Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 29

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 revelers! Here’s our verse 29:

twelve breaths
moving as one
hour of tai chi

                Michael Henry Lee

This verse continues the rich vowel-play of the previous one with a closed first line of two ‘e’ sounds surrounded by consonantal compounds. Then it opens into vowels with the open ‘u’ sound of “moving” and the open, soft ‘a’ of “as”, culminating in a third line of three triumphantly open vowel-sounds around the closed ‘o’ of “of”.

Secondly, i chose this verse for linking on the debaters’ breath made explicit but in a novel way: “breaths” being not the result of spoken words or conscious intonation but of an uncultured experience of the life force that flows from line to line with the graceful modification of a subtle surprise. Its meaning gathers as it exhales its concern for meaning. The intended exercise of an individual has become the un-self-conscious dance of life’s energy.

Thirdly, and more incidentally, it gives our renku the necessary element of an explicit quantity while yet absorbing that plurality as it progresses. Thank you very much, Michael Henry.

Now for verse 30 -and, yes, we are really here- we need 2 lines autumnal seasoning. No moons, no school references or flowers and no hemisphere-specific celebrations such as American Thanksgiving. The only necessary element we’re lacking now is a proper noun ‘Place Name’. So i’ll be looking for one of those.

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

twelve breaths
moving as one
hour of tai chi

    –Michael Henry Lee

This Post Has 157 Comments

  1. Ooops, Marshall, you asked me (way back there) to be specific about the Virginia field (i.e., add a crop). Here’s the revision:
    whistling swans forage
    Virginia wheat fields

    1. yeah, this is better, Mary -but “swans” is still too close to “a gull’s wing” in verse 24

    1. feels like autumn, alright, Mary -but a “crisp Carolina morning” probably wouldn’t happen in my imagination until it’s winter there

      1. LOL, Marshall, there are two Carolinas if you recall. I’m in North Carolina in the middle of the state (Chapel Hill), and it was crisp and lovely this morning and it’s just early October…so it does happen. (Of course the temp can then shoot up to the high 80’s in the same day.)

    1. “soft” and “stored” not necessary here, Mary -and this could be in spring as well

  2. a river swells around
    the Cauvery belt

    Kala Ramesh

    A full river means ‘autumn’ in India , for ‘autumn’ comes after our monsoon season.

    1. for this renku, Kala, we are trying to move away from signalling seasons through specific words toward suggesting seasonalities with ‘cues’ that are transparent to both the southern and northern hemispheres -a flooding in many parts of the world would indicate primarily a springtime event, so i wouldn’t use this here

    1. certainly has an autumnal, musty smell to it, Gabriel, but since our non-Anglo festival was “Bastille Day” i don’t want our Place Name to also be in France -even though our reference is to an event in Nice, that day is strongly associated with Paris, where “Place Pigalle” delightedly is

    1. beautiful sound to the first line, Lori -not sure if “echo” is the appropriate word here -i’ll have to think about this one overnight, thanks

      1. I’m not sure echo is the right word either, but what I was thinking is that New England covers an expanse of territory and the leaves don’t all turn color at the same time, hence the idea of an echo.

    1. this is a crisp haiku-like contrast of white peaks and coloured foliage, Lori -it’s just that in the last two of three verses, we already had that contrast of colour to white included -nice play on “turning” as well

    1. not really linking, here, Paul -but i am intrigued by your distinctive ‘run-on-line’ style -i might have wrote, ‘Giant win/ to a wildcard playoff’ -and that would be too clipped for here

    1. hey, joel -try to use something other than the season’s name to characterize a seasonal event -to me it’s what poetic writing is all about -‘show-don’t-tell’

    1. a bit too suggestive of a buck’s interior motions, Mary -but i appreciate that you’ve located them in Virgin -ia

  3. whistling wings of swans
    over Carolina marshes
    whistling wings of swans
    in Carolina marshes
    Note: swans migrate in autumn over the Carolinas and rest there quite a while. The (now named) Tundra Swan is also called the Whistling swan because of a characteristic ‘whistling’ sound made by its wings:
    ” Air whistling through the wings of a swan in flight can be heard even when the bird is flying 100 feet or more overhead.” (from Cornell Ornithology Labs website)
    my linking is of whistling with the breaths in tai chi

    1. hi Mary -i like this sound, but like the phrase ‘whistling leaves’ even more for the sound the wind makes on deciduous leaves when they spread them parallel to the ground for a minute or more -but can’t use this because of the gull’s wings just 6 links before

    1. sounds like these mammals are nosing something stronger than acorns, Betty -maybe something in their tea -trees?

