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The Renku Sessions: New Calendar 28

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.

Since Marietta McGregor respectfully declined the opportunity to select our twenty-eighth verse, it has become my turn, once again.

Many of our selectors have commented on the difficulty of choosing among so many offers. My final choice, this time, came down to two verses. Each represents very strongly held values for me and the final choice was truly wrenching.

I have previously commented on the social aspect of renku. It’s a party and I strongly believe in “the more the merrier.” There were some tempting verses submitted this time by poets who have not yet been included. And there was one, in particular, that remained my first choice right up to the last minute. I was conscious, however, that I would have to prominently discuss its renku-related shortcomings in order to fulfill the educational requirements of this feature. And I concluded, reluctantly, that to do so would be a disservice to the social values of renku; at least as I perceive those values. I do want to encourage poets who have not had a verse selected to keep playing, knowing that I am eager to see your verses in the finished renku and I hope other selectors will also consider this a priority.

Among the late submissions was one I like just as much as the verse I’ve mentioned above. It comes from a poet who has two verses previously selected:

all the agar plates

            1. –Polona Oblak

This verse has the kind of jolt that I am looking for in these final verses of the ha. The link by contrast between “purely” and “contaminated” is a broad stroke. But it also has subtlety. I think of the story of how penicillin was discovered through an accidental laboratory contamination. And I think this can be thought of as reflecting our collective experience in renku composition. Any “imperfections” in our experiment may still produce unexpectedly salutary results.

Thank you, Polona!

Polona Oblak will be offered the opportunity to select the next verse. Polona, 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 19, 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-nine will be an autumn moon verse, written in three lines. This will be the first in a series of three autumn verses. As was the case with previous moon verses, mention of the moon is, in itself, enough to establish the season as autumn. In order to avoid back linking to verse twenty-seven, this verse should feature a day moon.

Verse twenty-nine must link to the twenty-eighth verse (and only the twenty-eighth 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

date nights
for conversation

    –Marietta McGregor

all the agar plates

    –Polona Oblak

This Post Has 108 Comments

  1. all the agar plates

    –Polona Oblak

    the moon
    somewhere between treacle
    and maple syrup

    – Lorin

  2. all the agar plates

    –Polona Oblak

    so dramatic
    these cumulonimbi
    back-lit by the moon!

    – Lorin

    1. …well, ‘back-lit’ was suggested by spellcheck. But I think it’s wrong. It should be ‘backlit’ according to both the Free Dictionary & Oxford Living Dictionaries. Anyway, maybe both are right but the hyphen will vanish, as it has over time in the cases of many words. 🙂

      so dramatic
      these cumulonimbi
      backlit by the moon!

      – Lorin

      1. or less declarative:

        a drama
        of cumulonimbi
        backlit by the moon

        – Lorin

  3. all the agar plates
    –Polona Oblak

    as a star shifts
    I dance
    under the moon

  4. thank you, everybody, for your contributions, and feel free to make my job harder by adding more candidate verses. 🙂

  5. under a pale day moon
    she strums ‘Claire de Lune’
    to the falling leaves
    (I’m aware of the rhyme moon/lune, but I’m in a reckless moon today!) 😉

  6. all the agar plates

    –Polona Oblak

    by the waterhole
    every moon shadow
    becomes the bunyip

    – Lorin

    1. all the agar plates

      –Polona Oblak

      at the waterhole
      every moon shadow
      becomes the bunyip

      – Lorin

      1. o, b*****, no. There’s already that ‘deep quarry’ over there in the USA, probably inhabited by La Llorona. the equivalent, essentially , of the bunyip. 🙂

        – Lorin

  7. full moon
    longing for the pines
    of Shiogoshi


    full moon
    searching for the pines
    of Shiogoshi


  8. Just a little more information about moon verses – they are about the actual moon or its light. The word “moon” used to signify something other than the moon itself (or its light) will not satisfy the requirements for this verse.

    1. thanks for chiming in, John.
      here it is again, my propensity not to state the obvious.
      indeed, we can’t have a moon verse without the mention of the earth’s satellite.

