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The Renku Sessions: A Day of Snow 5

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.

Hi, renku fans! I’ve chosen:

dust from travelers
makes its slow descent
in the moonlight

        –steve smolak

as our 5th verse, our first moon verse.

Its link, though obscure at first, is that it brings to mind the continual subsidence or breaking off and falling of the hay chaff within the barn. It clouds the air of the barn, though barely visible and adds to the redolence of the hay throughout the area. We sift through it as we walk there. Likewise the dust here is a byproduct of the “travelers'” activity; not one they are dedicating themselves to causing–and it duplicates the “falling” moon’s light in its motion.

I think the five “s” sounds in the first two lines carry this sense of motion appropriately and then leave off in the third line where the moonlight is steady.

It’s great that this also suggests movement in two directions at once so that it not only brings movement back into our renku but provides it with some dimensionality too. Thank you, steve.

For our next link, #6, we need two lines, autumn, leaving out animals and precipitation and blossoms and flowers of course.

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

This Post Has 224 Comments

    1. hello, joel -last offering this session! Evokes a fisherman’s scene appropriately but is too ‘clipped’ or tight for the last of our first 6 -would still prefer, “tying flies/ with quail feathers” for a more natural, breathing cadence

    1. nice to get some colour in our renku, Marietta but i don’t think we need the modifier, “bare” here and i’d prefer, “visible” to “appearing”

    1. hello Jackson -“frost” and needing to turn the heat on suggest winter more than autumn to me

    1. hi again, Carmen -it’s borderline, but “gathering” even of people is too close to a backlink to the bales of hay in link 4

    1. fine image, Carmen, but “shedding” I associate so much with animals that here it would be out of place as metaphorical

  1. vineyard parking lot
    filled with tour buses
    clink clink clink
    in the crowded tasting room

    1. hello, Liz Ann -“bus” is too close a restatement to ‘travelers’ and not sure i want “filled” in the last line of the first 6 verses – “the crowded tasting room” wouldn’t necessarily be in autumn

    1. Marietta -this poem is one of those that is a good haiku but is not meant to be a renku link; “scuffing through leaves” is perfect and carries a lot of needed sound -but there is a full stop and the ‘lift’ to a concluding observation, that again is totally apt for itself, but not for our open-ended progression -to put it another way, for this to be a possible link, “gloss” would have to be the subject of the verbal, “scuffing” which, of course is absurd -but, thanks

  2. dust from travelers
    makes its slow descent
    in the moonlight
    –steve smolak

    kids popping puffballs
    on the vacant block
    – Lorin

    1. hi Lorin -well, this does change the direction from descent to the rising puffballs -but an arrested rising -and i don’t want any negative “popping” at this point in our renku

  3. dust from travelers
    makes its slow descent
    in the moonlight
    –steve smolak
    a creekside breakfast
    of windfall apples
    -Karen Cesar

    1. avoiding ‘of’ and going for the sound of :

      * a creekside breakfast
      with windfall apples

      1. hi Karen -but that changes the meaning, doesn’t it? A breakfast “of apples” means that you were a traveller with no provisions who dined on fallen-by-chance apples, whereas, “with apples” implies that you ate those apples ‘with’ something else besides -actually, i think, “of apples” sounds more natural -but, besides all that, i’m so wary of Westerner writer’s predilection for narrative that i don’t want to follow up the those who travel by moonlight by recording their first meal of the next day

  4. with gusto a leaf
    launches off the wiper
    leaf by leaf
    a tree joins the minnows
    leaf by leaf
    a tree joins its reflection

    1. hello Agnes -like the second one here much more than the other two -maintains the mood nicely and has a sparkle to it -have to consider whether i want our renku to continue in a downward motion however -thanks

    1. Aalix, this is the best of the three, but “roof” could be taken to refer back to “the rafters” and we want to avoid that possible linkage

