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The Renku Sessions: Timber Smoke – Week 20


Greetings and welcome to The Haiku Foundation’s current Renku Session entitled, ‘Timber Smoke’. I am Marshall Hryciuk of Toronto, Canada and I will be leading this session through a 36-link kasen renku.


This week, many of the link-suggestions leaned towards furthering or commenting on a kind of romance that i thought would be conducive to a ‘narrative mentality’ that i’d like to steer clear of. Luckily, there was a verse that provided an appreciated twist:


some vows
break easier than twigs

Dan Campbell


This link might suggest that the “scent on the pillow” wasn’t all that welcome, either as an instigation of guilt or even as physical evidence of an illicit affair. Sheds a new light on the previous verse while linking up and leading us into a different range of topics and emotions.

I also like how the first line has a closed ‘o’ sound and then opens into a loud “vows” in contrast to the following line that opens with loud ‘a’ and ‘ee’ sounds and ends with  a muted (=soft) ‘a’ and ‘i’ sounds. Helps the reader hear the brittleness a “vow” could have through the “twig”.

The twig metaphor also reminds me of a wishbone, which also can easily be broken if one side pulls with only her or his own side of the bone in mind.

Thank-you Dan Campbell


Next, we can move on to something very current; the New Year’s seasonality. It’s a cultural one, understood in Japan to occur between winter and spring, but i’d like us to emphasize the human activity and emotional involvement in it more than its Northern Hemispheric, wintery elements. And be wary of mentioning ‘resolutions’ as “vows” figured very prominently in this last verse.

Happy linking




Timber Smoke (so far)


nothing dimmed yet
timber smoke scent
sifts into the house

Marshall Hryciuk


one by one
I pick plums off of the ground

Alfred Booth


a file of cars
overtaking a tractor
on the mountain road

Keith Evetts


drawn out deer notes
echo in the coolness

Betty Shropshire


even paler
than the clearing fog
day moon

Mary White


handprints  and crumbs
I would miss them

Pamela Garry


giving pollen
a lift
on the bicycle bells

Laurie Greer


the tiffany blue
of 3 eggs in a nest

Eavonka Ettinger


scattered spores
following a random trail
through landmines

John Hawkhead


attempted murder
by the morality police

Rob Barkan


next door’s dog
at our snowman

Carol Jones


the mailman’s breath
faintly white

Keith Evetts


Jacques Brel singing
“in the port of Amsterdam”
on the radio

Alfred Booth and Marshall Hryciuk


a whirligig of leaves
sweeps the deck clean

Wendy C. Bialek


evening begins
with a gift of opal

Marion Clarke


beachcombers trade shells
as the tide comes in

Jonathan Alderfer


a morning glory
the hummingbird

madeleine kavanaugh


stepping from the change room
in her prom gown

Laurie Greer


her scent
on the pillow
the morning after

Andrew Shimield


some vows
break easier than twigs

Dan Campbell



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This Post Has 144 Comments

  1. Hi Harrison, you are missed, as well as your beautiful poetry. I hope and you and others will be back.

  2. a light
    to the Christmas decorations
    candlemas day

  3. her brussels sprout
    served to the new barbie
    calling it lettuce

    2 ½ ”
    is not enough to cover
    last year’s boot tracks

    kudos for
    an oath abiding leader
    loyal to the free world

  4. some vows
    break easier than twigs
    ——-Dan Campbell

    more ruts
    in the road home
    than I remembered

    glowing phones
    and whispered conversations
    on the overnight bus

  5. Yay Dan and Marshall! So fun to keep seeing this unfold and the choices that are made and the wonderful creativity!

    fasting and seeking
    to hear with
    new ears

  6. some vows
    break easier than twigs

    Dan Campbell
    giving up the habits
    I’ve given up

  7. some vows
    break easier than twigs

    Dan Campbell
    changing his will
    to reflect the current state
    of family politics
    changing his will
    to keep peace
    in the family

  8. pulling hair
    stuffed in a drain
    last year’s colour

    new year’s day
    deleting the dead
    from my contacts

    the curtains
    to a new year

    what new curiosities
    come alive
    outside these curtains

    watching the world
    take its first
    baby step

    a fresh year
    to make new
    creative mistakes

  9. budgeting costs
    for a year
    still new

    new year’s birthday
    surprise a gift
    in pink and purple

    new date book and hopes
    that routine appointments
    stay that way

  10. some vows
    break easier than twigs
    ——-Dan Campbell

    waves roll into the harbor
    a dingy is tossed onto the rocks
    . . . the year ahead

    metallic blue swallows
    swoop back and forth over the river
    and the razor wire

      1. thank you for listening madeleine!
        truly the most beautiful song ever written.
        when composer Jerome Kerns first played
        the melody for lyricist Dorothy Fields
        in 1936, she couldn’t stop crying.
        then the romantic lyrics she wrote
        made the song twice as beautiful.
        i cry whenever I play it.

        PS: The Jaguars were a 1950s doowop group
        from Los Angeles who never rose from
        obscurity, but this rendition sung wonderfully
        by leadman Sonny Chaney is a masterpiece.

