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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 16

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.

Greetings, link seekers. We have our spring verse, number 16. It is:

the ewe gently nudges
her lambs to move on

                –Mary Kendall

“Gently nudges” us out of the depression of lost love with a nurturing push backed by the momentous power of the spring season’s return. “Her lambs” take part in the birthing season with a renewal of motion and a capacity, even in their vulnerable infancy, for fresh experience.

“Gently nudges” also has a sweet bit of consonance in the repeated “g” sounds, with repeated “n” sounds between them. The simplicity of its second line further adds a dimension of rapture to the silence it picks up from the previous verse. Thank you very much, Mary.

Now it’s time for verse 17, our first of two “blossom verses.” (3 lines in the season of spring) You can mention or declare with excitement flowers,  blossoms and all manner of passing flora. If you’re saving your best efforts for any verse this is the one where you want to apply them. But still no repetitions of nouns or activities and remember, your verse has to resonate with our brave and tender lambs.

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

I sit in silence
behind the steering wheel

    –Paul Geiger

the ewe gently nudges
her lambs to move on

      –Mary Kendall

This Post Has 149 Comments

  1. Sorry but I had to fix this, zephyrs is too archaic. I apologize for taking up too much space/time. Thanks for all your help.

    gentle breeze lifts
    the cherry blossoms
    over the orchard wall

    1. hi Aaalix, -‘corcuses’ or ‘croci’ but having the soil “warming” and the flowers point “towards the sun” as if they weren’t the source of the warmth is an unnecessary complication

    1. the double negative of “not … naught” not for the blossom verse, Betty

    1. no, Betty, “cupping” too metaphorical for here -and i’m trying to leave human body parts out of this link

    1. hi Aalix -I think ‘wisp’ would be okay, but you imply you want this to be an onomatopoieic link, whereas the times I’ve been struck by the beauty of a flock of dandelion fluffs lifting off it’s been for its amazing visual effect and an almost soundless event

  2. bradford pear trees
    giant skeins of wool
    unraveling in the breeze
    bradford pear trees
    giant skeins of wool
    untwining in the breeze

    1. hi joel -“giant skeins of wool” is way over the top and gorgeous for it, but the “pear trees”, only presumably in blossom seem to be simply a prop for them

    1. Or if that is too much of a kireji, Marshall, then:

      one white tulip
      in a sunlit border glows
      against the green

      1. hi Marietta, this is beautiful -i’d like to use it, but i just want the “glows” on the third line -it ‘looks’ good sticking out at the end of the second but i think if you read it aloud, you’ll find your breath wants to naturally stop after “border” -hope this okay

        1. Hi Marshall, I’m glad you liked my verse, thank you so much for your kind comment. I agree ‘glows’ works best in the third line.

    1. not crazy about a “nature strip” being included in a renku -but also, the “warm breeze” repeats the motion of the ewe too closely, I think

    1. hello Kate -as you can see from some of my previous comments i really try to steer our renku clear of ’cause-and-effect’ and any attention to human motives or/and functionality of any kind -you, have no way of knowing this if you’ve just ‘browsed in’ -and for instance, “shears in hand” is an awkward first line to link to a ewe and her lambs -and don’t take it personally that i like haiku and haiku-related writing to be predominantly about nature and not about people -I hope you try again, remembering to focus on what happens spontaneously in nature, both linking and shifting away from the given verse

      1. Thank you Marshall. Renku is unfamiliar territory for me so I appreciate the helpful comments. The format here is a lovely way to learn a new form.

    1. this is better, Marilyn -but does it really add any nuance or pleasure to say “for the hive”? -‘open-ended’ means to me, especially in a feature verse, without functionality

    1. the kireji in the first line unnecessary, Marion -we can keep our renku flowing better with “when the bell tolls/ all the children up to their knees/ in blossoms” -but we’ve already had “school colors” and “trick or treaters”

    1. no, Shrikaanth -don’t even mention the word, “winter” -and certainly not in a blossom verse -“doddering” is again something humans do

    1. hi Shrikaanth -this one seems to have the double entendre of the blossoms keeping time -which is a fanciful idea but too anthropomorphic for me to include here

