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The Renku Sessions: New Calendar 29

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 the report of this week’s selector, Polona Oblak:

“A disclaimer: I’m generally better at intuitively perceiving certain qualities than writing about them, and failing to state the obvious is often one of my shortcomings.

There are many things to consider while selecting a renku verse, especially one as prominent as the moon. It is a good practice not to repeat any of the contexts and actions in which the previous verses appeared. We had a rising moon with music notes in #5 and a first-person insomniac waking again and again, observing the moon lighting different things during the course of the night in #13. Therefore, I was looking for a fresh approach in our final moon verse.

While hoping to be able to include a new participant, their verses were not quite there and making them work would require some heavy editing. So, I looked elsewhere. Betty Shropshire’s saucer-eyed prepper haunted by the harvest moon came close but I kept returning to one particular verse:

lunar maria
resolving into
the rabbit

      1. –Lorin Ford

Human mind has the ability to perceive familiar shapes almost everywhere. The phenomenon is known as pareidolia. Is there anyone who hasn’t spent some time watching clouds, finding all kinds of animals in puffy cumuli or faces in a towering cumulonimbus? How about that rock formation resembling a face, a sphinx, an old woman? Could it be that the bacterial colonies spreading across this agar plate have formed a smiley face?

The moon rabbit has been a subject of tales and legends all over the world. It features most prominently in Asian and some indigenous American folklores. A popular legend has an old man begging for food. Other animals brought what they could gather but the rabbit, having nothing to bring, offered its body as a meal by throwing itself into the fire. The man, turning out to be a deity, saved the rabbit from the flames and rewarded it by putting its image on the moon for all to see.

The dark spots on the lunar surface can be seen from anywhere on Earth. Early astronomers mistook them for large bodies of water and named them accordingly. The poet is observing the patterns of the moon’s seas until the magic happens and she can see the rabbit. The moon may but need not be full. A few days before or after the image is just as discernible, and perhaps the observation has been made over a longer period of time.

Thank you, Lorin, for a memorable verse.”

Lorin Ford will be offered the opportunity to select the next verse. Lorin, 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 26, 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 thirty will be an autumn verse, written in two lines, the second in this series of three autumn verses. Verse thirty will also be the final verse in the ha (middle section) of the renku. I’ve heard a variety of ideas about what that might mean in terms of the appropriate tone. As part of the ha, this verse is still in the party section. But there is also the possibility of subtly anticipating the calmness and pleasantry of the Kyu (verses 31 – 36 in a Kasen renku).

Verse thirty must link to the twenty-ninth verse (and only the twenty-ninth 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

lunar maria
resolving into
the rabbit

    –Lorin Ford

This Post Has 115 Comments

  1. I didn’t make it in time to post a verse (been away in Porto, Lisbon and Leicestershire since early July) but I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying catching up. A great verse, Lorin. I didn’t know the term ‘lunar maria’, so it’s also been very educational. 🙂


  2. reaching up for
    the last Ambrosia


    I’m not too sure if apple names can be used.

    1. It’s a Scandinavian cheese too, Carol. And a very smelly one at that! 😁

    2. Well, Ambrosia (with a capital A) can denote many things these days. It’s not clear here that it’s a species or brand name of an apple.

      – Lorin

        1. Yes, I agree, Betty. This works:

          impervious to the fog
          volunteers press in

          – Lorin

    1. It’s difficult to find how this verse links to the moon verse, though, Carmen . . . even distantly.

      – Lorin

      1. The rice harvest is in autumn and I imagine the neighbors celebrating into the night under the moon. This would be true in the Philippines or traditional Japan and it is a collaborative time. When I was a student at a Japanese university, there was a class specifically about the songs of rice, Taue.

        1. It’s true that a rice harvest might be timed with or not long before before the ‘harvest moon’, Carmen, and people might join together in song. I admit I’m not particularly au fait with either rural Japanese or Phillipine customs.

          (Though from what I do know of Phillipines customs from Phillipino/ Phillipina people living here …mainly women… I admit they seem to have been heavily influenced by certain USA manners and customs, except for their Catholicism.)

          – Lorin

    1. OK, let’s leave out ‘annual’! That blooming calendar!


      her eye test after her friend
      points out the Perseids

      1. And with that I’m probably running the dinghy too close to ‘that look’. Ah, the infinite combinations and permutations of late renku verses… 😁

        1. Fine stanza, Marietta, thanks for the image — but If I remember correctly that meteor shower in N. America at least, is about 11 August. Not autumn down under or here, either. Stickler-Paul.

