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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 28

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 participants! Our verse 28 is:

skiers debate
violet wax or blue special

              kj munro

This verse brings us into the intimate space of shared, arcane knowledge; in from the stunning and magnificent itself. I could see breath puffs in the high, thin air without their being stated, or for that matter, ice or snow, the surfaces skiers glide upon. So it links by the medium of ice but also by the arc of the mountain to the slope of the geyser spout.

But what I really appreciate about this verse is vocalic interplay of the closed and open-voiced vowels. John Keats called this “vowel harmony.” In the first line the first and last vowels are open, while the middle two are closed: ‘ee’ and ‘a’ with two closed ‘e’ sounds in between. In the second, ‘i’ and ‘o’ are open with ‘wax’ being a special open ‘soft a’ -appropriate because it is the focal point of human device meeting naturally occurring substance. Then, in the final four syllables, an open ‘u’ sound. All five vowels voiced open and accounted for.

After so many dazzling visual links and images it’s a wonderful variation to have one that works on the vocalic level so well. And kj underscores this with the open vowels usually being the stressed ones: ‘ski’ and ‘bate’ in a choriamb in the first line – / /-; ‘vi’ and ‘wax’ in line two that is another choriamb followed by its inverse, with “blue’ stressed; /- -/. Thank you kj.

What we need now for our renku is 3 lines, no particular season. Watch for repetitions but do follow wherever your spontaneity takes you.

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

week after week
the geyser spout remains
frozen solid

    Barbara A. Taylor

skiers debate
violet wax or blue special

    –kj munro

This Post Has 162 Comments

  1. Not sure you’d see this way down in the pile of offerings, so I’ll put it up here. You didn’t care for the final line “comes to an end” so I suggest this:
    “comes to a close” might work since it’s the aria that is finishing…Violetta still has a few wonderful minutes before she dies
    a flash of silence
    as Violetta’s aria
    comes to a close (or: draws to a close)
    Operatic endings are dramatic, particularly when the lead is close to dying (as we all know), so I didn’t want this verse to trail off too gently. Violetta has a surge of energy and hope just before she dies and so the verse should perhaps follow. (Just my thinking.)

    1. this is a wonderful offering to link with the leaps of skiing where the skier flies into silence and lands somewhere else with a different sound and a bit of a ‘slash’ -resembling the “flash of silence” before the crescendo of applause at the opera -but I just can’t put “Violetta’s aria” just two lines after “violet wax …” it’s jammed close

      1. too late, I know (alas), but Tosca would have made a wonderful alternate…talk about leaping!! (Carmen would make a good third.)

    1. “glued” a little too metaphorical, here, Paul -and “she’s oblivious” is over the line judgemental

    1. drawing a conclusion again, Michael -especially obvious when it concerns a strictly human activity

    1. too many apparent contradictions, though overcome in the final meaning, make for a murky link, Michael

    1. though a conclusion to a particular activity, Michael -it still sounds like a homily of advice

    1. we went from white to black from the blossom verse, Liz Ann -so i’m wary of going from the implied snow of the skiers to the black of a raven here

  2. Shel’s “Hairy Jazz”
    “Ragged but Right” on
    to The Giving Tree

    ….I loved Shel Silverstein in all his manifestations!

      1. yeah, parallels, with physical rigour, Betty, the previous verse’s “debates” -we want to shift on -colour to sculpture not enough to offset the repetition of action

    1. this is a fine example of an infinite regression that isn’t malicious, Michael -but the Beatles’ song, whose title should probably be italicized in this poem, introduces a melancholy that seems out of joint with the rest of our renku -nor does it link right in, here

      1. I agree but i’ll be darned if I know how to access italic in this format.
        a better version in my opinion would have been
        scouring the record fair
        for a copy
        of ” Yesterday”

    1. not a fan, Vasile, of hyperbole in haiku-related poetry -what’s truly “insuperable” would never in fact be surmounted unless the word was an exaggeration in the first place -this has its place in genre prose, but not here

