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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims' Stride 29

renkuchainWelcome to The Renku Sessions. Renku is a participatory literary game, following a set of rules that are implemented by the leader of the session. If you would like to learn more about renku go here. And if you would like to see a sample of a complete renku go here.

I’m John Stevenson, and I will serve as your guide for this session, a thirty-six verse (kasen) renku. I have supplied the opening verse (hokku) and each week I will select an additional verse from among those submitted prior to the Tuesday deadline.

Our final moon verse is to be drawn from eighty offers by seventeen poets! Those already included in the renku offered some gems this time. Among them:

all those hiding places
in the craters
of a bomber’s moon

    –Alan Summers

easy enough
to wait for Godot
when the moon butts out

    –Betty Shropshire

a new crater
between Mare Serenitatis
and Lacus Somnorus

    –Vasile Moldovan

farmers view
the harvest moon
from the nursing home

    –Ellen Grace Olinger

the moon returns
to reveal the spiritualist
has disappeared

    –Marion Clarke

ginkgo leaves
taking on the color
of the moon

    –Alice Frampton

the moon
a mix of dusty rocks
and spare parts

    –Carole MacRury

between Laika’s orbit
and the moon

    –Lorin Ford

The choice for our twenty-ninth verse is made between offers by Carmen Sterba (moon beams / skim away shadows / on a turned cheek) and Patrick Sweeney (continents join / under this moon / the bones of my head), both of whom have been great contributors. There are some issues with each verse that cannot be resolved without more extensive revision than I have done with previous verses. So I am considering both links exactly as they were offered. Both verses have the issue of containing elements of human anatomy that might relate to “tongue” (verse 25) or to the head as suggested by the red wig (verse 10). Carmen’s verse uses the word “shadow(s),” which is used in verse eleven and “skim away” seems pretty close to “scrapping” (verse 24). Patrick’s verse contains multiple cuts, though they are especially apt considering the images it contains. Having said all this, both verses are fresh, lively, and well suited to this place in the “ha” portion of our renku.

Here is the verse you must link to:

continents join
under the moon
the bones of my head

    –Patrick Sweeney

The next link, the thirtieth, is also an autumn verse. It is the final verse in the middle (“ha”) section of the renku. Here are the formal requirements for verse twenty-nine:

  • Autumn image
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the twenty-ninth verse, and only the twenty-ninth verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, September 30, 2014. You may submit as many verses as you like, but please use a new comment box for each one. I will announce my selection for the next link on Thursday, October 2 here on the blog, and provide information and instructions for submitting the next link.

What We’ll Be Looking For — Throughout the Session

There are many schematic outlines for a kasen renku. We will be using one set out by Professor Fukuda in his book Introduction to World-linking Renku. It will not be necessary for you to have a copy of this book since instructions will be offered before each verse is solicited.

It is a good idea for those participating in the composition of a renku to make use of the same list of season words. There are a number of these lists available and I intend no judgment of their relative value. For purposes of this session I am suggesting the use of The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words.

Pilgrims’ Stride to Date

comparing maps
to the mountain pass–
pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson

a sun-warmed stone bridge
over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

grandmother’s silverware
polished every monday

    –Polona Oblak

a sonata
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon

    –Lorin Ford

dragonflies hover
by the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

I stumble
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”

    –Paul MacNeil

thinking of a red wig
during chemo

    –Asni Amin

the woodland
of silent stories
and shadow

    –Alan Summers

he makes a wish
to become real

    –Marion Clarke

each mirror reflects
only the cool moon

    –kris moon

freshly-caught fish
sizzles in the pan

    –Aalix Roake

a wealthy prince
exiled in Nigeria
soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

sugar plum fairy came
and hit the streets…

    –Jennifer Sutherland

a milky nimbus
at dusk
beneath the cherry tree

    –Scott Mason

pulling in spring clouds
with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

plain truth
of a skylark’s

    –Stella Pierides

our yoga instructor
tells us to breathe

    –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

the family’s grudge
celebrates a century


first snowfall
covering little by little
all the dirt

    –Vasile Moldovan

scraping the ice rink
of blood, sweat and tears

    –Carole MacRury

the sting
of a paper cut
on her tongue

    –Terri French

used books signed
for someone special

    –Ellen Grace Olinger

a large voddy tonny
for the woman who may be
his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

stirring the crowd
with the slur of a slur

    –Maureen Virchau

continents join
under this moon
the bones of my head

    –Patrick Sweeney

This Post Has 67 Comments

  1. continents join
    under this moon
    the bones of my head

    –Patrick Sweeney

    long night
    of the playoff zombies

  2. continents join
    under this moon
    the bones of my head

    –Patrick Sweeney

    watch out for that scarecrow
    he has a skull!

  3. continents join
    under this moon
    the bones of my head

    just then he was thinking
    of the autumn ploughland
    (Link: head-ploughland)

  4. continents join
    under this moon
    the bones of my head

    –Patrick Sweeney

    by the lightning strike


    allusion to:

    How admirable!
    to see lightning and not think
    life is fleeting.

    Basho ( Hass translation)

  5. Previously posted:

    a canopy of umbrellas
    across the cemetery

    Rewritten to include season word:

    a canopy of crickets
    across the cemetery

  6. continents join
    under this moon
    the bones of my head

    –Patrick Sweeney

    the air electric
    with splinters of lightning

Comments are closed.

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