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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 35

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 there renku lovers and readers of all that is haiku! We have our crescendo blossom verse. It is:

wooded dunes
in dappled sunlight a stand
of Indian paintbrushes

                Betty Shropshire

Here the evanescence of an airy scent that wafts among the intermittent chirps of unseen frogs links to dunes of sand that can change shape or placement with tides or winds; whose position is makeshift at best.

Already within an amorphous setting, “in dappled light” extends this impermanence while reinforcing the influence of overhanging boughs connoted by “wooded”. Then, at the end of this same line we have the firm “a stand” whose concluding ‘d’ sound, the sixth in two lines, solidifies this image for us, one that provides the new setting for “indian paintbrushes” that do bloom in spring, on this kind of marshy site as ‘volunteers’; not necessarily planted by people.

That the bloom of this flower is often bright red brings to a climax the colour progression from previous verses without denoting that colour or even saying the word. ‘colour’. An added twist is that “indian” could be taken to indicate our North American First Nations, in their closeness to nature, or as an indicator of a distant origin in Asia. “Paintbrushes” could also be taken as the source of spreading and celebratory colour; the source of visual imagery in general. Thank you very much, Betty.

So we’ve come to our final verse, my fellow travelers. For this one i’d like to not so much leave our renku behind as to let it lift off from our hands and minds out into the fellow beings of the universe. So, 2 lines, spreading astronomically. Resist the urge to conclusion, just let our renku go.

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

along the Sheboygan
salmon anglers drift fishing

    –Betty Shropshire

this eclipsed moon
suddenly the colour
of fallen leaves

    –Marietta McGregor

striking the hunting camp
no deer in sight

    –Paul Geiger

every quarter
the gentle chimes
of our antique

    –Barbara A. Taylor

the scent of rain wafts
among peepers

    –Theresa Cancro

wooded dunes
in dappled sunlight a stand
of Indian paintbrushes

    –Betty Shropshire

This Post Has 206 Comments

  1. Thank you to our sabaki Marshall, and thank you to everyone else for a fantastic 36 weeks of thinking and linking. Loved it! And I learned so much along the way.

    1. hi Liz Ann -no, i wanted our renku to be ‘swept away’ with its ‘passion-within-elegance’ -not the interstellar molecules -thanks for the effort, though

  2. It’s been great fun and a real challenge to be part of this wonderful renku, so thank you Marshall and all the gifted poets who have participated. I’ve learned so much.
    My last offering (quitting on a ‘high’ note) 😉
    imagination soaring
    beyond the stars
    imagination takes flight
    beyond the stars
    beyond the stars
    imagination takes flight

      1. been fun to be out here with all of you as well,starting with everybody -keep linking -there’s still more time -MH

    1. the “imagination soaring” one is very nice, Mary -thanks for ‘getting loose’ so often -it helped everyone feel free to post and comment -and thanks for this last one -i’ve got few hours to consider which of three i’m going to use -while looking out for new ones

      1. so Mary, i took another offering that carries the same exhilaration as yours, only with (slightly) less abstraction -thanks again to you and everyone who offered their hearty participation -i’m proud of what we accomplished together -kampai -i salute you -Marshall

    1. deft cadencing for an ending, Debbie -unfortunately “fingertips” after “paintbrushes” just too close -and it really is -i couldn’t stop thinking of ‘fingernails’ when i read this combined with the previous one

  3. Beautiful verse Betty, packed with so much! Thank you!
    fingertips reach
    for the stars

    1. deft cadencing for an ending, Debbie -unfortunately “fingertips” after “paintbrushes” just too close -and it really is -i couldn’t stop thinking of ‘fingernails’ when i read this combined with the previous one

      1. LOL, I was alluding to gravity, not the sad state of the world. I get your point, though. 🙂

    1. “leaping” could be subjective, but getting closer to what i’m looking for, Mary -feel like i’m missing some feeling of exhilaration i should be receiving from this verse

    1. don’t need to worry about “end words being too close”, Mary -but i would avoid phrases such as “end of our tether” because of their commonplace usages as expressions of emotion like ‘i’m at the end of my tether’ that load up the phrase emotionally before their literal meaning can be examined or felt

