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The Renku Sessions: New Calendar 20

renkuchainWelcome to The Haiku Foundation’s Fifth Renku Session: New Calendar. I am John Stevenson, leading my second Kasen (36 verse) renku on this site. We will be trying something a little different this time. Instead of making all of the selections myself, new verses will be selected by the poet who wrote the preceding verse. This will be on a voluntary basis and I remain ready to preform this task for anyone who prefers to pass up the opportunity.

Here is this week’s report, from Barbara A. Taylor:

“Thank you Lorin for your revised offer which I do like, and for the suggestion re my computer issue on this board. So far not much luck.

Thank you all for your offers which I studied over and over. I have decided to go for Paul MacNeil’s verse:

my toddler puts her milk
on the kitchen counter

        1. –Paul MacNeil

I hope Paul will accept my slight change.

Here we have the innocence of childhood, and we are inside, in the comfort of a family kitchen. Of course, there is within, a double link, being the child and the milk, which makes it doubly appealing for me. There’s a warmth about this verse that I found hard to resist. It brings some tenderness and also allows for further development on this journey.

Thank you, Paul for a lovely verse.”

Thank you, Barbara and congratulations, Paul!

Paul MacNeil will be offered the opportunity to select the next verse. Paul, please contact me, either in a reply below or by e-mail ( to let me know whether you accept this offer. If you do, I will ask you to choose the next verse in accordance with the requirements listed below and to write a paragraph or two about your selection and send it to me on Wednesday morning (May 24) so that I can incorporate it in the next posting, which appears on the following day. If you would rather not make the selection, I will do so, but I would prefer to know that I’ll be doing that as early as possible

Verse twenty-one will be another non-seasonal verse, in three lines this time. We have a great deal of latitude with this verse. Perhaps Paul will make some additional suggestions?

Verse twenty-one must link to the twentieth verse (and only the twentieth verse) but it also must clearly shift away from it in terms of scene, subject, and tone.

You will have until Tuesday night to make your offers. The Haiku Foundation site has been busy lately and the link to our renku session has not always been obvious on the home page. There is a permanent “Renku Sessions” button a little further down the home page and you can always reach the current session via this route. We will continue to check for new verse offers through each Tuesday.

With best wishes to all,


New Calendar to Date

new calendar
a year of
“Natural Wonders”

    –John Stevenson

a clownfish offers
the first greeting

    –Peter Newton

taking a fistful
of freshly tilled earth
to my cheek

    –Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

café aromas
on the warm breeze

    –Maureen Virchau

sound of a flute
slowly rising
with a hazy moon

    –Dru Philippou

flickering light of a bike
from the side road

    –Marina Bellini

under the bed-sheet
tales of bold highwaymen
and horse-drawn coaches

    —Lorin Ford

has the lord executed
his droit du seigneur

    —Polona Oblak

Jimmy Carter
and Rosalynn
on the kiss cam

    —Judt Shrode

after the picnic
some spirited croquet

    —Michael Henry Lee

the old quarry
so deep and cold
and daring

    —Mary Kendall

her scars stay hidden
though the neckline plunges

    –Debbie Feller

each time I wake
the moon lights
something different

    —Gabrielle Higgins

the whir of dragonfly wings
in the remaining heat

    —Sally Biggar

a neutrino
passes through the chestnut
and the worm, too

    —Lorin Ford

the tension of the needle
piercing linen

    —Carmen Sterba

Dutchman’s breeches
sprout along a cliff’s
ragged edge

    —Maureen Virchau

six pairs of boots
by the pilgrim shrine

    –Polona Oblak

in full flight
fledglings skim
through the archway

    –Barbara A. Taylor

my toddler puts her milk glass
on the kitchen counter

    –Paul MacNeil

This Post Has 62 Comments

  1. we reach out
    to the children
    of Manchester
    For those who lost their lives last night

      1. Both you (Lorin) and Marion are so right on the mark with your two beautiful and fitting verses. Thanks for the link to the Yeats’ poem…so powerful and well worth reading again.


