skip to Main Content

The Renku Sessions: A Better Look – Week 18

renku_300
There were 105 offers for verse eighteen, from 22 poets. This is Tracy Davidson’s first renku, which explains her reluctance to take on the task of selecting the eighteenth verse. So, I have taken up that challenge.

First, here are a few of the promising verses from poets already included in our renku:

spring training puts the smile
on a Little Leaguer’s face

Ellen Compton

I’m not certain how widespread the baseball images of “spring training” and “Little Leaguer” may be. Perhaps these are primarily confined to the US. But the tone is just right for our closing section (kyu).

taking a bow
with the fiddlehead ferns

Laurie Greer

The whimsical tone of this verse is also welcome. And the homophonic fun with a “bow” is infectious.

just enough shade
beneath emerging leaves

Carol Jones

Budding leaves might be considered to force a rather close link with the blossom verse that comes next. On the other hand, the guaranteed linkage frees us to go absolutely anywhere with our blossom offers.

seeds planted
in the ploughed field

andrew shimield

A very solid offering and it has the extra lightness of an end rhyme with the poet’s name.

soul music
sung by a frog

Pauline O’Carolan

Also, neatly harmonic in tone.

 

And here are some verses from poets not currently included – from which I will be making a final selection:

carrying home
a pail of pollywogs

Linda Weir

We have “house” in verse fourteen but this can be easily fixed. The link is with “baby” and offers the humorous prospect of a “baby grand” growing up to be a simply “grand piano.” Also, I see a resemblance between written musical notes and pollywogs. And there is the linkage of carrying a pail and carrying a tune.

powder blue eggs
nestled in down

Carole Harrison

The tone is right and the image is clear but also openly non-specific. For me, it does revisit the bosc pears wrapped in cellophane (verse five). And we do have a non-specific “bird,” in verse eight.

a thousand tsuru
take flight in morning mist

Alfred Booth

Lovely, if somewhat imaginary. We already have our “foreign word” verse (number thirteen – Kama Sutra) but we could easily change “tsuru” to “cranes.” Also, “a thousand” tends to take me back, by contrast, to “solitary” in verse fifteen.

the brightening tone
of the new grass

Dana Rapisardi

Optimistic and forward looking. The migration of “tone” from a musical to a visual quality is interesting. And perhaps it would inspire a blossom verse that focuses on scent.

This verse is very nearly my final choice but I am concerned that the all but stated “green” of this grass takes us back to the “red sun” of verse sixteen. In renku, special care is taken to avoid any easily perceived linkage between a current verse and either the hokku or the last-but-one verse (verse sixteen, for verse eighteen).

My selection for verse eighteen is:

carrying a pail
of pollywogs

Linda Weir

Linda Weir will now be offered the opportunity to select our next verse. Please let me know, Linda, 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 nineteenth verse, the blossom verse. This is a cherry blossom in Japanese renku. But, for our purposes, it can be cherry blossoms or any other blossom that is clearly a feature of spring.

Our nineteenth verse should:
• consist of three natural, unforced lines
• constitute a single phrase, without a grammatical break
• contain a spring blossom reference (kigo)

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

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

carrying a pail
of pollywogs

Linda Weir

Please enter your verse offers in the comments box, below. Linda or I will be reviewing these offers until midnight on Monday, January 11 (New York time zone). On Thursday, January 14, there will be a new posting containing the selection for our nineteenth verse and instructions for composition of verse twenty.

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 94 Comments

  1. Haikudos, Linda! Nice use of whimsical alliteration in your verse.
    .
    blossoms
    softly contradict
    their gnarled branches
    .
    blossoms
    emerge from buds
    to grace the day
    .
    wind tossed blossoms
    gather and separate
    on zen garden sand

  2. in the major bear
    seven petals
    of clematis
    ***************************
    on the coastal road
    the magnolia blossoms
    suddenly
    **************************
    with this rain
    so far away
    the bee and the lilac

  3. rain,
    everywhere
    Cherry blossoms

    *****************************
    if only I could
    see flourish again
    her peony ….

  4. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs –Linda Weir
    .
    on a wet bough
    apricot blossoms
    arranged just so
    .
    (with a nod to E.P. )
    .
    on a black bough
    apricot blossoms
    placed just so

  5. *
    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    *
    Linda Weir
    *
    saucer magnolia
    overflowing
    with blossoms
    *
    a splash
    of cherry petals
    in the saucer magnolia
    *

  6. her withered hand
    blossoms
    with wisteria
    *
    the slither
    of his hips
    over mountain cherry
    *
    wiggling
    and giggling
    through peach blossom

  7. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs

    Linda Weir
    **
    fresh crushed pigment
    to honor
    the year’s first blossoms
    **
    they gather
    spring blossoms
    into honey