    1. “other-worldly” doesn’t add anything here, does it Marietta? hard to come up with something sensual suggesting eeriness, i know, but that’s what this needs

    1. beautiful solemnity to this one Liz Ann -good as a haiku or at the beginning of a renku -not so much as the last verse -but thanks

  4. ineligible but who can resist a last go:

    orb-weaver’s spiderlings
    off on a galaxy quest


    the dharma bums
    with their hitchhiker’s guide

      1. first line way over the top, Betty -kind of a Ariadne-Penelope creator myth -second line keeps it up, though

    1. so the first one you made even wilder -the second would be pretty good without the “the” at the start -or for those who sat this one out ‘galaxy hiker-guides/ on their bums”

    1. nice senryu, Michael -seems to have put us all in ‘farewell mode’ -as a link, can’t use “child” so soon after v. 26

    1. feels more like they’re approaching than that our renku is leaving, Judt -and geez, i hope they were only meteorites

  5. downside up
    in deep space
    Sorry, Marshall. I promise to straighten up after this. (not even drinking)

    1. sorry, Carmen, “meetup” and “transmit” just not words that fit with our renku or my feeling for haiku in general

    1. “arms” one of those sleeping metaphors, Liz Ann, that we use so often we don’t recognize as such -I love the Pleiades, the seven sisters that the old stone age people lived by for 600,000 years -in another renku i would suggest just ‘The Pleiades/ spiralling’ as an ending but too abrupt for this one -but you can understand i find this offering too overwritten

        1. not bad, Liz Ann -i’m thinking now of one that could include our renku travelling as well -why i said above, “in another renku”

    1. kind of a first-nations skype, eh, Carmen -not really what i’m looking for in reaching out to the unknown in this last verse

    1. this one has possibilities too, Marion -i was thinking it sounds as if the trail was made by the “bursting” -but maybe leaving gravity behind is part of how stars are generated -so, thanks

    1. that’s really out there, Marion -though i’m sure there’s a ‘there’ there, this is too exaggerated for our ending

    1. nice touch, Marietta -the implication of the “Milky Way” as a book leaves me uneasy, however

    1. nice touch, Michael -“paper lanterns” linking with “paintbrushes”, but right now, it reminds me too much of Marietta’s moon verse, “this eclipsed moon . . . ” so, i’ll look at it again later and see if it leaves me with the same impression then, thanks

    1. would leave the “a” out, Michael for a good one-liner haiku -too much of a jolt for a renku-finishing verse though

    2. yes its is, Marilyn -should be spectacular around here if the sky is clear at night -but our last ‘moon verse’ was at 31 -no repeat here, even if “super”

    1. would leave the “a” out, Michael for a good one-liner haiku -too much of a jolt for a renku-finishing verse though

    1. yes, nice William Blake, Marietta -but don’t want a “however” here at our celebratory ending -or to be looking at the “palm of our hand”

    1. oops, I repeated “the” twice…let me rephrase it to:
      times when we imagine
      this music of the spheres

      planets and moons
      circle round in starlight
      what heavenly notes
      this music of the spheres
      sun and moon and planets
      in this celestial dance

      1. so, Mary, in order of appearance: top one is too subjective as a figure of imagination, 2. it’s a variation on many elliptical orbits that the planets ‘travel round’ the sun, so “circle round in starlight” though it sounds “actual” is really a subjective commonplace ‘saying’, 3. is an imagined presence made tangible but still too commonplace for the ending i want and 4. has the delightful cadence of “celestial dance” but a first line that doesn’t leave our solar system -which is what i want to do

    1. does reach to ‘the watched’, Mary -with we watchers being watched ourselves by the guardian, Orion -still a kind of barrier though -want to just have our renku let go without self-consciousness

    1. so, Carmen, “peace pipe” would link to the “Indian” -but then you’d be summing up what i’m asking for instead of ‘performing’ it

    1. don’t want to be this self-conscious of ‘haiku-like’ writing -especially not as a final impression, Todd

    1. “child” and “Moon” are repetitious, Todd -and i don’t want mention of ‘measuring devices’ here

    1. a reflection of what this renku as a whole might be doing, Todd -but i still want us to ‘stay-within-the-renku’ while we’re completing it