    1. and this one reminds me of Shakespeare, Sue, if we were jazz musicians i’d say we all have to lose our vernacular’s ‘go-to tricks’ -it’s not really a writer’s fault to have these ‘tropes’ or ‘phrase-moves’ come to mind -but we can use our participation in linking in renku to hear them and not use them

  3. “Excuse me”
    says dandelion flower peeking above
    the sidewalk crack

    1. talking dandelions not really to my taste, Todd -sounds like a reference to Issa in the making

    1. sounds to me, Marietta, too close to Basho’s poem about his fish salad being covered with blossoms

  4. Please beg my pardon for the intrusion should this event not be open to all. Though still green, my interest is to expand finding all above both enlightening and rewarding. I very much enjoyed Mary’s wonderful ku. Thank you all!

    I believe I have captured the spirit of this renku in the following attempt. I have not previously been involved in a renku session and will be obtaining more understanding moving forward.

    in the ewes eye
    another hungry lamb

      1. no, Christina, we don’t want to repeat “lambs” when we link to and shift away from them -renku are non-narrative and we don’t have recaps or restatements of what’s gone before -the elegance of the connected poem is in how singular and yet related to the last each verse in it is

    1. I believe it’s “open to all” Robert. I would hesitate to say you have understood what’s required of a linking verse within a renku though. Maybe it’s not as easy as it looks. Your offering seeks to “further the plot” of the ewe and her lambs. Renku are not narrative and under my leadership are stridently anti-narrative since i identify the impulse to carry on a story or redefine what’s gone before as the most likely way a Westerner will mangle the possible beauty of the oblique linking that constitutes a renku. I hope you reread what has gone before in this renku and see how much effort has gone into not repeating ourselves, while moving out in an expanded inclusion of various twists and turns. And I hope you try again.

    1. hi Paul -this is better, but i need clarification on “star jasmine” -is it just a description of the jasmine flower’s shape or is it something else? seems to add a complexity to the blossom verse i’m not really looking for but i’d like to know if i’ve missed something else altogether

      1. Common in gardens in CA:
        Trachelospermum jasminoides is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae, native to eastern and southeastern Asia. Common names include confederate jasmine, star jasmine, confederate jessamine, and Chinese star jessamine. Wikipedia
        Scientific name: Trachelospermum jasminoides
        Higher classification: Trachelospermum

        1. thanks, Paul for the info -but “above the star …” just doesn’t work for me here

    1. scratch this one, Marshall..wrong color
      so revising to:

      guayacan blossoms
      just violet specks dotting
      an ancient seafloor

      I volunteer at a state park on the southwest border of Texas…these blossoms are a real treat in the Spring…only 105° today so my brain is a little fried.

      1. well, Betty, i’m glad you revised the first one -no need to be so prim here in the blossom verse -and i sympathize with your brain -was down in Florida last week and even after the sun sets it’s still 85 out -think i’d propose it as “guayacan blossoms/ spotting an ancient seafloor/ violet” but i’ll have to think about it -thanks for sending -especially in that heat

        1. Hey, Marshall, your edit is way better…and just how I was remembering it so thanks!

    1. don’t usually get this much dramatized anticipation in a renku link, Susan -second line, though lovely visually, feels too heavy in its diction -but the main problem here for linking into a renku is that all three lines start and end a scene or activity -we’re attempting to relay our renku one scene at a time with two elements within each one playing off each other that somehow improvise ‘happily’ with the previous verse -hope you try again

      1. Hi Marshall,

        Yes, thank you for explaining that. So this is my new verse. Not sure if it meets all requirements, but I am here to learn!

        wind blows
        the cherry blossoms
        over the old stone wall

        1. Marshall,

          on second thought I would like to change that:

          wind blows
          the cherry blossoms
          over the orchard wall

          (less adjectives)


          1. getting better each time, Susan -just now, the first line feels a bit blunt -it could be a breeze or gust and whatever it is it could lift out more selectively than just “blows” -there is a link though in the last line to the ‘gently nudged’ lambs

