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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 22

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.

Cheers to you, renku enthusiasts! For our Verse 22 i’ve chosen:

the commuter car full
of personal devices

                –Michael Henry Lee

I bring this into our renku precisely because it takes us away from the sensual particulars of our seasonality verses and abstracts our attention into a world that is both generalized and virtual; that assortment of electronic gadgets we all know as “personal devices.”

I’m especially glad for the word, “devices” here, since there was a time when literary critics referred to ‘poetic devices’ in a positive way, whereas when used in haiku parlance there’s usually a connotation of censure; first, just for explicitly using them, and secondly for the sense of artificiality and scheming deviousness it evokes. Now, with cell-phones, smart phones, Ipads, I-touches and the like, “devices” is again an up-tempo, go-to word.

In its use here, it turns an abstract twist on the beams of “beaming with joy’ in a wonderful contrast: the virtual reality they beam into is resolutely neutral of its own emotion. The link is doubled in that, like the berries, the enclosure is jammed full. Further, these glinting “personal devices” are, to one entering a filled car, surrogates for what used to greet a new passenger; open human faces. There is even a savage irony to them being qualified as “personal” since in their dedicated exclusiveness they eliminate what would be the most immediate opportunity for person-to-person contact.Thanks very much, Michael Henry.

What we need now is 3 lines, summer. Remember, we need to link to this last verse but not to any before that one. And now that it’s once more a seasonality section i want verses that emphasize those ‘sensual particulars’ once again.

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

one white tulip
in a sunlit border
glows against the green

      –Marietta McGregor

another soul in the limelight
of #blacklivesmatter

      –Agnes Eva Savich

Bastille Day

      –Marion Clarke

recruitment of volunteers
for the hospice New Year’s Eve

    –Gabriel Sawicki

beaming with joy
the first visitor presents
a tray of passionfruit

    –Barbara A. Taylor

the commuter car full
of personal devices

    –Michael Henry Lee

This Post Has 109 Comments

    1. this is a beautiful image, Liz Ann -though “gloaming” is not one of my favourite words, it is perfectly appropriate here -not so sure about the sound of “blurred silhouette” though -hope you offer again in the next two ‘summery’ verses

      1. Thank you, Marshall, perhaps better without “blurred”. I’m also not so fond of “gloaming” but it is in the refrain of a well known camp song.

  1. Trying to rework using your earlier comments: “still feel we need more from a 3 line link, Mary -something like: “fan rotates clockwise/ her thoughts running counter/ ” and then a third line”
    fan rotates clockwise
    her thoughts counter that
    as the Pleiades dart past

      1. the line turn, “counter to/ that as” with the beginning of their sequence rhyming with its end just too jarring, Mary -suggest not ending a verse with a preposition

      1. hey Mary -the Pleiades, in the north at least, are a signal that it’s planting time -late March into April -so this is not a summery connotation

    1. maybe if you wrote, ‘Perseids’, ,Mary the “meteors” would have a summery connotation -and, actually, we’re only watching for meteorites

      1. Oooops, I wrote it wrong!! I meant Perseids!! My husband and I went outside at 2:10 am (after the moon set) last week to watch them. Sorry for the error. Maybe I’m too old for this. *sigh*

    1. hi Marietta -the “moon” is of course a reserved subject -next appearance in verse 31

      1. nice and direct, Betty -in contrast to the commuter car -“belts out” is a nice touch too -just a bit too one-dimensional for our renku, though

    1. very nice pacing to the lines, Lori -but I don’t think it’s ‘summery’ enough to be recognized as from summer

  2. the commuter car full

    of personal devices
    –Michael Henry Lee

    lovers embrace
    in the deep shade
    of a sand dune

    1. certainly links on the “personal”, Marietta -“deep shade” nicely ambiguous, but I don’t know if someone who didn’t know this were to be a summery verse would recognize this as from summer

  3. Oh you poets! I woke up this morning with a ‘night porch sitting’ verse in my head then I logged on and saw all of yours! Oh well…the drawing board awaits.

  4. sultry evenings
    rocking on the porch
    to a cicada waltz
    sultry evenings
    rocking on the porch
    hushed conversation

    1. “hushed conversation” too close to “personal devices”, joel -and “waltz” in the other one is too metaphorical

      1. yeah, Mary, I don’t accept “summer” -in this one, “sizzle” evokes too much of a barbecue -and having “near” in one line and then “fluttering by” in the next is awkward

    1. okay as far as it goes, Aalix, but we don’t even know if the glass has tea in it -need more activity and complexity

  5. the commuter car full
    of personal devices
    –Michael Henry Lee


    we hire a tandem
    for a quick spin
    to the next village

    1. “tandem” here as a two-seater bicycle, Marietta, is just continuing the motif of commuting -which we don’t want to do

    1. I do have an aversion to links that use the words, “haiku” or “poetry” in them, Marilyn -but besides that, i’m concerned that “net” will evoke, ‘internet’ and the “flashlight” repeats, in a less digital way, “personal devices”

    1. too close, Marion, in the sense that the ‘big wheel’ could map from the “commuter car” and the “shooting star” could be the cell phone waves

    1. this is a plausible link, Marietta, shifting the privacy of the “devices” to a public ‘screening’ of an opera -but the last 5 words, voicing 2 long ‘e’ sounds and three out of a string of four words with double short ‘e’ sounds, are just too jangling too my ear

    1. we’re looking for an evanescent moment here, Marietta -which is the actual wait while they distractedly continue to wax -I mean something like, “surfers, cloths in hand/ stare out to the horizon/ for the shore break” -that said, i don’t want to evoke the play on internet surfing and the sea here

