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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 23

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, renku-makers! Here’s what we have for verse 23:

with a touch of her finger
the goddess of wind
marcels the tall grasses

                  –Patrick Sweeney

This verse immediately lifts us out of the visual sense and the virtual world and transports us into the tactile and imaginary; moves our renku out of the enclosed human realm of contemporary “personal devices” and into the expanses of ancient nature, but with an imaginary twist.

The “Marcel Wave” was a hairstyle invented by the French hairdresser, Francois Marcel in 1872, and the word here, “marcels,” besides fulfilling our need for an arcane English word, incorporates a bit of human fancy and style within the one season that allows for human idleness and frivolity out-of-doors; summer.

We know that it’s summer because the grass is “tall.” And we marvel at how these testimonials to the earth’s fertility have been shaped into waves. Thus, on the axis of human/technological in the previous, this verse superimposes that of the immortal/magical, celebrating each of them in a distilled swivel. Thank-you very much, Patrick!

What we need now is 2 more lines of summer seasonality; maybe not so fanciful as particular, direct and as beautifully cadenced as this one.

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

with a touch of her finger
the goddess of wind
marcels the tall grasses

    –Patrick Sweeney

This Post Has 172 Comments

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

    –Patrick Sweeney

    stewing in sweat
    the suburbs dream of beaches

    – Lorin

      1. yeah, not with “commuter cars”, Lorin -but i’m glad you ‘sent’ because you’re right about the “green room” -i’d totally forgotten it was the last word of our first blossom verse -and it’s directly ‘linked-on’ by “limelight” in the next verse so “green” is out for the rest of this renku -but also the “Bastille Day” 2 links later has “fireworks” -so that’s way too soon to have another verse with “fire” in it -even if the previous one was most the aesthetic kind of explosive than the devastating one; that link does include its own statement of devastation -and thanks for refocusing my attention -MH

    1. still, Carmen, this stresses the human response to the “humidity” -a quality that renku in general couldn’t do without -just not what i want to emphasize here

    1. maybe makes one worry about the heat, but not really feel it, Michael -which is what i’m looking for here

    1. charming Liz Ann, but i was hoping, for this link, for a direct expression of heat in summery conditions rather than the human adjustment to these conditions

    1. first word just feels too technical with “light” as the verb, Marietta -then tried ‘phosphorescent wavelets/ on a midnight beach’ and it just seemed too ‘thin’ a verse -and after the magic of the previous verse its technicality gets emphasized

    1. nice summer night scene, Liz Ann -but i now realize we’ve had “fireworks” just 5 verses ago -so ‘fire scenes’ are done for this renku

    1. little too close to ‘crying over spilt milk’ on the part of the willows, Liz Ann -gotta watch that alternative readings to the one you intend don’t spoil and misdirect the effort

    1. hey joel, this is very good, thanks -performs a nice link in register with the “with a touch of her finger” -allows a machine into our renku in an unobtrusive way and “conjures” links with the ‘magic’ of “the goddess” while being definitely in late summer -“dust storms’ and wild fires being the scourge of the earth in summer for settled or unsettled areas

      1. ” ‘dust storms’ . . . the scourge of the earth in summer . . .” – Marshall

        Hmmm . . . are you sure, Marshall? I’ve googled:
        This 2016 one in Texas happened early in April (your mid-spring)

        ‘Yellow dust’ is a traditional kigo for spring in Japanese haiku because of dust storms originating in China & Mongolia which happen in Japan mostly in spring.

        The major dust storms in Australia have historically all been in spring and early summer.
        The last big one I’ve been in was in September 2009 (early spring) on the 2nd day of a haiku conference in NSW. It was a red dust storm & turned New Zealand’s mountain snow-caps pink.

        Just sayin’ (as they say over there) and keeping the forward progress of a series of seasonal verses in mind. I like Joel’s verse but as I read it, it’s as not referring to a dust storm: the dust cloud churned up by a combine harvester can look like a mini dust storm. I think the point is that the topsoil being farmed is dry & it’s a drought year, (some countries call one dry year a ‘drought’) Drought is perhaps more noticeable in summer.

        – Lorin

        1. yes, Lorin, i’m sure you’re right about the storms -I’ve only seen one, and it was in fact spring in Arizona at the time -I was focusing on how the combine’s conjuring made it ‘look like’ a dust storm -as you say -and emphasizing drought as an aspect of a hot summer -but as I replied further to joel i’m too uncomfortable with how close and continuous a wind goddess could be to a storm

      2. sorry, joel, but upon reflection i can’t use this here; “the goddess of wind” linked to “dust storm” is just too continuous -as if in a narrative -and the “conjures” even solidifies how ‘too close’ it is

    1. “bleached” just too brutal a word for me to use with “skies”, Betty -and if you wanted to link the “mud cracks” (crevices” might be a subtler word) to the “tall grasses” you should start the first line with that

      1. Will try something more subtle…I volunteer and temporarily live at a Texas state park where temperate grasslands meet the Chihuahuan desert that overlays 100 million year old limestone from ancient shallow seas. We had almost 5 inches of rain recently and with triple digit temperatures, what little mud there is dries and cracks rather quickly…not sure if I can visualize mud crevices in this harsh environment…at the gates of hell…that’s more like summer here indeed!