  8. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    ——Linda Weir
    .
    pink blossom boats
    race across
    the rippled water
    .
    sakura petals
    shower down
    on lucky umbrellas

  9. sakura petals
    jump from mountain
    to mountain
    .
    sakura petals
    flutter
    in the air
    .
    how the breeze
    scattered petals jump off
    cherry tree tops

  10. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano — Tracy Davidson
    .
    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs — Linda Weir
    .
    this year too
    sakura buds open
    days earlier
    .
    (There is a company in Japan that maps when the sakura blossom where, each year. It’s pretty clear that the trend is, little by little, year by year, earlier and earlier. )
    .
    (I’m not certain whether the kyu section of a renku is the “Don’t mention global warming or even hint at it” section. I know it wouldn’t do for the jo section.)

    1. Good instincts, Lorin. The ha is the place for current events, politics, conflict, illness and other topics that would involve intense emotion. The kyu is, like the jo, comparatively formal and restrained in tone.

  11. John,
    Thank you very much for considering my verse as a potential segue in this interesting collaborative work called Renku. New to this endeavor for the last two weeks, I realize it is almost impossible to join in at the last minute and pen successful verses. It is a great joy for me that both weeks mine have come up for consideration.

    Thank you for your brief overview of my words, as well as those of the others poets selected—they give me valuable insight concerning how they reflect and interact with past verses, which in the next Renku Session I will follow closely.

    Alfred

  12. Oh, not sure if we need to avoid “ing” ending (repeat from the last verse). If so, then my propositions should read as follow

    magnolias
    triggers
    a first sneeze
    *
    playmates
    wiggle their nose
    at the blossom trees
    *
    smell of magnolias
    awakes
    new allergies

  13. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    (Linda Weir)
    *
    magnolias
    triggering
    a first sneeze
    *
    nose wiggling
    from the smell
    of blossom trees
    *
    smell of magnolias
    awakening
    new allergies
    *

  14. ❤️❤️Congratulations Dear Linda ❤️❤️

    ••••

    bloom colorful bloom
    a sprig of red tucked in my ear

    Nani Mariani – Melbourne

  15. .
    .
    in the east
    a cherry
    blossoms
    .
    her song pouch* full
    of unsung
    cherries
    .
    phantom limbs blossom
    amidst a rash
    of selfies**
    .
    fingertips
    have an ear for
    cherry blossoms
    .
    in the forbidden zone
    a cherry blossoms
    freely
    .
    .
    *A song pouch was a container usually tied to the main pillar of a poet’s house into which scraps of poems were dropped. It also refers to the balloon-like throat of the frog. (Robin Gill – Cherry Blossom Epiphany)
    .
    **Cherry blossoms were the symbols of Kamikaze fighters during World War II. (Faye Aoyagi)
    .
    .

    1. love the song pouch; never heard of it before–thanks!
      also love your last one about freedom. Well done!

      1. Thanks for your kind words Laurie. If you are not familiar with Robin Gill, he is a very engaging and informative writer/translator, considered a ‘maverick’ within the field of Western studies on Edo-period poetry. Portions of his books are available for free on google books – check it out – highly recommended. Fay Aoyagi has a blog – Blue Willow Haiku World – also highly recommended.

  16. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    .
    Linda Weir
    .
    memories
    of peach blossom
    in the old orchard
    .
    tumbling
    in star magnolias
    on my birthday
    .
    star magnolias
    tumble down
    the slope
    .
    a tumble
    of star magnolias
    on the grass
    .
    magnolias
    cart-wheel
    down the slope

  17. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano — Tracy Davidson
    .
    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs — Linda Weir
    .
    a breeze
    brings the tang of coastal
    tea tree blossom
    .

  18. Love the polywogs , Linda! That verse makes me smile!

    blossoms fall
    onto the swaying swing
    creaking in the wind

  19. Aghh, I knew I was hasty in posting when I did.
    ***

    Revising my third offering:
    ***
    dogwood branches
    bearing
    stationary butterflies

  20. blossoms eager
    for the wind
    to test their mettle
    *
    blossoms breaking
    each other’s
    fall
    *
    blossoms seeking
    their own levels
    together
    *

  21. Congratulations Linda.

    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    *
    Linda Weir

    surprised
    by daffodils
    at the waters edge

    1. That’s a great question, Ellen. We certainly can’t use a blossoming pear tree. But this is the blossom verse and cherry blossoms are the tradition here. We can possibly use a spring blossom other that a flowering tree – that is just my preference (and something I believe that Bill Higginson used to prefer).

