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The Renku Sessions: New Calendar 26

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.

Thank you, everyone, for your help and encouragement during the past week. And my thanks, in particular, to Karen Cesar, who made this week’s selection and contributed mightily to a week of very active and positive discussion on this site. Here is Karen’s report:

absinthe and “that look”
as they suck on sugar cubes

            1. –Betty Shropshire

“There were so many really good verses to choose from this round. In the end, I chose this verse for its suggestive sensuality. The illicit reputation of absinthe paired with ‘that look’ is deliciously provocative. There is a sense of ‘forbidden fruit,’ which is heightened in the second line of the verse. I picture a couple teasing/ arousing one another with the way they are sucking on the sugar cubes and simultaneously looking into one another’s eyes. There is (or can be) a great deal of ritual surrounding the serving of absinthe. This pairs nicely with the mating ritual which seems to be taking place between the perhaps soon to be lovers.

I have made a very small but I hope helpful modification, by adding quotation marks. I think this strengthens the meaning. Without the quotes, one might presume that these words refer to the particular look of intoxicated absinthe users. But saying ‘that look’ is like a textual wink and nod: ‘You know what I mean’

Elements of the verse that struck me were its succinctness, its vibrant word choices, the extremely effective line break, the use of a new topic – alcohol ( yes, I know there is ‘spirited croquet’ above but alcohol in that verse is in the reader’s interpretation rather than being spelled out) and that the alcohol used was an unusual one with an interesting history and rich associations. All of which made for a unique and unexpected verse. Thank you, Betty, for a wonderful verse and thank you all for a wonderful experience.”

Thank you, Karen, and congratulations, Betty!

Betty Shropshire will be offered the opportunity to select the next verse. Betty, 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 (July 5, eastern US time) 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-seven will be another non-seasonal love verse, written in three lines, this time. Betty’s verse is not specific about the timing within a love relationship (early, middle, or late) but let us focus on “middle or late” for this next verse. Once again, these are verses about love between adult human beings. They are not about love of pets, love of country, love of ice cream, etc. They can be romantic, erotic, nostalgic or anything that seems aptly to express love (or even the absence of it) between any adult human beings.

Verse twenty-seven must link to the twenty-sixth verse (and only the twenty-sixth 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

on the store’s intercom
comes a cleanup request
for aisle thirteen

    –Michael Henry Lee

recalling where they were
on Jerusalem Day

    –Debbie Feller

falling north and south
of the peace wall

    —Marion Clarke

Tolstoy in Russian
by a roaring fire

    –Michael Henry Lee

could it be
that women prefer
a room with a view?

    —Karen Cesar

absinthe and “that look”
as they suck on sugar cubes

    –Betty Shropshire

This Post Has 69 Comments

  1. through a long marriage
    we have learned to laugh about
    our imperfections
    (Just thought I would make the relationship clearer)
    (One of my rare 5-7-5 efforts)

  2. absinthe and “that look”
    as they suck on sugar cubes
    –Betty Shropshire
    desire evaporates
    and all that’s left
    melts into memory

  3. absinthe and “that look”
    as they suck on sugar cubes
    –Betty Shropshire
    a flashback of his guitar
    and how he sang love songs
    outside her closed door

    1. I can pare this one down:
      a flashback
      of singing love songs
      outside her door

  4. absinthe and “that look”
    as they suck on sugar cubes
    –Betty Shropshire
    after forty years
    his grey eyes still
    make her quiver

  5. An absolutely perfect verse for this spot, Betty! Karen, you did such a great job of selecting and commenting on all the verses. I love the added quotation marks. :)

    1. Thank you, Mary. And thank John S. for the quotation marks – his idea. ?

  6. an exellent verse for this position. nicely done, Betty and Karen :)

    a handful of poems
    is all that’s left
    of his longing

    1. I think this is remote if you aren’t a fan of, Etta James, and familiar with her songs.

          1. Your two liner is a humdinger, Betty and most probably expanding the mind of the most experienced ku’ist . I’ve set about drawing what I see :)

  7. Thanks Betty for reminding me that the word ‘aisle’ was already taken. Your stunning verse is going to be a hard one to follow.

    soon after the reunion
    the word engagement
    keeps popping up

    1. Hi Carol, this is great imagery but we’ve had kiss as a subject in a previous verse (kiss cam). ☺

      1. Thanks, Betty :)


        at Woodstock
        making their own
        sweet music

        not sure about ‘own’ on the end of L2?

  8. absinthe and “that look”
    as they suck on sugar cubes

    –Betty Shropshire

    just holding hands
    and smiling
    as time goes by

    – Lorin

    1. stanzas should be original to this exercise. That is my understanding of any public renku. John ?

      1. Yes, verses composed specifically for this renku only, please. No previously published verses. Thanks for asking!

  9. Wow and congratulations , Betty, on such a great love verse! And congratulations Karen , on such a great job too! :)

  10. Congratulations, Betty! You always bring such a unique voice to the renku sessions. Wishing you lots of fun in choosing the next verse. I’m sure you’ll do an excellent job.
    I loved your commentary, Karen. And I enjoyed all your comments along the way. Your hard work, enthusiasm, sense of humor, and warmth are very much appreciated.

    1. Hi Carmen…is there any way you can phrase this without ‘aisle’? I know it would alter the meaning but we already have an ‘aisle thirteen.’ ☺

  11. Thanks, Karen!! The change does make the meaning clearer so I am happy with it and your analysis was lovely…again, honored that you chose it!

    Also wanted to thank Polona and Paul for furthering my education. Your thoughts and additional resources for published renku were most beneficial!

    Well, here’s to going forward with the next love verse…more than a little nervous to be choosing it.

    1. Congratulations, Betty, :-) A suggestive verse well suited for the spot, and well-chosen.

      – Lorin

  12. another great verse !!!!
    rock’n it like the Yardbirds
    over under sidewise
    and down

    1. Aaaah, Paul…this is where I stumble with your use of ‘one’. If I take it solely as a number, then we don’t move forward numerically. But, used in this context where it serves to set up a comparison, I don’t think it matters…do you? Anyone? ?

      1. A, An, The also indicate singularity. I do not know of any Japanese context, but groups I’ve been in usually allow the word “one” as not being a number in the *no regression of numbers* issue.
        It is good question…. also for Maestro Stevenson, I guess.
        I could get around it with:


        upon closer examination
        he decides her left breast
        is larger than the right


        1. I do like the change though I really prefer your original…thanks for your thoughts on the use of ‘one’! It helps to clarify what I’d hoped was the case. ☺

        2. Wondering about the link between ‘examination’ and ‘love’, Paul! I’m obviously missing something!

          1. . . . hard to answer, Marietta. The link to the previous verse is two-fold — more plainly connected is “look” to “examination” — the more graphic might be to “suck.” That it is a love verse, if that is your question? Well, the intimacy of body parts is the stuff of lovers, I felt the previous 3 love stanzas, two sections, had no actual physicality. It is an actual memory of mine from my young life with my wife who died at 36. We lay together for years in various staged of undress, and sometimes actually slept! Ha…………..
            Sometimes I had my eyes open.

    1. Hi Marina…I well remember those years but never got the tattoos! Again, I think we should avoid mentioning ‘year(s)’ because of the hokku. ‘Peace’ as well because of Marion’s verse.

    1. Hi, Peter… I’m thinking this is way too close to the hokku with its year of “Natural Wonders”

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