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The Renku Sessions: Timber Smoke – Week 23

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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.

 

Often, it’s difficult to find an appropriate ‘fantasy’ verse that actually links with the previous one, but this time we are fortunate enough to have:

 

a blackbird tapping–
smiles and thanks me for
the seed                         

Melissa Dennison

 

A further delightful surprise is that i found the ellipsis, which i generally abhor, in line one evocative, in that 1) it’s distributive; there’s a break after line one but also after the second, whose ending with ‘for’ heightens the suspense as we move to line three and 2) while “tapping” already reminds me of  Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, a genuine cause for a pause in a renku -but then ending the next line unnatuarally with “for” further evokes the rhymes of that poem’s “nevermore”.

If not for the artificial breaks, the natural cadence would have been ‘for the seed’ in the third line and the sonic strength and resonance of “for” would have been diminished. So, it not only puts one break to our renku’s movement but two. Perfect place for exaggeration in the fantasy links.

Link is to the self-deprecation of the previous “off-tune” singing. Here, we can imagine the subject as a scarecrow, a dreamt-up scarecrow and a not very successful one at that, with the ‘double ellipsis” giving it the indeterminate feel of a dream where civil blackbirds smile though we don’t exactly know how one of them came about its “seed’.

Thank-you for this subtle eeriness, Melissa Dennison

 

So, next, we need a further 2 lines of other-worldly or supernatural presences to link with this one. A chance to let loose with your imaginations, we’ll be soon coming back down to earth.

 

Happy linking,
Marshall

 

 

 

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
barks
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
moonlight

Marion Clarke

 

beachcombers trade shells
as the tide comes in

Jonathan Alderfer

 

a morning glory
the hummingbird
unfolds

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

 

hand-calligraphed
happy new year postcard
smudge and all

Pamela Garry

 

hard to forget the party
and my off-tune singing

Biswajit Mishra

 

a blackbird tapping–
smiles and thanks me for
the seed

Melissa Dennison

 

 

 

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This Post Has 160 Comments

  1. waking from a nightmare
    with a revelation

    the shadowy figure
    real or imagined?

    mesmerized by the odd
    formation of lights

  2. Congratulations, Melissa, on your verse (and the punctuation conversation that ensued).

    a blackbird tapping —
    smiles and thanks me
    for the seed
    –Melissa Dennison

    the ghost of my dreams tells me
    his name

    the scarecrow ghost haunts
    the cornfield

  3. neon toads leap
    and dance in the dark

    falling into the book
    I ride a river of letters

  4. scarecrow squaredance
    on a moonless night

    howls from
    a haunted house

    remember her fragrance
    but not her name

    memories
    of a mirage

  5. a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison

    the whisper of Sylvan gods
    in her breath

  6. a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    *
    returning the favor
    with a nectar of the gods

  7. a blackbird tapping —
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed
    ———Melissa Dennison
    .

    now here
    nowhere man
    .

    under the river
    and off to Alpha Centauri
    .

    stiletto heels
    click on the glass floor
    .

    peering out from
    my own pentimento

  8. tangled in duckweed
    selkies take me by the hand

    no light except
    from an angler fish lure

    carried away
    by haunting songs

  9. a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed
    —Melissa Dennison

    drifting
    one foot planted at a time

  10. a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    *
    crowds gather to see
    the Miracle of the Sun

  11. Well done, Melissa—I can almost hear that sound!

    marion

    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    at the first hint of spindrift
    we jump into the painting

    1. at the first hint of spindrift
      we jump into the painting

      An exciting verse, Marion, just the thought of it 🙂

      I also like your ‘moth’ verse.

  12. the whisper of gaia
    stirs in the trees

    surrounded by giants
    breathing earth’s loam

    the trees speak
    as I ask to pass

  13. Congrats Melissa!
    .
    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    .
    mccartney resurrected
    as strawberry fields plays backwards
    .

  14. goose bumps
    and creaking floorboard

    startled by
    a banshees wail

    vanish into the mist
    on heather moorland

      1. Honestly I don’t know where this eerie vibe is coming from! Maybe I watched too many horror movies as a kid?

  15. Congrats Melissa!

    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed
    – Melissa Dennison

    full moon parked
    above a crop circle

    some scarecrows dance
    on moonless nights

    grandma’s ghost floating
    above her moonshine still

  16. I withdraw my 3rd submission & offer instead

    23
    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed
    24
    A death’s head on a stick
    gibbers, jigs and grins

  17. *
    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    *
    ghost spiders weaving
    spirits into corners
    *
    the spirit of a ghost
    spider spirals into dust
    *

  18. *
    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    *
    letting the ghosts
    tell their own stories
    *

  19. *
    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    *
    Ouija spirits vying
    for the tip of a finger
    *
    Ouija spirits dancing
    from the tips of our fingers
    *
    the music of spirits plucked
    from a planchette
    *

  20. Congratulations Melissa, strange and familiar at the same time!

    a blackbird tapping —
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed
    ———Melissa Dennison
    .

    tiptoeing into
    a world of blue sunflowers
    .

    clickety-clack
    our train from another world
    .

    throwing dice with Oppenheimer
    before breakfast
    .

