Skip to content

The Renku Sessions: Tan-renga – Week 10


Our selector for this capping verse is John Hawkhead. Here is his report:

“Over the last week I have been fascinated to see the diverse and interesting responses to the opening verse of this renku session appear in the THF portal. Congratulations to everyone for your creative inputs.

When I set out to choose a capping verse, I approached my selections looking out for the link and shift expected in the response. In particular, I was looking for responses that followed on from the original sense of the opening verse and then shifted the reader’s attention to another image. I looked for verses where the response opens a new ‘door’ in the mind of a reader, but where the original imagery is not entirely discarded by the capping verse.

My intention for the opening verse was to follow the initial guidance to write about the moon which has, for me, an almost pagan symbolism in nature. So I hoped the cape of owl feathers took on an almost shamanic role while still retaining a strong natural sense of imagery as you might find in a modern ‘fairy tale’. I looked in the capping verses for images and descriptions that linked to that starting point and then shifted the reader somewhere else.

My shortlist starts with a clear link to the sense of spoken word storytelling:

a spark of fire from
the storyteller’s eye

Ellen Compton

This succinct use of just eight words transports us to a campfire tale with, perhaps, a hint of danger. I could have highlighted three capping verses from Ellen who captured the ‘feeling’ of the original verse, but I also wanted to include this one in particular, which shifts the reader’s focus while retaining the connection with nature and mystery:

the barn door locked
with a spider’s silk

Ellen Compton

Another verse that links to the sense of mystery and fills my imagination with images of light and shadow is this:

the seventh sister
conceals her face

Terri French

Why does the seventh sister conceal her face; who is she? I suspect we can all come up with our own answers and, for me, that’s a good thing.

And then there’s this verse that also plays with darkness and light, and carries a sense of foreboding and omen:

sirens sing darkness
to the shipless ocean

Michelle Beyers

Seven words to fill imagination with an ocean of encroaching darkness.

But there’s room in the submissions for love too, even if that emotion comes with a sharp edge:

how slyly
love hides its talons

Maxianne Berger

Indeed, love can grip the heart in icy talons…

Finally, my selection for the capping verse is this dark and resonant piece of succinct writing:

the beaked shadow
of the plague doctor

Marion Clarke

This clearly links to the owl feathers and moonlit shadows of the opening verse and then shifts us dramatically into the current world during the Covid-19 pandemic ‘plague’. It retains the sense of mystery and storytelling through that chilling image of plague doctors stalking medieval streets in their beaked masks, but with a fully modern relevance. Great stuff!”

witching hour
moonlight dons a cape
of owl feathers

the beaked shadow
of the plague doctor


Marion Clarke will be offered the option of choosing a new opening verse from among those offered in the coming week. Marion, please let me know if you are willing to make the next selection. As always, I am ready to make it if you would rather not and ready to consult with you, if you do want to choose.

This week, you are all invited to offer three-line opening verses. Let’s do blossom verses this time.

Please enter your verses in the comments box, below. Marion Clarke or I will review them until midnight on Monday, April 5 (Eastern US time). On Thursday, April 8, there will be a posting in which Marion or I will comment on some of the blossom verse suggestions and select one of them to begin our latest tan-renga.

Looking forward to seeing your verses!





The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy

This Post Has 93 Comments

  1. incoming tide . . .
    an unmoored blossom
    drifts home

    red ants probe
    the meaty center
    of the tulip

  2. even outside
    the court buildings
    chokeberry blooms

    4/04/2021 by wendy © bialek

    cherry blossoms
    shower the hearse
    goodbye kisses

    3/08/2021 by wendy © bialek

  3. hiacinth in bloom
    two gulls flying into
    the rising sun

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 4/4/21

  4. *
    cherry blossoms
    there, where he leaned
    the rainbow
    white flowers
    in the night
    a butterfly lingers
    on embroidery
    of the flowered dress
    intense pink
    in the first flowers
    of rhododendron

  5. the circles
    of sakura petals
    with each sip

    4/05/2021 by wendy © bialek

    sakura petals
    in the birdbath

    4/05/2021 by wendy © bialek

  6. last dance
    remembering the blossom
    resting on her ear

    4/04/2021 by wendy © bialek

  7. crocheting a ladder
    to the bird feeder
    wisteria vine

    4/04/2021 by wendy © bialek

      1. glad you like it, maxianne….this is the scene, now, outside my kitchen bay windows, where i am always enjoying, while washing dishes.

