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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 26

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.

Hello to renku contributors, followers and browsers everywhere! We have our verse 26 It is:

a dust caked child
turning a dry spigot

            Judt Shrode

I asked for a verse of two lines and of no particular season. These two lines are painfully apt in that there are starving children trying to drink unsafe water not only in every season but, further, on every continent where children live.

“Wine”, both as a fluid and as an icon for celebration is saliently linked with here in the negative. The “child” is “dust caked;” reduced to an inhuman condition of a near desiccated animal in its destitution. Further the “spigot” -such a brutal word when paired with “child” -holds the portent of a fluid that is non-existent: “dry.”

This may be close to back-linking at a literal level as we seem to be regressing to a “dry” condition induced by the overbearing “heat” of the sun but my intent here is to insist on using this link to emphasize that this child is not suffering from a naturally occurring tragedy of drought but primarily from geopolitical neglect by the powers that control their and our resources. The force of an economic and political will that inflicts scarcity the most on those who can least fend for or defend themselves: children. They are “turning a dry spigot;” attempting to survive, to ‘turn the page’ and achieve an existence but here the promise of a flow they can tap for this has gone empty. Perfectly not a situation to wish for an “arm chair.” Just another aspect of how i find these lines so apposite by being so opposite in attitude -without taking away from the quality of that previous wish in the “wine cellar.” In fact, they enrich each other. Thank you very much, Judt.

We need to shift again. This time to 3 lines in the winter seasonality. Inside or outside of a dwelling but let’s keep our renku global by not suggesting links that make Christmas or New Year’s necessarily wintry. Also, because of their strong presence at our renku’s beginning, let’s have no use of ‘snow’ or references to solstice or canines for 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

a gull’s wings barely moving
in the midday heat

    –Polona Oblak

if only I could fit
an arm chair
into my wine cellar

    –Liz Ann Winkler

a dust caked child
turning a dry spigot

    –Judt Shrode

This Post Has 178 Comments

  1. I see it and assume it is Northern Hemisphere, USA? (You are a day behind :))will try to make it from now on.

    1. not just grannies, Aalix, but by the time i got this we were 18 hours after deadline (midnight Tuesday night) -but be good to see what you send for the next one

      1. this is haunting, Marilyn -but I want something more in the ‘big, bold and beautiful’ vein for this link -could you perhaps compress this into a 2 liner for the next one?

        1. thanks Marshall that is very encouraging.
          I am enjoying having a go at participating in this my first try at renku

  2. .
    Out of practice composing renku verses, and I am aware white is said in verse two, but hoping enough distance?

    Is white a color? Para-rhetorical.
    Renku verse candidate:
    if only I could fit
    an arm chair
    into my wine cellar
    –Liz Ann Winkler
    a dust caked child
    turning a dry spigot
    –Judt Shrode
    the smell of white
    across the burning
    of fresh letters
    Alan Summers

    1. hi Alan -good to hear from you, again -white is a colour and was used in the blossom verse, this time explicitly -and besides that in v.19 we had “fireworks” -these pretty much sideline “white” and “fire-anything” or “burning” for the rest of the renku -I know, its hard to come back in without reading all of the links (and even some of the comments) but I hope you stay with us for the denouement

    1. a slight move backward, joel, into using a summary third line -keep trying, please and just let the trees and the skies figure themselves

    1. stating the cold season by a commercial reaction not my cup of tea, Michael -renku relay best when there’s no sense of agency in any one verse

    1. shows fierce cold, and has a nice arcane word, Marion, but the stiff ’cause-and-effect’ controlling the verse is too much for here

    1. I wrote this originally with ‘my son’, Marshall. (I have a photo of him on a pier by the lake tapping the sun’s reflection, although I couldn’t use ‘tap’ because of ‘spigot’) Then I realised it would read like a pun if I had ‘son/sun’ so I removed it, but now it suggests it is the child in the previous verse…not having much luck with this one. 🙁

      1. ah well, Marion -as they say en francais, c’est la vie -but you do have a nice haiku in “he tries to touch/ the frozen sun/ with a twig”, n’est pas?