    1. Here in Ireland where it rains often, the summer months of July and August are the most popular (and expensive) for weddings – but there is still no guarantee that it will be a dry day!

    2. but it’s really our human sense of competition that you’re writing about here, Marion -happy enough occasions, but you’d need a footnote to indicate this were a summer link -for instance, around here, May is the ‘go-to’ wedding month

        1. not at all summer, Marion, though spring here is an event, not a 3 month season -my feeling is the brides in Canada, where winter is harsh, like to appear at their best at the time of the blossoms -and our May is totally filled with all manner of blossoms -unless like this year when April was so cold after a mild winter, the cherry blossoms, for instance, didn’t appear at all -the buds went straight to leaf in their case -still many others bloomed

    1. again, Betty, i appreciate the link to sea and shoreline but we seem to have lost the concentration on summer

    1. prefer the sailboats, Marion -and i like how they and “the lough” bring us to a seaside that would link with “the tall grasses” -just think this could happen very well happen in spring too

    1. not sure about “panting” here, Marietta -and “shade” would imply a daytime “sleepout” that puzzles me

      1. Hi Marshall. We have a 1-room sleepout (a cabin or you could call it a studio) in our coastal backyard. In midsummer, magpies crouch in its shade in scooped-out sand lies, their beaks gaping wide. I swear I saw them pant when the mercury hit 42 degrees-celsius at midday! But I may have been overwrought from the heat…

        Thanks for your ever-interesting and enlightening critiques!


    1. nice you ‘bring the heat’, too, Marietta -just that this way it could be any season

    1. this one is meant to be heavy, i know, Marietta, but the first line is just too heavy and the second is heavy in apparent contradiction or ‘ironic standpoint’ -which we don’t want here

    1. haunting aural and tactile imagery here, Judt -so thanks for that -not exactly what i was looking for, but i’ll keep it around

    1. yes, we can say, “beer bottles” sweat, Mary -but i think one of the reasons we compose haiku and participate in ‘haiku-related’ activities is to lay bare these phrases as anthropomorphic and avoid them just as we would avoid clichés in our prose writing

    1. ’cause-and-effect’ in the human realm, Mary -which isn’t ‘horrible’ -but there’s nothing else here but the “steam”

    1. this resembles reportage, Mary -i’m not even happy with people calling haiku writing ‘snapshots in time’ but describing a moment as if it’s a picture doesn’t cheer me either

  2. with a touch of her finger
the goddess of wind

    marcels the tall grasses
    –Patrick Sweeney
    up and down the quiet cul de sac
    air conditioners pinging on and on

  3. “…right now i want some direct statement of heat and not so much the human adjustment to it.” – Marshall

    with a touch of her finger
    the goddess of wind
    marcels the tall grasses

    –Patrick Sweeney

    through heat haze
    the roar of burning trees

    – Lorin

    1. this was great too, Lorin, as an image -but “haze” to “trees”, though perhaps appropriately harsh, is a slant rhyme i don’t want here

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

    –Patrick Sweeney

    after the bushfires
    only brick chimneys

    or, in US English:

    after the wildfires
    only brick chimneys

    – Lorin

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

    –Patrick Sweeney

    out of the smoke haze
    shrieking cockatoos

    – Lorin

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

    –Patrick Sweeney

    kangaroo ground
    surrounded by spot fires

    – Lorin

    1. i like this one,( “kangaroo ground”) the best of these, Lorin -and thank-you -i ask for heat and you send me fire -this one could have the fire embody the movement of the wildfire in its springing about unpredictably -so thanks for that, too

      1. “… this one could have the fire embody the movement of the wildfire in its springing about unpredictably …” – Marshall

        Thanks, Marshall, Yes, that’s precisely what spot fires are. Bits of burning fuel from a wildfire/ bushfire are blown (airborne) to locations further away from the original fire, and dropping, start new fires…. small at first. In this case, mostly grass fires.