      1. Why, Marshall…these noble critters have been at it since the Ice Ages…jes tryin’ to keep a stash…errr, a cache…ain’t causing no trouble, officer! ☺

    1. don’t really need “migrating” here, Barbara -but i agree, there needs to be some characterization of their trek (don’t have a suggestion, though)

    1. hi Barbara -can’t use this because the ‘moon verse’ is next and “chilly night” is too much of a set-up -but thanks for mentioning Australia’s highest mountain peak -cheers

      1. well, yeah, i think you have to commit your run-of-the mill writings to paper or email to clear the way for the inspiring/inspired stuff, Judt

    1. “Luna Park” evokes the moon, Marietta -and that’s our next verse -okay if you didn’t know, but i can’t use this here

    1. this is better, Marietta -we’ve had dearth of clothing since early on -and well-cadenced in sound -so thanks

    1. don’t want to have a number right after we’ve had a our first number, “twelve” in the previous verse, Todd -but you certainly get the frigidity across

    1. yeah, you have to avoid our Western tendency to ’cause-and-effect’ writing, Todd

    1. I like this one, Todd -first line feels a bit long, but the “hard” does seem appropriate here -problematic in its twist as a link and readers might think “hard frost” must indicate winter -but thanks, i’ll consider this one again

      1. yeah, Todd -this probably happens when the calendar says ‘fall’ but it’s really a winter verse

    1. can’t believe any Londoner who feels responsible for raking leaves would ever be surprised by fog there, Mary -so either, “caught” or “unexpected” seems unnatural here -and their fallen leaves are mainly unremarkable too

    1. there’s Quebec on both sides of the St. Lawrence, Mary so i’m guessing you mean ‘leaving the Gaspe (accent egout)’ for the ocean – really don’t think wildlife give a fig about provincial, state or national borders -“leaving the peninsula” would make a better haiku – “the Gaspe Peninsula’ if you were trying to offer a Place Name link but we’ve had “gulls” just 5 links back

    1. “Lucky market” has a nice, ethnic Chinese feel to it, Paul -but still too close to the “tray of passionfruit” in our New Year’s verse -and 3 open ‘i’ sounds in the first line too jarring

      1. this one has a ‘fall fair’ feel, Marietta but is not specifically autumnal, nor can balloons be said to “roar”

        1. Hi Marshall, if you’ve stood in a hot-air balloon gondola when they fire up the gas, by goodness, they roar! Enough to make you jump, even though the pilot warns you! In our parts, not sure about yours, hot-air balloons go up in Autumn, because that’s the time of more gentle winds. And it’s gorgeous here in Canberra, floating over the changing leaves on a chilly morning. I guess I’m making too many assumptions that the poem can’t communicate.

          1. sorry, Marietta, i really misunderstood this one -maybe you have to say ‘hot-air balloons’ or ‘helium balloons’ -travelling this way is very rare anywhere i’ve been in North America

    1. isn’t it “the roar” that rises up from the crowd with the balloons, Marietta?

      1. Hey, Marshall…I have ridden in a hot air balloon in Arizona. The burner used by the pilot intermittently to heat the air indeed roared at such close quarters in the gondola…was extremely hot as well.

    1. this one is better, Marietta, for “succumb” because it sounds negative but actually improves their taste -but these lines need to somehow be compressed or made into a 3 liner -and them the question of ‘how does it link?’

    1. well, Marietta, I don’t want us to speed up just yet, but the first line is too long by a lot, and the second by just a bit -and don’t know what “matcha” is

    1. this is very far-a-field, Patrick from a flowing hour of tai chi -“bagel-ears” is new to me -do you ear a ring through your lobes?

