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The Renku Sessions: Way of the Wind – Week 19


I am John Stevenson and I am your guide for a twenty-stanza, nijûin, renku.


Here are some tempting verses from poets already included. In the past, I have simply listed them, without comment. I thought there was no point in commenting since the final selection would be made from among poets not already included. But I now realize that some information can best be imparted if I comment on a few of these, also:


the strength and the beauty
of the cobbled together

                            Laurie Greer

Which is a capsule summary of an appealing aspect of renku itself.


the oldest monk suppresses
a ripple of laughter

                            Keith Evetts

We have “old” in verse 10. If I was to select this verse, I might substitute something for “oldest” (“senior”?) or just delete it without a substitution. The verse before the one to which this links begins with “the scarecrow,” so I might want to find a way other than “the monk” to start here. When the group leader makes changes, these are often the kind of things that he or she is trying to fine tune.


beyond the fence
kookaburras laughing

                            Lorin Ford


so much depends
upon ball bearings

                            Sally Biggar


not so refined that he can’t
laugh at his own jokes

                            Laurie Greer


a mountain moves
among the trees

                            Keith Evetts


pelicans flying in formation
above the waves

                            Dan Campbell


an oracle’s answer
echoes inside the cave

                            Betty Shropshire


one two three stars
stranded on the beach

                            Dan Campbell

I like this image a lot but there is a principle of “progressive numbering” in renku. This means that, once a number appears in a verse, no subsequent verse can use a lower number. So, with “three-martini” in verse 10, we are precluded from this counting-from-one.


spellbound by the swirls
in marbled silk

                            Sally Biggar


a flintknapper
from way back

                            Laurie Greer


crème brûlée and coffee
and stories of home

                            Betty Shropshire

This is really lovely. But in a twenty-verse renku that already has a beverage (“martini”) and a food (porridge), I would be reluctant to add one more of each.


two hundred fifty steps
to the top of the lighthouse

                            Dan Campbell

Now there’s a number we can use!


putting down roots
in a seaside village

                            Carol Judkins



Here are some verses, from poets not yet included, that I gave some consideration as finalists:


an empty bucket and spade
where she was sitting

                            Tracy Davidson



the notched edge
of old sepia photos

                            Angiola Inglese



the blue tiles in the tub
suggest the sea

                            Margherita Petriccione



a bird’s eye view
from the penthouse

                            Liz Ann Winkler



finding fossilized coral
in the Midwest

                            Debbie Feller



a crying gull
rises on spindrift

                            Marion Clarke



ah, such pure harmonies
carry you away

                            Barbara A. Taylor




My final selection will be made among the following offers:


the people are reserved
but friendly & polite

                            Dick Pettit


I am just charmed with the movement from “pebbled” to “people.” As with the verse I mentioned above, it would be good to avoid going from “the scarecrow” to “the people” with only one intervening verse. Perhaps we could say “these people.” In the meantime, “friendly & polite” is exactly what we would like to feature in this closing section.



a warm soak
before the pedicure

                            Debbie Scheving


This verse also has exactly the sort of tone we are looking for in the kyu. The feeling is comfort and anticipation of pleasant attention, contributing to a general sense of well-being.



my jigsaw of Ireland
begins to take shape

                            Marion Clarke


A pleasant pastime, at a point from which progress can be appreciated. We have “my” in verse 6. And the idea of putting together (a puzzle of) Ireland may be read as having political resonance. That would be very welcome in the middle section (the “ha”) but unfortunate in the “kyu.”




Here is what I have selected as our eighteenth verse:


a warm soak
before the pedicure

                            Debbie Scheving




Here is what we have, so far:


Way of the Wind


green barley—
we follow the way
of the wind

                        Lorin Ford


kids playing pooh sticks
with plum blossoms

                            Linda Weir


the long day opens
with a chime of pots
on the kitchen island

                            Laurie Greer


a coin in the cap
of a street busker

                            Andrew Shimield


summer moon
low on the hips
of the horizon

                            princess k


mosquitoes know that my wife
has sweeter blood

                            Dan Campbell


still drawn to him
after all the bumps
along the line

                            Wendy C. Bialek


queuing up to enter
the Escher exhibit

                            Carol Judkins


do you think
they discovered chaos theory
by chance

                            Keith Evetts


three-martini lunch
with old pals from sigma nu

                            Betty Shropshire


in relentless pursuit
across the frozen tundra

                            Sally Biggar


pidge porridge hotter
than the fires of hell

                            Michael Henry Lee


that delicious fillip
of excitement
from a sidelong glance

                            Marietta McGregor


Rick and Ilsa
in the airport fog

                            Christopher Patchel


taking leave
of the harvest

                            Kanjini Devi


the scarecrow reluctantly
turns in his badge

                            Maxianne Berger


the pebbled waves
and island stones

                            Jonathan Alderfer


a warm soak
before the pedicure

                            Debbie Scheving



The requirements for verse nineteen will be as follows:


  • A three-line verse of seventeen syllables or less
  • With a spring image (kigo) but not a blossom
  • Without a grammatical break
  • Linking in some way to verse eighteen (and in no obvious way to previous verses)


Our final two verses will be spring. In most renku, the penultimate verse is a spring blossom but, since we had a spring blossom in verse 2 (“plum blossoms”), we will not have an additional blossom in the closing of this renku.


For this renku, we will be using this site ( as the source for our season words and images (kigo).


I will be reviewing your offers until midnight on Monday, September 6 (New York time). On Thursday, September 9 there will be a new post in which I will announce my selection of the nineteenth verse, comment on some of the other offers, and issue instructions for writing verse twenty.


Keep up the good work, everyone!






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This Post Has 79 Comments

  1. Well done, Debbie–a comforting verse for sure!

    Thanks for highlighting two of mine, John. I ought to have thought of potential political overtones with that map of Ireland. Was thinking I ought have said a jigsaw of Europe instead, but that’s probably just as contentious! 🙂


    the last snows of spring
    at the foot of the Mournes

  2. ooops! ‘follows’ is a no no! (it occurs in the hokku)

    soap bubbles
    parade amongst
    kite tails

    9.06.2021 by wendy © bialek

  3. thanks, john,for a big splash of informative renku tips!

    i could definitely treasure a long soak now!
    congrats, debbie….for coming up with a relaxing

    a warm soak
    before the pedicure

    – Debbie Scheving

    soap bubble flurries
    follow parading
    kite tails

    9.06.2021 by wendy © bialek

  4. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving
    for sea glass
    in her bare feet
    the colt is fitted
    for his first pairs
    of shoes
    the farrier measures
    a colt
    for his first shoes

  5. greetings
    from a patch of grass
    through snowmelt
    just listening
    to the bird trills
    from my pillow
    shovels poised
    over clam holes
    in the wet sand

  6. for the healthcare workers during covid–

    a faint squeeze
    back from
    the lion’s paw


    a faint squeeze
    from the paw
    in Androcles’ hands

  7. Bravo! I like the parallel mentioned between toes and pebbles!

    our tongue
    fiddleheads’ lace
    why bother
    setting a new set of strings
    on the Skylark violin?
    of young monks
    in yellow dust

  8. early walk
    in spring morn of birds
    with first wake up call

    humming a song
    in spring mode
    while dish washing
    her high jump
    in skipping rod
    with spring rhythm

    father showing
    crescent moon
    to his ward

    spring perfume
    on her sleeve
    special today
    match making
    his spring pastime

  9. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    other footprints
    can just be made out
    in yellow dust

    careful not to step
    on all the cheeping chicks
    as eggs are gathered

    before the foothills
    other birds fall silent
    for the skylark

    we step aboard
    to go downstream
    with the freshet

    we’ll write
    to all the pilgrim friends
    made in the bath-house

  10. #5

    a warm soak
    before the pedicure

    Debbie Scheving

    on the balcony
    continue reading the newspaper
    animal character

    Nani Mariani

  11. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    of departing pinkfoot geese
    pierce the sunset

    we walk out
    with the blackbird
    in the morning haze

    tickling the toes
    are tadpoles

    Comments: I’ve used ‘departing geese, ‘ carefully explained in the kigo list as a spring kigo; but it feels uncomfortable for someone used to geese departing in autumn, so it’s here to ask for an opinion, really.

    ‘haze’ : we had ‘fog’ five verses ago. However, the guidelines by Higginson and Kondo ( are that such phenomena should be separated by ‘at least two’ stanzas, so that should be OK (?).

  12. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    turning off the lights
    in towns and cities for all
    the departing ducks
    – Betty Shropshire

  13. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    Debbie Scheving
    no wasted moves
    as we wade into
    deepest spring
    no slug-a-beds
    among the rifle-spinning
    color guards

  14. I thank you John for your attention to my verses and congratulate you on your choice

    a spring sky,
    pale as my feet
    in new sandals
    it is never too late
    to walk barefoot again
    in the spring sea
    an enamel
    transparent come rugiada
    on a spring meadow
    pumice in hand
    extending to the heels
    the spring cleaning

  15. a warm soak
    before the pedicure – Debbie Scheving

    volcanic soil
    magically sings
    for sprouting rice

    under a rainbow
    this little piggy
    raced all the way home

    under lamps
    a naked fledgling
    greets our world

    Om, mmm…
    in my bubbly bathtub

    every day now
    green shoots grow taller
    after soft rains

    kites kept high
    as toes sink into
    golden sands


  16. Congratulations, Debbie. A pedicure would be lovely right now. But no haidressers, no nail salons, no beauty treatments allowed.