      1. “We can possibly use a spring blossom other that a flowering tree – that is just my preference . . . ” – John
        .
        John, at first I had the (quite wrong!) impression that you’d asked for a ‘flower’ verse. Many flowers bloom in spring (including the buttercups I used in my first go at this verse) but only certain trees and shrubs blossom. Once, it was only the flowers of stoned fruit that we called blossoms. Then, we added the trees that have pips in the fruit, like apples, like pears (and like tea trees) and then other trees, shrubs and vines that have seed pods, like wattle, like gourds, like wisteria, like camellias and etc.. I believe this should be noted, because:
        .
        if a spring blossom is called for, then, rightfully, everyone should be offering ‘blossom’ verses of some kind and not buttercups (as I did), daffodils, daisies, lilies etc. If you’d specified the more general ‘spring flower’ verse, then we could have anything that flowers in spring. But only blossoms blossom. Roses and irises and daffodils and lotuses don’t blossom; they bloom.
        .
        If we’re all to be on the same page, we all need to remember that not every flower is a blossom, let alone a cherry blossom (whether fruiting or ornamental)

  22. Wonderful pollywogs, Linda ☺ .. and here, for fun ..
    *
    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    *
    Linda Weir
    *
    the metamorphosis
    of plain-jane bulbs
    into daffodils

    1. John, I realize you prefer tree blossoms .. but when I map my verse onto a tree, well, the language of it seems so generic ..
      **
      the metamorphosis
      of buds on the branches
      into blossoms
      **
      so am sort of wondering .. it might only be because this verse I’ve presented is, well, generic .. [sigh] ..
      renku is hard, but some one has to do it!

      1. *
        the metamorphosis
        of plain-jane bulbs
        into daffodils – Maxianne Berger
        *
        *
        I think your original verse is fabulous Maxianne – you should trust your inner poetic voice – write what you feel and it will resonate with your audience.
        That being said, I would like to suggest a one word change in your original verse, which I think would give it an added dimension, if you are open to it?

          1. Nevermind Maxianne. On further consideration my suggestion was ill-conceived.

            *
            the metamorphosis
            of plain-jane bulbs
            into daffodils – Maxianne Berger
            *
            Perfect!

  23. Linda, applause for your verse’s selection! It brought back a memory more than a half century old. Wandering around a lake with an older cousin, we came upon a pool in some rocks. It was filled with little black wriggling things, nothing like I’d ever seen before. “Pollywogs!” my cousin cried, leaving an impression my aging brain so far hasn’t erased. And to John, so close! My grass verse’s link-back to verse 16 escaped my examination against all the preceding verses, but just getting this close to final selection feels like an accomplishment to me. I shall try, try again!
    ***

    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs

    ~Linda Weir
    ***

    a check mark beside
    ‘cherry blossom festival’
    on my bucket list
    ***

    the sweet possibility
    in every blossom
    on the plum tree
    ***

    dogwoods bearing
    stationary
    butterflies

  24. Congratulations Linda and thank you John
    *
    biking through
    a blizzard of falling
    cherry blossoms
    *
    biking
    under falling
    blossoms

  25. While we can consider a range of blossom images, I do prefer that we work with the image of a blossoming tree – cherry, plum, peach, dogwood, magnolia, etc.
    .
    The blossom image should be the central focus of the verse rather than a prop for some other image. The blossom should be literal rather than “something like a blossom.”
    .
    In Japanese renku, to simply say “blossom” is sufficient because, if nothing different is specified, it is presumed that this means “cherry blossom.” The general significance of this image is the touchingly transient quality of something incredibly beautiful and the shared awareness of this quality by many people.

  26. I have no idea if these are disqualified due to connections to previous verses, but I offer them up anyway. Thank you John for guiding us through this process and for your comments on the selections. I have learned so much and continue to learn as we go.

    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    Linda Weir
    .
    forsythia
    popping out
    against the frost
    .
    early daffodils
    serve up a teaspoon
    of late snow
    .
    gathering irises
    before the late frost
    snatches them
    .
    an old postcard
    of the cherry blossom festival
    hand colored

  27. not a scratch
    on the baby
    grand piano — Tracy Davidson
    .
    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs — Linda Weir
    .
    between puddles
    the sunshine yellow
    of buttercups
    .

  28. Pollywogs was a new one for me, Linda! Tadpoles where I come from. Wonderful how the English language varies so much, even here in Australia there are differences in word use and pronunciation between the States. I like your verse very much and am enjoying trying to link and shift. I’m glad you will take on the sabaki role fr this week’s selection; it’s really enlightening.

    Thank you for mentioning my frog, John. There are lots of them around my place as we’ve had bounteous summer rain.

