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The Renku Sessions: New Calendar 33

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.

Carol Jones has stepped forward to make this week’s selections. Here is her report:

“Thank you for all the encouragement and giving me the opportunity of becoming a part of this session. So many good verses to choose from, a task made more difficult by my inexperience, but help was always at hand.

ribbon-tied letters
release the faint scent
of face powder

          1. –Marietta McGregor

I chose this verse not only for the link to items that could be kept in a drawer or closet, but also for its calm passage within this section and a nice lead into the final springtime section.

What memories and associations letters evoke, especially from loved ones, not only from the past but the present also. The mention of ‘the faint scent of face powder’ brings to mind an image of women during war times when they wanted to look their best for the man, or maybe men, in their lives. It does have a delicate scent, but is this the actual aroma released from the letters or a memory related to them? A particular scent can bring back certain events for us all, some good, some not so good. In this verse, I think it is both. Here we have these innocent ribbon-tied letters. What words I wonder could be folded and secured within them. Could they have a proposal of marriage or words to end a relationship? They might hold dark secrets of a love affair; hidden away in a lady’s makeup drawer or in a closet or chest, perhaps forgotten and then discovered many years later by a family member having a clear out and while reading them finding they disclose hidden skeletons. So many possibilities with letters.

Face powder is a finely ground rock, placed on the face as a beautifying agent, but could it also be used to hide an angst of the wearer, a mask of sorts to conceal a blemish, or maybe to hide a guilty face. I found this a very thought-provoking verse. I hope I have done it justice.

Thank you, Marietta.”

Marietta McGregor will be offered the opportunity to select the next verse. Marietta, 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 (August 23, 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-four will be a spring verse, written in two lines. This will be the first in a series of three spring verses that will conclude our Kasen renku. It will be followed by a spring blossom verse, so it should not itself contain a blossom image. Also, as the first of three spring verses, it should be an early spring or “all spring” image, leaving room in the next two verses for a sense of progression through the season. We have not specified a particular list of season words (saijiki) for this renku. You may use any such reference.

Verse thirty-four must link to the thirty-third verse (and only the thirty-third 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

one last guess at
the weight of the Blue Hubbard

    –Peter Newton

the scarecrow’s
clean clothes

    –Sally Biggar

searching for candles
in the back of the drawer

    –Carol Jones

ribbon-tied letters
release the faint scent
of face powder

    –Marietta McGregor

This Post Has 90 Comments

    1. Jackie, I’ve enjoyed your contibutions! This one arrived a little too late, I’m afraid. Looking forward to seeing your poems for the next link. Cheers, Marietta

  1. Sour gong sounds….

    Well this is embarrassing. I knew what was blooming and blurted it out. Proof, proof proof

    “carnelian tips
    peeking from frosted soil
    poet’s narcissus”


    carnelian tips
    peeking from frosted soil

    1. Hello, Jackie. You describe my favourite narcissus! As this is a three-line verse with a flower, perhaps it would be better as an offer for the next link, which is a spring blossom verse.

      1. Why thank you, Marietta! I’ll do so. Congratulations on your lovely verse chosen to lead this section.

    1. trying to pare down:
      a silver balloon tossed
      by the shining wind
      (using shining wind as a spring kigo)

      1. Hello Mary. I like the silvery image of the latter verse. But you have created a ‘poser’ for me! I do not know if ‘balloon’ AND ‘shining wind’ are both spring kigo, and if they are, whether two kigo are appropriate in one renku link. I understand that haiku avoids two kigo. Any help from Sabaki John or other poets will be gratefully received.

        – Marietta

        1. Hi Marietta! You’re doing a great job. It is my understanding that the issue of double kigo should be avoided if possible. Yes, both balloon and shining wind are considered to be ‘all spring’ kigo. Maybe Mary’s verse could be edited to remedy this without changing its essence.

          1. PS Hi again. You could also choose Mary’s verse as it stands while acknowledging this issue in your commentary as this particular renku is designed to be an educational experience rather than one to be entered into a contest.

        2. Good question and like you, I’m still very much learning. Yes, both “balloon” and “shining wind” are given as spring kigo. I guess I got carried away. 😉 Until we get an answer, I can offer it up both ways:
          a silver balloon tossed
          by the shining wind (I have to admit I love the “shining wind”)
          a silver balloon tossed
          by the lively wind

  2. Congratulations, Marietta! Yours is a very lovely verse. I’m glad you’ve decided to make the next selection. Wishing you lots of fun.
    Carol, your commentary is a wonderful tribute to the handwritten letter. Glad you took up the challenge. You did a great job.

    1. Thank you, Maureen. Yes, I’m sure it will be fun! My brain must also get around the time difference!

    2. Thank you, Maureen. It’s an opportunity not to be missed, and I would certainly recommend anyone new to this genre, when their verse is chosen, to have a go so much was learnt. Brilliant experience.

    1. Thank you, Barbara.

      Lambs and their (still intact) tails certainly seem spring-like, although on a recent trip through Braidwood we were surprised at the numbers of new lambs. And there was a current sheep graziers’s weather alert!

      I think ‘wisteria buds’ would anticipate the blossom verse.

