Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 3

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 again, renku participants and observers. I’ve chosen for our daisan:

incense lit
the scent of sage
lingers in a crowd

      –Maureen Virchau

This appeals to a third distinct sense; smell-but it also has a feel to it that includes the sense of one’s own body, proprioception, within a group of other bodies; “a crowd” that may imply the sense of being looked at as well.

This also begins to “populate” the renku as we move forward; the coyote’s moan in the air can now be felt moving among us humans as a group while maintaining that sound’s essential loneliness.

“Sage” is to me a “dry” spice but quite commonly used and brings to mind “sagebrush,” a colour and landscape that transfer well back and forth with “coyote.”

Thanks, very much, Maureen!

What we need now is 2 lines, autumn seasonality, preferably indoors remembering the moon verse is next-so no moonlight as well as no flowers, animals or precipitation.

We’re doing great so far-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

This Post Has 202 Comments

    1. hi Michael Henry -though this is well-written I want our renku to feel opeing here -so just the word, “closing” won’t work here

    1. hi Lorin -this would make a nice ending -and we’re just beginning -and that reminds 12 am Wed. was supposed to be the cut-off time, anyway this is a nice ending to s verse-session -thanks

  1. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd

    –Maureen Virschau

    puffball spores
    rising with the wind

    – Lorin
    – Lorin

    1. naw, Lorin, both the “spores” and the “rising” are too close to the lingering sage

    1. hello again, Marietta -“sunripened” a bit too extravagant a word for the first 6 -and as an aside, persimmons up here take many weeks after you get them from the store to ripen -maybe you’re further south and get them much closer to their ripeness

  2. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd

    –Maureen Virschau

    his hops harvest hung
    in the back shed

    our billy cans full
    of red rose hips

    – Lorin

    1. hi again, Lorin -first one here is too alliterative in the ‘h’s. Second one is fine, makes me think I want a little more complexity here

  3. [for #4]

    later supper
    simmering harvest soup

    late supper is an autumn kigo as farmers are especially busy until it gets dark bringing in the harvest. The meal was often taken late an night.
    One version of harvest soup is made with butternut squash and apples.

    1. hi again, Sue -“later supper” or ‘late supper’ has the feel of a kireji line end -and as there are many people who believe that kireji in renku should only appear in the hokku, to have two verses of them linking would be like throwing out the soup before anyone supped of any

  4. [for #4]
    mulling over
    a mug of apple cider
    mulling over
    hot apple cider

    1. hi Sue -a wittiness to mulling over what is very close to a mulled wine that doesn’t ‘go’ here

      1. ah, Marietta, a virtual seasonality -the grapes may have been picked in autumn but the decanting could take place in any season -wouldn’t mind being there for this though

        1. haha, Marshall! The fact the wine could be partaken of at any time hit me a short while after I posted – these little nuances one overlooks

    1. hi Carol Ann -do we want to evoke scarcity this early in our renku? -goes against the warmth of the soup as that warmth goes against the chill of autumn, but overall effect is appraisal -which i’m trying to discourage

  5. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd

    –Maureen Virschau


    cloud ear fungus
    glisten in the broth

    – Lorin

    1. … um grammar! :-)

      incense lit
      the scent of sage
      lingers in a crowd

      –Maureen Virschau


      cloud ear fungus
      glistens in the broth

      – Lorin

  6. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd

    –Maureen Virschau


    wood ear fungus
    in steps up the trunk


    cloud ear fungus
    ready for the soup

    – Lorin

    1. hi Lorin -I think of your 3 here the second, “wood ear fungus” has the deepest resonance with nature for me -just “in steps up” is somewhat untoward a wording for this processional – I see the ears of mushrooms at level intervals up the side of a tree trunk; i would just like a smoother, more immediately discernible expression of that image -i usually encourage ambiguity in writing but the multiple connotations of “in steps” are both going against the enjoyment of this image: 1. the human instep in climbing a tree and 2. the fungal plant stepping in and invading the bark of the tree -but thanks for all three

