for the mockers who used the fur for nest-making. The first thing the poor girl did when we let her out in the small back yard was duck! One day I went out to check on her and there she was, I swear, smiling with regal smugness.. She was positioned Sphinx like on the grass, paws crossed over a former mockingbird. Sadly, there was less singing in the trees that Spring.

      1. I love this story about your mockingbirds, Jacqui. I’ve read about them, but had no idea they’d pluck fur from a live animal to line their nests with! That’s very cheeky. (I’d like to see a bird plucking fur from my cat!) How miserable for your spaniel until he/ she found a solution, which is a talent Spaniels have in their ancestry, as they were bred as bird hunting dogs. Hopefully, the other mockingbirds learned the lesson.

  5. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    *
    Tracy Davidson
    *
    balmy breeze transposed
    for a fiddle head quartet
    *

  6. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    *
    Tracy Davidson
    *
    demonstrating his forte
    with a pair of bubble wands
    *
    taking the measure
    of a fiddle head fern
    *
    taking a bow
    with the fiddle head ferns
    *
    four hands guide the kite
    in the first balmy breeze
    *

  7. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    **
    Tracy Davidson
    *
    seeds planted
    in the ploughed field
    *
    skylark song
    hangs in the air

  8. And a few more following

    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    -Tracy Davidson
    *
    last season’s treasures
    composting
    *
    entire closets
    awaiting the purge
    *
    purging
    the clothing baskets
    *

  9. Happy new year everyone!
    What a fun way to start the new year to start thinking about spring time 😉 Thank you so much for noticing and commenting my burl wood dream- I feel honoured! I read all comment and it does- help me- to have a better look (no pun intended) at the whole process 😉 Well, you made my day! Congratulations for the selected verse- beautiful start. Let’s see what other treasures will emerge for the last stretch!

    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano — Tracy Davidson
    *
    yellow wax
    on the rock skis
    *
    t-shirts
    and skis
    *
    fresh smell
    of thawing poop
    *
    muddy trails
    becoming an obstacle course
    *
    muddy Monet
    on my calves
    *

    1. Yes, Carol. It would be preferable to avoid book- related images at this point. In a longer renku, the question can be “have there been enough verses since the last reference (to books/writing in this instance). But with a total of twenty verses, we will want to try for something new in every verse (aside from material that creates the link with each previous verse).

  10. children search for eight-leaf
    clovers at Chernobyl
    *
    children search for glowing
    clovers at Chernobyl
    *
    pupusa picnics
    at La Libertad

  11. Congratulations to Tracy for a fine verse, and to Jackie for choosing it. Thank you, Jackie, for mentioning my verse in the ‘Yes, and…’ section.

    A happy and healthy 2021 to all, especially to the poets from lands stricken by Covid.

    Verse 1:

    still cold
    as we listen to the stream

    Verse 2:

    treading lightly
    over thin ice

    Verse 3:

    ploughing (plowing) deep grooves
    in the earth

    Verse 4:

    tranquil newborn
    in his cradle

    Verse 5:

    soul music
    sung by a frog

    Verse 6:

    singing forte
    in the lingering day

    Verse 7:

    serene setting
    for outdoor opera

    Verse 8:

    tranquility
    shattered by applause

    Verse 9:

    an avalanche
    only metres away

    Verse 10:

    child and kite
    dance in the wind

  12. Yay Tracy! What a grand verse! And thank you Jackie, for including my offering in the “Yes, and”. Happy New Year !

  13. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    **
    Tracy Davidson
    **
    lambs in matching sweaters
    bouncy bouncy bounce
    **
    the kindergartners singing
    ♪ Rain Rain Go Away ♪
    **

  14. Congratulations, Tracy!

    Happy New Year to everyone here!!

    the sweet song
    of leaves in the wind

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 1/2/21

  15. Congrats to Tracy on a verse really wondrous in its link to verse 16 and its movement forward! Also thanks to Jackie for deeming one of my offerings worthy of note.
    ***

    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano

    ~Tracy Davidson
    ***

    finding his keys
    where the snow bank was
    ***

    patter of the rain
    in sixteenth notes
    ***

    the brightening tone
    of the new grass
    ***

    the kite’s taut string
    twanging softly

  16. not a scratched

    on the baby
    grand piano

    •Tracy Davidson

    ••••

    untouchable

    in plain sight

    Monalisa’s smile

    Nani Mariani, Melbourne

  17. Thank you Jackie Maugh Robinson for including my lines in your “Yes, and…” selection.
    **
    Congratulations Tracey Davidson for saving the baby grand; the pianist I am had a hard time diverging from your lovely inspiration. Here are my proposals for your consideration.
    **
    **
    ice melts
    below a kingfisher’s branch
    **
    fog over lake ice
    lulls the full moon’s beacon
    **
    a thousand tsuru
    take flight in morning mist

  18. Well done Jackie and Tracy. Beautiful work.

    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    .
    Tracy Davidson
    .
    powder blue eggs
    nestled in down
    .
    fresh grass cut
    and soft elastoplast
    .
    elastoplast and
    ‘mummy kiss it better’
    .
    mummy
    kiss it better

  19. Congrats Tracy and thank you Jackie and John and happy new year to all.
    *
    butterflies weaving over the lawn
    with no flight plan

  20. what a grand verse selection to move the renku forward and welcome in a new year. congrats Tracy. thanks for the mention of my verse Jackie. wishing poets everywhere a healthy and hopeful 2021.
    clysta

  21. Congratulations, Tracey and a nice choice, Jackie. I thought this verse spot was a difficult one to fill, and I think you’ve hit the right note with this verse:
    .
    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano — Tracy Davidson
    .