        1. Thank you, Mary. I’m still reeling from the news of the devastating events in Manchester.


          1. Thanks, Marion & Mary. It’s hard not to associate the devastating Manchester horror with Yeats’ poem.
            This morning I’ve googled and found that before this, this poem by an undisputed grand master of Modern poetry was the most quoted poem of 2016. I believe it will sink in even further this year.
            That audio reading on the Poetry Foundation is a poor reading, though. A quick google shows me that someone who calls himself Tom O’Bedlam does it more justice:

            – Lorin

          2. This other reading by Tom O’Bedlam (love that name) is quite good. Thank you for the link, Lorin. Marion, it is all so heartbreaking about what has happened in Manchester.

            ~ Mary

    1. 🙂 “here be dragons”.
      I suspect that many are still using those old maps when it comes to anywhere south of the equator.

      – Lorin

      1. I have always loved this line since I was a child, Lorin. I think it came from a Welsh TV programme ‘Ivor the Engine’

    1. 🙂 At first I thought our Paul had been resurrected, but knowing that’d be unlikely, I checked 0nline dictionaries. Mary, Ive learned a new word. 🙂 All is revealed.This is an excellent link (and shift away as well) imo.
      The dictionaries have it without a capital, though. It’s a common noun, as is ‘kitchen’.

      – Lorin

      1. Thank you, Lorin. You are absolutely right–it should be lower case. I’m not sure why I put the capital “h” there to begin with. 😊

    2. Corrected version (thank you, Lorin! 🤗):
      a cloud of burnt sage
      and juniper rises up
      from the hogan

  2. my toddler puts her milk glass
    on the kitchen counter
    a flooded lawn
    as rain spills out
    from the gutters

  3. how to do
    a puking rainbow
    snapchat selfie

    (in this context I don’t think ‘rainbow’ could be considered a kigo)

  4. Thanks and congratulations, Paul, for your great verse!


    very first smartphone
    oblivion sets in

    1. Oops, maybe shouldn’t use first . . .

      oblivion sets in

  5. famous now
    in his own right
    an art forger

    or if ‘his’ is out:

    famous now
    the impressive talent
    of an art forger

  6. my toddler puts her milk glass
    on the kitchen counter
    This is a refreshing verse, Paul. What comes next? My first reaction is to go quickly towards the toddler to avoid a falling glass. My second reaction is not to rush in case the glass steadied itself and then I can say, “Good job.”

    1. Thanks, Carmen.
      I had thought it was a milestone of “growing up” —

      But renku stanzas like some haiku are open ended, as you know well. You can bring your own experience to bear… lots of directions.

  7. wow lots of things to consider …

    chased by
    a clown car filled
    with all our worst fears

  8. my toddler puts her milk glass
    on the kitchen counter

    –Paul MacNeil

    art critics
    at a po-mo installation
    waxing lyrical

    – Lorin

  9. in a Denpasar square
    the puppet master expands
    a scintillating world

    (maybe too poetic…

    in a Denpasar square
    the puppet master animates
    his small screen

  10. Dear fellow players,

    When deep into a renku, I like to ask: What does this group poem need now? So far we have covered a lot of directions and topic areas.

    Our Sabaki, John, has a plan I am sure … what is the next verse scheduled or set of them? Are we not soon to have 2 or 3 love stanzas? If so, let us not preclude these. No human body parts or relationship verses, for example. John?

    This being a 3-liner of NO season, we are free to really explore … let your imaginations run free. The trick at this point is to not repeat any major topic area already explicit or implicit. We already have: farming, a word or phrase that is not natural to English, science, religion, fantasy/child tales, food, sports, coffee, proper names, music, health/medicine — these at least plus many critters of good variety. Please avoid any more animals… many have seasonal reference, anyway. Not for this verse.

    I do not think we have: color, geographic/place name, business/economics, politics, remembrance, the other of the human senses — smell? No alcohol yet, but it is too close now to milk, maybe later… beverage. Sometimes a group will approve a very long word? Variety in all things.

    Please do NOT be limited by my suggestions — originality with no key words repeated, and not the topic already used. Christopher Herold teaches that a renku is like a mandala — expanding in all directions.

    verse structure, grammatic variety … first words and different parts of speech (more grammar) are important, but not required for this next one. I note for the future stanzas, mine was the first to begin in first person and only the third to be phrased in first person.

    When you get an idea, free associated … do scroll it against every previous verse. Seems hard sometimes, but there are ever so many unmentioned things. Renku can and do expand in so may directions.

    As John indicates, each verse does NEED a way it links to the previous one.