  9. all morning long
    we make moon pies
    by the dozen
    **moon pies = a special treat made of graham crackers, marshmallow filling and coated with chocolate (enjoyed all over the USA, but especially in the southern states). They are round and about 3-4 inches in diameter.

    1. I can just imagine how good they taste, Mary. I think I’ve just added three inches to my diameter just reading about them 🙂

      What is a graham cracker? I just might try these in the winter months.

      1. Graham crackers are very common in the states. I’ve never made them, just bought them, but because of your question, I looked it up. They are a whole wheat cracker and usually there is some honey in the mixture. The texture is a bit like a digestive biscuit but they are much thinner. Here’s the link with an interesting history note as to why they are called “Graham” crackers:

        Carol, may I ask where you live (country)?

        1. Thanks for the link, Mary. I will be using that recipe over the festive period later in the year.

          I live in the UK, I think my sir name gives a clue as to which part 🙂

          Thanks again

  10. Congrats to you, Polona! I just love the eeriness of your verse. It brings a fantastic shock factor into the renku. You’re doing another wonderful job as sabaki. Bravo!

  11. all the agar plates
    __Polona Oblak
    no cows in sight
    so the day moon basks
    under the sun

    1. Obviously I was playing around with a much loved nursery rhyme today. John has clarified the use of the moon so my verses can all go. My apologies.

    1. technically a day moon this year:
      “The closest full moon to the autumn equinox reaches the crest of its full phase on October 5 at 18:40 UTC. For us in the continental U.S., the moon turns precisely full during the daytime hours on Thursday, October 5. By U.S. clocks, that full moon instant comes at 2:40 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1:40 p.m. Central Daylight Time, 12:40 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, 11:40 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, 10:40 a.m. Alaskan Daylight Time and 8:40 a.m.Hawaiian Standard Time”

      1. hmmm… i think you answered yourself, Betty… technically the exact time of the full moon occurs in daytime only for a part of the world (incidentally, the part you live in). in my time zone (central european summer time, GMT+2) it’s after dark. and in any case, the full moon is out between sunset and sunrise, so not visible in daytime, and this is true anywhere in the world.

  12. a toddler
    reading ‘fairy tales’
    in the moon buggy


    am I in the right direction with tis one? 🙂

    1. can you help me out with this one, Carol?
      do you mean the moon buggy as a real lunar vehicle or a type of a stroller (or something else entirely)? also, what made you put fairy tales in quotation marks?
      in any case, the verse is intriguing… 🙂

      1. Paul used “toddler” in this verse above:

        my toddler puts her milk glass
        on the kitchen counter

        –Paul MacNeil

      2. Oops, you are right, Karen 🙂

        Hi polona

        I was referring to a stroller. I see so many children in these things and most have, not books but a sort of ebook, my aim was to present some sort of development of a child’s mind with the mention of fairy tales. Maybe reading about the man in the moon 🙂
        I see John has given a clear indication of what is required. I downloaded the archive Renku last night to try and gain a better understanding of the requirements for this genre, beautiful work.
        Thanks for you input, polona, your comments are making me think more, and giving me the encouragement to keep going. I’ll get there.

        1. 🙂 You and I both, Carol. I’m moving at very small increments along the renku learning curve! But it’s still fun!

          1. Hi Marietta, it is fun. I started the with the haiku in March and the amount of books I have read to date has certainly mounted up, thank goodness they are all on a Kindle 🙂
            I’ve read your poems in the archive section, nice work.

    1. an interesting approach, Marietta, but we had an alcoholic drink a few verses ago…

  13. I ‘think’ I understand what is required in this section. One more entry then its back to the learning section 🙂


    the moon reflects
    on the dog’s eye
    as it wakes

    1. you’re heading in the right direction but like Marina’s before, this verse contains the kind of ambiguity that makes it awkward as it can be read as if the moon is waking

  14. just feel how
    our moon’s shadow
    chills the air!