  3. ribbon-tied letters
    release the faint scent
    of face powder

    –Marietta McGregor

    feet in the clouds,
    that girl on a swing

    – Lorin

      1. Thanks, Mary! 🙂 I hope to imply the lovely vigour & energy of her movement , too, propelling herself higher and higher. To me, she’s ‘everygirl’ as well as any particular girl. She once was me. I’m sure she once was you, too. 🙂

        – Lorin

    1. ps to Marietta… ‘swing’, kigo”

      “swing (buranko, all spring). ”

      – Lorin

  4. ribbon-tied letters
    release the faint scent
    of face powder

    –Marietta McGregor

    through thin ice
    the colours of carp

    – Lorin

  5. ribbon-tied letters
    release the faint scent
    of face powder

    –Marietta McGregor

    a bunch of fresh nettles
    picked carefully

    – Lorin

    1. I’ve never gathered nettles, Lorin, but I understand that in spring they aren’t quite so prickly, and that’s the time to harvest them. Otherwise, beware, is that right?

      1. They’re prickly…stinging! The bigger they get, the more so. 🙂 Gloves are a good idea. They’re one of the ‘cleansing herbs’.

        – Lorin

  6. ribbon-tied letters
    release the faint scent
    of face powder

    –Marietta McGregor

    a lone butterfly
    loops- the-loop

    – Lorin

  7. ribbon-tied letters
    release the faint scent
    of face powder
    on a fence baby squirrels
    follow their parents

    (I actually saw five squirrels in a row scampering on our fence last spring and wished I had my camera with me. I hope Lorin’s rabbit is not too close a choice to other animals but the rabbit in the moon is only a myth. A wonderful myth.)

  8. Anoter thought, but perhaps we should avoid another ‘ing’. We have several recent verses that begin with the present participle.

    1. I agree, Marietta. Good stuff. Variety in all things – Variety is king. First words as parts of speech; day and night; indoor and out; articles; first person, second and third; person-place-thing; verbs—no verbs; all nature– all human– — both. The jo, ha, kyu structure is itself variety.

    2. ‘another’ – spelling error unchecked! 2 ‘anothers’ and one wrong – 50% 😉

  9. Please keep those offerings rolling in! Lots of time to play yet. I am enjoying your verses so far.

    – Marietta

    1. Jackie, I like the thought of packing away those bulky down parkas. They aren’t the most flattering of garments!
      Just one thought, though. Your first line has a distinct pause/ break, not usual for renku verses, apart from the first. Do you think you could try it without the pause? Maybe just: “gleefully flinging away”?

    1. Hi Betty! I may be mssing something, but I’m struggling to find Spring in your verse. 🙂

        1. Thanks, Betty! I’m still learning. Must refer to the kigo lists, not to my renku-deficient gut feeling!

          1. ☺ I live in southwest Texas so not much difference from hot to really hot so Higginson’s list and explanations do provide some guidance.

  10. very nice Marietta!

    ribbon-tied letters
    release the faint scent
    of face powder

    his weathered hands
    chitting potato seeds

      1. I like this image, Jackie. I see the fresh picture you paint. I have a reservation, though. Because the first line lacks a definte or an indefinite article, it feels to me somewhat ‘telegraphed’. i guess you were trying not to overload the poetry with extraneous words. Maybe it could read: “a pregnant doe…” and “breezes”. Also, do you need “coming” in L2?

    1. Coming from the potato-growing State of Tasmania, I still had to look up ‘chitting’, Rob! Great word! It’s the process of placing seed potatoes to pre-sprout before planting. I’m a bit worried, though! Would it be an early Spring activity, or undertaken late in Winter? Perhaps other more experienced poets here can tell me if ‘preparation for Spring’ is an acceptable Spring reference in renku.

      1. Frogs may abound in Spring where you are, Betty, but tiny frogs – cocqui frogs- kept up an all-night chorus in Hawaii most of the time. I’m not sure of the season!

          1. Thanks again, Betty. I have to get it into my head that regardless of other times and places around the planet where various things – animals, actions, phenomena, etc. – occur, their place in the kigo database is the determinant for their use in renku! I can begin to understand why kigo are tricky, especially for those from vastly different climate zones from Kyoto. 🙂

        1. I had in mind Spring Peepers…just don’t want to use the name since the renku has enough already

  11. What a fine surprise this morning! Carol, thank you. I love your commentary! A dear friend has silk postcards embroidered with tiny flowers which were sent to her great-grandmother from the Front during World War 1. They are evocative of sadness, yet at the same time, of hope.

    With some nervousness but with John’s help, I’ll have a go at choosing this week’s verse.

    1. A lovely delicate verse, Marietta, and one that can give rise to so many thoughts, I’m happy to know I went along the right lines, thank you. My mother had many letters and valentines cards sent to her by my father, tucked away in a box, never to be read by anyone else but herself. Yes, so much sadness, so much hope…so much mystery.
      Another great session ahead, no doubt, and you’ll surely be in good hands 🙂

    1. Many thanks, Lorin. What an unenviable task it is having to choose one of so many good verses while knowing the time and effort put into so few words.

  12. I love your verse, Marietta. So perfect for this spot. Congratulations to you and to Carol. 🙂
    ribbon-tied letters
    release the faint scent
    of face powder
    –Marietta McGregor
    slipping off our jackets
    on the first balmy day

    1. Marietta, you (later) indicated you’d rather we didn’t begin with a present participle, so let me change this one to comply:
      slipping off our jackets
      on the first balmy day
      change to:
      we slip off our jackets
      on the first balmy day

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