      2. Yes Marshall you are right, so here is my final version. Thank you for being patient with all the revisions:

        zephyrs lift
        the cherry blossoms
        over the orchard walls

    1. nice link to the lambs, Carol Ann, and nice concentration on the natural object as the major piece in the celebration -i’ll look at this one again, thanks

      1. on further consideration, Carol Ann, i thought the toss of the bouquet too close to the “balls of moss” from verse 8 to include your verse here

    1. hi Marietta -find “taking their share” inscrutable unless you mean ‘more than we’d like them to’ that implies a judgement of a bird in nature -or if you mean ‘according to an overall plan’ -that to me is a human censoring of nature as well

      1. Of course you’re right on both counts, Marshall! On re-reading and taking into account your comment, I can see, however it’s looked at, my verse is not a human-neutral observation of nature. Oh well, learning curve!

    1. even if “pig-face” is a plant’s name, we can’t have ‘pig -anything’ so close to a ewe and her lambs

    1. “Nod” very obscure in this context, Patrick -i’m guessing from a video game -a sacrifice of a lamb for spring is an original take on the blossom verse -but not something for inclusion

  5. at l’heure bleue
    wisteria fragrance
    leading us
    l’heure bleue: (the blue hour–actually about 40 minutes)…period at early dawn and late dusk…considered special because of the quality of the light…prized by photographers. If this is common knowledge, I apologize; I hadn’t encountered it until about three years ago.

    1. Hi Judt,

      Interesting that you learned only recently of the ‘blue hour’. Although I knew of the lovely Guerlain scent mentioned by Lorin, I thought the words were metaphorical (describing melancholy) and only when deeply involved in photography did I find out – the camera’s eye sees the ‘blue’ better. Please excuse my sidetrack, Marshall!


    2. hi Judt, I appreciate you attempting to bring in our ‘foreign phrase’ but don’t really want an ‘extra’ aspect here in the blossom verse -but by the by we already had the “foggy snorts/ lead our morning jaunt”

    1. very sensitive short poem, Mary Lou, but the explicit metaphor of “cradles” moves it away from being a link

    1. thanks, Marietta, for bringing back some excitement to our blossom verse offerings -just don’t find enough of a link for this particular one

    1. nice to note these since we’ve lost so many thousands of them, Michael Henry -but I like your ‘morning glory’ one much better

  6. the ewe gently nudges
    her lambs to move on

    –Mary Kendall

    a nosegay
    of lavender sprigs tucked
    among the linen


    1. “tucked”, Marietta, seems just the opposite motion and motif from that of the ewe’s gentle pushing out

  7. Probably the repeated ‘on’ ( mine directly after Mary’s, is an awkward sort of flaw.
    2nd go . . .

    the ewe gently nudges
    her lambs to move on

    –Mary Kendall

    through the turnstile
    a daffodil display
    worthy of Wordsworth

    – Lorin

    1. well, Lorin, it could be construed that the lambs went “through the turnstile”

  8. the ewe gently nudges
    her lambs to move on

    –Mary Kendall

    on the hillside
    a daffodil display
    worthy of Wordsworth

    – Lorin

    . . .btw, lovely verse with the twin lambs, Mary 🙂

    1. playful, Lorin, the “worth” being repeated in the same line -but not the wordplay we want here

    1. most original, Paul -i’ll have to look at this one again, considering the “fragrant” for example, but thanks

      1. but ultimately, Paul, i didn’t use this because we had such a strong sense of ‘descent’ in the first ‘moon verse’ (5) and as the moon and the blossom verses are the lynch-pins of the renku, i didn’t want the same motion to predominate in both of the first of these

    1. naw, Marion, the explicit metaphor of “starry” won’t do for our blossom verse

    1. suggests linking back to the ‘unrequited love’ section, Marion -which we won’t do

    1. red flag for functionality, Marilyn -and “bees busy” not a fortuitous start

    1. hi Agnes, -like the first one, and will keep it around for review, thanks -the other two have ‘too much self” for the blossom verse

    1. first line almost draws a stop as in a kireji, Paul and then the second line is a causal effect from its activity -so a no-go

    1. first line, Polona, not really relevant here -and “blackthorn” has a ambivalence to it i’m not looking for

