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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 14

renkuchainGreetings and welcome to The Haiku Foundation’s Fourth Renku Session: A Day of Snow. I am Marshall Hryciuk of Toronto Canada and i will be the leader of a 36-link Kasen renku. I’ve led over 40 of these linked-poem gatherings and my latest book, from Carleton Place, Canada is a selection of 15 of them, called petals in the dark.

Good morning, renku fans. We have our 14th verse. It is:

scanning an empty platform
as  the train chugs off

              –Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

This links both to being in the saddle, through “platform” and to along the track with “train.” With the latter it casts light back to clarify the iron chill of the “morning jaunt” and gives our renku an emotional chill as the train begins to move on, sustaining its motion.

The verse’s one adjective, “empty” carries the weight of all the subject’s feeling. And I like how it’s left open whether that subject is on the platform, in the station or perhaps within the train, “scanning” back as it pulls away with no sight of the hoped-for person.

“Chugs off” is appropriately gross, as from within this bereft state the loud and grinding sounds of a machine are exaggerated in their harshness. Thank you, Shrikaanth.

What we need now are 3 more lines of unrequited love experienced and felt and not expressed in the third person.

Happy linking,


A Day of Snow to Date

a day of snow
no one else
has come to the door

    –Marshall Hrycuik

coyote song closer
this longest night

    –Judt Shrode

incense lit
the scent of sage
lingers in a crowd

      –Maureen Virchau

bales of the second haying
stacked to the rafters

    –Paul MacNeil

dust from travelers
makes its slow descent
in the moonlight

    –steve smolak

faded jeans, school colors
and granny’s specs to match

    –Betty Shropshire

facing me
a hairy bunyip points
the bones

      –Barbara A. Taylor

balls of moss
exit the quaking forest

      –Carmen Sterba

in the garden shop
seed packets
arrayed alphabetically

      –Marilyn Potter

glasswing on the handle
of my butterfly net

      –Karen Cesar

a gypsy’s forecast
uttered to the sound
of rolling dice

    –Lorin Ford

trick-or-treaters skip
under a new moon

      –Maureen Virchau

horses’ foggy snorts
lead our morning jaunt
along the track

      –Marietta McGregor

scanning an empty platform
as the train chugs off

      –Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

This Post Has 202 Comments

  1. the sound if the night sky
    is too quiet nd i can hear
    you calling me from the stars

  2. A little late from me, but thanks for the note on my per diem haiku, Judt 🙂

    1. Let’s change that so it doesn’t sound quite so Celine Dionish:
      the hollow sound
      of my heart trying
      simply to beat

      1. heart’s don’t “try” except in pop music maybe, Mary -they beat, beat more quickly or just don’t

  3. the last rewrite:
    a wild storm
    wakes me from a dream
    I don’t want to end

    1. wouldn’t it be more accurate to write, ‘I didn’t want to end’? -because if you are awake, the dream is over -this isn’t just semantics, Mary, in a renku and I would say in haiku-related writing altogether you have to lose the colloquial Western abstract self and write from the complete present, in the present, or if from the past, in the proper sequence ‘back to’ the present -we’re not looking for a portrait of the writer’s persona but something that is -specifically here the feeling of love and its loss

      1. Thanks for taking all this time to leave thoughtful and useful comments. I’m so new to renku that I have so much to learn. I agree with everything you say here about this verse…and about haiku. I’ve really missed the boat quite a few times. I appreciate your patience very much.

        So it would work better as this:
        a wild storm
        wakes me from a dream
        I didn’t want to end

        1. yes, Mary, it ‘works’ more clearly for the reader but i hope you understand there’s not enough suggestion of love and love’s loss here or of a link to the previous verse that would make it choose it for this link

    1. “silent flat” does link to “empty platform”, Mary but doesn’t really have any movement to it that carries the momentum of the previous verse

    1. a lovely memory and perhaps reverie but ‘adrift’ still connotes some hope of revival to me -and yes, we’ve had enough ‘reflections’ and we need to link as well as shift

    1. this is more like it, Mary -but it makes me want to ask, ‘what prompted the memory?’ or maybe start with ‘recalling the warmth’ -but it would still have no palpable connection to the platform