      1. ah, thanks for the detailed comments. Marshal. I intended no ambiguity here & would never have thought of anyone’s ‘insteps’ or ‘stepping in’.
        – Lorin

    1. hi Claire -this is exquisite -but sad to say it doesn’t of itself declare anything autumnal -going to have to put a ‘no season, two lines’ verse soon if i keep receiving offerings this good that i can’t use

    1. hi again, joel -hey, i like this one -will make me have to reconsider all the completed actions in my previous favourites for this verse. thanks

    1. hello again, joel -ending a line with a particle just feels too unnatural for me

    1. hello again, Sue -nice response to the crowd -but no real sense of autumn in the link of itself

    1. hi again, Marion -yeah, mist is kinda precipitous -but i like this one -sort of evokes a kinaesthetic fellow-feeling that begins in the gums -there are many good ones here to choose from, thanks for the “smiles”

  7. Hi Marshall, seikai is actually a group of bonsai trees, like a little miniature forest. ‘Bonsai’ would serve as well in the verse if you prefer. I’m really enjoying this, thank you. Marietta

      1. hi Marietta -“sharp” and “vinegar” are just inside the confines of the acceptable here but it jangles for me being so close to “the scent of sage” -have to think about this one, thanks

    1. Thanks, Marietta, for saying you’re enjoying this -I feel i have to be a bit terse sometimes and hope that people who offer to join us don’t take my replies personally -usually, i lead in person, and it’s much easier for me to encourage a potential contributor while at the same time refusing a particular offering than it is in this virtual space -and mostly with people I’ve never met -happy linking

  8. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd

    –Maureen Virschau

    he said she said
    allspice in the pumpkin soup

    1. hi Suraja -“he said she said” a little too spicy for the first 6 I think

    1. hi again, Marietta -I really like this as a poem for this part of our beginning “just a hint” on our way but I find ‘seikai’ just too exotic for our solemn and inclusive first 6 -I’ve seen pictures of juniper seikai and ones that look to me like bonsai -is that what this is? or is it a kind of miniature maple i’m unfamiliar with?

  9. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd

    –Maureen Virschau

    only goodness welcomed
    ashes at the door

    -Sue Colpitts

    Author’s Notes: The smudging ceremony of Native Americans is performed indoors to remove negative energy as well as for centering and healing. Plants such as tobacco, sage and cedar are burned and the smoke is directed with a single feather or a fan made of several feathers.
    The ashes are not thrown away, but scattered by the entrance at the door to symbolize that bad thoughts, words and feelings are not welcome inside.

    1. hello Sue -welcome explanation, but we’re trying to keep particular ceremonies specific to one group out of the first 6 -but thanks

    1. hi again, Maria -well this is certainly wonderfully surprising -I’ve never heard of this and will definitely keep it around for another consideration for this link -thanks

    1. well, Maria, you’ve got me here -there’s no technical reason to reject this -I just don’t like having the word, “season” stated in a renku, especially not at the beginning -I think it draws attention to thinking about what we’re doing, a focus that could be better exercised just doing it: writing what indicates it’s “end of the season”

      1. Hi Marshall, I understand what you mean. Maybe this version will be better:

        only the chill roams
        on the guesthouse corridors

    1. thanks, Betty, this is just funny as it is -hope no one mistakes a television for his buddy’s chest

  10. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd
    – Maureen Virchau
    college football on tv
    to show off his man cave
    – Betty Shropshire

    1. hello again, Betty -probably true enough a statement but not delving into human motivation psychology here, just yet

      1. Should I not have commented here? I notice that Marshall didn’t leave a comment. If that’s down to me, I’m really sorry. I thought I had seen this kind of thing done before, and really liked your verse.