    1. Paul -I believe duck hunting season is fall, but i believe i’ve seen ducks doing this ‘ducking of their heads’ just as often in the spring and summer as well

    1. loves of pumpkin bread
      in the baker’s window
      this version sounds better at least to me

    2. naw, Michael Henry, i like the sound of “bakery window” better -love the “loves” in the re-do though -maybe one day we can do a renku of suggestive typos

    1. hi again, Aalix -no, don’t want “in the wind” right after “in the moonlight”

  5. Congrats, Steve! A fascinating link & shift. An excellent choice, Marshall.
    polishing an apple
    with my flannel shirt

    1. hello again, Marietta -“bite” is strong, maybe too strong already; but here it would rhyme with the previous line

    1. hello Grace -your offering suggests we need to know the cause of the previous verse -which we don’t -we are responding to each other with ways of leading to the open, not answering -though your “sometimes” does mollify your response

    1. you maintain the mood well, here, Liz -“cattails” is cute because we can’t have any animals or flowers and this just skirts by both -will look again at this one, thanks

      1. Marshall, meaning no criticism of the creative verse by Liz, but the cattail is itself a colony of flowers– a little like corn — on the same stem males with pollen above the females that will generate seeds. Pollenization is a thing of summer, the seeds borne by fluff in autumn. A world-wide plant, all continents, a/k/a ” bulrush / bulrushes.” This other common name seems to connote the reed parts — the leaves. (of course both names are for the whole plant — but to write “rose” is to refer to the bloom, not the leaves, canes, or thorns unless mentioned). I think it, the word, needs something else to become representative of a season. The pollen blowing; the seed fluff on the wind, bent with snow, etc.

    1. hello Pat -harpies are for the mythology section, not for the first 6 verses and I don’t allow the season word; here, “autumn”, in renku i lead

  6. dust from travelers
    makes its slow descent
    in the moonlight
    –steve smolak

    a mallard pair paddles
    across clear water

    we dawdle on the bridge
    over clear water

    my skipping stone sinks
    into clear water

    – Lorin

    1. …grammar?


      dust from travelers
      makes its slow descent
      in the moonlight
      –steve smolak

      a mallard pair paddle
      across clear water

      (sounds more natural to me, but I think usage varies across cultures/ subcultures, even in one EL speaking country)
      – Lorin

      1. sounds natural to me, too, Lorin -just concerned that the paddlers are too close to the travellers leaving dust to descend -seems a parallel

    2. hi Lorin, neither of these other two, “clear water” offerings connote autumn seasonality to me

      1. ok, you did say you didn’t care much about kigo, ‘Clear water’ is a traditional Japanese kigo, but one I can relate to here in Southern Australia. It’s the milder, calmer weather of autumn that makes rivers, creeks & streams look clear, I think.

        – Lorin

  7. dust from travelers
    makes its slow descent
    in the moonlight

    –steve smolak

    a canoe at rest
    in the goose’s wake

    1. first line keeps the mood nicely, Carole, but the sound and connotation of “goose’s” shatters this

    1. connotes to me, Michael Henry, that you could be leaving bits behind you to find your way back -which is fun enough -“re-sealable” just too jarring a word for here though

    1. this has some zest to it , Mary and instead of restating the falling of the acorns, it assumes within it the completed motion of the previous link, thanks

    1. hello Mary -“plunking” after the descent of dust is a distant parallel of falling, but a parallel (that we don’t want) nonetheless

    1. yes, paul, i’ve seen this, but i’m not sure if this image connotes something autumnal enough

    1. big resonance to these four strong words, Liz -just too jarring when added to the previous link in the first 6

    1. hello again, Cristina -not sure we need “the” at the beginning or the “upper” in the second line but i do think we need more to be happening here

      1. of course we don’t need ‘the’ and upper was there to justify that the rope is still there (hard to be cut off). Thank you.
        children’s swing ropes
        still hold unto the bough
        other versions, for the sake of exercise if I am allowed:
        blackish now
        the tree swing’s loose ends


        gently swaying
        the tree swing’s loose ends

        shorter now
        the tree swing’s loose ends

  8. (having realised, from the thread plus a little research, that dew is not considered to be ‘precipitation’ in North America)

    dust from travelers
    makes its slow descent
    in the moonlight
    –steve smolak

    morning dew
    on yellow grass, on bones

    (and that comma does not: constitute a ‘kireji.’) The tone , though, I grant, may not be acceptable for the first side of the renku, & there may be other flaws.