    1. “silence” is always tricky to write about, Edna -here, we’re just 3 links we away from a “geyser spout” that’s “frozen solid” -part of whose magnificence would its silence where we’d expect loud gushes -but also on its own grounds, does a scent necessarily ‘break’ silence? perhaps it breaks the aura of stillness but i think smoke could still drift through silence if people didn’t break it, speaking as they notice it -like how “smell” also connotes “spell” to me though

      1. no, even leaving of the “in” out, you’re putting words in their airholes, Mary

    1. would be a fine link somewhere else, Mary -but the skiers’ breaths have already been taken up in the previous verse and to have a group “resting” would be too repetitious

    1. prefer the “whistling swans forage” one, Mary -but the second line lets us down -need something specific in or of Virgina they forage -or, “Virginian . . . “

  4. Thank you and congratulations , Michael!
    traffic winding
    along Spoon River Drive

    1. original “traffic” setting for a link, Debbie -and you include a river but not the water of it as well as a Place Name, thanks -will be considering this one again

      1. Thanks, Marshall. Here in central Illinois, there is a fall tradition of driving along a route by the Spoon River, to see the trees changing colors and also people set up tables and sell things beside the road.

    1. “even” is quizzical, Mary -and we need two more verses of ‘normal’ length before we speed to a close in our 5 verse denouement -also need to avoid proverbial phrases

    1. to my chagrin, Marilyn -but perhaps not to yours -I wish too much that we were a Presidential Democracy to include this one, Marilyn

      1. Is this in Gloucestershire, U.K., Rose -seems a bit obscure with a very tenuous link with “lingering” on the “hour of tai chi”

    1. “blackbirds” like thrushes can have very clear and beautiful sounds, Rose -but we had “gulls” just 6 verses before

    1. you’re most welcome, Michael -and nice return verse too -going from mostly horizontal to subtly vertical, complete with Place Name -but you can’t link with your own verse

    1. this has the end of day analogy to the end of the year, but really, Marion, this could be in any season

    1. this is more convincingly autumnal, Marion -I would like the country of the “Royal Canal” for satisfying our proper noun, Place Name, however -i’m guessing it’s in Ireland

    1. “rasp”, certainly an original association for a mouse, Marion -so thanks for that -but with its ‘s’ sound it makes even the slant rhyme of “mouse” to “face” too heavy

      1. I think I cheated a little here, Marshall, as I borrowed the image from a three-liner I had published on John McManus’s audio journal ‘Frozen Butterfly’

        rasp of stubble . . .
        a field mouse climbs
        the scarecrow’s cheek

    1. I know, Marion, that “mist” is usually associated with autumn in haiku, but this seems as if it could just as well be in spring

  5. twelve breaths
    moving as one
    hour of tai chi

    – Michael Henry Lee


    in Venice gondoliers
    redouble their serenades

    1. “redouble” sounds too military for here, Marietta -also “breaths” to singing is probably going to be too close

    1. like the ‘g’ sounds in the first line, Judt -but “we glory” sounds a bit too archaic for here -and inadvertently, brings to mind, ‘old glory’ for a moniker for the U.S. flag

    1. this is wonderful, Betty -the anglers could be ‘adrift’ in the river or they could be ‘drift fishing’ -I just need to be assured you mean the river in Wisconsin and that you can fish for salmon that far inland (would be through Lake Michigan, ultimately, then out to the ocean)

      1. As side topic, Marshall, I’ve googled Lake MI salmon, and most of them are _originally_ from the Pacific, one type from the Atlantic. Stocked decades ago… never naturally there in the Lakes. They have maintained their genetic code to spawn at maturity and die. BUT they never get to salt water in their lives. The Great Lakes are their “ocean.” For all the salmonids, gravel beds up streams with a good flow of water are where the eggs are laid in the fall, to hatch come warmer times in spring. They just now only return to the depths of all the great lakes.

        Also, there are endemic populations, Maine for instance, of a smaller but true salmon called Landlocked Salmon. Isolated from the Atlantic thousands of years ago, they have evolved to also spawn in fresh water, but like their Atlantic ancestors do not die in the process. A delicious gamefish to eat, just smaller… and fun to catch.

        Mostly in the Canadian Maritimes, there are large runs of huge ocean-going Atlantic Salmon. Some return to the Ocean. Used to be in New England, but dams have ruined the runs.

        1. Hi Paul, I’ve been pondering the impliacations of natural born. Given that I am a volunteer at a Texas state park that borders Mexico and which has pictographs that date back at least 4000 years and evidence for human occupation of at least 8000 years. The landscape, the flora and fauna have been radically altered certainly and various researchers careers are built on ascribing meaning to those pictographs and whose descendants (if any) they would most likely be. Ultimately, everyone in my home state of Texas are non-native which now creates a pathos for me…it has been coming for some time especially the whole political hysteria surrounding the wall….I feel I have entered the twilight zone literally.