      2. yeah, Michael Henry, and you were even so subtle as to not say the verb, ‘drinking’ -and no, Judt, you were right to comment -I just couldn’t get my reply to ‘publish’ until I figured oiut it had to be a reply to you -but back to the ‘breath-to-the line-ending feeling I have -don’t you agree this would be much improved as : ‘exotic tea/ beside the virtual fire’ ?

    1. hi Carol -trying not to privilege any one particular religious, national or ethnic group in the first 6

    1. hi again Barbara – “mercy” has a religious connotation to me that we don’t want here -and if it’s meant as ‘relief’ then “parade” a bit too close to the 3rd verse’s “crowd”

    1. hi Barbara -little too much cause and effect here -though i’m glad you just sent in what crossed your mind -the Sumo wrestling tournament peaks in Japan’s winter season i believe, but that’s not why i’m taking it so lightly

    1. hi again, Aalix -nothing wrong with this (I assume you meant to write, “cooling . . .”) ‘ll look at this one again later too, thanks

  11. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd
    –Maureen Virchau
    the wine cellar ready
    for another grape harvest

    1. hi again, Polona -nice alteration in this link of fullness – capacity -anticipated fullness (of the grapes) will look at this one again later, thanks

  12. incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd
    – Maureen Virchau
    leaves and miniature gourds
    filling out each crystal vase
    – Betty Shropshire

      1. hi again, Betty -well, the revision makes it better, but it feels as if “up” and perhaps “each’ are add-ons -we probably need this image to be more substantial but those two words fall short accomplishing this

    1. hi Marion – this seems fine enough -little wordy in the second line -might be livelier as “town fair/ a row of carved pumpkins” but this just doesn’t ‘work’ for me here either -thanks

    1. hiPatrick -“cease-fire” definitely too rough and has a newsy, politcal feel we don’t want I the first 6

  13. coyote song closer
    this longest night
    incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd
    my yellow hat
    some way ahead

    1. hi Sandra -really like this one for its continuing vagueness and uncontrolled situation but unlike your ‘collecting brown mushrooms’ it would be very difficult to know how this was autumn -might make a great two-liner, no particular season at some later date -but, thanks

  14. coyote song closer
    this longest night
    incense lit
    the scent of sage
    lingers in a crowd
    collecting mushrooms
    in a brown bucket

    1. hi Sandra -this is welcome -and adds some colour too -but i like the ‘yellow hat’ one above much more

    1. hi Jennifer -fine link with the lingering scent of sage in a crowd -i’d have to alter what i want in a moon verse to have a ” …light” in the verse previous though -but thanks

    1. hi Marietta -this could actually BE a moon verse -maybe think about developing this into a 3-liner for the moon verse that is next

    1. hi Marilyn -well, i took out “drift” from verse 3 because i thought it indicated a taste for ‘back-linking’ (to the “snow” of the hokku) -so i’ll have to think this one over awhile -if we have a ‘bowl’ here that means the moon in verse 5 can’t be full -but that’s not the end of the world, either -thanks

    1. hi Marilyn -seems to me that this doesn’t indicate ‘autumn’ enough -just probably isn’t summer

  15. unwinding the apple
    in one long peel

    Thanks so much for your comments. May I ask why autumn? Does snow in the first verse signal autumn to you? I am learning so much by following along.

      1. hi again, Liz -so after all the above, i just wanted say, this would work better as ‘unwinding an orange/ in one long peel’ and i’m guessing you thought, ‘apple’ would be more autumnal but don’t ‘think’ when that equals ‘contrive’ -what i encourage is to just submit what comes into your head -see if it might go into the renku or comes back nd then decide how you’d like to modify it into your own poem -you’re not at the mercy of a leader exercising superior judgment -we’re just playing a literary game and i have the piper’s hat on