    = Lorin

    morning dew
    even on the bones

    — Lorim

    1. hi again, Lorin -yeah, dew is secreted from plantlife and doesn’t precipitate -but don’t want to make a 3-verse link ‘haybale chaff to dust to dew’ -yes, no kireji just because a comma in the middle of a line and yes, “on yellow grass, on bones” is too baroque for the first 6 but overall a good two-liner

        1. thanks Paul -been over 50 years i wrongly thought it was a secretion from plantlife-but yeah, it’s a condensate, not a precipitate

    1. wow, Marietta, “carpet” a big no no -metaphor and a repetition of the main image in the hokku

    1. thanks, Judt -don’t think you need the “of” -“letting go” is considered an anthropomorphism by some people but not by me

    1. yeah, Paul, the “bales” verse took care of the ‘labour’ links for the first 18 anyway

    1. not sure Paul, that i want a passage from moonlit night to dawn in the first 6 after the hokku and the wakiku pass from afternoon to night -have to consider again though, it’s so well written, thanks

    1. hi again, Marietta -well, you’ve stumped me here -maybe if i understand ‘riding-coats’ being what people wear when they ride horses in the autumn chill -and how could there be hooks hanging in air by an open fire? If they are ‘riders’ that would backlink this verse to the previous one’s “travelers” so it’s out of the question to include it here. But i would like to know what was going on in this offering

      1. Marshall, I had in mind the heavy waxed riding coats that are worn here in colder autumn weather. I also pictured a rustic sort of house interior with metal wall hooks flanking a stone hearth where the damp coats might be slung to air out. And yes, I was thinking of ‘travelers’ and ‘riders’. Didn’t get it that the backlink was too close.

    1. as i noted before, carol (though youwoudn’t have seen it posted yet) i associate blackberries more with summer than fall and there’s nothing else here to indicate it’s in fall or to link with the previous verse

    1. for my sense of line, Liz, this would be more natural as, “honking geese/ fill the pond” -but fill is awkward isn’t it? -maybe ‘surround’ or else “fill” is an exaggeration of colloquial speech (not terrible in itself) but exaggeration to be avoided in the first 6

    1. yes, Mary, this is ‘better’ as regards possible inclusion in this renku but the first version was, i think, a better poem -best to just move on

    1. hi Claire -arresting juxtaposition of images, and you don’t actually write ‘harvest’ so maybe they aren’t picked yet -going to think about this one later, thanks

    1. okay, Sandra, so not harvesting but scavenging, plays on the ‘wall’ of “walnuts” but i’m concerned that “fence” rhymes with “descent”, the second line of the previous verse

    1. sounds like a bench i’d like to be on, Polona “blazing” is lightly metaphorical and a little too violent for the first 6 but i appreciate the cadence of the lines

      1. i thouight it might be so…
        Would “turning” or “reddening” work better instead of “blazing”?

