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The Renku Sessions: Tan-renga – Week 8


Our selector is Dana Rapisardi and here is his report:

“Focused on selecting the capping verse I repeatedly read through the submissions, looking for that one. As a result, I’ve been immersed in poetry for days, which has been a pleasure.

My short list would not be very short if I included every verse that struck me in some way. Here are verses I found intriguing, entertaining, simply beautiful, etc.

Arriving early in the process was Laurie Greer’s:

probing the unconscious for
the source of recurring dreams

This was rather startling in its shift. “Unconscious” links quite clearly to “hiding place” and “probing” to exposing what lies hidden in it but with that we move far from the wet corner of yard where the crocus appears. I could hear Laurie’s verse in a quite serious tone, too, like a voice-over in a psychology documentary.

On the other hand, Laurie’s:

denying she peeked
as she counted to ten

made me laugh out loud, hurtling me back through time to childhood games of hide-n-seek, when peeking was a frequent cause for argument.

I felt each word in the first line of Wendy C. Bialek’s verse linked to the opening verse:

secret golden threads
yellow the rice

“Secret” to the no longer secret hiding place; “golden” because, I admit, writing the opening verse I visualized the crocus as yellow-colored; and “threads” is the term for the stigma and styles of the saffron crocus used in cooking. With the second line we shift from the outdoors to the fragrant kitchen, always a nice place to get to.

For me, quite novice renga poet, contrast serves as a shift too. For that reason, the capping verse Nancy Brady submitted:

a trumpet fanfare
of daffodils

I found outstanding. Though a welcomed sight, crocus are little flowers, low to the ground, humble even. But daffodils, one of my favorite spring flowers, are hard to overlook. Plus, these daffodils came with a sound-factor, a brass accompaniment, loud and proud.

Offering another form of contrast was Pauline O’Carolan’s verse:

and one lark
ascends into the blue

“Crocus” is one of those words that can be either singular or plural. I found a connection in “one lark”/one crocus, and a significant shift in that the lark gets to reach the skies which our one little crocus cannot. I appreciated the expansive feeling Pauline’s verse provided.

Also introducing movement/mobility and even more was Sandra St-Laurent’s verse:

taking out the cloche hat
for a stroll

Here I imagined someone, delighted at the early sign of spring, deciding to, like the crocus, make an appearance in their retro-stylish hat and enjoy some leisurely wandering, leaving behind our immobile flower. Whether or not it’s what Basho meant, I definitely felt lightness here.

My grasp of renga principles may not be all that firm, but, besides contrast, images that complement the opening image also got my attention.

John Daleiden”s verse:

beside a brick path
leading through the open gate

precisely located the crocus in a park or garden, filling out the scene.

Tracy Davidson’s verse:

a mud snail
clings to my wheelbarrow

kept us in the yard but shifted our eyes to something else, and our poem from the plant kingdom of the crocus, to the animal kingdom of the snail. Ignoring any possible reference to the New Zealand mud snail as an invasive species, I linked “mud” to muddy, which the ground would be after rain. “Wheelbarrow” made this verse kind of irresistible too, hearkening back to one of my most favorite poets, William Carlos Williams and his world-famous red wheelbarrow that so much depends upon.

Links to the opening verse’s rain were few but Jonathan Alderfer’s verse provided one of them:

the saffron sun
blazes in a puddle

The overnight rain left a puddle. Besides casting the beautiful color saffron upon my mind’s eye (saffron also making a direct link to crocus) Jonathan’s verse cast bright light. (I’d originally imagined the crocus exposed under a still overcast sky.

M. R. Defibaugh’s verse did likewise:

sunrise glistening
on the sidewalk

presenting a pleasing visual removed from what I continue to think of as a muddy yard where the crocus grows.

Dan Campbell’s verse:

awakened at dawn
by an old rooster’s cough

linked to the opening verse through time of day (as I imagine the crocus being seen soon as daylight arrives.) His maybe-it’s-funny/maybe-it’s-sad phrase “old rooster’s cough” shifted us to the countryside or even a barnyard.

The most extraordinary shift on this list came from Angiola Inglese’s verse:

a butterfly
on chives

I found the link through edible plant. Crocus are generally inedible but the crocus providing the saffron spice may be considered edible, as are chives. The image itself is lovely, simple and stylized as a Japanese print, but I’m equally satisfied to read this verse as a most exotic menu item!

Next comes my final choice for the capping verse to this week’s tan-renga. But first I want to assure everyone that there were additional contenders for this short list, and as someone more experienced in editors’ rejection than acceptance it hurt me a little leaving them out. But to select has a particular meaning and I’m abiding by it.

