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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 24

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.

Hi there, renku fans. We have our verse 24. it is:

a gull’s wings barely moving
in the midday heat

                    –Polona Oblak

“Barely moving” i liked immediately as an animal reaction to unbearable heat while the mention of “gull” associates with a seascape that can be seen to link with “the tall grasses” that were marcelled in the verse previous. Combined, the first line maintains the tactile appeal of “with a touch of her finger” but shifts from an act’s completion into open-ended motion.

As i read more closely, i realized the gull was in flight; it’s not its feathers that are hardly ruffling in a breeze or a convection current but outspread wings that are being held almost still as the bird continues to fly. This adds the complexity of a stillness-in-motion and movement-in-stillness motif that is admirable in itself but when completed by “in the midday heat” (notice: with the definite article) awakens us to the feeling that this hovering gull may embody the heat, in its vertical condition of “midday,” bearing down on us; humans, animals, plant life and all, in a constant way. Well-done, Polona; thank you.

For our next verse, we need to revisit summer one more time: 3 lines/ summery. And this time, human responses to this hottest of summers on global record are encouraged as a way of indicating we are in summer for this verse. And if you’re new to renku and have never offered a verse for linking before, don’t think twice; just respond in three lines to those two well-written ones above. I’m sure that once you “send” it’ll be much easier to get the hang of it.

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

a gull’s wings barely moving
in the midday heat

    –Polona Oblak

This Post Has 136 Comments

    1. hi Aalix – at least this offering attempts to link -the “flipping” pages being the wings resumed in their flapping into prolonged flight and displaying colour in the process of trying to find coolness -i’ll keep this under consideration -thanks

    1. Sorry if this one is just too silly, Marshall. It is a childhood memory of a day trip to a lovely sandy beach along the coast. Ours here in Warrenpoint is very stony – but at least there are no jellyfish!


      1. not “too” silly, Marion -but pretty ‘out there’ -I saw a stingray yesterday -maybe there was a psychic disconnection

      1. the ‘ie’ is prettier, Marion -but we can’t have green again after the blossom verse’s “green” and its link in “limelight” in the next verse

    1. “almost” never the greatest of qualifiers -but anyway, Marion we need a little complexity here

  1. serene
    ash strewn landscape
    one sunflower blooms
    ash strewn landscape
    betrays the destruction

    1. hi joel -first one has a “bloom” which is reserved for the ‘blossom verse’ -the second one has a volcanic feel to it that has no specific reference to summer

    1. actually, we were more than thunderstruck, but glad, Marietta, you’re feeling spontaneous

    1. well, yes, Mary, this is an improvement -but you drive me crazy with your line-endings in prepositions and articles -it’s not about counting or pacing your syllables -it’s about sculpting how English sounds into sense so it can withstand various readings and vernaculars on paper and in the cerebral ear; something for this like: “the recurring sounds/ of skates/ on an oval of ice” -“indoor ice rink” is just too leaden to work with, no matter how accurate -goes back to Stephane Mallarme telling Edgar Degas the painter that “poems are made out of words not out of ideas”

      1. Marshall, I’ve been a poet for many years, and I do know how to write. I think that being new to renku, I keep seeing your comments to make the verses short and visually balanced. This is what I was attempting to do. I read your comments on my and on all other entries carefully and closely. I guess I missed the boat. I shall return to a more haiku-like mindset. My apologies for driving you crazy. We can’t have that.

    1. hi Marion – a little too simple for what i’m looking for here -but a great introduction for a new party game that starts “a renku poet walks into a bar . . .” (getting giddy with the heat here in Florida)MH

    1. Unbelievable as it may seem, I didn’t realize I’d used “water” twice until after I posted! I guess “watermelon” doesn’t even connote “water” to me. It’s just a melon that’s green on the outside and red on the inside. Ah, well.

      1. I guess it could go
        just seeing
        nestled in ice…
        Anyway, it was sketchy to begin with.

        1. yeah, i think we’re going in opposite directionswith this one, Judt -whenever you even think of ellipsis or a ”…” you’re probably losing me -i’d appreciate it though if you worked on the one about the dry spigot in Gaza for the next link of two lines though -I just couldn’t fit it in last time

          1. I knew the ellipsis would put you off, but did it anyway…silly.

            I hope I can remember the Gaza one! West Bank, I think it was…I don’t keep any records, but it’ll probably come back to me. Thanks!