        1. Rob, I love the history behind this wonderful song. There is so much richness to it. It’s one of my girls favorite songs, too. :) That is very interesting about the Jaguars. I think their rendition completes it. Yes, I have heard different versions–this one is the best. I am looking forward to listening again and sharing it with my daughters!

    1. liz…yes, she’s a whiz at organization with great,
      practical tips, videos and books with a spiritual foundation

      holding on
      to what gives me joy
      the rest i donate

  11. some vows
    break easier than twigs

    Dan Campbell
    at last
    cracking the spine
    of War and Peace

  12. some vows
    break easier than twigs

    Dan Campbell
    the dragon
    no sooner welcomed
    than forgotten

  13. i agree with wendy it’s like peace comes
    when there’s no people around,
    reminds me of starry starry night
    just nature in solitude
    another poem/painting

    1. That’s it; and also that after all the inconsequential fuss we make of things, the river flows on sedately past where I live. Fulfilling its purpose independent of ‘vows.’

      Thank you both.

  14. keith…i find this one so romantic….though i know that is not what you are saying.

    i can relate very well…with what i hear you are saying!

  15. Congratulations Dan on the selection of your verse.

    some vows
    break easier than twigs
    –Dan Campbell

    making a to-do list
    ends with cross off
    “make list”
    cleaning out closets
    finds her lost
    in memories

  16. some vows
    break easier than twigs

    Dan Campbell
    last year’s gingerbread men
    to the finish line

  17. some vows
    break easier than twigs

    Dan Campbell
    dumping the old bucket list
    and starting
    last year’s gingerbread men
    good as new
    dunked in tea

  18. pressing ink
    to a fresh page
    first calligraphy

    this twelfth night
    another performance
    ruined by drunks

    post-Christmas credit card bill
    no wonder
    it’s called Blue Monday

  19. the priest snoring
    during my yearly

    adding to my to do list
    practice random acts
    of kindness

  20. what a nice surprise, best wishes for a fantastic 2024!

    a new routine
    my morning

    a new routine
    my nanosecond

  21. the repo man
    first-footing it
    across crisp snow

    or, if snow is to be avoided, L3 could be

    up the gravel drive

    1. You don’t like haggis, Keith?

      I look forward to Burns Night because I not only see o!d friends and dance the Gay Gordons, but for the haggis and the wee dram. I actually like haggis.

      1. LOL. I had one once. I’ll stick with the wee dram!
        1 ox bung (the cleaned appendices), soaked for 4 hours and cleaned
        1.4kg lamb’s pluck, (heart, lungs and liver)
        500g of beef, or lamb trimmings or stewing steak
        200g of suet
        500g of oatmeal, (coarse)…..

        1. Yeah, that sounds like some of the haggis recipes I have seen, Keith. I think the person who makes it for the group uses a traditional recipe, but less organ near and more ground beef.

          Your favorite single malt?

          1. You must like the peaty/smoky ones. I prefer the nutty taste of Glenlivet 12. I’m a lightweight though compared to my husband. He loves Balwinnie Doublewood, Keith. I’ll take a sip and savor it, but he really appreciates it.

  22. some vows
    break easier than twigs

    Dan Campbell
    I swear
    that Grandpa cheats
    at karuta

  23. some vows
    break easier than twigs
    — Dan Campbell

    happy new year postcard
    smudge and all

    for his favorite teacher

  24. some vows
    break easier than twigs
    Dan Campbell
    Congrats Dan!
    I suppose that I’m the only one struggling the logic of this verse, in that – vows don’t break. Vows may be broken, but it seems unlikely that vows would break (seemingly of their own accord). Regardless, a nice addition to the renku.

    1. pk….like love….logic may not always be at play with renku….remembering, it is a poetic choice/license of both poet and sabaki here. it is understandable…that there is frustration and confusion surrounding these type of picks…the way i see it….the writer is confronted with choices here….staying in the present, could appear to be the top choice. the sound of the wording is also a consideration.
      a loose reasoning of….[if one can ‘take’ vows, ‘make’ vows…they can ‘break’ vows]…an undoing, or abusing, crossing of, stepping on, careless use of vows.
      an alternate and more correct phrasing may not have sounded as aesthetic or looked as appealing.

      campbell’s verse is reminiscent of the sound from a popular lullaby…
      “when the vows break… the marriage could fall”
      hope you can sleep better now wearing this mindset.