      1. great, Marietta -the “coils of barbed wire” one would make a good lind to the previous verse were i to want to continue in the refugee mode -which i’ve decided i don’t since you first proposed a version of this -and the “surrounding …” is actually a better haiku as it includes its kireji quite well

  3. whipped by wind
    our breath now frozen
    like colorless cotton candy
    (or candy floss for our British friends):
    whipped by wind
    our breath now frozen
    like colorless candy floss

    1. just don’t like the blatant simile of the last line, Mary -perhaps you could compress this for the next link of two lines -without a simile

      1. “Orion” signals winter alright, and you’ve made the link cosmic, Mary -just seems that when you read it with “a dust caked child/ turning a dry spigot” the child appears not only destitute but as a contradiction in or a truant from Orion’s care

    1. Betty, the second two lines have the weight and care of the previous verse -this first line, especially, “undisturbed” is very ‘disruptive’ of the link

      1. or, hmmm . . . ‘short day’ is solstice or around then, which is not wanted?

        in the piercing cold
        street sleepers fumble
        small change

        – Lorin

        1. yeah, Lorin, don’t want “short day” because the daisan’s second line, “this longest night” is so powerful -in the third one, “small change” is pleasantly ambiguous as to the betterment of the world’s economic regime -so thanks for that -“street sleepers” with 3 “s” and repeated double ee’s is not so pleasant to the ear though

    1. no need to be sorry, Betty -you’ve actually managed to situate the previous verse -with refugees- while linking with it in a tangential way -didn’t realize the ‘areas’ would be “behind bars” but i guess they’re either cordoned off with barbed wire or gated with bars to keep the refugees separate from the given populace -just not sure “cold, crisp sky” gives our renku enough ‘winter’ here -but thanks

    1. would be much better for a renku as a 2 liner: ‘cold fingers/ lacing up figure skates’, Marietta -looking for a genuine 3 liner here

    1. sounds like advice for a playdate, Marietta -the problem with this being it assumed something needs improving -“icy day” is just “icy” -make us feel the magic of ice

    1. Third line reads as an explanation -a kind of ’cause-and-effect’ structure, Marilyn, that we try to avoid in renku -or our renku at least

    1. yes, Mary, too many ‘h’s in the second one -first one sounds too much like the structure of “Bastille Day” -but far too undramatic for that structure

    1. do you mean, ‘an out of country trip’ Mary? -and to write “milk and bread” and so remain on the food level after the “dry spigot” just seems to blur the gravity of the previous verse

      1. I mean cross-country (as in skiing) as the only way to make it to the village shop for the basic items people need in storms. Yes, I realize this doesn’t work. Sorry. I had pictured snow shoes but we can’t use the word ‘snow’ so this went no where fast.

    1. this does have a shift, Mary but “little” seems unnecessary and “frigid” too heavy for the link here

    1. again, Mary, this verse parallels the physical failure of the previous verse rather than picking up on a tangent and shifting our renku through its own words and images into another kind of action or state or arena

    1. this one, Marietta, has at least a feeling of desolation to evoke winter in our bodies -but a huge distance from our “dust caked child”

    1. hi Marilyn -“newborn” just a little too soon after the ewe gently nudges/ her lambs” in verse 16 -though, too, “against the chill” states the moment with too much ’cause-and-effect’ as well

    1. okay for not enunciating, “fire …” Mary – but the failing flint is too parallel to the “turning” of the “dry spigot”

      1. I was thinking that it showed an effortless sure way as opposed to the hopeless act of turning a dry spigot.

    1. this is fine for the drinking without actually naming a beverage, Betty -the “wine cellar” verse has no drinking in it -it’s the near ironic platitudinous “slippery slope” that I find ‘out-of-whack’ here as a link

      1. Just trying to present a winter image from a city environment…spent 8 years in the suburbs of Chicago…a common enough activity for hardworking roadcrews to salt the roads through the wee hours…was hoping ‘wee’ would link to ‘child’….guess not.

