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The Renku Sessions: Timber Smoke – Week 35


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


Traditional Japanese renku pick up the pace in the last 6 verses to connote an event’s completion and the congenial dispersal of its participants. We’ve slowed down, almost dug in, with tightened links between verses and 2 maybe 3 ‘designer’ verses. I lead it this way because i knew i wanted it to end with a total solar eclipse verse. It is:


pearls glowing crimson
at the corona’s edge 

Nancy Brady


These “pearls” are actually a phenomenon characteristic of total solar eclipses, called, ‘Baily’s beads’. An effect of the uneven surface of the moon as it blocks the sun’s rays to earth. “edge” completely augments the “fringe” of the swallowtail’s wings of the previous verse, but besides being haltingly close (like our two spheres in question) brings this deckled effect from the earthly up to the celestial. The black of the obscuring corona also links, almost congruently, with the black wings of the swallowtail -though, wonderfully neither verse explicitly states the black, nor this verse, the moon.

“Pearls” is, of course, metaphorical but is a naturally occurring phenomenon as well, an individual pearl having once undergone a time of complete darkness within the shell of a kind of mollusk before its oval brightness can be lifted out. Thus, we close with a beautiful image of a unique moment of our light being closed off, but with edges, knowing that after only 4 minutes or so the cycles of light from the sun’s explosions and its reflections on the moon will renew themselves once again.

The “glowing” may be seen to link back to the hokku’s “smoke”, but i wasn’t really aiming for that kind of completion.


I believe this to be a fine renku we can all be proud to have been a part of.


I want to thank each of you for your good-natured participation and patience. And especially thank John Stevenson for being such a seamless and non-invasive facilitator, and also Jim Kacian and The Haiku Foundation for making this platform available to us.


It’s gratifying to me that so many of you can’t wait to fire up a new renku, but that will have to be in my absence as i have many irons in the fire myself and need a rest from a weekly commitment to such a keen group of participants.


I wish all of you the best in your writing.
In the spirit of renku,

Marshall Hryciuk




Timber Smoke


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 kavanagh


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


happy new year postcard
smudge and all

Pamela Garry


hard to forget the party
and my off-tune singing

Biswajit Mishra


a black bird tapping–
smiles and thanks me for
the seed

Melissa Dennison


sewing up an open wound
on the dragon’s flank

Tracy Davidson


blue dashers
skim the surface
of a still pond

Betty Shropshire


twitching of a cow’s tail
in the shade of an oak

Andrew Shimield


the endless
night of a Las
Vegas casino

Eavonka Ettinger


wyndes level snow-stacked tables
in the sea-front caff

Dick Pettit


sipping on hot chocolate
after an afternoon
of ice skating

Nancy Brady


skimming recipes
for Oaxacan mole sauce

Wendy C. Bialek


crinkle of leaf
behind me on the path
quietly the creek

Marshall Hryciuk


just as the moon reaches
its frost phase

Laurie Greer


in the oven
a loaf of bread
opened at the top

Richard Straw


rising from the marsh
a chorus of red-winged blackbirds

Jonathan Alderfer


its wings fringe
a lilac blossom
swallowtail butterfly

madeleine kavanagh


pearls glowing crimson
at the corona’s edge

Nancy Brady



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This Post Has 46 Comments

  1. Many rengista ave said it all already. Thanks for a happy half hour every week making responses to the chosen verses – amazing, ingenious & enlightening ; and for the original & unforeseeable commentary on them. Will copy this one and ponder on it. Am hoping there’lll be another renku soon.
    Tak til alle for alt.

  2. nancy what a beautiful fitting way to
    bookend our renku, such a lovely image
    i can still see in my mind, a cosmic photo.

    marshall i am so grateful for your leading
    this renku and for your keen guidance, you
    have been a superlative sabaki and teacher.

    and lastly my deep thanks to every one of you,
    such a wonderfully giving and humorous family,
    who together with marshall have made me
    a better haiku poet—hopefully.

    1. Thanks, Rob. Your compliment is much appreciated. This renku has been quite an experience from start to finish, and it’s been quite a ride through the seasons, thanks to Marshall.

  3. nancy….again, congrats! you have made a perfect ageku for this renku with a total eclipse ending.
    thanks, marshall….for doing a marvelous work of art…and taking on this journey.
    it has been a great learning experience for me.
    i look forward to the next renku, with the next sabaki and learning again with the fun of this great, creative, supportive group…..soon.

    1. Thanks, too, Wendy, for your compliment on my verse, and as for the rest of your remarks, all I can say is you are spot on. I can’t say it any better than that.

    1. I agree, Dan, that the renku was a highlight of my week, too. I learn so much. We are lucky that we have such learned poets giving their time.

  4. I am hooked on this Renku spirit. I hope to connect with you all again soon. Thank you Marshall for conducting such a lovely performance and illuminating me each link of the way. So much fun and kindness.

    Nancy, your pearls glowing crimson
    at the corona’s edge are a beautiful expression of hope peaking out of the darkness. It feels perfect.

    1. Pamela, thanks for the positive description of my verse and like Marshall, seeing so much in it probably more than I did.

  5. A beautiful poem Nancy.
    Thank you for all the time you have spent leading these sessions, Marshall. It has been fun to read and participate.

  6. Congratulations, Nancy, on a fine final link.

    Thanks very much, Marshall, for leading us so competently and expertly from start to finish!

    And thanks also, John Stevenson, for your silent facilitations behind the scenes. And to Jim Kacian for being the THF host and to Dave Russo for his tireless efforts on the THF website.