    1. thanks for keeping it fun, Lorin -really, besides the sneeze at the dupl. def. art. it’s the “in everything” that rankles the most, because i remember looking up a ‘romaji-literal’ translation of this poem after I saw a 5-7-5 of it in a Peter Pauper edition for the season of Spring and found there was no ‘everything’ literally in Basho’s text; only “fish salad” that might have seemed inscrutable to the PP’s translators at that time -but i’m in gulf-coast Florida right now and can’t look it up til i get home end of next week -I guess, ‘Lorin-Marshall-and the ghost of Basho-Collusion’ just don’t make it with this link, this time

      1. Florida! How odd: yesterday I bought an oxblood handbag at a local op, shop and hidden away in one of the pockets was a ‘gold’ key with “Florida *Sunshine State*&” surrounding a heart-shaped, double-sided picture of dolphins which spins around. (The dolphins look more like they’re flying through the air above the sea than our local ones, who do sort of ‘loop stitch’ leaps) I dream this key might open a box in a bank vault over there. :-)
        Anyway, I’m sure it’s lovely & sunny there, so enjoy yourself. :-)

        the dolphins
        down in Florida
        still smiling

        – Lorin

  2. Whoops: I’ve spotted the repeated def. art. you’re allergic to, Marshall

    Another go:

    that coconut smell
    in the soup in my fish salad
    in everything!

    – a collusion between Lorin, Marshall & Basho’s ghost.

    1. certainly orchestrates the “heat”, Barbara, but I was hoping to go somewhere else

  3. “well, howbout that, Lorin -I would have written “in the soup, in my fish salad” for line 2 of Basho’s famous poem -so perhaps my aversion to your “on everyone” might even stem from my aversion to “everywhere” in this translation. ” – Marshall

    :-) well, then, here’s a collusion:

    that coconut smell
    in the soup in the fish salad
    in everything!

    – Lorin, Marshall & Basho’s ghost

    (I like it, anyway)

    – L0orin

  4. a gull’s wings barely moving
    in the midday heat

    –Polona Oblak

    that coconut smell
    on the beach on the pier
    on everyone!

    – Lorin

    inspired by (& pretty obviously alluding to) Basho’s:
    beneath the trees
    in the soup, salad, everywhere
    cherry blossoms!
    – (Translator Haruo Shirane)
    which I’ve loved since I first read it. :-)
    – Lorin

    1. well, howbout that, Lorin -I would have written “in the soup, in my fish salad” for line 2 of Basho’s famous poem -so perhaps my aversion to your “on everyone” might even stem from my aversion to “everywhere” in this translation

  5. a gull’s wings barely moving
    in the midday heat

    –Polona Oblak

    that coconut smell
    on the pier on the beach
    on everyone

    – Lorin

    1. matches “the heat” for its overwhelming presence, Lorin -but it doesn’t shift us as far as your other offerings

    1. no, Paul, I think “the goddess of wind” two verses ago takes care of a “windshield” being used as well

  6. Congrats, Polona! Such an excellent illustration of these high temperatures. Perfect choice, Marshall. Thanks again for all your thoughtful commentary.
    next in line
    at the gelato cart
    for a scoop of nocciola
    translation~ hazelnut

    1. thanks, Maureen, for the comments -this offering is interesting for its ‘foreign word’ component -but otherwise, a little too straightforward for what I was looking for here

    1. maybe works if by escaping “daddy’s reach” someone’s escaping “the midday heat” -but not the kind of link i’m looking for here

    1. first line seems to summarize a group by their job effects, Betty -not very inclusive for our renku

    1. these are all sardonic comments on a personal condition, Betty -witty enough, but not for this renku

    1. this is a nice haiku, Marietta -but we had “the goddess of wind” just two verses ago

      1. Oh, yes of course ‘wind’ is there, this is so tricky! I can feel new synapses forming with every step! Write on!

    1. “seduced” a little too ‘human laden’ a word for the respite a “hammock/ under the oaks” offers, Mary

    1. interesting ‘turn-around’ play on the “gull’s wings”, Mary -but “round/ and round” seems a bit flat for our renku

  7. Polona, yours was my favorite verse of the bunch. Congratulations.
    a gull’s wings barely moving

    in the midday heat
    –Polona Oblak
    sipping a spritzer
    while reading

    1. has the ‘internal solution’, Mary -but i’m looking for a bit of complexity as well, in this link