    1. “schnapps” just maybe in some renku after “wine cellar” in the previous verse -but should never happen two verses away; overarching the link in between

    1. well-written, Michael -but “cloakroom” a tad too close to “the wine cellar” of 2 verses before

  4. a dust caked child
    turning a dry spigot
    Judt Shrode
    quick footed squirrels
    safely cross the clothesline’s
    frosty sheets

    1. ‘and the modifiers ran away with the ‘ku’ -wow, Liz Ann you’ve used 3 adjectives and an adverb -and 9 ‘s’ sounds – in 9 words -keeping it spontaneous, i hope -but just leave this one alone

  5. a dust caked child
    turning a dry spigot

    –Judt Shrode


    polar waters freeze
    Into sheets of ice
    as the planet revolves

    1. well, no stops here, Marietta -but the wide panoramic view contains no personal sensuality at all -we still need a sensual aspect or an emotional appeal to make it poetry

  6. a dust caked child
    turning a dry spigot
    –Judt Shrode

    I meant to say earlier, strong verse, Judt. You achieve a tone that is truly a challenge to follow.

    1. Hi Marietta…yes, it is a heavy image I saw some time ago that still haunts me…a child in Gaza after their water supply had been cut. The expression (or lack of expression) in her eyes was beyond description.
      I’m sure you and the others in this great group will come up with a wonderful array of solutions!
      — Judt

    1. this, Debbie, shows the effect of winter-cold on animals -but instead we want a moment or activity that instates wintriness free of explanation either within or outside of the actual verse

  7. dunno how my post went down there! Again:

    a dust caked child
    turning a dry spigot

    –Judt Shrode

    shivering now
    I don’t like to think
    of a nuclear winter

    – Lorin

    1. don’t need the summary first line, Vasile -try working in another aspect of the scene without a stop in the action or a comment on it from the poetic subject -probably starting with ‘slalom skiers . . .’

    1. big stop (kireji) after the question mark, Vasile -we’re trying to keep our renku flowing in a relay as well as link obliquely and shifting -‘question-and-explanation’ simply won’t do for this

    1. probably more natural, Vasile, to write ‘the ringing of sledge bells/ coming closer and closer’ -I feel this is really an extended 2 liner

    1. interesting visual, Marietta, because we can’t ever feel their heat -and we only know mentally that they’re burning -a kind of freezing of the sensory aspect of poetic sensation altogether -wintry but not for our renku

  8. Thank you, Judt – a very moving and sensory image.

    before sunrise
    the crunch of footfall
    breaking ice

    1. Maybe too much internal rhyme in the first offering,
      hoofin it to school
      the crunch of footfall
      breaking ice

      1. hi Liz Ann -yeah, slant rhyme in the first offering is off-putting -in the second “hoofin it” is so colloquial it makes “footfall” seem so quaint i first read it as ‘football’ and thought that then you’d switched sports -but that’s not it -you just can’t repeat the walking motion in one offering whether in two different verbal registers or not

  9. Judt, yours was a very moving and unforgettable verse–well done!
    a dust caked child
turning a dry spigot
    ___ – Judt Shrode
    the skater twists
    into a fast spin
    on the frozen pond

      1. Darn, I just reread all the entries and see that Marietta had a spinning verse. Hers was in a rink and mine is outside. Apologies to Marietta if these both feel too close to yours.

        1. Hi Mary, don’t worry about closeness. It’s about the best verse! BTW, I envisaged my skaters to be outside, too. During our mid-winter in June-July local businesses set up a manufactured outdoor ‘ice rink’ in the civic centre of cold (but usually not snowy or icy) Canberra.

          1. Hi Marietta,
            Nope, Mary is right, and following the accepted protocol.
            Since this is the first renku you’ve been involved in, I can understand that you might think offering verses that are close to earlier offers is all right, but it’s the accepted courtesy to withdraw if we discover our verse is too close to an earlier offer by someone else. A renku done ‘degachi’ is competitive, but not *that* competitive! The ultimate judge of just how close is ‘too close’ is, of course, is up to the sabaki.

            And it’s not about the best verse, but complex matter of which verse sabaki judges fits best with where the renku has been and where sabaki would like it to go next.