At the start of our tan-renga project John cited an article by Michael Dylan Welch, quoting this particular operation for a capping verse, which has become my guideline: ‘to link and shift… adding something at a right-angle to the preceding verse, yet still connected, whether emotionally, tonally, or in some other creative way.’

For me, of all the submissions this week, the verse I kept going back to again and again, which especially achieves that “right-angle” quality, is Michael Henry Lee’s verse:

the model and artist
briefly locking eyes

I read ‘model’ and thought, life model, therefore nude, amping up to stark visibility the crocus’s exposure. We shift not just from muddy yard to artist’s studio but in that eye-contact we enter the inner universe of emotion and who-can-say-how complex psychological interaction that happens when we lock eyes with someone, for however briefly—all contained in five tiny lines of poetry.”


overnight rain
the crocus hiding place

                            Dana Rapisardi

the model and artist
briefly locking eyes

                            Michael Henry Lee



John speaking again:

Michael Henry Lee will be offered the option of choosing our next opening verse from among those offered in the coming week. Michael Henry, 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 invited to offer three-line opening verses. They should be moon verses. Mention of the moon or moonlight in renku is presumed to be an autumn image unless modified to indicate a different season. Your moon verse can be set within the season of your choice.

Please enter your verses in the comments box, below. Michael Henry or I will review them until midnight on Monday, March 22 (Eastern US time). On Thursday, March 25, there will be a new posting in which Michael Henry or I will comment on some of the opening verse suggestions and select one of them to be begin our next tan-renga.

Looking forward to seeing your capping verses! 





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This Post Has 93 Comments

  1. bandit moon . . .
    the neighbor’s cat
    peers in our window

    white highway . . .
    moonlight ripples
    across a kingfisher sea

    the prickle of night
    on my neck . . .
    whip-poor-will moon

    thistledown wind
    all my moon poems
    covered in dust

  2. the firefly
    so small
    under the moon

    the moon bounces
    entering and exiting
    between the galleries

  3. first kiss
    a hint of moonlight
    on her lips


    following a river
    by moonlight
    his ashes find their way

  4. moon slivers
    every so often


    masked under a
    pockmarked moon
    cloud cover

  5. waxing moon
    not wanting to tell him
    he’s not a father


    empty house
    the windows
    full of moon

  6. moonset at sunrise
    two searchlight beams
    cross paths
    the graceful white tails
    of endangered gazelles
    waning crescent

  7. some family’s home
    wading with the moon
    front page news

    3/21/2021 by wendy © bialek

    1. some family’s home
      wades with the moon
      front page news

      3/21/2021 by wendy © bialek

      some family’s home
      on the tv news
      wades with the moon

      3/21/2021 by wendy © bialek

  8. Congratulations to Dana for the great commentary and to Michael Henry Lee for the capping verse!

    gold coin moon
    my path across the ocean

    the moon veiled
    by cascading rain
    only darkness

    grey and white sky
    the moon’s face
    completely obscured

    plumes of horses’ breath
    the winter moon

  9. almost finished
    dusting off the moon
    mother hummingbird?

    3/21/2021 by wendy © bialek

  10. deep into deepest
    thunder calls the
    tempest moon

    Michelle Beyers
    Copyright © 3/21/21

  11. I thought i might sit out the next few rounds–but I love moon hokku/haiku! I wrote a sequence, with at least one for each season.

    dark of the year
    crescent moon
    embracing earth-shine

    Orion reaching up
    to catch it
    snowball moon

    finding our way
    through the corn maze
    thank you, moon!

    full moon
    keeping a bird awake
    with me, listening

    sap moon
    stirring up spring
    and old yearnings

    from behind
    fanning branches
    bare-faced moon

  12. all in this together…
    of the crescent moon
    two by two
    birds flying through the arc
    of the crescent moon
    day moon
    itself up

  13. under a full moon
    still you show me
    your dark side
    my doomed blind date
    speaks of faked landings
    moon in Orion
    a hunter
    unbuckles his belt

  14. This is a fun one! I love reading all the contributions.

    so many moons
    a late dolphin
    into the moon trail

    goodnight moon
    tree frogs sing
    Peggy Hale Bilbro
    Huntsville, Alabama

  15. I hope this moon image qualifies!

    moon belly chuckle
    in falling leaves

    Peggy Hale Bilbro
    Huntsville, Alabama

  16. squawking at the moon
    a night heron flies upriver
    into my solitude

    warm front . . . full moon
    spring peepers
    unpack their voices

    thinking of her . . .
    birch bark unravels
    in the moonlight

    sun sets . . . moon rises
    is it another night
    or new world?

