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The Renku Sessions: Breathing In – Week 7

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Welcome to our ninth renku session under the sponsorship of The Haiku Foundation. This will be a Jûnichô (twelve verse) renku, under the guidance of John Stevenson.

Twenty-three poets offered a total of seventy-four verses this time. There was quite a lot of discussion about my changing a single word in Marion Clarke’s verse. Shows how important every word can be in this kind of poetry. I have decided to make some changes in several verses at this time, rather than waiting until the end. So, here is the renku, as revised through Marion’s verse:

breathing in
scent of new growth
in the trees

                                    Shane Pruett 

a pollen-covered bee’s
waggle dance

                                    Polona Oblak

china cups
filled with oolong
and memories

                                    Liz Ann Winkler

the delicate neck
of his housemaid

                                  Maureen Virchau

I pull up my hood
to avoid the snow
and your words

                                 Marion Clarke

And here are some of the verses that caught my eye and ear this week:

rap music follows me
from a side street

                                    Marina Bellini

This links with words and simultaneously offers the topic of music. The attitude of the speaker is open to interpretation and, thus, invites us to go in various directions with a following verse.

Earth as we know it
circling the drain

                                    Judt Shrode

What we hope and what we fear. What we hear and what we cover our ears and say “la, la, la” in order not to hear. This verse sent me to the web to check out the Coriolis force, which tends to deflect moving objects to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern and is important in the formation of cyclonic weather systems.

the President giddy with
Kim Jong’s attention

                                    Michael Henry Lee

What can I say? This might be mistaken for a love verse.

Frankly, Bret
I do give a damn

                                    Liz Ann Winkler

This is one of the many verses on the subject of the Bret Kavanaugh nomination and appointment to the United States Supreme Court. It is dense with references: literary (to Gone With the Wind), popular (as a current meme), and a playful linking of Bret and Rhett. There is also the matter of how (spousal) rape is treated as romantic in GWTW.

that poisoned ex-spy
is a “scumbag” and “traitor”

                                    Victor Ortiz

This story continues to unfold. While Vladimir Putin flatly denies any involvement in the poisonings, his words betray an attitude that he doesn’t have the humanity to deny.

a balloon string dangles
from the dead seal’s mouth

                                    Andrew Shimield

A horror, expressed without words. Death by refuse.

taking anger
to the voting booth

                                    Aganes Eva Savich

The previous verse gives this one plenty of context. Unfortunately, people with polar opposite views are voting their anger, too.

 

OUR SIXTH VERSE

UN laughter
heard round the world

                                    Chris Patchel

As an American citizen, there is one person who comes immediately to my mind when considering hurtful speech. And it seems that much of the world sees him in a similar way. I felt so much less alone when his wildly inaccurate boasts got the response they deserved at the United Nations.

There is a literary reference here, which may not be familiar to readers outside of the US. It plays upon the following verse, by Ralf Waldo Emerson, in his poem, “Concord Hymn.”

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

That shot was part of the beginning of the America revolution. Chris Patchel’s verse concerns the appropriate response to someone who has set a new standard for “shooting his mouth off.”

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR OUR NEXT VERSE

  • A non-seasonal nature verse (little or no human presence)
  • Three lines, without a break
  • Linking with verse six but not, in any significant way, with the first five verses
  • Ocean? Mountains? Prairie? Mammal?

 

OUR RENKU, SO FAR

 

breathing in
scent of new growth
in the trees

                                    Shane Pruett 

a pollen-covered bee’s
waggle dance

                                    Polona Oblak

china cups
filled with oolong
and memories

                                    Liz Ann Winkler

the delicate neck
of his housemaid

                                  Maureen Virchau

I pull up my hood
to avoid the snow
and your words

                                 Marion Clarke

UN laughter
heard round the world

                                  Chris Patchel

 

Please use the “Leave a Reply” box, below, to submit your verse seven offers. I will be reviewing them until the submission deadline of midnight, New York time, on Monday, October 15. My selection and commentary, together with an invitation for the eighth verse will appear here on Thursday, October 18.

I look forward to seeing your verses!

John Stevenson

 

 

 

 

This Post Has 72 Comments

  1. UN laughter
    heard round the world
    —Chris Patchel
    .

    is it so long since
    dugongs were taken
    for mermaids?
    .

  2. P.S. A rough-skinned newt is the actual name of a type of newt. Readers may prefer the factual description, as below:

    in the compost
    an orange-bellied newt
    toxic to all

  3. Great verse and choice, Chris and John. It really opens up a world of possibilities. For continued fun. . .
    *
    *
    cloud shadows
    come and go
    across the mountain face

  4. Verse 1:

    spotted hyena slinks
    to the waterhole
    watching out for the lion

    Verse 2:

    when blood is spilled
    hens will peck the injured
    to death

    Verse 3:

    languid swimming
    in the ocean
    of the Great White

  5. Thanks for all the positive comments. For fun:

    a bull alligator
    laying claim to
    the golf course

  6. Congrats, Chris! A very clever link & shift. A famous home run comes to mind. Thank you for another thoughtful commentary, John.
    .
    .
    UN laughter
    heard round the world
    .
    -Chris Patchel
    .
    wild bison
    break into a gallop
    on sacred plains

      1. Thank you very much, Carmen. So nice of you to comment. Wishing you a peaceful day.

  7. UN laughter
    heard round the world

    Chris Patchel
    .
    a few choice words
    from a sulphur-crested
    cockatoo
    .
    – Lorin

      1. Whoops!
        .
        I pull up my hood
        to avoid the snow
        and your words
        .
        Marion Clarke
        .
        UN laughter
        heard round the world
        .