          Not always clear skies, rare even for it to be perfect, but several times I have been down on a lakeside dock, very far from any ambient light, and seen the full show of “falling stars.” Magical

          Reminds of an old published haiku (loon being a northern hemisphere bird, and from the north of there, to boot)
          Perseid meteor
          one loon call
          starts another

          Paul MacNeil

          1. Of course, you are quite correct, Paul. I should have checked my celestial bodies!



          2. I once dragged my spouse out of bed at 2am to walk to a nearby beach. We sat on the headland in deep darkness watching a meteor shower for about an hour, heads turning like spectators at Wimbledon. ‘Wow, see THAT one!’ It was amazing and I guess it must have been the Leonids, but of course, that’s our Spring, your northern Autumn. So not a universal seaon indicator at all! Goodbye her verse!

  3. back and forth turning under stubble
    across the top paddocks


    Second thoughts, this is probably too close to Shrikaanth’s verse! 🙂

    1. Yes, probably “turning under stubble” does echo “freshly tilled”, Marietta.

      I do get the humour of the colloquial here: “turning under stubble” plus “the top paddocks”. 🙂
      Can only prove that by showing you an early ku of mine … not one of my better ku, but anyway. You’ll get it, I think.

      no kangaroos
      in the top paddock –
      winter ginko
      – Stylus Poetry Journal January no. 24 2007

      – Lorin

  4. When traveling towards Hereford last year, in one of the many ancient cider orchards, I noticed an old tree had fallen over, but not totally severed from its roots, a few scrawny limbs reached upward, I smirked, quite reminiscent of a person who had over indulged, I thought.

    I just cannot find those few words to describe this (I have been trying) but I hope it might will help someone else 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing, Carol! I hope you will be able to come up with the right words someday. Maybe you could incorporate your thoughts into a haibun rather than a haiku if you are having trouble paring it all down.

      1. 🙂 thanks, Maureen, I’m still on the case.

        I’m on a Haibun course, so that is a very good idea.

        1. You’re welcome, Carol. And thanks. Glad to hear that idea could possibly work for you.

  5. Congratulations, Lorin! I had a feeling yours would be chosen. Such a creative, multidimensional, and memorable verse. I’ve been inspired to read more about the moon rabbit. You’re also doing another superb job as sabaki. Your wealth of knowledge is extraordinary. Thanks for all your time and effort.
    Wonderful job, Polona! Your commentary is so engaging. I’m especially drawn to the idea of a smiley face appearing within those agar plates. Wow. That would make for a most fascinating and chilling haibun.
    I’m enjoying this renku very much. Thanks to John for all his guidance. And thanks to everyone for making it all so fun and educational.

    1. Thanks, Maureen. (I dunno about that “wealth of knowledge”, though)

      Though we have a variety of suitable verses, I’m still hoping for more verse offers to come in for this final verse in the ‘ha’ section. It’s the ‘last chance to party’ verse :-). . . after this the publican calls “Time, please, Ladies and Gentlemen!” & it’s the rapid flow to finish.

      – Lorin

      1. You’re most welcome, Lorin. I love the ‘ha’ section. So much fun! I’m glad to see that you have some more verses coming in. Looking forward to your selection and commentary.

    1. An interesting visual link & new topic, Carol.

      the calligrapher’s quill
      draws ink from the well


      the calligrapher
      draws ink from the well

      – Lorin

      1. . . . and yet, Carol, much as I like this verse of yours it has no seasonal reference. Keep it, put it aside for a ‘no season/ all seasons’ spot in a renku or transform it into a haiku. It certainly has potential for either.

        – Lorin

        1. Many thanks for your comment, Lorin, and your patient reply.
          After Betty’s post about oak galls, even though there was no link, I couldn’t help myself.
          I will not do it again 🙂

  6. Lorin, I have four different sets of Japanese dishes with rabbit motifs. (^.^)

    lunar maria
    resolving into
    the rabbit
    –Lorin Ford
    a miniature maple leaf
    lands on the telescope

    1. Hi Carmen, it was traditional here for bunny bowls, plates, mugs etc. to be given for a new baby…not Japanese ones, though, the English Wedgwood line. 🙂