        – Lorin

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

    –Patrick Sweeney

    a firefighter
    wipes the sweat from his eyes

    – Lorin

    1. that’s heat alright, Aalix -but too close to “with a touch of her finger” of the previous line

    1. “boiling since Easter” seems negative here, Todd -but also introduces another season by mention of the word, “Easter” -not a total no-no to everyone who likes renku, but it is to me

    1. too long a first line, Todd -and too humanly purposive -we do want activities that connote summer, but not ones that are dependent on other human activities

    1. interesting too leave out the subject here, Betty -i’m guessing it’s a snake -and “hypnotic” could apply to the effect of a long hot summer on a human as underlying metaphor -but it’s just not the link i feel we need to “the goddess of wind”

    1. second line too long, Todd -a very heavy stop after the first line too -enthusiastic though it is in its writing

    1. deceptively simple, Betty -so, thanks -have to think about the appropriateness of “dart” here though

    1. first line, Marietta, is really, “after swimming class” isn’t it? -usually writers attempt to stretch a two-liner for a 3-liner: here you’ve done the opposite

    1. nice play on the birdiness of “bunting”, Marion -and good interlinking of the human with the wild but no heat here

      1. Yet again, Marshall, not in Ireland. I’ve obviously got to completely rethink summer as a kigo, because here on this little green island it seems to be totally at odds with the rest of the world.

    1. too ’cause-and-effect’ Marion -which we try to avoid because the overwhelming prevalence of human agency in our worldly realm makes it too easy to believe that the universe is composed of ‘single-line’ or analog ’cause-and-effect’ when i believe it is in the essence of haiku to believe that the universe is ‘steady-state’ and mysterious

      1. Very interesting, Marshall. Thank you for pointing this out. I’ve only come to haiku in the last few years, so I welcome your insightful comments.

    1. double “d – l” s in the first two words too much for me here, Marion -also, you may note from my reply to Lorin’s offering below that i have problems with surfing as a summer indicator

    1. second line feels too long, Marion -and the first line repeats, to my ear at least, the cadence of “with a touch of her finger”

    1. a little too ‘small scale’ for me here, Marion -but also, because you have 2 rhymes in the first line: “by’ to “my’ and “beetle” to beach” (slant) the bounce of “resumes” off “dune” of the second line is quite jangling

  8. with a touch of her finger
the goddess of wind

    marcels the tall grasses

    –Patrick Sweeney


    a bounce house set up
    for the ten-year-old’s party

    1. this, Carmen, could happen in any season, i think -so not specifically summery enough

    1. “frog symphony” too anthropomorphic for me, Paul -and just so you know, ending a line with an article makes my teeth gnash

    1. personification of a water hydrant -Hydra would be indeed laughing, Betty at hell’s door

    1. so this does indicate ‘summer is here’, Ellen, but i am at a loss to explain how this links to the words of the previous verse

  9. with a touch of her finger
    the goddess of wind
    marcels the grasses
    -Patrick Sweeney

    a new wave of birdsong
    unfurls overhead

    1. hello Karen -this is pleasant enough an aural image but there are two ‘quasi-metaphors’ here -to the beach with “wave” and to a flag with “unfurls” -one of these figures is stretching it; two is too much for sure -plus watch enjambment words -both lines end with this: “bird-song” and “over-head” -commonly acceptable but distracting when used in adjoining lines

    1. has an appropriately ‘airy’ feel, Marilyn but too close a slant rhyme -and i want something substantial here in this link

    1. this is so good and yet not what i’m looking for, Lorin, that i want to ask you to resubmit this for the 2-liner, no particular season verse after the next 3 liner, summery one. Seems to me, that where people surf, without rubber jackets, there is only one season with variations of wetness. That, in turn for me, limits the ‘seasonality’ of surfing

      1. ok, then . . . thanks, Marshall. Actually, after posting it I wondered if it might be ineligible because of the use of the word “green” (Marietta’s verse #17) which I’d forgotten until I reread the renku so far.

        (“Seems to me, that where people surf, without rubber jackets, there is only one season with variations of wetness.” – Marshall

        Nah! 🙂 Surfing for professionals can be most seasons somewhere in the world, but for most folk it’s a summer activity. That’d make surfing without a wetsuit exclusively a tropical activity, and it ain’t. Victoria (Victoria in Australia, where I am) has 4 seasons. and you wouldn’t find many (if any) surfers down at Bells Beach today… even though it’s almost officially spring. And if there were some professionals there they’d definitely be wearing wetsuits. But I imagine they’d all be at Tahiti right now)

        I thought, though, that “heavenly coolness” would be more than sufficient to place the ku definitively in Summer, since that amount of appreciation is something only experienced as a relief from “too damn hot”,.. Even Basho & Kikaku used ‘coolness’ as a plain summer reference:

        a midday nap
        putting the feet against the wall
        it feels cool

        – Basho. source: translation by R.H. Blyth, Haiku Vol. 3

        – Lorin

        1. no dispute that a response to “toodamn hot” is ‘summery’, Lorin -just want a more direct ‘stuff’ of exclusively summer in this link -not a specifically human adjustment to it