    1. Dear Liz,

      Marshal, our leader, has announced a kasen renku for us. This is 36 stanzas which traditionally begins in the season it started. Technically, it was not yet spring, in N. America at least. So he began with two verses set in winter. Renku traditionally are made up of season and non-season verses of roughly equal #. So far — the third stanza was non-seasonal. He has announced that #5 will be the moon — the autumn moon is often placed in the #5 slot. Again it is traditional over Centuries of Japanese practice, and decades in the West, is that the moon is autumnal unless indicated otherwise by a winter, summer, or spring kigo, etc. Again, traditionally, Autumn and spring verses come as at least 3, while winter and summer are just one or two. I’m only guessing here, but Marshall will probably ask for another autumn as #6. Then some non-season. The opening 6 are always weighted toward seasons. After that, it will even out. Remember renku are to include all seasons, and love, and moon, and blossom. The precise location of these special verses is up to our leader. He will warn us in advance. Eventually we will probably need two blossom verses… quite stylized. In advance of those it is best to not mention other flowers… just as for this #4 he said to avoid the sky and other celestial events so as to make room for the moon when it arrives.

      These are all Marshall’s call. A thing I love about renku is both deference to tradition, yet clothed in our modernity. We in a renku have only one haiku, cut verse, the hokku, and after the first 6 as calm introduction, we will get wild and crazy sometimes as we employ linkage and shift … modern events and words in OUR language. Up to Marshall’s choice, but those with kigo do not have to be traditional Japanese kigo. He said as much when we started … not to lean heavily on saijiki (Japanese season-word lists).

      So we began with two of winter because the wakiku (#2) traditionally is in the same time and place as the hokku. He will guide us through all the seasons, twice for most. The fun is seeing how it unfolds as he wants and WITHOUT narrative, no plot. Stay tuned!

      1. Thanks, Paul,
        I have been wanting very much to participate In a renku. I was so pleased to find this one. I know a little, but I also know I have much to learn.

      2. hi Paul -thanks for responding to Liz in such a positive manner -not sure how wild and crazy we’ll become -but yeah, it will be a lot looser in about 3 verses

    2. hi Liz -yes, the reply by Paul below pretty much predicts what i’m doing so far -but your question, “why autumn?” brought a LOL to me because the answer is: “because I said so” -but laughter aside (though perhaps intermittent) the idea is to have the participants ‘just write’ and not try to control the outcome or flow of the renku. I do give you more hints than most leaders about where i want this renku to go but that’s so people take their ‘not-takens’ less personally or even better, see them as new, independent poems of their own. But yeah, the seasonalities keep changing, with breaks and detours along the way and i hope you enjoy the experience

    1. hi Vasile -ah, yes, the day after Halloween is ‘All Saints Day’ for Catholics -but I think the first 6 should be a secular processional -nice link with the previous verse though, thanks

  16. thi is what I really meant:

    the crackle of burning leaves
    through an open window

    1. ah, Vasile -you brought up one of my nonos -don’t explicitly state the season word. I know, ‘winter’, ‘spring’, ‘summer’, ‘fall’ and ‘autumn’ can add meaning in haiku writing, especially when paired as an adjective with precipitation but i think it keeps open an element of surprise and a space for a more imaginative modifier and just generally makes haiku writing more evocative and less a -paint-by-rules game if you leave them totally out. So, in renku i lead, these words are left out (those of course there are those wise guys and gals who use ‘spring’ and ‘fall’ in their non-seasonal referents just to get a rise out of me)

    1. hi Ishiflett -a little too burlesque for the beginning of a renku i’d think

    1. hi p j -this is good -i’ll keep it around for another look -be great to add some colour to our renku

    1. hi Judith -yes, Halloween is a nice marker for autumn -but the moon verse will be next and a “ghost sheet” to me would always be white -so, sorry, i’m not taking this for reasons you couldn’t have predicted

    1. hi Vasile -well. pretty impudent scarecrow! too much personification here, i’m afraid

    1. hi Vasile -“scrutinizing” just too abstract yet aggressive-sounding a word for the first 6 -and when you write, “Milky Way” it immediately evokes Basho’s poem about the clouds over the sea towards Sado Island -a reference we don’t want here either

    1. hi again Agnes -this is linkable just as it is -i’ll look at it again, later, thanks