    1. hello again, Betty -many modifiers here, and a little long in the syllables -we could probably tighten this up with no “go” at the beginning of the second line and a monosyllabic colour word after “school” (‘greens’ would rhyme with ‘jeans’ so no go and ‘blues’ would repeat the jeans’ colour so no go either, but maybe there’s another one that works for you?) -but i like how “faded” shades with the ending “in the moonlight” of the previous verse and moves our renku into colour -also has for me a slight twist in “granny’s specs” in that these may be influencing our ‘taste’ for what is appropriate -plus the image here is just as much absorbed or worn, or even embodied by the subject as ‘observed by’ her or him as with all previous five verses -thanks alot

      1. Hi, Marshall…very happy this one has potential. Am open to suggestions…red & black were my high school colors. Had thought ‘plaids’ or ‘grays’ to bring in a boarding school idea. Other one syllable words to denote school colors besides ‘gold’, I’m blanking on. And yeah, I’d rather leave off ‘go’ in line 2 so no problem there.
        Will keep thinking! Thank you for the lovely analysis, too…

        1. hey Betty -rethinking this one -it’s “perfect” that has to ‘go’ if you don’t mind the wordplay here -so what i thought of was “faded jeans, school colors/ and granny’s specs to match” -hope you like this (keeps us out of ‘kirejiville’

    1. leave off the “the” of the second line and you’ve got something here -though “must” is a rhyme with “dust” of the previous verse, which isn’t damning of itself -just that they are the pivotal nouns of each verse -try to read your offering in connection with what you’re linking to and make sure there are no definite rhymes or repeat constructions -but glad to have your energy moving us alon

    2. Hi, Marshall! Thank you for help. I rewrite it so:

      in the old press house
      barrels of new wine boil

    1. nicely outside, Marilyn, and “steam” to “dust” is a fine link -just too minimalist for the first 6

    1. hi there, Marietta -trying to save feast-days and ceremonials for outside the first 6 (we need one from North America and one reference to a ceremony or holiday that’s not in our renku (not a special section)) but anyaway, “set out” would be much better for the second line rhythmically

    1. great, Vasile, that you keep them comin’ -however, here ‘zodiac’ signifies an arcane science that can’t be included in the first 6 and we’ve already referenced ‘harvest’ in link 4

  9. a minor edit to my last submission

    three generations
    of red flannel caps

    1. yes, Michael Henry, this is an improvement, but I think something like ‘red and black plaid’ would be better

        1. or
          three generations
          of faded red plaid

          thanks for your help and encouragement

    1. hi Vasile -I guess you meant, ‘funds’ -but don’t write the word, ‘autumn’ -it won’t get in this renku -appropriate that you use it for something that’s not a natural occurrence at all

  10. dust from travelers
    makes its slow descent
    in the moonlight
    –steve smolak

    red oak leaf boats go
    merrily down the stream

    – lorin

    1. this one too, Carol, carries the mood of the previous link over nicely -and keeps it a night scene as well -only drawback is that we’ve already had a ‘harvesting’ reference in verse 4 -will consider this one again, thanks

    1. hey Liz Ann -did you know? I spent 15 years rendering my dad’s bartlett pear tree’s fruit into compote each September (it doesn’t have its own pectin, so you can hardly call it jam (took me 3 years to stop making it runny)) -otherwise, no tangible link here to “dust from travelers”

    2. Pears can be tricky. Sounds like you finally got the formula. As with renku, lots to learn and practice is the path. I was excited to learn a new session has begun and hope to keep participating and learning. I met you in Victoria last year at my first ever renku and loved it. My link on this was in the colour as I pictured moonlight on straw dust, but agree it’s too obscure. I’m looking forward to the all the wonderful contributions and your thoughtful comments.

    1. ah the dreaded backlinking to the farm scene -you’ve a fine rendering of image here, Paul, but we can’t go there

    1. hi again, Marilyn -“drops” superfluous here, but otherwise a wonderful sustaining of mood from the previous link -will consider again (without the ‘drops’) -thanks

  11. dust from travelers
    makes its slow descent
    in the moonlight
    –steve smolak

    beyond the black stump
    a shiver of ghost gums

    – Lorin

    1. well, Lorin, looks like some more ‘lordly linking’ (Anglo-Saxon) with ‘beyond’ ‘black’ and “ghost gums” that i guess are Eucalyptus trees -and even a half-rhyme ending – lots of arcane poetics here -not for our first 6

      1. well, Marshall, I guess you’re not familiar with what’s beyond the black stump, or with a fire season that usually has ended by mid to late autumn.