    1. extends the “heat”, Marilyn, while bring in an explicit ’cause-and-effect’

    1. hey, Liz Ann, I like this one; the arms of the chair linking to the gull’s wings and shifting us underground as a human response -thanks, i’ll be looking at this one again

    1. extends the oppressive “heat”, Michael, while not necessarily shifting the scene

    1. kind of a phantasy, Marietta, we just had 2 verses ago -without the visual props

    1. certainly a summer scene from my childhood, Marietta -but the link to the previous verse seems tenuous to me -and to say both “night” and “drive-in” seems unnecessary

    1. second line a bit too awkward, Marietta -and a kind of play off of “singing in the rain” that I don’t want here

    1. not crazy about the line beginning “sweating” after a line ending with “heat”, Lorin

    1. this feels like a direct observation, Marietta -so thanks for that -reads a bit long though -and has that ’cause-and-effect’ formation i’m not very fond of in haiku-related writing

    1. a startling and nature-positive statement, Lorin, of the existence of a “garbage patch” that humans have heaved into our oceans and left stranded there -but not what i’m looking for for our concluding summery verse

    1. I understand “orogeny” as ‘mountain-building’, Betty -so you must mean something else by this word, such as ‘born-by-the ear’ or ‘by-mouth’ -but as it is it makes no sense to me -please explain

      1. Well, when all the other kids are splashing in the water, there is that one odd child who always has their nose in a book…much like my much younger self in that I took great delight in browsing through my parents’ dictionary…especially loved obscure words and would sound them out. Certainly not an everyman kind of summery and probably makes no sense for a renku verse. Orogeny…just floated out of the recesses of my mind as did the memory.

  8. a gull’s wings barely moving
    in the midday heat

    –Polona Oblak

    caught in the rip
    our beach toys and brand names
    become rubbish

    – Lorin

    1. too direct a ’cause-and-effect’ event, Marietta, however true, as far as it goes

    1. Scratch this one, please , Marshall. Although it’s the case that bird ranges and migratory behaviours are changing, the dates for the silvereyes are not ‘summery’ enough.

    1. escape from heat by dreaming -interesting option, Lorin -i’ll reconsider this one too, thanks

    1. little bit of humour here, Lorin -thanks -and in a colloquial kind of phrase -i’ll have to look at this one again, later

  9. Nicely done, Polona!
    a gull’s wings barely moving
    in the midday heat

    –Polona Oblak

    date palms
    along the boulevard
    shedding feathers

    – Lorin

    1. no, Lorin, don’t want to go from a “gull’s wings” to “feathers” -been avoiding this kind of close-linking the whole renku so far

    1. rather than having to be measured by a micrometer, right, Carmen? -by breathing though, to me this would be ‘the further retreat of glaciers/ visible to the naked eye’ -reminds me of why i find most ‘5-7-5 haiku’ in English so annoying -they’re oblivious to the breath/line break in English verse

    1. really relies on the previous verse for the identification with summer, though, Marietta

  10. Congratulations, Polona!


    a gull’s wings barely moving
    in the midday heat
    –Polona Oblak


    sweaty nods
    greet the suggestion
    of an icy-cold dip


    1. think this would be better, Marietta, as ‘sweaty brows/ nod to the suggestion/ of an ice-cold dip’ -but i think i want a ‘remedy’ more of an internal than external type; such as a drink or a food

      1. I meant to say earlier, thank you for the editing suggestions you offer on phrasing and rhythm, Marshall, even if the verse is not to your liking for the renku. They’re very instructive reading.

    1. links with our gull, making it into a kind of human vulture, i think, Barbara -not the kind of human adjustment to summer i’m looking for here

    1. hi Judt -“moss” still resounds with the “balls of moss” of verse 8 that moved our renku out of the reach of the bunyip -though that far away, I don’t want to repeat that word

    1. like how “burkini” plays off or “ticket”, Betty -but even though it’s a nice touch, can’t use “hottest” after “heat”

    1. lovely restatement in the ‘Old West -High Noon’ mode of the th previous verse, Alan -but it still just restaets the same condition from the ground-up , rather than ‘wing-down’

  11. Congratulations to Polona Oblak!
    a gull’s wings barely moving
    in the midday heat

    –Polona Oblak
    so many faces
    in the roots of a tree
    as summer turns
    Alan Summers

    1. hi, Alan -not sure we need “faces’ in the roots -nor that we need to say the word, “summer” here

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