  21. the séance full
    of sceptical spirits

    the demon child presents
    a poisoned apple

    a little black magic
    in the wizard’s seduction

    sewing up an open wound
    on the dragon’s flank

    all the old sow’s piglets
    fly away

  22. Lovely renku!

    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed
    —Melissa Dennison

    that involuntary shiver
    among Druid stones

    today the sea basks
    in untroubled ease

    the parliament of fowls
    in Davos

  23. a fleet of flying saucers
    arc across my dream

    my lost comb reappears
    a different color

    a lizard reminds me
    the mailman was here

  24. yeah! Melissa….for bringing it…. back to nature!
    a love of mine, too! so close to our bay windows….where dishes are slowly washed…i love watching birds, eat the seeds, and fruits we provide in various feeders throughout our backyard, and how they indeed communicate with us and show appreciation.

    thank you, Marshall, for picking this verse, and pointing out how special it is…

  25. Loving to see how this is developing!

    Here’s my offer:

    and disappears
    back into the wormhole

  26. a blackbird tapping–

    smiles and thanks me for

    the seed
    — Melissa Dennison

    single serving throwaways
    a home for paper dolls

    returning home
    the front-door gone

    hobbling on deformed feet
    in squishy sediment

    eavesdropping
    through data clouds

  27. Excuse me if I’m being obtuse, but where are the ellipsis you mention in the commentary, Marshall? They seem to have been replaced with an em dash.

    Did you decide to change it? I quite liked the idea of the … being the taps.

    1. thank you for pointing this out, eavonka.

      there is an alternate universe happening here,
      in keeping perhaps with marshall’s requests for surrealism.
      a true through the looking glass moment…

      there never existed an ellipsis. here is melissa’s original
      post from session 22:

      Melissa Dennison
      January 21, 2024 at 5:18 am

      a blackbird tapping —
      smiles and thanks me for
      the seed

      after the word ‘tapping’, she inserts a space
      followed by the em dash (the longer one).

      when marshall reprinted melissa’s poem in bold
      at the top of session 23, her em dash became an n dash
      (the shorter one) with no space preceding.

      make what you will of this strangeness.

      none of this detracts from melissa’s lovely
      nature poem or marshall’s astute (and intriguing)
      analysis. i adore this poem melissa, well done.

        1. I have to agree, Melissa, I know Eavonka and her skill as a wordsmith. These technicalities are fun for her. I thank you once more Eavonka. 🙂 I went to my search engine after I read your commentary. I am beginning to understand the difference between the two mechanisms, which I am embarrassed to say I didn’t before.

          1. That’s most kind if you, Madeleine. Other people might find it to be rather annoyingly pedantic, but it is hard for my brain when I see incongruity.

            But I’m thrilled it led to you discovering more about the ellipsis! I admit to being overly fond of them.

        2. I fear my being a former English teacher makes me far too concerned about such things, but it was worth pointing out just for Rob’s reply.

          I do kinda wish there had been an ellipsis though. ?

          1. I am rather fond of ellipsises, too! Happy I know more about them! I am entranced with Rob’s reply as well. 🙂

      1. Thank you so much, Rob! You made me laugh with your wonderful recounting of this surreal mystery. I feel much comforted.

    2. First of all, thank-you, everyone who appreciated my choice of Melissa’s verse. For me, in haiku, personification is ‘other-wordly’.
      Concerning the dash, i saw a full dash after tapping and interpreted that as a ‘–‘ -as reinforcingthe tapping, but as a punctuation that i don’t usually appreciate in haiku. But then, not every link in a renku is a haiku and then fancied the long dash was distributed to the second line as well. So i found it intriguing that this submission broke so many of my preconceptions, (it has not one but two breaks read this way) it warranted being included in the ‘surreal’ section, setting us in adifferent direction than we had been before.

      1. When I wrote it I never thought it would generate such a lively discussion. Wow. Pleased it did, and that it spoke to you in the way it has.

    3. You are not obtuse Eavonka – I had the same thought when I first read the verse, but refrained from commenting on it. Also, while you envisioned the ellipsis as taps from the blackbird, I was envisioning … as the seed, or perhaps morse code 😉

  28. a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison

    tonguetied and spellbound
    by the dark mistress

  29. a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison

    wrapping my tongue
    round a weirding spell

  30. under the rainbow’s light
    they dance to bing’s old records

    ~ ~ ~

    in tiny green suits
    they trot through the four-leafed meadow

  31. a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison

    no longer possible
    to ignore his daemon

  32. *
    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    *
    mixing a potion from a pinch
    of witch hazel
    *
    using the grimoire
    for a recipe book

    filing family recipes
    in the back of the grimoire
    *

    1. Lovely verses Laurie.
      A touch of the white witch with your first verse, the next two, however, far more intriguing 🙂

  33. *
    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    *
    the pied drummer steps in
    for the piper

  34. A wonderful, warm verse, Melissa! Thanks for submitting it. And thanks to Marshall for selecting it.
    A true pleasure to try to link to it.

    a blackbird tapping–
    smiles and thanks me for
    the seed

    Melissa Dennison
    *
    everything goes
    on a flying carpet
    *
    the stories of a lifetime
    weave a magical carpet
    *

  35. A delightful verse, Melissa. And an equally delightful comment, Marshall, especially the first paragraph.

  36. Congratulations, Melissa! Fabulous selection, Marshall!!

    +++

    the dead of night
    waking the dead

    talking back
    to the animals

    trading the cow
    for a beanstalk

    one in the snare
    worth two in a bush

  37. Japanese fairy tale
    a chamber more beautiful than the last

    ~ ~ ~

    a fisherman
    hitches a ride on the tortoise

  38. Congratulations Melissa for an absolutely marvelous poem! These little birds are so grateful for the seed left out for them, especially through the cold and hard days of winter! Thank-you Marshall for the brilliant commentary. Fellow poets, thank-you for sharing your wonderful poetry!

    1. Thanks madeleine.

      Yes, I feed the birds every day, sometimes twice daily if the weather is bad. I like to think it helps.

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