    1. not comfortable with “away with a wave” in our final verse, Marietta -nor sure about ‘looking back’ either to “the blue planet”

    1. have to move on from optical devices, Marietta -for this verse anyway, it’s not about the seeing but about the seen

    1. be great to introduce the Northern Lights here, Marietta -but the first has an explicit metaphor and the second repeats a time measurement of our verse 31, “every quarter” -but the borealis has been shining quite often north of here

      1. these two focus on the subject and the occulus, Marietta -we want to focus on the ‘spreading out-there’

    1. good double-entendre, Judt -maybe referring to the ‘pings’ they’re hearing around the arctic -probably Putin building a polar ice-station -anyway, this isn’t the verse for ‘off-the-cuff’ observation

    1. yeah, Barbara, astronomical time is astounding for humans -dinosaurs ruled the earth about 55 million years ago? -shades of a reference to William Blake’s beautiful lines as well -but not for here

    1. like this one alot, Barbara -waiting to see what else comes in -the only drawback might be that the last time we had a cognate of ‘shiny’ was your “beaming with joy” in verse 21 (though metaphorical)

      1. also, Barbara, though i liked the double edge of “out of control”, the adding of two more prepositions in the second line after the two in this phrase rankled me on re-reading

  6. Thank you, Betty, lovely verse.

    wooded dunes
    in dappled sunlight a stand
    of indian paintbrushes

    –Betty Shropshire


    journeying on a comet
    scatters startrails

    1. nice twist to the arriving planet’s experience -or -the experience of landing, Carmen -has drama, and links as if ‘planet-to-planet’ –but space capsules aren’t my idea of opening to the universe

      1. second one, Marion, more exactly what we’d want to say -but a little too self-conscious, not to say ‘self-congratulatory’, i think (though i do think this renku quite an achievement)

  7. second to the right
    and straight on till morning
    via the stars
    (first two lines should be in italics as they are the words of J M Barrie’s character Peter Pan)

      1. just a little too long, Marion -but also sounds like a children’s story ending -which may be how we feel, but not the diction i want to finish in

    1. Supernovae are more energetic than novae. In Latin, nova means “new”, referring astronomically to what appears to be a temporary new bright star. Adding the prefix “super-” distinguishes supernovae from ordinary novae, which are far less luminous. (Wikipedia)
      Well, I think our renku is quite shiny! 🙂

    2. like this one better, Marion “the scientists” would be a terrible way to end our renku -“they declare” is kind of sumnary , though

  8. Great verse, Betty. I have learned yet another fact from this renku. Indian paintbrushes are completely new to me – none here in Ireland, unfortunately (and I thought the lower case ‘i’ was a poetic device)

  9. Congrats Betty.


    a bird on the wire
    escapes to freedom


    subsumed by nature’s
    relentless beauty


    hallelujah for our
    ever expanding cosmos


    farewell Leonard Cohen
    dance me to your beauty


    I’m so sad to hear about Leonard Cohen’s passing.

    1. Thanks, Barbara, for adding a lovely tribute to a fine Canadian poet to our pages of comment -we have his lyrics to cherish and i believe his soul dances back into love within them

    1. So is that because there needs to be a closure in the ageku or just your dislike of the word, spurt? Perhaps we (as a group) need to know more about the renku ending. Do you prefer to “return to some aspect of the hokku or wakiku in order to generate a strong sense of circularity?”

      Words in quotations are from John Carley’s Renku Reckoner.

    1. keep throwing, this is what we’re here for -lotsa fun -gotta think about how ‘surreal’ i want the final verse to be, Theresa -thanks

    1. that’s more like it for me, Patrick -light touch -and we haven’t had any felines -thanks, will keep this one around

    1. was thinking more of something leaving our planet, Paul -but this isn’t that far off as the mist dissipates into the atmosphere

  10. Just a small housekeeping point….. to consider capitalizing Indian. If a stanza had London fog, or a a Parisian riverbank, German schnitzel, Mongol horde … would not they be capitalized proper nouns? Also a bit of respect . . . ? Nearly every Internet entry searched had it a capital I.