    1. not really favouring anything military for this renku, Vasile -also, “key tone” sounds too much like the medical term, ‘ketone’; a discordant ambiguity

    1. maybe ‘accomplishes ideograms’ -which isn’t very poetic -but having dragonflies “drawing” is simply too anthropomorphic for them -does, however, call to mind Soin’s poem in Japanese remarking that the clouds of a day formed a Portuguese letter in the sky -so thanks

    1. good contrast of high wealth and shaky guilt, Vasile, but we need to know if her knees were shaking in the confessional of their own fear or whether the ‘she’ here feels fear for what she’s bending over to reach

    1. evokes the Washington State mall shootings, Lorin -i’d rather look forward to a Presidential debate in Klingon

    1. from ski-wax to “high heels” intriguing link, Maria -not crazy about sumnary first lines, however

    1. seems like a ‘downer’, Michael, where i was hoping to keep our renku upbeat at this point

  3. Wow! Thanks for your comments, Marshall – I have been having some internet challenges & just checked back in to the renku – so grateful to be a part of this! Did I mention there is snow in the forecast?

    1. you’re welcome, kj -I’ve got computer and wifi issues too -without snow in the forecast however -cheers, MH

      1. yes, Mary, i know about kundalini yoga as my first wife was a yoga teacher -my understanding though is that it would be a super-extraordinary meditational session for more than one chakra to ‘be pierced’ = cleared, in one meditation -‘peroration’ would satisfy both the musical and penetrative aspects of this experience

        1. Marshall, clearing all the chakras in one session is not at all unusual. It’s common practice. Perhaps in Kundalini Yoga, it’s different, but there are many different ways to utilize and clear chakras.

    1. nice touch, Judt -just thought i’d avoid painters and painting after the rich palate of tones and vowels in the previous verse

    1. from debate to dramatic opera= nice shift, Mary -not sure i like a “comes to an end” as the last line -“flash of silence” is a good one though -so thanks, will get back to you about this one

      1. “comes to a close” might work since it’s the aria that is finishing…Violetta still has a few wonderful minutes before she dies
        a flash of silence
        as Violetta’s aria
        comes to a close

    1. this has possibilities, Lorin, seeing as i think the Clinton/Trump debate would sound even better in Klingon -but I have many o consider before Wednesday -but thanks

  4. “A warrior chooses a path with heart, any path with heart, and follows it; and then he rejoices and laughs. He knows because he sees that his life will be over altogether too soon. He sees that nothing is more important than anything else.”

    From a letter written to me by a dear friend, hence: ‘valence of old letters’


    1. thanks for clarifying, Patrick. A noble set of statements, Patrick. Not sure i agree with the last sentence but that doesn’t matter to either of us does it?

      1. without “shade” is better, Marietta, but we’ve got enough colour for quite awhile in the previous link -“a nest of shadows” is a lovely metaphor, though not really a ‘haiku-friendly’ phrase

    1. had the “wine cellar”, Michael -and we’ve just had a poised burst of colour -so we don’t want paintings mentioned as it simply repeats this motif

    1. still too heavy on the cues for ‘music’, Aalix -and “low-done tune” though fine in itself is out of whack with our renku’s tone

    1. no, i think “violet” and “blue” in the previous verse have this side of the spectrum covered for this renku, Marietta

      1. nice shift from ski blades to flower arrangement, Marietta -I will consider the “her angles balanced” again later, thanks

    1. sort of re-constitutes the “wax”, Debbie -which is a way of linking but not one i want to include in this renku

    1. not crazy about these kinds of lines breaks, “freshly/caught tuna” Barbara -and though I think its ‘aces’ ‘no particular season’ I just don’t feel there’s a link here

    1. extrapolation, Barbara -but fun -especially since “suring…” is one of the ancient Greek words for ‘flute’ or ‘oboe’

      1. Betty, “selfies with Elvis” is even hard to say without laughing, let alone spelling it right -but if Elvis doesn’t die who wins out; ‘Trump’ or ‘reality’?