    2. It makes me think of snapping.
      As in the the sound. Of the vows snapping in half and shattering on the floor

  25. this year’s TV guide
    has more old films
    than ever


    the UN
    votes anew
    for world peace

  26. Excellent addition to the renku, Dan! And happy new year to all.

    some vows
    break easier than twigs
    ——-Dan Campbell

    on the clothesline
    newly mended jeans
    flap in a chilly wind

    a skinny blue heron
    stares intently through the ice
    on the koi pond

    logs on the fire
    crackle and snap
    with good cheer

    stiff north winds
    finally toppled the ancient pine
    that loggers couldn’t reach

    1. some of the above needed editing, so

      on the clothesline
      her newly mended jeans
      flap in the wind
      a skinny blue heron
      stares at koi swimming
      under the ice
      north winds
      toppled the ancient pine
      that loggers couldn’t reach

  27. Great haiku, Dan.

    dead when I find him,
    I meet his sister
    and the nephew who cared for him

    in the forsythia thicket
    buds half open
    beer cans and chickadees

    near the old graveyard
    trees bare, stones crooked
    the scent of onions

    1. pamela this entire one appeals to me….and with L3 i see a double meaning…don’t know if you intended it!

        1. then you didn’t intend a double meaning.
          should this one be the next verse in our
          renku…i will certainly reveal it in my offerings.

  28. I think Dan’s verse is perfection. Excellent choice and explanation, Marshall.

    putting away
    what’s left from
    the holidays

    the need
    for recordkeeping
    begins again

  29. Well done, Dan amigo.

    the bakery’s
    tarte fine aux poires
    in early January

    early in New Year
    our eyes meet outside
    the chocolate shop

  30. 18
    stepping from the change room
    in her prom gown
    her scent
    on the pillow
    the morning after
    some vows
    break easier than twigs
    a bonfire
    heartens folks’ souls
    for the coming year
    much obstruction
    on the old railway cutting
    but now we’re through
    everyday’s tasks :
    clearing the old clutter
    make all things new

  31. Congratulations, Dan …a marvelous verse! Marshall, thank-you for always choosing the perfect poem … and for another intriguing interpretation.

  32. Great one, Dan! And Marshall, wonderful selection and remarks. Thanks to you both.
    some vows
    break easier than twigs

    Dan Campbell
    deja vu
    all over again
    with a new blank calendar
    last year’s diary
    almost as blank
    as this year’s
    the blank diary
    from last year

  33. Congratulations, Dan, and a great selection, Marshall!


    gift returns
    but ill-fitting

    insistent chirps
    a perfect day for cleaning
    the bluebird house

    brisk gusts
    in the cul de sac
    the new bikes

    outnumber the regulars
    Meetup group

    1. Hi Angel,

      This is a beautiful poem and I love the imagery you conjured up in this season. I hope you don’t mind if I make a few suggestions. (Recently a friend gave me great advice on writing haiku, which has helped me tremendously. I hope I can do the same for you.) If I am not mistaken there is a minimum of two images in haiku, with no more than 17 syllables. (Although most haiku poems do have less than 17.) Correct me if I am wrong :)

      I like that you have “breakfast of fish and soup” in the third line, as it is a delightful surprise.

      There is so much that you can do with this poem.

      For instance, you can take out half of the first line ( adding “flowing” instead of “flow”, although, a personal preference on my part. ) At the beginning of the second line, you can add the preposition “in” and take out “the” before “morning”, and add “of” in its place. You can use “meal” instead of “breakfast” in the third line, since “morning” is already in the second line. (These are all personal preferences again and only suggestions.) This is what you will have:

      river flowing
      in the crisp air of morning
      a meal of fish and soup

      There are more possibilities. :)

      Angela, I hope that I have made some sort of sense. Most importantly, I hope you continue to have fun writing haiku.

      1. Another possibility, Angel is to take out “river flows”, at the end of the first line, while leaving “ice melting” at the beginning of the same line. You can take out “in the crisp air of morning” in the second and replace it with” fish and soup”, putting “for breakfast” in the third line. This is what you will have:

        ice melting in the river
        fish and soup
        for breakfast

        Again, these are only suggestions. Your poem is absolutely delightful… I was thinking it could also work beautifully in tanka form. (There are a number of websites available to help with writing tanka poems.) I hope you continue to share your poetry here. :)

      2. Angel and Madeleine, such wonderful images and relationships! I am so happy to learn with you.

        1. Pamela and Angela, to tell you the truth, I still feel that I am a beginner in the art of haiku…I realize how fortunate I am for the learning opportunities provided in this unique forum. I feel privileged to be here with you both and fellow members of this poetry community. :)

        2. Pamela and Angela, to tell you the truth, I still feel that I am a beginner in the art of haiku…I realize how fortunate I am for the learning opportunities provided in this unique forum…I am happy to be here with you all. :)

  34. dawn breaks
    across the concrete blanket
    on my legs

    through the dust
    her iphone’s glow
    just out of reach

    disaster dog
    licks the blood
    from a rescuer’s hands

    1. these verses, rob, show a great sense of compassion, when we can’t physically be there to help…we can…mind travel and feel deeply the pain of others.

  35. my first chocolate
    is faceless and
    unlike its wrapper

    tearing up
    expired coupons
    in threadbare coat

  36. extra sweat
    throughout January
    at the gym

    I wasn’t sure if New Year resolutions were not to be mentioned explicitly, or not even to be hinted at, Marshall.


    1. hi Marion -implicit is okay, but this one is too close to a ‘usual resolution’ to use here. But, thanks -Marshall

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