    I am pleased to contribute in a small way . . . – Paul

    1. Congratulations, Paul, on the selection of your verse. Well done!

      Regarding your notes, I have a question about “proper name(s)” and “geographical/ place names.” You mention that “proper names” have already been incorporated into this renku (I’m assuming you mean Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn). But then you mentioned the following in your comments about possible topics/ subjects that might work for the current three-line verse:
      “I do not think we have: color, geographic/place name, . . . ”

      So, are place names (such as city or country names) acceptable for this verse? I also note that “Dutchman’s breeches” was used in a previous verse, which indirectly refers to the Dutch -> Holland, so would country names/ affiliations be off limits, too, going forward on this one?

      I’m just trying to get a handle on the renku; sometimes these things are not clear to me. I really appreciate all of the comments from experienced poets.

      Thank you,

      1. Good questions, Theresa.

        Writing quickly, I wasn’t clear… I meant the Carters — proper names of people. Another type of “Proper” is geographic.

        I certainly agree that Dutchman recalls Holland… but its context is a flower. the topic word “rose” would be inappropriate as we progress. In the fullness of a kasen is also room for …. say … Athens, or the Acropolis, Grand Canyon, etc. For variety. I’m not trying to be definitive, just urging expansion of directions we might go.

        One Japanese rule of thumb seems to be that separation by a number of verses is Ok for some similar things. Many so-called rules are not hard and fast things. I have had leaders allow, widely separated, two mammals in a kasen, But one wild and one domesticated…. such as cow and squirrel but with a lot of space between them. Also bodies of water. Not near each other, but one of the fresh water type– the other salt.

        Looking again, I’d add many of the creative Arts are not yet represented. We have flute/music, but not literature (although tales of highwaymen might count), painting, sculpture, architecture/design. A vertical axis to cultural thing is often a plus. Also not yet war/military… Lots of things.

        1. Thank you, Paul, for your detailed answer. I think I understand the basics and the ins and outs of things under consideration for this verse. I will give it a try with one or two.

          Much appreciated!

        2. Congratulations, Paul. 🙂

          …a couple of observations and a couple of queries after reading your comments here.

          Another instance of a proper name besides ‘Jimmy Carter & Rosalyn’ is the name of the flowering plant, “Dutchman’s breeches”.

          Query: are other proper names ok, as long as they’re not the names of people or plants?

          Query two: wouldn’t ‘Jimmy Carter & Rosalyn’ count as a ‘politics’ reference?

          (& we actually do have an instance of the sense of smell: ‘cafe aromas’ in verse 4)

          – Lorin

          1. points well taken. I did miss a few things, thanks. If spaced well apart, some repetition is allowable. The two Carters is a matter of how you see it. They were and are a close couple. I never saw any direct affection between them, but it is conceivable. Now an example I recall was candidate Al Gore at his nominating convention planting a big one on his then wife, Tipper (no longer together). Huge sweeping embrace. Now THAT was political. Crowd went wild with cheering. It probably did well in “focus groups” and other polling.

            – Paul

          2. “The two Carters is a matter of how you see it. “- Paul

            The way I see it is that anyone whose name is recogizable around the world by many, many people has become a celebrity in some field or another. There have probaby been many Jimmy or James Carters in the history of the world (Carter is a good old English surname that designates the trade of the ancestor: ‘carter’. He probably owned a good team of Clydesdales, or at least oxen.) But we recognise the one who became a celebrity in the field of politics by becoming a USA President.

            – Lorin

          3. there are online videos of the Carters smooching on a kiss cam from at least two separate occasions, one after his treatment for brain cancer


            late for the party but a very fine verse, Paul, and an excellent choice, imho

    2. Well, dang…there goes my
      Venezuelan political clashes with “Poopootov cocktails” direction.

  11. Thank you Barbara for the selection and the kind words!

    The slight change is fine, and suggestion is part of the renku tradition — it is a communal effort, a very non-Western notion.


    Yes, John, I accept the next responsibility. I’ll be back to you if I have any other thoughts for the next stanza.
    – Paul

  12. A very comfortable and interesting verse, Paul. Congratulations! 🙂
    my toddler puts her milk glass
    on the kitchen counter
    –Paul MacNeil
    I bury the potshard
    where it had appeared
    just outside the kiva
    holding time back
    I bury the potshard
    just outside the kiva

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