            (My money is on one of the first horses out of the gate for this spot 🙂 )
            – Lorin

      2. -third one just a little to the wrong side of narrative ascription, Mary -who says the skater is “lost”? First two have that loaded haiku word, “pond” -though “frozen” is an interesting take on it -in the second, “twists” feels too close to “turning” of the previous verse

  10. “This time to 3 lines in the winter seasonality. Inside or outside of a dwelling but let’s keep our renku global by not suggesting links that make Christmas or New Year’s necessarily wintry. ”

    You lost me here with your directions. Are Christmas and New Years on or off the table? My understanding was obviously flawed…


    1. hi Betty,
      If the renku is international, Christmas and New Year are calendar dates, not seasonal references., eg January 1st happens to be winter for you, midsummer for me. This old earth has been proven to be round, not flat! And it wobbles in its orbit, too. 🙂

      – Lorin

      1. looks like you’re one of those tricksters who enjoys challenging me to accept the season word, such as “winter” because it has a further reference than its literal denotation, Lorin -actually I don’t like it because it’s too soon after the last summer verse’s “if only” counterfactual

    1. “Yule log” would be in summer in the southern hemisphere, Paul -we’re trying to keep our renku global

      1. OK, Marshall. But, there is no snow in Singapore or Saudi. No trick-or-treaters in India. Bunyips rare in Ontario? Probably not a lot of Gypsies in Ulan Bator.

        Your instructions were clear and I considered them closely, that is the challenge and the fun. I do expect fancy restaurants, bakeries, and home cooks serve this chocolate dessert in Sydney regardless of summer heat. Now — burning the _fireplace log_, yes. But marzipan makes it food.

        Of course, I fell in love with the sounds of marzipan and mushrooms. A smiling – Paul

    1. this doesn’t mean you’re camping in winter, Paul -i’d be more likely to try that in summer -at best this is ‘no particular season’ -just because it has a wintry season-word in “Arctic” doesn’t make it a winter link for me

    1. sort of a ‘living gagoyle’ eh, Paul? -too soon after the “dust caked child” to be humourous, i think

    1. whether or not this is a reference to the ’12 Days of Christmas”, Maureen, this is still too vague a link

    1. hi Betty -sorry but the reference to “the posada/ in old Del Rio” is lost on me -could you explain?

    1. do you mean, ‘teenagers’?, Vasile -this would make it a simple ‘growth narration’ from the “dust caked child”

    1. I think you mean ‘a wounded roecalf’, Vasile -this might be more acceptable to a renku as ‘a wounded roecalf/ limping along/ the iced-over bridge’ -but that would still just parallel the mood of the previous verse

    1. “full hunt season” would be winter in the north too specifically, Vasile -though I guess “still empty” does link to the previous verse, we don’t need to further its sense of loss or repeat it in a diminished way

    1. “rink” a kind of slant rhyme with “spins”, Marietta -links to the “spigot” but in a very flat tone

    1. hi Mojde -great to hear from you -distracted by your use of caps for lines 2 and 3 and not for line 1 -and i’m afraid I don’t know the reference to “picks”

      1. Thank you very much sir, for reading me.
        I know i am out of the rules of renku, because my knowledge in this field is not at all enough to be a participant !
        When I read the deep verse:
        “a dust-caked child
        turning a dry spigot”
        and i read your explantions about it
        I felt that the cold hearted powers (picks) keeping the water from the child ( future) will be so lonely itself!
        I take the opportunity of your respectful forum to challenge my mind ! and express my opinion!
        The capital letters in lines 2 and 3 are only my mistakes, i am sorry !

        Best Regards

        1. thanks, Mojde, for your explanation and for expressing your opinion -your knowledge can only grow with participation -I look forward to more from you-MH

          1. Thank you dear mr. Hryciuk
            Sure i will be going through all haiku teachings eagerly . Since where i live there is no venue to go and sit for haiku lessons, virtual world is a precious opportunity for me!
            By the way my shameful mistake in my 3 liner was a mis spelling also:
            Rocky (picks) instead of ( peaks)
            So sorry!
            Thank you for your time
            And sorry for the bother!


    1. likewise these two, Marion -Christmas happens at the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere

    1. poignant and adult link to the previous verse, Marion -though it sounds suspiciously ‘north-specific’ -will look at this one again later, thanks

    1. hi Barbara -this must have been amazing to see -one of those verses that include something so spectacular it blows ‘link-and-shift’ away -thanks -definitely consider this one later

  11. Hi Marshall,
    I am v. late to the party… but happy to finally be here!

    woolen mittens & hats
    hang on hooks
    by the fire

    1. hey kj -great to hear from you -can’t use this one though -verse 19: “Bastille Day/ fireworks/ extinguished” means we can’t have any “fire-anything” the rest of this renku -good to have you aboard though

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