  4. Here’s a rewrite of my earlier offering:
    as I brew coffee for one
    the parrot asks me
    if I want a kiss

    1. two “I”‘s in a renku verse a telltale sign, Mary -but it could be improved by making the last line, ‘if i’d like a kiss’

      1. Ok, so here’s my revision:
        as I brew coffee for one
        the parrot asks me
        if I’d like a kiss

  5. the tuning fork has long been struck
    and I am holding the metal tip
    to the quiet bones of my neck


  6. longing to touch his broad back
    as he calls a cab
    and works keys off the ring

    1. sort of furthers your phantasy of what the love-interest did after he latched the door behind him Judt -nice twist of “keys off the ring” instead of ‘ring off the finger’ but it’s just too long and too much of a stretch to connect it with the scanned and empty platform

    1. again, she’s might be a fine motivator but she must also be indifferent to or rejecting of your hopes, Vasile

    1. we already had the word “crowd” in the third verse, Vasile -and it’s not just about the ‘dream girl’, but the loss of her as well

    1. adept transference of the storm’s “wild night” to what we might guess of your dream, Mary -but we have “night” in the daisan -and this time I looked back to make sure

    1. uh oh, I bet this conflicts with “scent of sage” earlier on, doesn’t it?
      If so, then I offer this:
      the honeyed glow
      of golden Freesias brings
      life back to the flat

      1. but aren’t “fressias” flowers, Mary? -blossom verse will be #17 -so actually, “honeyed glow” conflicts more with “incense lit” than “scent of sage”

    1. “parrot” adds much colour, Mary, to a sad and listless situation but I think we need another element without another definite article

    1. …of our secluded beach
      and warm Barbados rum
      I think this rhythm is better, and it’s more tactile and true to life, but maybe “warm” and “rum” are some kind of rhyme…

      1. no, Judt, “warm” and “rum” are fine in the same line -if it’s a treasured memory though, it kinda makes the first line unnecessary – but if we were to try ‘tearing our the montage/ of our secluded beach/ and warm Bajian rum’ i wouldn’t take it because the link would be ‘scanning’ the readables that would repeat the “scanning” of the previous verse only over a different ‘terrain’ -and, besides, ‘montage’ and ‘beach’ are too much of a slant rhyme

        1. Wow, Marshall…what a mess! I just thought that unpeopled beach/empty platform would be a link.

          1. well “secluded” has for me a lot more to it than ‘unpeopled’ but i can see your view, Judt

      1. beautiful verse, Marion -i’m concerned about the slant rhyme of “guide” with “cry” -though maybe this could be avoided with “dried lavender/ in our Lonely Planet/ makes me cry” this would certainly make it one to think about, except -what a let down -“lavender” is a flower and the blossom verse is just 2 away -but, thanks (and we can’t use it as the blossom verse since “lonely” would link it back to this section )-yeah, i’m disappointed too

    1. well, joel, you’ve internalized what’s audible and you’ve got the direct feeling in this verse, but the word, “echoes” just emphasizes too much the sound of the previous two verses

    1. yeah, works as a minimalist verse, Marion, but i’m going for ‘full-feeling’ here

      1. even better, i think, Marion, would be a 2-liner, “our restaurant’s menu/ no longer entices” -i want a full 3 lines of feeling for this one

    1. “exit”, Marion, we don’t want to use again, but that could be readily changed -there is also a slant rhyme of line 3 to line 1 that jangles

    1. yes, Marion, his was a good ‘mise-en-scene’ -your link a bit too ‘a-la-carte’ for what i want here

    1. again, Michael Henry, this is good but could be even better as “without you/ even Paris/ has little to offer” in my sense of line-break -immediate sense of feeling but maybe we need something tangible of Paris that has been diminished in the loved-one’s absence

    1. could be a simple two-liner, Aalix -does also suggest again the hokku -that we don’t want to do

    1. great sound to this one, Judt -but yeah, “doorlatch” has too much of the hokku to it

    1. “your special charm” has a delicious sarcasm, Betty -but the passion here too a bit ‘bottled -up’ as well