      – Lorin

    1. . . . there probably is, from a gall wasp’s point of view. 🙂

      – Lorin

      1. “A history of galls
        Plant galls are remarkable plant structures that have been observed, studied and utilized
        since antiquity. The Greek naturalist Theophrastus (372-286 B.C.) wrote about “gall-nuts” of Syria.
        The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) wrote about medical uses of gall extracts. In fact,
        much of our history was literally written in gall ink, a mixture of iron and gallic acid (3,4,5-trihy-
        droxybenzoic acid) extracted from oak galls. The Dead Sea Scrolls were written in iron-gall ink.
        Leonardo da Vinci wrote his notes with it, J.S. Bach composed with it, Rembrandt and Van Gogh
        drew with it, and the Magna Carta was penned with gall ink. Indeed, the U.S. Declaration of
        Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, collectively referred to as the “Charters of
        Freedom” by the U.S. National Archives, were penned on parchment using iron-gall ink.
        Cecidium (plural cecidia) is another name for a plant gall and is derived from the Greek kekis,
        meaning “gall nut.” Thus, cecidology translates to “the study of gall nuts” and is the study of galls
        and the process of gall formation; the official publication of the British Plant Gall Society is called
        Cecidozoa is another name for an organism that can induce and direct gall development; it
        usually refers to an arthropod gall-maker. Although cecidology is a very old science, it is primarily
        recognized as an active branch of science by European rather than North American academia.”

        | June 2015
        | American Nurseryman

  7. my rake unearths
    the scent of passing time
    my rake stirs up
    the scent of passing time

    1. Mary, we’ve had ” the neckline plunges”, so no more plunging. 🙂

      – Lorin

      1. Ha ha!! Shame on me…I chose that earlier one. Thanks for pointing this out, Lorin.
        Ok, so we’ll eliminate this one and perhaps try this:
        freshly raked leaves tempting
        us to take the leap

  8. lunar maria
    resolving into
    the rabbit
    —Lorin Ford
    my rake unearths
    a blue tailed skink

  9. lunar maria
    resolving into
    the rabbit
    —Lorin Ford
    cleaning up my act
    I pull our a new rake

      1. I’m so sorry. I will spend more time comparing each offering with the current renku verses. My apologies for being so careless about this.


        1. It is tedious Mary, I know. I suggest you pen your candidate stanza and hold it up as you scroll all previous ones. Consider each key word, topic, and method of linking that might be unstated.

          The longer the kasen, the more to consider… AND the tighter the squeeze to find fresh subjects. It is a wide world and there are a lot as yet not used. A fun part of the game . . .

  10. lunar maria
    resolving into
    the rabbit

    –Lorin Ford
    the comings and goings
    of migrating birds
    -Karen Cesar

  11. Congratulations Lorin and Polona! I learn from and enjoy reading all he comments and seeing what gets picked each time! 🙂

  12. lunar maria
    resolving into
    the rabbit


    one last guess
    the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    1. A good ‘un with an unexpected link & shift, Peter.
      My one reservation is that John has, to date, insisted on no pause in syntax between line breaks (not just no cut/ no juxtaposition) so this is probably not in the running. Consider writing a version with a change to L1 to overcome this?

      – Lorin

    2. Peter, I liked your original, which gave me the sense of a rural agricultural fair where a prize is awarded to whomever has guessed nearest to the winning pumpkin’s / squash’s weight. )
      This is lost in your latest versions. (Yes I do have a country bumpkin background 🙂 Also “the weight of the Blue Hubbard” all one one line supports/ enacts the sense of a very big, heavy one.

      It could be done simply by adding an “at” to the end of L1.

      one last guess at
      the weight of the Blue Hubbard

      In can feel the heft via that line break & it brings the verse into compliance with John’s ‘no syntactical pause’ criteria.

      What do you think?

      – Lorin

      1. absolutely, the fall festival kind of thing was what I had in mind.

        one last guess at
        the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    1. My daughter-in-law heads up the USDA department that monitors swine flu…300 hogs had to be slaughtered in Ohio because of suspected new cases. Texted me last night.

      1. Sorry, Lorin to waste your time!
        As soon as I posted I thought, uh oh, flu/petrie dishes/ bugs! Too close.

        – Marietta

        1. No problem, Marietta. 🙂 It’s a good reminder for everyone participating.

          – Lorin

  13. saucer of sanma pasta
    on every table

    Sorry, there is a typo in earlier post hence posting again…. Courtesy autocorrect 🙂

    1. Hi Aparna . . . is there a seasonal reference in this verse? (“Seasonal” as in relating to the season of autumn, rather than to “seasoning” in relation to herb and spices used in cooking)

      – Lorin

  14. All: since the ‘moon rabbit’ is considered a kigo for “all autumn”, this next verse (30) can also be “all autumn” or any stage of autumn. But keep this in mind:

    “Verse thirty will be an autumn verse, written in two lines, the second in this series of three autumn verses. ” – John

    Though the following verse will be in the final section of the renku, it will also be an autumn verse that needs to link to (& shift from) verse 30. Since the season, in a sequence of seasonal verses, must progress through the season rather than regress, it’d be a good idea to stay away from ‘late autumn’ verse offerings.