  17. moon doesn’t stop
    the spotted fawn
    kissing reflection

    3/20/2021 by wendy © bialek

    1. moon doesn’t stop
      the spotted fawn’s
      kissing reflection

      3/20/2021 by wendy © bialek

      the spotted fawn’s
      kiss ripples
      the m o o n

      3/20/2021 by wendy © bialek

  18. repost:

    hunger moon
    the whole block
    waits for morning mail

    © 3/04/2021 by wendy c. bialek

  19. Well done everyone. The 5 line tan-renga reads beautifully and I enjoyed your comments and explanations on linkage Dana…

    Now onto moons… all sorts of moons… here’s one from the southern hemisphere …

    the didgeridoo moon
    a kookaburra laughs

  20. blood moon
    well-rounded mooniacs
    dance to mj’s ‘thriller’

    3/19/2021 by wendy © bialek

  21. Commentthe model and artist
    briefly locking eyes

    Michael Henry Lee

    Congratulations dear Michael..
    Beautiful !!

    1. yes, nani,
      i agree……

      model and artist
      briefly locking eyes

      Michael Henry Lee

      very beautiful!!!!!, michael

  22. potluck leftovers
    pieces of waning crescent
    in the compost heap
    wolf moon
    the bay windows
    wide open

  23. Congrats Michael Henry Lee on an artfully crafted verse – and an excellent selection Dana. And I do enjoy reading everyone’s verses each week.
    who killed poetry?
    don’t point your finger at
    the man in the moon
    only in the ears
    of a hippo
    the man in the moon
    i ignore
    the man in the moon
    horsing around
    the man in the moon
    drunk enough
    to twerk
    the man in the moon
    the western facing window
    the man in the moon
    238,900 miles
    of pedestrian
    the man in the moon

  24. the worm moon sets
    just inches
    from shore
    worm moon…
    how we inch away
    from each other

  25. I love the all of the choices here. The final choice made me smile.

    Here are a couple for the moon:

    to mother’s dry lips
    i raise a glass of moonbeams
    last day of winter

    across the slow creek
    moonlight ripples and sighs
    the drakes are silent

  26. mother calling
    crescent moon to her aid
    feeding her babe
    darkening eve
    moonlight is big enough
    for his homework

    tuning all poems
    in her book of shade
    partial winter moon

  27. Thank you so much Dana for selecting my verse. I must say it was nice surprise.
    John I’m afraid i must decline in making our next selection, adequate time to consider and select the best entry currently elude me. All the participants deserve one’s best effort.

  28. Well down, Michael, on your delightful capping verse and many thanks to Dana for such an interesting read.
    Here area few moon ku for consideration…
    strawberry moon
    simply because
    it tastes good
    wolf moon
    getting closer
    at a scary film
    new moon
    at midnight he guides me
    into the lake
    butterscotch moon
    a reflection good enough
    to eat
    half moon
    when we were still
    in love

  29. Loved the capping choice! Here is a moon verse offering:

    imagine babies
    in all our crescent moons
    dangling love lines

  30. in water jars, the roots
    of the windowsill yams
    pray to the moon

    3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

    in water jars, the roots
    of the windowsill yams
    travel up moonbeams

    3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

  31. election daymoon
    deniers peel off every star
    like colourforms

    3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

    1. version with less syllables:

      election daymoon
      deniers peel off stars
      like colourforms

      3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

  32. Congrats Michael and thanks Dana, I read your insightful comments several times.

  33. growing wild
    in moonlight
    moonflower vines

    3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

    windowsill yams
    growing in
    wild moonlight

    3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

    growing dark
    in moonlight
    windowsill avocados

    3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

  34. in the face
    of this beautiful moon
    she holds in heartache

    3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

  35. the pink moon
    delicately passes its aura
    to the lotus pond
    the rough wind
    jolts the moon
    from its aura

  36. dana you did it! your choices were also my favourites and your commentary so spot on!
    ditto… to all the praise… laurie mentioned, (including those for john)!

    congrats! to michael for writing a masterful closer!

    overnight moon
    the nest’s eggs
    replaced by acorns

    3/18/2021 by wendy © bialek

  37. the comments, interesting, the choice, inspired .. congrats to Michael Henry Lee .. ☺ .. and now, all the lovely moons of the year .. Maxianne

  38. Dana– Thanks for your thoughtful comments–I learn as much each week from our novice selectors as I do from the experts!–and this is the first time I’ve been accorded the authority of a documentary voice-over!
    Your selection is perfect; I love the way the five lines read and all they evoke.
    And thanks, John, once again, for keeping this going.
    anyone’s guess
    where the bare hornbeam ends
    and the moonlight begins

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