    1. I’ve asked Betty what she thinks, Paul -my considerations are in the first response below -sorry, i remembered the comment wrongly as from Patrick Sweeney -no lack of respect, and what i tried to point out to Betty is that where i live calling first nations people “Indians” is a way of showing lack of respect -we prefer to call them by their own names: Delaware, Iroquois, Cree, Athabascan, Micmaq, etc. -but i do want people’s input on this, so thanks

      1. Hi Marshall…In my experience, one perspective on the capitalization question. Currently in the US it is generally considered more respectful to use “Native American” as a general term for indigenous peoples. But in my experience in the Pacific NW, it isn’t uncommon for Natives to refer to themselves as Indians. Also, it’s my understanding that in Alaska that term is widely used.
        A few examples of its use in official circumstances: the US Bureau of Indian Affairs; the American Indian Religious Freedom Act; and in my area, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the Puyallup Indian Reservation.
        Also, my Webster’s capitalizes everything from Indian bread and Indian corn to Indian summer and Indian turnip (including Indian paintbrush). 🙂

      2. Marshall, a small contribution from a once-botanist: common names of flowers, birds, etc may be capitalised, viz., Indian Paint.

  11. Congratulations, Betty! I love the images and the sounds in your verse; they work so well.


  12. Congratulations, Betty…such a distinct image. Here in the Pacific NW, I associate Indian paintbrush with mountain meadows…wonderful.

    1. certainly enigmatic, Judt -but can’t get into this one after “the scent of rain wafts” being so close

      1. Just for fun, Marshall…Apollo sent the crow to find pure water. The crow messed up and found itself flung into a constellation.

    1. I think we’ll all had enough of campaigns, Vasile, without dragging the rain into one -also “the scent of rain” was just 2 verses ago

    1. nice image, Vasile, for another renku’s ending -but not this one i’m afraid -loaded with colour already

    1. yes, a little more down-to-earth here, Judt -but i still feel you’re describing our renku’s place in the galaxy -i’m rather looking for a verse that embodies the open-ended nature of the universe -don’t objectify the renku; ride its energy out blindly (while observing everything that’s not it)

    1. uncomfortable with this, Judt, as it might imply that our soaring renku is bursting like a nebula into the universe -which is slightly over-the-top

  13. Thank you, Marshall for the lovely honor…the revision is a great one and Indian Paintbrushes are one of my favorite spring flowers here in Texas…Betty

    1. again, Betty, you’re most welcome – I notice you wrote “indian Paintbrushes” -in view of Patrick’s comment above, do you think it should be written in caps as “Indian Paintbrushes”? -i just thought any other species name -such as in our renku earlier, “tulip” doesn’t carry a capital -and, in Canada at least, where we have over 600 tribes still intact who haven’t officially signed over ‘their land’ to ‘Canada’, using “Indian” to refer to a native or first nations person is unacceptable -so by using small case “i”, i was actually trying to deflect the reference to this misnomenclature away -your opinion would matter the most to me as leader

    2. again, Betty, you’re most welcome – I notice you wrote “indian Paintbrushes” -in view of Patrick’s comment above, do you think it should be written in caps as “Indian Paintbrushes”? -i just thought any other species name -such as in our renku earlier, “tulip” doesn’t carry a capital -and, in Canada at least, where we have over 600 tribes still intact who haven’t officially signed over ‘their land’ to ‘Canada’, using “Indian” to refer to a native or first nations person is unacceptable -so by using small case “i”, i was actually trying to deflect the reference to this misnomenclature away -your opinion would matter the most to me as leader here

      1. Oh dear, I don’t know Marshall…I honestly wasn’t sure whether your intention was for lower case or a typo as it was with gentle/ gentile in a previous verse.
        Indeed, all other flowers mentioned, including my nodding pogonias, were presented in lower case and as such, I feel it’s fine to keep indian paintbrushes that way, too. Certainly, I have no desire to show disrespect even unintentionally.

        1. Gentile for gentle was my typo, not Marshall’s. It has been corrected and, if any change in the current verse is decided upon as a result of this discussion, I will be glad to make it.

          1. thanks for responding, John -looked up nomenclature in a few dictionaries and in flower-guides such as Peterson’s and ‘Desert-flowers’ handbook and they, by a resounding majority, have “Indian paintbrushes” -so i guess i’ll ask you to change it to that for the final listing -MH

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