    1. Ooops, sorry for the ellipsis!!
      the commuter car full

      of personal devices
      –Michael Henry Lee
      fan rotating clockwise
      her thoughts
      counter to that

      1. still feel we need more from a 3 line link, Mary -something like: “fan rotates clockwise/ her thoughts running counter/ ” and then a third line

    1. this parallels the commuter car’s motion and the use of electronics, Mary -hope the Collie survived

  6. (and now, for something completely different)
    the commuter car full

    of personal devices
    –Michael Henry Lee
    head vibrating to
    the noisy drills
    at a dental clinic

  7. Lorin’s wonderful comments and explication have inspired me. (Lorin, I love reading your narratives!)
    the commuter car full

    of personal devices
    –Michael Henry Lee
    tucked away in the closet
    a hidden cache of all
    her secret pleasures

    1. this could be any seasonality, Mary -we need something specifically summery for this one

    1. -putting their ‘rally caps’ on before the game, eh, Aalix -needs more to it than this, Aaalix and not about ‘preparation and effect’ or ’cause and effect’ either

    1. last line a bit too heavy, Aalix -don’t know if we need to attribute an owner to the sailboat, either

  8. the commuter car full
    of personal devices

    –Michael Henry Lee


    backpackers turning
    uniformly crimson flip
    one after another

    1. don’t usually get a run-on pair of lines like this, Marietta -so thanks for that -but the verb “flip” leads me to think of the “backpackers” as a deck of cards

  9. What a wonderful surprise compliment to this morning’s Perseid shower, over twenty in a forty minute span from my back deck here in St. Augustine Fl. It’s a real pleasure being a contributor
    to this fine renku. Thanks Marshall, Lorin , and Mary for the kind words. I don’t know when I’m eligible again but I will continue to play along because it’s such a fun challenge. Kanpai !!!!!
    a trail
    of lime sherbet and bits
    of sugar cone

    1. you’re welcome, Michael -just the link after is all you have to wait -but keep the flow goin’ -MH

    1. Please strike this one, Marshall. I’ve no idea how Michael’s verse led me to the beach to dream of a Sci-Fi plot, but that sheep has wandered straight out of Mary’s ewe verse!

      1. “Please strike this one, Marshall. I’ve no idea how Michael’s verse led me to the beach to dream of a Sci-Fi plot, but that sheep has wandered straight out of Mary’s ewe verse!” – Marion

        Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep? – One of Philip K. Dick’s greats! 🙂

        – Lorin

    1. Please strike this one, Marshall. I’ve no idea how Michael’s verse led me to the beach to dream of a Sci-Fi plot, but that sheep has wandered straight out of Mary’s ewe verse!

    1. this one feels better for having a desultory human mood to it, Paul -two adjectives before “wind” bothers me a bi too mucht, but i have no suggestions for how to improve it

  10. hi Mary -you know, all renku leaders are different and the medium the renku links over determines things as well. In person, i take the first one that links, shifts and is well-written -your first one would have had us off to verse 24 by now. But over the net we have 5 days, and I’ve said before i think this means we can put together something quite sophisticated and elegant. So, I’ve been not accepting anything that repeats the active motif of the previous link throughout -such as travel is here.
    But don’t think this would disqualify it universally from a renku lead by another leader or by me, next time. Every snowflake is different and it never asks if it qualifies; it just descends.

  11. A fine link, Michael. 🙂 What I like so much is the implied isolation in comparison with the situation in Barbara’s verse. There, a first visitor (of implied several or many), here a whole car (I’m reading car as “train car”, as the US version of “train carriage” . . . not as the new commuter cars which seem to be personal devices in themselves!) full of “personal devices”, being used, apparently, by people who don’t even seem to see each other. That it’s the devices themselves that fill the car (with the people attached to them only implied ) is a the masterstroke in this verse.

    And there’s another thing about “personal devices”. Not so long ago (it seems! ) “personal devices” were something that stayed in the bedroom. There is a clear parallel between that
    private-personal sort and the various portable computers/ phones that accompany people everywhere now, (as explored in the movie, ‘Her’)

    – Lorin

  12. with the touch of her finger
    the goddess of the wind
    marcels the tall grasses


    1. ah, Patrick… the marcel wave! I can see it in those ‘summer grasses’. 🙂
      The marcel was hit with the flappers, but there were still a few older women around in the 60s who wanted it. Who knows, the wheel of fashion may turn yet again?
      Nice link to the contemporary devices in Michael’s verse.

      – Lorin

    2. I like this a lot, Patrick -introduces an arcane word that i did not know; “marcels” -but i think it could be even better as “with a touch of her finger/ the goddess of wind/ marcels the tall grasses/” -whaddayah think? thanks for it anyways you like

    1. certain taste in devices, i see, Paul -seems too close to decotaing the seat in the” commuter car”

  13. Congratulations, Michael Henry! I think this was a perfect choice. You captured so much in so few words.
    the commuter car full

    of personal devices
    –Michael Henry Lee
    imagining a life
    where we punt on a river
    edged with willows

    1. This one is more direct, which you might prefer:
      the commuter car full

      of personal devices
      –Michael Henry Lee
      punting on a river
      edged with willows
      and silent swans

      1. Marshall, my link of (an unseen, implied) boat or punt to the commuter car is one I’m not sure about. I’m not sure how explicit the link/connection has to be in renku. If you can clarify this for me and anyone else new to renku, that would be a huge help. Many thanks. I love your choice of Michael Henry’s verse.

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