  9. waving slowly
    above the grain crops
    smell of popies

    (Link: slowly-gently and waving-to move on)

    1. have to think about using the scent of the poppies, Vasile, since we had some dense scents near the beginning -and pointing out what you think are the links might not link for me -but I review this one, thanks

      1. also, Vasile, the “grain” and “crops” in here link too firmly back to the “second haying” of verse 4

    1. i like this one Michael Henry -has the lightness and feel of lambs prancing up and bouncing -I look at this again, later, thanks

      1. hi again, Michael Henry -i’m afraid the “leads our morning jaunt” puits this one out -nothing else quite twines like a ‘morning glory’ and we can’t very well change “morning jaunt” to ‘early jaunt’ because the former makes it more of a routine -sorry to see this one of yours go

    1. high degree of complexity here, Theresa with the oppositions of dawn/shade and wild/reclaim; a quality i’m not really looking for in this verse -here, if it’s wild, i’d want it out in the sunshine, or at least shine out

      1. Thanks, Marshall, for your comments. I see what you mean. I did wonder about the light/dark contrast in this one, how that might or might not work here.


    1. hi Anna -this is fine; the “hand” links with the “gentle nudge” and the scent of hair with the lamb’s fresh growth -and “wild lilies” are simply gorgeous -i’ll bel ooking at this one again, later, thanks

    2. hi again, Anna -just deciding that while i keep telling people i want more about nature and less about humans, and though our renku feels to me mostly weighted that way, i think i want to keep the “hands” link out of this blossom verse

  10. Marshall, I am honored and pleased that you chose my lambs for this new link. Being quite new to renku, I have found your guidance and comments to everyone (including me) wonderful. Thank you so very much! I am enjoying this whole creative process so much

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Mary. I’m happy to have been presented with such a deserving verse by you. Thank-you! MH

    1. touchy about the word, “spring” here, Paul, though I know the action is meant not the season I think this would be more natural and without the ‘attention-drawing’ hint of a kireji as ‘bright poppies/ through the concrete cracks/ of a rainwashed sidewalk’ -though I wouldn’t take it because it’s too reminiscent of the “no one else/ has come to the door” of the hokku and its implied sidewalk or driveway

    1. Thanks so much, Alan! I didn’t know when we met that it had been selected. What a perfect day this has been!!

  11. fold in the hills
    turning purple
    with clover
    Still no color probably, but…

    1. Hi Marshall…wondering about guidelines as to offering links with the same subject as someone else’s. Yesterday I had written a lamb verse, and when I logged in, there were already two. And as to Patrick’s clover…I wrote mine last night (already trying to link with Mary’s verse :-)). I suppose it’s to be expected to have some overlap with season/blossom/plus link, but it still feels odd.

      1. hi Judt -no, no guidelines about writing with the same image or event as someone else -it’s up to the writer -what I want to avoid is writers trying to improve on one another’s images or even link with or extend them before a verse is chosen as a link -it’s up to me to decide if something that’s come in later is derivative or not -and if it’s not derivative and it’s to my mind more appropriate, i’ll choose it over the other but still may not choose it as the link for that verse -what’s “odd” is that you see other offerings -in a ‘live renku’ i’d only read out ones that were unusual or made me laugh out loud (to let contributors in on why I was laughing) -so there’s lots of repetition of images and motifs and it lets me know what ‘on the collective mind of the group’ so to speak -here I just take note of the time of posting but am not worried about ‘repeated images of submission’ -nor does it devalue the offering having it repeat another offering’s image(s)

        1. Thank you, Marshall, for this thorough response. It helps me see the process a lot more clearly.

    2. no, Judt, colour is fine and i prefer this one to the “flagpole” one -“clover” to “lambs” has a lovely feel

    3. hi again, Judt -just deciding “turning purple” has an ambiguity I don’t want here

  12. grazing among
    the shaggy heads of white clover
    eyes partly closed


    1. acts as a continuation of verse 16, Patrick, which is the narrative tendency i’m trying to avoid in this renku -(can’t always be done, but i think we can in this group)

  13. Congratulations, Mary! From the moment I saw this verse, I thought it was perfect for the slot!

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