    1. cause as much for anger as for feeling of rejection, Barbara -want something more immediate too

      1. hello Dianne -clear expression of feeling here -but the link with the train chugging off seems a little rough -also the full stop after the first line -a kireji, is something we’re trying to avoid in the rest of our renku -you do keep your verse, and by extension, our renku, open-ended so I hope you try again

    1. again, Michael Henry -“fracture” next to the train chugging off is too rough in a direct link

    1. getting comfortable with the loss -or else the ‘sweet lemon’ reaction, Michael Henry -off-base for me

    1. “scanning” linked to checking a list of options here, Betty, is appreciated -just too sanguine a subject

    1. a little long, Mary -probably due to the 5 syllable adjective in the middle -but also it has an end-rhyme -‘feminine’ as it’s called but still chimes out

    1. hi Liz Ann -had a sequence of ‘moon’, “granny’s specs” and “facing me” that nuanced seeing into a reflection earlier in our renku -so don’t want to repeat that -but also “see my invisibility” too combersome

  7. scanning an empty platform
    as the train chugs off

    –Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

    our bench by the Seine
    surrounded by echoes

    – Lorin

    1. thanks, Lorin, for trying to supply one of the proper nouns we need for this renku -going to avoid sounds in this link, after two ‘sound-filled’ ones

  8. scanning an empty platform
    as the train chugs off

    –Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy
    if only
    I hadn’t corrected
    his love note’s grammar
    – Karen Cesar

    1. Hmmm… making this read less like a narrative:

      if only
      I hadn’t corrected
      your love note’s grammar

      ? kc

      1. better to make it more personal, Karen, but it does have more of a distance, almost wistfulness to it -that i’m not looking for here

    2. Hmmm… making this read less like a narrative:

      if only
      I hadn’t corrected
      your love note’s grammar

      ? kc

    1. nicely indistinct here, Eamonn whether you mean the crow’s caw is heard or whether it’s a mental conclusion stated in derision -however, the main thing is that with the emotion something tangible must also link with the previous verse -also we’ve had 2 cerses in a row empahsizing the audible, “snorts” and “chugs”, so probably wouldn’t want to add a third in sequence

    1. first feeling, Judt, is to think why not? -if it were the reminder of an encounter -then i realized you placed our subject within the train coach with a desolate desire to just be alone with her or his feelings, but wanted to leave the “journal” intact -what i would call a ‘deep link’ and i have to think about how appropriate this would be here -thanks alot

    2. Hi Marshall…thanks for giving this such careful consideration!
      Another question: do I understand correctly that although backlinking rules loosen with distance, that there should be no reference to the hokku throughout? Thanks.

      1. haven’t thought about that, Judt -here, though probably the nouns; “day”, “snow” and “door” i would find unacceptable to reuse for the duration -have to remember some enthusiasts go on for 100 or more verses in which case there must be a ‘further loosening’

    1. hello Amanda -a little too common a suggestion for this link -also, two participles is something i’m sensitive to avoiding since i’m prone to them myself -this has the emotion, but needs more elements in the writing of it

  9. from my wheelchair
    I think of the time
    I was first distracted from my toys

    1. makes us more interested, Todd, in what the distraction was -repetition of “I” is a red flag in a renku -could you write about what the distraction was?

      1. from my wheelchair
        I think of my first distraction
        from toys
        The first version was a little too “thick” for renku.
        As for the “distraction”, the reader can fill in the blank.

    1. yeah, Betty, there is a feeling of absurdity and pointlessness to being left but this is too sarcastic for a renku

    1. the “river” here, Carol feels to me that it’s iconic rather than a genuine river -and then, so do the “tears” and the “you” -i’m looking for personal experience here, more than anywhere else in the renku

  10. the cold sheets
    of my empty bed
    my only comfort

    (I’ve been away and am pleased to see the development of this renku; congratulations to all.)

    1. thanks, Liz Ann -“colder” we had in the daisan and the repetition of “my” unnecessary

      1. Thanks Marshall, I knew the 2nd “my” was a problem right after posting. Can you explain the connection with the daisan? I am missing something.