    1. Richard, thanks for saying that about the verse, but also about everyone who work so hard to keep the site going. They are amazing.

  7. Huge congratulations to Nan for her brilliant verse!

    I can not thank you enough, Marshall, for your guidance, selections, and commentary throughout this renku journey. I have learned so much, and I am eager to participate again whenever THF decides to have another one. This was my 1st renku, but I am certain it will not be my last.

  8. Congratulations , Nancy, on a beautiful ending! Thank you, Marshall, for all your hard work!

    1. Debbie, thanks for your words. Appreciated very much. Looking forward to the next time with everyone. Nan

  9. Beautiful words, Nancy. A fitting verse to cap this exciting renku session.

    Thank-you, Marshall for an inspirational renku session. Your comments on each verse has been an enriching experience.
    Many thanks, also, to everyone behind the scenes for your devotion which makes it possible for us to have a poetical party like no other.
    Hope it won’t be too long before the next get-together.

    1. Carol, thanks for your comment about my verse, but more importantly, your vs about Marshall and the many people behind the scenes keeping this site up and running. They are amazing. Until then, all my best, Nan

  10. Lovely lyrical renku. Most enjoyable!

    Well done, Nancy; and congratulations to Marshall for shepherding us through all the scent-links.

    Thanks also to John for the work of compiling and posting each week’s verses plus the rolling renku as it developed.

    Looking forward to the next one…

    1. Thanks, Keith, for your kind words. I echo you on all your positive remarks about Marshall and John. They’ve done an outstanding job week after week, as do you with re: Virals.

  11. Thank you, Marshall, for the inspired leadership. These 36 weeks have flown by–already I am going through renku withdrawal! And to all who participated in the Timber Smoke adventure–thank you for the wonderful, imaginative, surprising, and beautiful verses! I’ve never been a joiner, but I’m so glad I was part of this. My best to everyone who played a role, both in the poem itself and behind the scenes at THF. Let’s do it again, soon!

  12. Congratulations Nancy, a beautiful and lambent ageku!

    And thank you Marshall for leading us on this “Timber Smoke” journey. Deeply appreciated!

    1. Thanks, Jonathan, so kind of you to say. It’s been quite a ride. For all of us, but for Marshall, John, and all the behind the scenes people who keep renku session, haiku dialogue, re: virals, etc. going week after week. They all do an awesome job, and many are volunteers. Thanks to them, too.

  13. Very many thanks Marshall for ‘marshalling’ (sorry) us through this renku session. It has been a lot of fun and very informative. Great to be included.

  14. Congratulations, Nan! I am so excited for you! Your poem is “out of this world” marvelous and completes our renku in such delightful way. I would like to thank you Marshall for a brilliant finishing touch. Your commentary on our final poem was exquisite as well as fascinating and your insight has proven invaluable to us each and every week. Thank you always for your kindness and patience and for the hours spent poring over submissions, always choosing the perfect one. This has been an amazing journey. I have learned so much about the art of haiku, as well as enjoying the camaraderie and encouragement of fellow poets. It’s been a pleasure! 🙂

    1. Thank you too, John for the long hours spent sorting our poems and to all for the beautiful poetry throughout these past months…Nan, a splendid verse to finish our renku!

      …’til we all meet again!

    2. Thanks, Madeleine, for your kind words on my verse. This, like all the renku sessions, always bring inspiration of verses and camaraderie of the poets, or so I have noticed. I learn from everyone, and that is some of the value of this discipline.
      I think Marshall and others who have led renku here encourage us all. ~Nan

        1. Nan, I have always thought that your poems from the last renku session and this renku session are absolutely beautiful… I have learned so much on this journey. It’s been amazing sharing poems with you all!

  15. Wonderful. Although none of mine were selected, my heart has been indelibly marked by this experience as I have journeyed with you all during these 36 weeks. WOW. I read it all again and each one brings a a memory of what I was doing and/or feeling at the time, even in my absence in December to February… Along the way, I have learned so much and especially about different regions and cultures and expressions. . This is truly an enriching experience. Thank you all. 💜

    1. I am glad you were a part of our journey, Diana. I have enjoyed your lovely poems.

      1. I also love your haiku from last year’s renku session, especially the poem about your grandmother playing scrabble with you when you were growing up.

    2. Diana,
      I hope you will return whenever the next renku session occurs. I participated in several here before I had any of my verses selected, but, as I once told John Stevenson, I often turn some of my verses into haiku, that by writing verses it really provides inspiration for me. I’m glad you were here. My best to you,

  16. Marshall,
    Thanks for choosing my verse for the Ageku. I can’t tell you what it means to me; however, I must say that Otto Correct, as I now am calling autocorrect, changed my name. It’s actually Nancy Brady.

    Again, thanks, for choosing my verse as well as putting in so much time reading, in my estimation, over 100,000 verses during the weeks of the renku before selecting, commenting, and encouraging the poets. Wow!

    All my best,

        1. Hi John, would you be able to correct my last name as well? It’s spelled kavanagh, without a “u”. I believe Nan’s “Otto Correct” has been afoot! 🙂 lol!

          1. Your corrections have been made, at least in this post (and will be correct for the archive copy).

    1. I’m elated your verse was selected to end this renku, Nan. I would never have participated without your prompting, and it has been such a joy to do this with you.

      Your words shine almost as brightly as you do.

      1. Thanks, Eavonka, for your kind remarks on my verse. Thanks for your friendship, too. I’m glad you enjoyed participating in the renku also. My best to you, Nan

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