    And now my electricity is about to go off!

    – Lorin

  15. Congratulations, Lorin, and an informative explanation, polona.

    in verse 31 – 36 could the poem imply a subtle use of blossom?

    1. Carol, generally the penultimate verse is reserved for blossom in renku and that’s where it will come to full effect. that also means that the surrounding verses should avoid any other mention of blossom, subtle or not 🙂

    2. Yes, Carol… definitely no blossoms or flowers for this upcoming verse. The blossom verse will occur in the final section, not far off now, and it would most likely be a true spring blossom verse in the final section.

      – Lorin

        1. Thank you, Lorin and polona for your help.

          I was going to mention lettuce but being a cultivated member of the daisy family, its out. Back to the drawing board 🙂

          1. An interesting problem with “lettuce”, Carol. I wouldn’t be at all worried about any relation of lettuce to daisies 🙂 . . . that would be getting deep into the reaches of the forensic indeed! 🙂
            But lettuce would have its ‘kigo’ season (despite that it’s available year round from supermarkets in our time) & without checking, I imagine it’d be mid-spring to summer.
            This verse needs to have an autumn seasonal reference.


  16. Lorin, I really love the phrasing of this verse as well as its idea/image. An excellent choice with a fine explanation. We learn so much here. A masterful choice, Polona.
    lunar maria
    resolving into
    the rabbit
    —Lorin Ford
    ever changing minds
    thinking up new costumes

    1. Mary, while I’m guessing you might be alluding to a late autumn (in the Northern hemisphere, anyway) practice/ celebration here (Halloween?) . . . the fact is that ‘new costumes’ in itself isn’t a seasonal reference, as there are many events/ celebrations which inspire people to choose “new costumes”.

      – Lorin

      1. Ah, you are right. I was alluding to Halloween. I didn’t want to say the word Halloween, so I don’t think there is a way around it. Let’s just delete this offering.

    1. Thought your verse was great, Lorin! Polona, you don’t do yourself justice…well done! ☺

    2. blue corn kernels left atop
      our missing scarecrow’s perch

      trying for a 7-7

  17. Sorry, folks. I’m guilty of a significant overlook. I can’t tell what season there is on the moon but down here rabbit is considered a winter kigo…

    1. I suppose that some people would see it this way. But, just as I was saying that the word “moon” when not referring to the actual moon would not serve as the required kigo here, the word “rabbit” when not referring to an actual rabbit should perhaps not be regarded as an (out of place) kigo.

    2. Thank you, Polona, I’m truly delighted that the rabbit in the moon got into this renku. 🙂
      My grandmother first pointed it out to me when I was very little and I did the same for my son, so it has sentimental value for me. The trick is to look for the ears first… unmistakably rabbit ears. 🙂 Here in Australia, the ears point upwards at a slant. I’ve read that in Europe, they point downwards.

      While there are many Asian folk stories about that rabbit there are no indigenous ‘rabbit in the moon’ stories in Australia. But we certainly had rabbits, in pest proportions, introduced by the early settlers. There was no problem imagining that rabbits had colonized the moon, too. 🙂

      It’s most clearly seen when the lunar maria are most prominent, in the full autumn moons. But I’ve looked up Gabi Greve’s WKDB out of curiosity and find that it’s a kigo for “all autumn”:

      heaven kigo for all autumn

      gyokuto 玉兎(ぎょくと)
      “treasure hare”, treasure rabbit
      tsuki no usagi 月の兎(つきのうさぎ)
      hare in the moon, rabbit in the moon

      Now, if we had the moon rabbit “pounding rice” it’d be a Japanese kigo for winter, according to Gabi’s research.

      Thanks again, Polona…and John, I’ll be happy to take on the task of selecting the next verse.

      – Lorin

      1. my pleasure, Lorin. i just felt this was the right verse for the slot and i’m glad the seasonal reference is cleared.
        yes, in the northern hemisphere the rabbit’s ears point downwards.
        and i’ve also read that face of the man in the moon which is easily recognisable from here is not clearly visible in the southern hemisphere.

        it seems appropriate that our final moon verse was posted on july 20, the anniversary of Neal Armstrong’s famous giant step for mankind 🙂

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