        1. hi Liz Ann -in the second verse we had the word “colder” and we can’t have that word, or its cognates repeated (at least until after the first 18 verses are completed)

        2. sorry, Liz Ann, i owe you an apology -I remembered the daisan of Judt’s as ‘coyote’s song colder’ wrongly; it is: “coyote’s song closer” sorry for being so mystifying

    1. hello, Loretta -these are three ‘absolute’ statements craftily placed in sequence, but they still have the empty feeling of conceptual conclusions -we’re not trying to explain something in a renku but continually re-invigorate the immediacy and impermanence of human experience -and to maybe catch in the linking that there are hardly any ‘things’ at all, just momentary features of reference within ‘this floating world’

    1. refreshing, Patrick, but I think ‘dry-brushing’ them might be a fulfilling rather than a despondent activity -also “the Milky Way” reminds one of the famous Basho haiku about the sea towards Sado Island -which you don’t want to invoke in something so sardonic

  11. scanning an empty platform
    as the train chugs off

    –Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy
    I burn your letters
    surrounded by echoes

    – Lorin

    1. bit of an eerie touch, Lorin to aurally go from “snorts” to “chugs” to “echoes” repeated -“burn your letters” seems too conclusive though

  12. your black and white photo
    packed away in a trunk
    still waving back at me

    1. well, Michael Henry, it would have to be out of the trunk for you to experience it “waving” at you, wouldn’t it -not interested in the concept

    1. again, Michael Henry, the third line is a throw-away -“picture postcard” sounds like a place rather than a person

    1. hi again, Eamonn -if you want to keep working on this one, try it without “loneliness” in it

    1. “in my beer” truly cliché, Michael Henry -i’m expecting more from you

    1. I’ve used something like this in an ‘oral’ renku -here we have 5 days to come up with something a little less a ‘generic’ or commonplace occurence

    1. this one says more about your self-regard than your regard for the “she”

    1. hello Eamonn -this may work in a haiku, but in a renku we try to avoid making the implied emotion or feeling of the previous verse or the section explicit -which is exactly what you accomplish here

      1. Thank you Marshall . This is my first attempt at renku .Will take on board what you say .

    1. repeats the ‘dove-tailed’ on one, Marietta -the ambivalent regret is there, but not enough else

    1. shows too much control of the situation, Barbara, however painful it may have been

    1. appropriately bitter and cold and ‘used up’ Aalix -looks like I already have three to reconsider, thanks

  13. Very nice and lonely, Shrikaanth 🙂

    still a twinge of hope
    as headlights sweep over
    the bedroom walls

    1. instead:

      a sip of bitters
      while sorting through your

        1. certainly turns a pang, Betty -maybe a brewery’s ‘best bitter’ help the subject feel better -expresses the ‘rather-have-none-of-you-at-all’ feeling quite well, though -i’ll look at this again later, thanks

    1. hi paul -already questioned of the first ‘love verse’ about whether it’s recognizable as a love verse and i find this registers the same deep feeling while containing both “steering” -which the subject can’t do -the situation is beyond his or her control- and “wheel” that implies a cycle that is coming round again but at least has motion -something the ‘driver’ here doesn’t have -intriguing, i’ll consider this one again later, thanks

      1. this version i prefer for the phrasing, Michael Henry, but it’s still a reflective experience and not a sensual one

    1. Congratulations, Shrikaanth. What a fine verse you’ve contributed to this renku! 🙂

    2. A very fine stanza, Shrikaanth! Links and shifts and is a lyrical image.

      Marshall, a respectful question if I may. After this fine transportation verse, do you plan two “love verses” or just one in this section of the renku? It might help me plan as I try to compose. A reader, not a part of the proceedings, might ask if is there a signal that #14 is love, unrequited or otherwise?

      1. not love, explicitly, Paul but an anticipation of a presence that was not fulfilled. So i felt the ‘unaknowledgment’ was so profound it constituted an emptiness that was left behind in the subject that would be understood by either a ‘haiku-reader’ or a ‘non-haiku-reader’ to be the ‘missing’ of a ‘loved-one’

      2. sorry, Paul, I forgot to answer your second question: yes, this will be the only ‘unrequited love’ section and this will be its last verse

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