    Verse 1:

    they roll
    down the hill
    into a pile of blossom

    Verse 2:

    up on the hill
    the cherry trees
    shake their blossom

    Verse 3:

    branches of the crabapple tree
    burdened
    by blossom

    Verse 4:

    jacaranda petals
    are just a lilac shade
    of purple

  29. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    .
    Linda Weir
    .
    will I win
    the prize for longest
    daisy chain?
    .
    the prize
    for longest
    daisy chain

  30. Congratulations Linda – an interesting turn in the renku, and thanks John, for your commentary.

    .
    .
    jack
    or is that jill
    in the pulpit?
    .
    frenching
    a prince
    in lady slippers
    .
    a nose
    gay
    with cherry blossom
    .
    the poetic genius
    emigrates
    to a lily pad
    .
    .

  31. congratulations Linda, Nicely done
    ********************************************
    their painting
    the roses red at
    the white house
    ************************
    crocus
    pushing up either side
    of the path
    ********************
    almond blossoms
    on a carton
    of milk substitute

    1. their painting
      the roses red at
      the white house (Michael)
      .
      Ah, yes, Michael! 🙂 Spot on! : There is has certainly been something of the presence of Lewis Carrol’s Red Queen at the White House in recent times.
      .
      “When logic and proportion

      Have fallen sloppy dead

      And the White Knight is talking backwards

      And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”

      Remember what the dormouse said;

      “FEED YOUR HEAD” ”
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIyMBuM5AVw&list=RDjIyMBuM5AVw&start_radio=1&t=0

      1. Jefferson Airplane the first concert i attended and first LP purchased way back when i was 17
        The Airplane was awesome the best example of San Francisco acid rock. I saw them again the next year at 18

  32. Such a lovely surprise to see my verse selected. Thank you John for choosing it and for explaining the slight modification to remove the back link you noted. I would be happy to select for next week. Such fun to see the poem evolve over the weeks of our journey together.

  33. Congratulations, Linda.
    .
    John, although I’m familiar enough with American (USA) culture to know the relation of “Little Leaguers” to baseball, l needed to search for the word “pollywogs”, and have learned something new. I wonder if I’m the only one?
    .
    polliwog
    /ˈpɒlɪwɒɡ/
    Learn to pronounce
    noun
    plural noun: pollywogs

    1.
    dialect•North American
    a tadpole.
    2.
    informal•North American
    a new sailor, especially one crossing the equator for the first time.
    .
    Origin
    late Middle English (earlier as pollywiggle ): from poll in the sense ‘head’ + the verb wiggle.
    .
    ( I’m not unfamiliar with tadpoles. 🙂 )

    1. Lorin – You are very likely not alone on this as tadpole is much more common in usage, with pollywog being more informal and old fashioned.

    1. I love this one, Wendy! Johnny jump ups are a joyous flower, and perfect with “nosegay.” Also a neat way to get the jumping of a frog in the verse.

  34. carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    *
    Linda Weir
    *
    nothing to fear
    in the split-corona
    daffodils
    *
    containers of tulips
    absorbing
    the cold
    *
    wolf’s bane
    hiding
    in aconitum’s clothing
    *

  35. congratulations Linda. a very delightful image. thank you John for clarifying the linkages in your comments. i missed so many linkages, including Linda’s. will be only reading the rest of this renku as untangling from previous verses and creating llnkages is something that needs more study. appreciate seeing these verses come alive in real time by accomplished renku poets. huzzah THF.

    1. Dear Clysta (and everyone),

      You are, of course, free to participant as a reader only or as a reader and poet, offering verses. There are no penalties for offering verses that, for one reason or another, cannot ultimately be used. One function of a renku, as I see it, is to stimulate creativity. And this can be served by the production of work that can be used either within the renku itself or later, in some other venue or capacity. That’s the long way of saying follow along as a reader but also please let us see your inspirations as they come to you!

  36. thanks, john for making this fun selection and all the enlightening commentary.
    *
    congrats to linda….and thank you for the fun pollywog verse!

    .
    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    .
    Linda Weir
    *
    the widening
    necklace
    of plum blossom petals

  37. I know we’ve had a ‘foreign word’ but these are so lovely when arranged just so.

    kokedama snowdrops
    sway gently
    in the breeze

  38. Congratulations, Linda a delightful image, and a marvellous choice, John, I enjoyed reading all your comments.
    Thankyou for commenting on one of mine.

    1. oops–

      the rounded
      beds of
      grandiflorabunda
      *
      or
      rounding out
      gardens with
      grandiflorabunda
      *
      to avoid repeat appearances of something solitary

  39. Thanks, John, for your always astute and illuminating comments–and for including one of mine. Congratulations, Linda–a lovely verse with tons of potential!
    *
    carrying a pail
    of pollywogs
    *
    Linda Weir
    *
    they both drink in
    the beauty
    of a hybrid tea rose
    *
    inheriting heirloom roses
    better known
    as antiques
    *
    heirloom roses
    aka
    antiques
    *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top