    Way cool verse, Polona!

    1. thanks, Carol, this is a lovely haiku and would even make a great hokku for an autumn renku (that is, a renku begun in autumn) 🙂

      however, what we are writing here are the internal verses of the renku. and in a renku only the first verse – the hokku – has the properties of haiku (i.e. a cut and a juxtaposition).
      the internal verses are not cut and the juxtaposition happens between verses not within a given verse.

  15. thanks, everyone, for your kind comments, they are appreciated.

    looking back i think a slight edit of the selected verse would be welcome. something like:
    every agar plate
    this wouldn’t change the meaning and would avoid another plural noun in a row.
    to my knowledge such edits are normal in renku writing, either during or after the composition. i would prefer the edited version but as this renku is somewhat specific i’m fine either way.
    we’re off to a good start and everyone is welcome to join in the fun. the more the merrier! 🙂
    as Paul already mentioned, there is no need to bother about the link (unless you wish so) as the mention of the moon guarantees it automatically, so just make sure of sufficient shift.
    i intend to make selections with a slight bias towards the authors who haven’t yet had a verse featured in this renku but if something knocks me off my feet i will select it regardless of the author 🙂

    1. Polona, I like your original. It has a slightly doom-laden feel which works for me. I can imagine a researcher throwing their hands up in horror! It reads well out loud, too.

      1. thanks for your vote of confidence, Marietta.
        it may not be a major issue but i just read back and we have four plural nouns in a row: the regular cubes, nights and plates in the last three verses plus the irregular women .

  16. great vs Polona great fun everyone
    cut through
    the out house door
    a perfect crescent moon

    1. perhaps you could rewrite this so that it doesn’t read as if the moon is doing the dishes?

      1. I was thinking about this when I wrote it, but I found difficult to avoid the cut;
        what about:

        while doing the dishes
        he plays with the moon
        in a soap bubble

          1. it is, Betty, as much as japanese kigo are relevant to our writing.
            then again, “cold” is a winter kigo and we have it in a summer verse
            but yes, since we’re looking for an autumn moon we may want to avoid conflicting seasonal references

  17. all the agar plates

    –Polona Oblak

    all the agar plates

    –Polona Oblak

    luna maria
    resolving into
    the rabbit

    – Lorin

    1. i like this, Lorin. did you mean “lunar maria”?

      Luna Maria could be a name of a character in a cheap mexican soap opera 😉

      1. Where’s the blushing emoticon when I need it? 🙂

        Yes, Polona, definitely a spello. A friend’s granddaughter is named Luna.

        lunar maria
        resolving into
        the rabbit

        – Lorin

        1. Oh! I thought you were referring to the moon’s seas.
          mare – sea — maria – seas

          moon seas
          or the Latin, luna maria

          Galileo thought the large dark areas were bodies of water and named them so.

          1. Yes, Carol, I was referring to the moon’s ‘seas’. But I’d left off the ‘r’ from the end of lunar.
            Corrected now. 🙂

            – Lorin

    1. nice, though i’m a bit concerned about “blaze” after “roaring fire”..

    1. nice allusion, but if my memory serves me well, that giant step happened in july, so not autumn…

      1. I remember being glued to the tv in our biology lab’s tea-room in between taking tutorials, but my recollections don’t run to the season, Polona! It may have been a winter (July for me) moon! Not autumn. I know it wasn’t summer, because I would have been on uni vacation and my mother and I didn’t own a tv set then! Oh well, another try! 🙂

    1. I agree w/ Carmen. Good verse!

      And it may (not must) provide an easy link for the moon verse. Shape. Up to the poets for #29, of course. Other linking technique may appear, like magic!
      Ever expanding, Variety is King!

  18. wow, thank you, John!
    i’ll be happy to take on the responsibility to select the next verse.
    may not be available all the time but will try to make myself present as much as possible.

    1. That’s great, Polona. I suspect we both might find it difficult to be fully present just now but your partial presence is a valuable thing and I’m sure others will appreciate it as I do.

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