    Also, it’s cheering to see my verse on your list despite that (as I saw in retrospect) it was impossible, considering this verse spot is uchikoshi to the upcoming flower verse. I’m reminded that we need to be looking forward to where the renku is going quite as much if not more than we look for the dreaded ‘backlink’. 🙂
    .
    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    .
    “who?” and “ha!”
    notes a kookaburra fledgling
    .

  22. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    ——Tracy Davidson
    .
    waterfalls polishing
    the mountain granite
    .
    the sound of the forest floor
    lifting up

  23. Perfect choice for the next verse! Kudos to Tracy, and to Jackie for selecting it. I was also pleased to see that you paused on my verse in your ‘yes, but…’ list. Below are my offerings for verse 18. It is getting harder and harder to avoid all the no-nos!
    .
    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    Tracy Davidson
    .
    broken branches
    poke through the spring mist
    .
    humming along
    with the first mosquito
    .
    falling again
    for the same April Fool joke
    .
    spring cleaning turns up
    my son’s stash
    .
    spring cleaning turns up
    my old harmonica

  24. Hopeful New Year to all My Poetry Friends / Nice verse Tracy
    ******************************************************************************
    strains of happy birthday
    escape from a balloon

  25. some hopeful offerings for the new year
    .
    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    ——Tracy Davidson
    .
    a soft haze erases
    our imperfections
    .
    muddy sandals
    washed clean in the rain

  26. To our sabaki and all our contributors–my thanks for your shared creativity and all good wishes for a better year to come. See you next year!

  27. congrats to Tracy and the piano .. lovely verse ☺ .. and thanks to Jackie for wise comments, and also for pausing on one of my offerings .. The constraints are becoming more and more restrictive .. shall think a while and offer something .. for fun .. but in the meantime, thank you, John, for keeping us going, and to this lovely gathering of poetically-minded friends, a happy celebration of the end of [groan] 2020 .. and may 2021 be kind to us all!

  28. Just joining in the fun:
    .
    soap bubbles pop new notes
    onto the band’s sheet music
    .
    tuneful wind chimes
    accompany a lamb’s baa
    .
    sure the shamrocks dance
    to a tin whistle air
    .
    Here’s to a healthy, happy new year.

    1. Oops, looks like it doesn’t bode wool for the little lamb since verse fifteen has already floated a goldfish!

      1. “Oops, looks like it doesn’t bode wool for the little lamb since verse fifteen has already floated a goldfish!” – Jackie
        .
        Hmmm, I’m not so sure about that, Jackie. There’s a big difference between a fish in a bowl and a mammal. There seem to be 6 kinds of animal beings in renku: 1. humans ,2. other land mammals (eg. lambs, tigers etc), 3. fish, 4. birds, 5. frogs (& etc. eg. lizards, snakes, alligators etc) and 6. insects.
        .
        We do have a cat and a bird in verse # 8
        .
        cat devouring
        a bird — Kiti Saarinen
        .
        It’s a long way back, though. I wouldn’t have thought a “lamb” so much later would be an issue.
        .
        What I’d really appreciate is John’s view on this issue, both in particular and in general.

        1. Me too, Lorin! Searching for choices, I began to feel like a partially blindfolded scavenger hunter in a “find the items” puzzle. But it was fun.

        2. Me too, Lorin! Searching for choices, I began to feel like a partially blindfolded scavenger hunter in a “find the items” puzzle. But such fun.

  29. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    *
    Tracy Davidson
    *
    the itch of hives
    from fresh abalone
    *
    just itching for the feel
    of a fresh blade of grass
    *
    peeling the lid from a smooth
    Easter mocktail
    *

    1. oops–forgot about the “fresh snowfall”
      revisions:
      *
      the itch of hives from slightly
      off abalone
      *
      just itching for the feel
      of a tender blade of grass
      *

  30. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    *
    Tracy Davidson
    *
    Maypole dance growing wilder
    as the mud hardens
    *
    improvising fresh steps
    around the Maypole mud
    *
    the Maypole dance off to as
    dizzying start
    *

  31. excellent pick! and interesting commentary from jackie! and thank you for guidance, john.
    .

    congrats! tracy! i love your grand piano verse. how perfectly it follows jackie’s verse!

    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    .
    Tracy Davidson

    basket-weave pattern
    criss-cross saved eggs

    1. correction:

      basket-weave pattern
      criss-crosses saved eggs
      .
      basket-weave pattern
      criss-crosses speckless eggs
      .
      may the new year
      of 2021
      be speckless!

  32. Congratulations, Tracy! Lovely verse, with many ways to take us ahead. Thank you, Jackie, for your thoughts and I am glad you enjoyed my tarts!
    Also: a happy and healthy new year to all!
    *

    not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano
    *
    Tracy Davidson
    *
    forgetting the words
    to the Maypole song
    *

  33. A marvellous choice Jackie, enjoyed reading your thoughts on the considered verses, and congratulations Tracy a wonderful verse.

    Thankyou, Jackie for placing my verse in the line up, always a thrill to see.
    Look forward to reading all the forthcoming verses.

    Have Happy Healthy and Poetic New Year, everyone.

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