  8. very nice job with your commentary!….john h.
    congrats marion! a fitting cap verse.
    i thoroughly enjoyed participating in both parts,
    such a wonderful pairing of verses!

    greeted by new
    cascading floral masks
    spring blossoms

    4/04/2021 by wendy © bialek

    blossom inspired
    sewing up a new
    batch of masks

    4/04/2021 by wendy © bialek

    blossom inspired
    a basket of masks
    hang by the door

    4/04/2021 by wendy © bialek

  9. dandelion
    in the wild
    spot of sun

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 4/4/21

    wild blossom
    on a vine
    in dawn light

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 4/4/21

  10. sad song in the first step
    of cherry petals her story
    of gloomy past
    2) blossoms’ spell
    short-lived for grandpa
    breaths his last

    (3 counting spell of loss
    after catch up with
    bloom of blossoms

    blossoms after pain
    into her bag of beauty
    and recollection

  11. wild cherry
    when is it too late
    to run away
    cherry blossoms
    the chalkboard
    thick with equations

  12. Congrats Marion! And thanks John H. for your commentary – interesting to read about your approach to choosing a verse.
    a cherry
    nautical twilight
    triple masked
    no chance of catching
    blossom fever
    the moon and stars
    for pinks
    any ol’ barstool
    for the elephants
    in the blossom district
    a babbling brook
    takes the measure of
    a wild cherry

  13. Congratulations to John and Marion for a perfect pair. Very atmospheric.

    in Afghanistan
    the almond trees blossom
    in both peace and war

    hard pruning in autumn
    for bounteous blossom
    in the spring

    only the Japanese
    will see their cherry blossom
    this year

  14. falling flower blossom
    the tree ready
    to bear fruit

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 4/3/21

  15. a thousand suns
    spilled on the meadow
    dandelion yellow

    verse by verse
    swayed in the haiku bed
    blossoming daisies

    circling morning . . .
    scattered rose petals
    a new flock of birds

    cherry petals . . .
    our dance in the rain
    after break up

    Ivan Gaćina

  16. bird foot violet
    everyone out
    for a walk in the park
    four leaf violet
    my luck
    about to change

  17. Congratulations Marion and thank you John !
    wading through
    ankle deep
    magnolia blossoms

  18. Nice choice, John and I enjoyed your commentary. Congratulations, Marion. pa. thank you for pausing on one of mine. I don’t know if there is a way to correct the spelling of my last name but I would appreciate it if you can, John S. onto blossoms we go!

    into my dream
    the floating of
    soft white petals

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/29/21

  19. plague morning
    those yellow blossoms
    outside my window

    covid dawn
    yellow blossoms knocking
    on my bedroom window

    1. corrected version:
      wind onshore
      gulls wheel in a cloud
      of beach plum petals

  20. serviceberry in bloom
    all the catching up
    at weddings and funerals
    borrowing a cup
    of cherry petals

  21. yes to the witchiness of the plague doctor! Nicely done, Marion .. and enlightening comments, John H. .. thanks, too, for pausing on mine .. am looking forward to the blossom verses .. am more comfortable capping, so this week shall read and enjoy .. ☺

  22. Congratulations, Marion. Your capping verse seems the perfect one.

    My efforts at a blossom hokku:

    spring snowfall
    pink drifts beneath
    the crabapple tree

    cherry blossom park
    settling for
    a drone’s-eye view

    cherry blossom petals
    in the same breeze
    the virus too

  23. at the end of the twilight
    a pair of butterflies
    perched on a camellia

    Nani Mariani

  24. the egg moon
    cupped in a magnolia
    a blackbird’s song

    they call the old mare
    with many foals

    rose or lily
    pistils at dawn

    a few red drops
    blossom in the ditch
    underage driver

    no time for regret
    as yet

  25. bring happiness
    the cherry blossoms are blooming
    a little girl jumping

    Nani Mariani

  26. John and Marion–You two together have created a marvelous verse! The image is clear and crisp and utterly memorable. I love it!

    Now, on to the blossoms….
    three sisters walk in circles
    under the pink top
    March winds
    a stream of cherry petals
    blows after the flutist
    March wind
    a stream of cherry petals
    pours from the flute

  27. Well chosen, John Hawkhead, and congratulations, Marion, a great image to complements John’s verse.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top