          Given the whole great lakes salmon enterprise has been going since 1850 and in large part, unsuccessfully until the ’60s most likely, it may not ‘fly’….yet I too am literally the result of having been transplanted…yet like the great lake salmon, I too have followed my genetic imperative….not sure if I’ve been successful! But I will still flail away at the most cool Japanese poetry form nonetheless.
          Best regards,

          1. thanks, Paul and Betty, both – I think now we can confidently still call them ‘salmon’

    2. along the Sheboygan
      salmon anglers drift fishing

      I like the verse, but isn’t there a problem with returning to the last-but-one verse?
      This is what I mean:

      a) skiers debate
      violet wax or blue special

      (category: Recreational Sport)

      twelve breaths
      moving as one
      hour of tai chi

      along the Sheboygan
      salmon anglers drift fishing

      (Category: Recreational Sport)

      – Lorin

    1. sly irony here, Judt, that it’s not with green money or coinage that’s filling his case -first line bothers me when i read it with the previous verse -thanks for trying to get the Place name in -but i think it would just upset the flow here

    1. not sure it’s fair of you, Lorin, to keep using props for your offerings (lol) -and apt that you use a very jazzy rhyme in the first line and have nothing open again til the proper noun Place Name -“stirs” as a transitive verb a problem though, but thanks

      1. Props? !!!
        Do you mean the url? If so, the reason I included it is: who in Canada or the USA would’ve heard of Bright?! I included it so you’d know of it and not think I made it up!
        It’s early in the season as I imagined would be required, I don’t see any problem with ‘stirs’, the ku works in with the tai chi and ‘Bright’ works secondarily (at a tangent) as an adjectival echo, though it’s a proper name.
        I’m sorry it doesn’t work for you. It works for me.
        – Lorin

        1. ps I deliberately used “the poplars of Bright” with the verb (which can’t be anything but transitive, surely?) not just for the cadence but to suggest that the trees have a certain dignity. These trees are not native. After the first world war, Lombardy poplars were planted in avenues in many Australian country towns as living memorials.
          Yep, I understand that this one has been dismissed & probably nobody wants to know any of this, but I want to tell it.
          – Lorin

          1. Like Marion, I love knowing this as well. Thanks for sharing the notes with us, Lorin. I also agree about ‘stirs’ as a transitive verb. It’s a lovely word choice to my ear.

        2. thanks for letting us know your feelings, Lorin -i might have suggested, ‘stirs in’ but i can tell now you like your verse just the way it is -and i’m glad the memorial poplars of Bright, Australia have become part of this renku’s conversation -MH

          1. Interesting to come back & read your comment here at a later date, Marshal. I now understand what you meant.
            Yes, with the right line break “stirs in” would’ve worked.
            “a new coolness stirs
            in the poplars…”

            With the wrong line break, it would seem as if the new coolness was making soup! 🙂

            – Lorin

  6. .
    twelve breaths
    moving as one
    hour of tai chi
    –Michael Henry Lee
    caught in a gusty London fog
    gardeners rake the last leaves

      1. it’s not so much the length, Mary, but that there are so many adjectives (=qualifiers) -enriching the verse without dimming the nouns is a main part of the challenge

  7. Michael Henry, congratulations on giving us a wonderful transition with your tai chi verse.
    twelve breaths
    moving as one
    hour of tai chi
    –Michael Henry Lee
    the last leaves wrestle free
    from old London plane trees

      1. Hmmm, ok. I was using wrestle to link with tai chi here. We have some trees that don’t easily let go of leaves until there are strong winds. That said, I shall continue to listen and learn about renku. Namaste.

  8. autumn gusts mix
    foliage with his Argyle sweater


    autumn gusts mix
    foliage and his argyle* sweater

    *Argyle = the required “place name” (= “land of the Gaels”), thoughI wasn’t sure if the place name needs to be a noun(?).

    1. try, Theresa, to write of this activity without saying the word, “autumn” -I know gusts could happen anytime but writing “autumn” is just semantic overkill for me

      1. Thanks, Marshall, for your feedback and suggestion. I agree; I think I can be more creative. I’ll see what I can come up with!


Comments are closed.

Back To Top