        “The most prosaic explanation for the origin of ‘black stump’ derives from the general use of fire-blackened tree-stumps as markers when giving directions to travellers unfamiliar with the terrain.”

        “arcane poetics ” & “lordly linking”… hmmm. My not being a North American might be a disadvantage?
        – Lorin

    1. hello Gabriel -“welcoming” links with “travelers” and this is definitely autumn -i’ll look at this one again, later -thanks

    1. nice cadence, Claire, and i see the link in “silver” but how is this autumn? I could guess it’s a ‘going-to-school’ scene but i think that’s asking a reader to stretch too far alone

  12. the ghosts of last night
    wake up as children

    Carole MacRury (All Saints, or Halloween)

    1. Actually, might edit this to:

      the ghosts of last night
      once again, children

      Thanks Marshall…I love your touch as sabaki. It’s looking good!

      1. Thanks, Carole -the break in line two is a pretty sneaky kireji -but a kireji nonetheless -and, as you may know we’re already over limit in kireji for a renku -you may also know i don’t worry about this when leading ‘live’ -but we have 6 days to get it right, so I think we should try

        1. Thanks Marshall….I appreciate that you take the time to comment on posts…so helpful to learning!

      2. Whether or not a comma is equivalent to a kireji (a comma indicates a pause, not a cut/ kire) the comma here in L2 is just a typo or grammo, if the meaning is “once again (are) children/ are children once again”. . . which is how I read it. It can be deleted without any loss.
        (“Once again, children.” might be said by a choirmaster, asking the kids to sing the song again)
        – Lorin

    2. so, Carole, this would be preferable for inclusion in a renku -just don’t feel a tangible enough link to the previous verse

    1. hi again Vasile -the parallel adjective-noun in consecutive lines is too heavy for me -also, women (mostly) use a ‘sewing’ machine to render fabric into clothes so the ambiguity of ‘sower’ is not fortuitous here -and ascribing “merry” to a murder of crows, however delighted they might be speculated to seem, is too fanciful for the first 6

    1. little heavy-handed, here Vasile -they’re actually accomplishing their future; the planning has finished

  13. Just want to say, this is the equivalent for me of having a renku sensei all to myself. Thank you, Marshall and all poets!

    1. hi again, Marietta -thanks for your kind comments -here, we don’t want “after dark” to begin a line after “in the moonlight”

    1. hi Michael Henry – nice touch, but the hats, usually worn in the woods by hunters, around here are ‘black and red’ as in a checkerboard and they’re made of wool -all of which matches their jackets -is that what you meant? -or did you actually see what you wrote?

    1. hi Pratime -no chainsaws here, please -the “and what” might be good for an ‘absurdity section’ that i’m considering having later in this renku

    1. hi Barbara -first line is a classic indicator in renku for autumn, which if you read it fully makes your second line superfluous -you might want to think of a second activity to complement “as we unpack our sweaters”

    1. hi Barbara -alliteration here so pronounced it almost sounds like Anglo-Saxon verse -parallel of adjective-noun makes it too heavy here

    1. hi again, Barbara -don’t want a verse beginning “in the …” after “in the moonlight” -best to read your verse connected to the previous verse you’re linking with to see if it a. could make sense b. has some sort of link within it c. has some sort of ‘poetic quality’ to it, such as, continuity of mood, direct contrast of tone or assonance or consonance within as a 5 line poem

    1. hey, i like this, Lorin -“assigned” ‘sticks out’ a bit here in the first 6 -but i’ll have to think about this one

  14. Congratulations, Steve…I love your verse.


    bushels of ripe apples
    ready for the press

  15. thank you marshall, and fellow participants…i love being able to participate while i learn from your verses and marshalls’ comments- it puts what i’m reading on renku into play…hours, and many duds, with pauls great verse in my mind, one i felt had a chance….thank you again…p.s. marshall, to stay active and learning i’ll be posting a verse here and there.