        Chris Patchel
        .
        the comic strut
        of a sulphur-crested
        cockatoo
        .
        – Lorin

  8. Congrats, Chris!

    *

    just before sunset
    a mob of wallabies
    assemble by the dam

    *

    uncertainty about
    these alien circles
    in sweeping corn fields

    *

    survival is
    simply a matter
    of degrees

    ~~~

  9. The U.N. laughter
    heard round the World
    -Chris Patchel
    that was indeed an awesome verse
    telling and effective.

    In the Arctic
    melting of more ice
    struggling polar bears

  10. UN laughter
    heard round the world
    .

    Chris Patchel
    .
    kookaburras
    as another sunset stains
    this dirt road red
    .
    – Lorin

  11. Love this! Here’s my submission for the seventh:

    Condemned fish
    visa Issued
    for the Plastic isle

  12. The modern slant was very clear. But I certainly needed the explanation of the literary reference — not part of the history or poems we were taught. Thanks for the insight. Interesting and clever to bring them together, Chris.

    .
    faint hissing
    issues from vents
    of a sea mount
    .

    wind hones
    the leading edge
    of a sand dune
    .

    hickory dickory dock
    not the only nursery rhyme
    starring mice
    .

  13. A great response verse, Chris.
    .
    Thank you, John, for retaining my original submission (and apologies for any headaches caused in the ensuing discussions!)
    .
    I hope you don’t mind too much, Maureen, that your verse has been changed? I ought to have been more careful when submitting. For what it’s worth, I think a wonderfully sensual subtext has been added by John’s edit.

    1. Credit where credit is due – Maureen and I discussed it and the edit is her own suggestion.

    2. No worries, Marion. All is well! I understand the situation. Yes, John and I discussed it. We agreed that the use of another possessive would satisfy the renku’s needs. Thank you for your kind words.

  14. Chris, congratulations on a very well-done verse.

    UN laughter
    heard round the world
    *********

    rising by degrees
    the global temperature
    threatens disaster

  15. 🙂
    Very nicely done, Chris. Congratulations.
    .
    . . . and thanks, John, for giving the literary reference, which I’m certain Chris intended. Yes, from a war for independence to Planet America in little more than 300 years.
    .
    (I admit I don’t understand how those plural “embattled farmers” seem to have fired just one “shot heard round the world”. Perhaps it’s a form of poetic license ?)
    .
    – Lorin

    1. The events depicted in the Emerson poem occurred 244 years ago. I expect that there is some poetic license involved since that engagement took place at both Lexington and Concord and the actual first shots were fired at Lexington.
      .
      I suspected that the literary reference would not be clear around the world but, once explained, the contemporary reference would be pretty clear to many people.

      1. John, Chris’s contemporary reference is loud and clear. 🙂
        .
        The Emerson poem may not be to everyone (like me, who didn’t even get the number of years anywhere near right) but that’s a secondary thing, an allusion, wryly done. It could be said that the poet’s “shot heard around the world” and the unmentionable American person’s speech at the UN both have the elements of exaggeration and bragging in common.
        .
        Very witty of Chris to undermine the show with “laughter heard round the world”.
        .
        – Lorin

      2. not hard to get Chris’s contemporary reference, and i dare say the sentiment is largely shared throughout the world
        .
        the literary reference only adds to the verse’s depth but it would remain hidden for me if you hadn’t explained it, so thanks!

    2. By the way, this is beside the point for our purposes, but interesting (at least to me) about how our various versions of English work – the word “shot” can also be plural. As in, for instance, “They were well equipped with powder and shot.” In that instance “shot” means something like “ammunition,” another word that has a singular form but frequently refers to multiple examples.

      1. True, John. But could the plural or collective “shot” (in the ammunition shed) be “heard” before it’s loaded and fired?
        .
        gunshot the length of the lake
        .
        — Jim Kacian
        .
        I can hear that shot and its echoes.
        .
        – Lorin

  16. What an awesome verse Chris!
    .
    .
    ground squirrels
    scatter in the shadow
    of a red-tailed hawk
    .
    one magpie nudges
    the corpse of another
    along a prairie road
    .
    bubble-netting
    a school of herring
    humpback whales
    .
    a bald eagle
    dive bombs a mallard
    landing on a lake

  17. Love that verse Christopher
    ************************
    prairie dog town
    abuzz with rumor and
    innuendo

    1. I love this verse Michael. I was actually working a verse with lemmings and cliff edges but the prairie dog town image is nicely done!

    1. a macaque
      scampers away
      with the temple offering
      *
      as dawn breaks
      sunlight slides
      down Mont Blanc

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