    1. OMG, what a deja-vu (deja-ku?) moment!
      there’s now way you (or anyone else) could have known but I’ve been recently invited to write a renku and my accepted hokku has the exact wording in the phrase segment (the only difference being “straight” in my verse vs “ripe” in yours

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

    –Patrick Sweeney

    a row of beach hats slurping
    iced soba noodles

    – Lorin

    1. nice ‘tan’ ‘ku, Lorin, in that the 5 verses together make a fine poem -just that right now i want some direct statement of heat and not so much the human adjustment to it

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

    –Patrick Sweeney

    Excellent! It was my favourite, too. 🙂

    – Lorin

    1. I was going to write ‘seagull’ as that’s how we have always referred to these birds here by the coast, but I know a some don’t consider this to be a proper name. Then I thought a light fingered (or light feathered) ‘common’ gull was quite funny. 🙂

    2. well, Marion, there are ‘seagulls’ but they’re huge and by the oceans -most by far around here are either ‘glaukus gulls’ or ‘herring gulls’ -“common gull” is humorous, but not what i’m looking for here

    1. yes, Marion, all of our food will be ‘sand-wiches’ -i wrote this once -new category of offerings: ones that remind leader of her or his own throwaway haiku

    1. yeah, Michael, we have a new Liberal government in Canada who are facing ‘sticker-shock’ over the price of their promises -but no, i think i’m looking for a ‘straight’ statement of heat for our hottest summer ever (on all hemispheres)

  12. new books to read
    by open windows

    Summers are short here by Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. The warmth and fullness of gardens and fields, as already the light changes and days grow shorter. Will try to write this as applies to what best serves the poem. Just able to follow along better now. Thank you.


    1. nice, light touch here, Ellen -just think I want something of the ‘heat’ in this one

    1. nice image, Paul -and I know it was way back in verse 10, but we had “glasswing” there -and though i would welcome another flying insect at this point, i think one whose name includes “…wing” just feels too limiting to our renku, even at a 14 verse distance

    2. hey , Paul… have you considered calling those insects katydids instead? (Katydids, too, can sound like someone sawing away at violins/ fiddles)

      – Lorin

    1. again, Barbara, an interesting reversal of awareness, so that we realize our own involuntary sensitivity triggering a unanticipated response in a wild animal -so thanks for that -i’ll have to consider later whether i can fit this one in

      1. Marshall, the best way NOT to get bitten by a red-bellied black snake that might be around is to stomp heavily on the ground. They’re not the sort that chases people & will get away if they can.Yes, they ‘hear’ the vibrations through the earth from a distance and will clear off if at all possible. Best way to get bitten by one is to sneak around softly and surprise it.

        – Lorin

  13. An extraordinary verse, Patrick. Congrats! Another wonderful choice, Marshall.
    a snake’s hiss
    through the dry riverbed

    1. thanks, Maureen -read together, the “snake’s hiss” is too jangling right after “tall grasses”

    1. yes, they usually perform out-of-doors, Mary -but it could be anytime between Spring and Autumn

    1. this could just as well be autumn where i live, Mary -I much prefer your earlier offering

  14. Beautiful image, Patrick


    in the shade of their arbour
    she offers a chilled pinot gris

    1. this is a lovely image, too, Marietta -cold, clear and intoxicating fluid decanted in shadow -just concerned that read together with the previous verse it would imply that the “she” here is “the goddess of wind” -which we don’t want

  15. Patrick, yours is a very beautiful and inventive verse…a perfect choice for #22.
    with a touch of her finger
the goddess of wind

    marcels the tall grasses
    –Patrick Sweeney
    a Scarlet Ibis lifts off
    its nest in the rookery

    1. actually, Mary, it was verse 23 -but your new offering is quite striking as well -kind of a relay of the wind’s touch -and a beautiful bird -i’ll be looking at this one again, thanks

  16. Domo Sensei, careful editing saved whatever was half good about this verse. It has been a great summer interacting with all the great poets involved in this renku. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to run a renku…but I greatly appreciate all your hard work.


    1. Thanks a lot, Patrick -you’re most welcome and i hope you keep offering such original verses MH

    1. “goldenrod” still a flower or blossom, Ellen, and as such has an exalted position in verses 17 and 35 only -hope this doesn’t seem too traditional, but this placement and the three ‘moon verses’ very much anchor our renku

  17. i loved this verse the moment i read it!
    a gull’s wings barely moving
    in the midday heat

    1. great start to this link, Polona -can see the feathers ruffle as if they were blades of grass -thanks -will consider again later

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