    1. hi Patrick -we’re not in the phantasy-supernatural-mythology section yet -though a foreign word is something we need once in our renku -just not yet

    1. big shift, Michael Henry -probably too much, but really don’t want any “stop” here -though with ‘drive through’ you’d probably avoid that -just too hard a landing for the dust of the previous link

  16. Hi Marshall
    A query if you have time (I left it too late on the previous link submissions so have reposted it ehere). You said in reply to pj: “maybe here’s the place to say: though the moon always indicates autumn, it’s not enough to link with an autumn verse just to have a moon involvement in it – it needs to link and it needs an autumn seasonality as well”.
    I’m wondering about the use of double kigo – the full moon denotes autumn so if one adds ‘coloured leaves’ or ‘mist’ for example, the result is a verse with a double kigo … isn’t it? Maybe the ‘rules’ for renku are different, but I’d be interested to hear more.
    Many thanks,

    1. hi there Sandra -because i’m not looking for kigo, I don’t even know if there’s 2 or 3 in a verse in a renku i lead or in a haiku i write – I do believe in ‘seasonality’ though and i wanted all of our participants to know that, in a renku, a moon verse in any other season is out of its seasonality but that for an autumn verse its my choice to want something else in the verse to indicate an autumn seasonality; otherwise that would reduce the word, ‘moon’ or reference to the moon to the status of a kigo, which, like syllables, i don’t want to go around counting -and if I may remind people -because there’s going to be two more moon verses -the ‘moon verse’ also has to link with the previous one -same with the blossom verses for spring -it won’t be enough to just have a lovely image of flowers -the lamplight should shed light back and adumbrate forward -let’s get back to linking

    2. It’s good question, Sandra. And a considered response, Marshall, but I’m puzzled by it, especially:

      ” i’m not looking for kigo, I don’t even know if there’s 2 or 3 in a verse in a renku i lead or in a haiku i write. . . for an autumn verse it’s my choice to want something else in the verse to indicate an autumn seasonality; …” – M

      I’m puzzled by it because I think that, in practice (going by the renku so far) it would seem that you *would* recognise verses that had more than one kigo. None of the verses chosen so far have the dreaded ‘double kigo’ (eg moon + dew, mushrooms, scarecrows, fog… any extra ‘keyword’ that might indicate an autumn seasonality) The moon/ moonlight *is* the kigo in Steve S’s lovely verse. There’s nothing else I can detect in it that indicates an ‘autumn seasonality’ apart from the moonlight.

      I do appreciate your emphasis on linking, though (as well as shifting, of course)

      – Lorin

    1. hi Claire -don’t want a counter-factual (as in an “as if) in the first 6

    1. hi Brian -ending a line with an article dramatizes the split of the line from your breath -be better to write; “silvered pearls/ tip the drooping pine’s needles” that still has too much alliteration in the ‘p’s

      1. Thanks Marshall. Was actually going for that catch in the breath, thought it brought into focus the imminent drip as the needles, not necessarily the pine itself, droop. The second line was intended to have a sort of descending cadence and end on the rather ugly droop sound. Thought this might allow for leaps to other environs yet remain organic, if you will. I do come to this from a more westernized aspect of haiku, thus the enjambment and all that you commented on. A rank beginner…Good fun, though and learning a lot.?

    1. hello Brian -no stars after the moon link and no blanket after the hokku’s image of undisturbed snow

    1. this and the ‘amarylis’ offering after , Vasile, seem like ‘love links’ more than autumn links to me

    1. hi Agnes -I believe i’m a poet first and drawn to haiku because it is so intensely poetic about nature -and given 6 days and about 65 offerings for each link i think we should b able to maintain a renku as mostly poetry throughout -hope you continue to contribute

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