      2. … hi Betty , on the world stage, ‘trump/s’ is certainly an ‘interesting’ word, these days. 🙂

        (and I haven’t figured out what ‘pence ‘ , on the Trump banners, means… hell , the man’s a billionaire! What have pence, or penny counting, got to do with it? But I’m probably missing some cultural reference)

        – Lorin

        1. Pence is his running partner…the vice presidential republican candidate, Lorin. I could wax on about the horror of it all but am hoping one day, Trump will be just another museum wax figure and not the orange menace that he represents today.

          1. “Pence is his running partner… ” – Betty

            ah! Thanks for that, Betty. I didn’t have a clue, Have seen the banners around Trump on tv & wondered what ‘pence’ meant in context. (We still had pence here when I was young…tuppence , thrupence, sixpence and ha’pence)

            How funny: the big money and his running partner the pence: a ‘Laurel and Hardy’ duo! 🙂 They don’t call it The Greatest Show on Earth for nothing!

    1. even as an undergraduate, Patrick, i knew Castaneda was a fraud, because he separated experience from ‘meaning -‘my cultural anthropology prof flunked me for this perception -he won’t be mentioned in this renku

    1. hi Michael -like the implied “breaths” of the debate becoming explicit like this -but don’t like “the space of an hour” for its implied mixture of space and time – maybe, ‘for this hour/ twelve breaths became one/ during tai chi’ -can you think of something better along these lines?

      1. this is better, Michael but I like it even more as “twelve breaths/ moving as one/ hour of tai chi” and would use it as this unless you object -thank-you, Michael, MH

    1. has the tone of a ‘wrap-up’, Vasile, and we aren’t quite there yet -nor do we need a ‘re-start’

    1. nice, Marilyn, to move from sight to sound to scent -and you have an explicit place-name -thanks, will be keeping his one around

      1. but can’t use -as “lavender” would indicate a field of flowers and so only included in a ‘blossom verse’, Marilyn

    1. ‘knowing nothing, doing nothing’ to which I would add, ‘being nothing (in particular)’ is a famed Taoist saying, Michael -no lack impled

    1. linking either “centrefold” or “crustless” to “wax” or snow doesn’t work for me here, Michael

    1. good as a haiku, Marion -not sure I want it as a link here after “skiers debate” as would concentrate the motion on human choice rather than nature itself -but thanks

    1. this is possible too, Marion -I like the synaesthesia of seeing through what is heard -thanks

      1. yes, it’s a good haiku, Marietta -but “ikebana” is just too suggestive of a floral scene and so too close to a blossom verse -like the “snips and supports” as a link to the cutting and shifting of the skier’s blades on the snow

      2. but decided I didn’t want even a “tiny rainbow” after the “violet wax and the blue” of the previous verse, Marion

        1. like this, Marion, for its ambiguities -could be the sax player is the sleaziest of the bunch -or it could be as you entered a one-note blast from the sax player greeted “us” -opposite of intimate debates -will keep this around for reconsideration, thanks

    1. this seems confused to me, Marietta -of course the -self-portrait can’t speak so any explanation is an interpolation by the viewer -perhaps the viewer can’t say why -but why can’t the viewer hazard a guess -believing you have no opinion is already an opinion

    1. yep, traditionally this is where the third moon verse should be.
      but i came to realise a while ago Marshall’s style is anything but traditional… fun nonetheless.

      1. hi Polona -from reading renku led by Basho and Buson i find that what is called traditional or classical renku rules are just inventions by modernist formalists who want to rationalize what a renku is -first of all it’s not rational in origin or in effect

        1. i don’t care about rules per se, Marshall, i rather see them as guidelines, and my remark was meant as an observation.
          Basho was even bold enough to put moon and blossom in the same verse in one of his compositions.
          of course “rules” can be flexed, the question is to what extent one can do it and still end up with the intended result.

    2. hey, Paul, nice comment on the moon verse being moved -i’ll keep this around for future consisderation

    3. yeah, can’t use the word, “moon” even within a larger word, when the moon verse is 2 verses later, Paul

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