    1. actually, we can have dope in a renku -it’s just that the second line already suggests that -renku is NOT about making explicit what was implicit in the previous verse

    1. hi again, joel -i’m hoping the “can” is the sardines container – fun though

    1. hi Michael Henry -great -appeals to a fourth sense, and the “flannel” reinforces the autumnal pleasure -will look at this one gain, thanks

    1. hi Carol -very nice image here -with an aural counterpart, but it just feels too crammed for something so beautiful -maybe work better as a 3-liner, thanks

  17. Hi Marshall; I read up some on renku…of course it didn’t make me an overnight success, but i gave this another love-tap…uggh…now i’m looking at it and feel it’s more of a stranglehold…thanks for considering.

    of all the poets, she feels
    ryokan embodies autumn

    1. hi Barbara -yes, well-written -i just don’t want so much human self this early in the renku

    1. hi steve -using the word, ‘fragrance’ after the word, ‘scent’ is in the previous verse is too close

    1. hi Mary -too many ilitterrrrative ‘r’s here -‘p-b’s not close behind -but you’re not the only one with lots of alliteration -have i done something to encourage this?

    1. hi B.Hall -lotsa monosyllables here -a restatement ending with a simile -sorry, not here

    1. hi Polona -I can hear Nat King Cole with the first line -and don’t really want that right now -nice how you cut the possibility of going into cliché with “cast iron” -but still, not now

    1. hi Jackson -recognize the play on words -find it a bit cute for the first 6 however

    1. hi Jackson -no doubled lingering -and ‘ceiling fan’ connotes a more summery feel to me

    1. hi B.Hall -way too many ‘s’ sounds -even after the first 6 -and 2 adjectives in the first line -but i see you’ve tried again -so keep trying

      1. hi steve -I’ve a sense of creeping personification here and i’d like to stop that here and now -other people encourage it -I don’t -nothing personal, just don’t like leaves having eyes and fingernails

        1. yeah…it does, very poe or king- like they’ll be back…i’m humbled by how neutral it seemed, but then in light of your reply, how horrific it can be- i gotta laugh at this one…thank you

  18. Fine stanza, Maureen. I like the three Ss and appreciate a subtle effect of lit to lingers.

    1. Thank you so much, Paul. Very kind of you. I am grateful for Marshall’s fine editing. Take care.

    1. Hi Marshall…
      This process is so fascinating! It’s like making a wrong move in a board game. Trying to avoid a proper noun, I used “day,” which popped out at me as soon as it was posted. :-)
      For future reference…is ‘fowl’ in the same category as ‘animal’? Thanks!

  19. Very nice, Maureen. It reminds me of milling around alone in a crowd at a Japanese temple with “senko” burning. I used to really enjoy that.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Judt. And thank you for sharing. That sounds like a wonderful experience. I just googled “senko” and went on an adventure of my own. There is something otherworldly about the burning of incense. I especially enjoy the scent of sandalwood. Take care.

  20. Thank you, Marshall. So glad my verse works well for the renku. I sincerely appreciate your excellent editing, as well as your kind words and thoughtful commentary. Please note that the spelling of my last name needs correction. Looking forward to everyone’s verses.
    With gratitude,

      1. Nice Paul. Very evocative of autumn/winter and the isolated idea I have of the snow stranded house and landscape. Can practically smell it.

        1. Thank you, B. Hall. In the north of America that I am familiar with, the second crop of hay, for fortunate farmers, is just before the first frost… and thus _early_ autumn. Snow is of course possible, but when the hay is turned, dried some in the sun, and then baled, it still is fragrant. Then the bales are transported to barns, redolent, and piled for future use as food for the animals.

          Part of the Autumn harvest, just not for humans.

      2. hi Paul -yeah, this is nice -playing on the sense of smell and fullness but with a complete shift -so i’ll be keeping this one to look at again -thanks, Marshall

Comments are closed.

Back To Top