    Verse 1:

    swirls of
    iridescent soap bubbles
    colour the sky

    Verse 2:

    little fingers
    stretching upwards
    to catch the butterfly

    Verse 3:

    our pony
    kicks up his heels
    in the meadow

    Verse 4:

    bare feet
    running over
    thin ice

    Verse 5:

    she admires
    her painted nails
    as she sits on the swing

  17. after a long day
    we listen to madrigals
    in the bath

    mellow feelings
    for the skylark
    entering the clouds

    young grasses
    reach up
    for rain

    Grandma knows
    where to gather herbs
    for a healing poultice

  18. kites sing
    when the string
    the breezes
    grounded kite
    and limp sail
    waiting for wind
    a flock
    of kites hovering
    in the sky

  19. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving


    with slow easy grace
    he casts and casts his fly
    into the tranquil pool

  20. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    miles of threads
    make up those
    silkworms’ cocoons
    – Betty Shropshire

  21. a warm soak
    before the pedicure

    Debbie Scheving


    her afternoon nap
    with a cumulus pillow
    and sheets of soft rain

  22. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    on tiptoe
    listening to skylarks
    serenade the sun

    for just so long
    young grasses keep
    the imprint of a sandal

    a pilgrimage
    to kneel before a poet
    of barefoot rank

    1. ….amending the last one (starts with ‘a …’ like V18) to:

      pilgrims kneel
      before a poet
      of barefoot rank

      1. ….assuming that ‘pilgrims’ is an appropriate substitution for ‘pilgrimage’ as far as the kigo is concerned?

  23. Congratulations Debbie

    a warm soak
    before the pedicure

    Debbie Scheving

    the beachcomber
    uses the clippings
    in his collage

    The crackle of
    seaweed pods

    snipping the seaweed
    with scissors
    at low tide

    between my toes

  24. congrats to Debbie ☺ and now for fun ..
    a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving
    the iridescence
    of whitebait
    in the pail

  25. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    glacial fjords
    slowly emerging
    from the haze
    – Betty Shropshire

  26. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    Debbie Scheving
    where the millipede
    touched up
    the damp varnish
    Can millipede serve for “insects” (listed) generally? If not:
    where insects
    touched up
    the damp varnish

  27. many baby birds
    test out
    their talons

    four hundred cold eyes
    follow me
    at the Doll Festival

    she laughs
    at the soap bubbles
    she can no longer chase

    the tranquil silence
    by his proposal

  28. Congratulations Debbie! What a wonderful relaxing verse! Thanks John, for your always helpful comments!

    sitting within
    the lantern’s
    tranquil glow

  29. #2

    a warm soak
    before the pedicure

    Debbie Scheving

    one two three
    slowly turning
    wow! beautiful tattoo

    Nani Mariani

  30. a warm soak
    before the pedicure

    Debbie Scheving

    a butterfly flutters
    above refugee children
    in the morning light

    Milan Rajkumar

  31. a warm soak
    before the pedicure

    Debbie Scheving

    another plastic bottle
    pinwheel in the name
    of Planet Earth

  32. Congratulations, Debbie!

    a warm soak
    before the pedicure

    Debbie Scheving

    liberated from
    dreams of being
    a living doll

  33. Happy and honored to have a verse included in this renku session. Thank you, John, for the continued guidance, and everyone for your kind comments. Looking forward to the spring verse now!

  34. Congrats Debbie and thank you John for the lesson on numbers!
    the plow’s
    not plowing because the plower
    was deported
    plow marks

  35. Congratulations, Debbie. 🙂
    It’s an interesting link: to me it could be either the care and ‘ cultivation’ of the feet or the probability of a pumice ‘stone’ about to be used in the pedicure.

  36. Congratulations, Debbie – a soothing verse.
    Another instructive week. It really does get difficult. Now looking down the list of spring kigo again, I see that one of them is ‘warm.’ Onwards…

    a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    our pilgrimage
    begins with
    comfortable shoes

    a dimple where
    the rising carp
    closed on a crust

    after showers
    fresh fiddleheads

    still the pond
    waits for
    a frog

    at weekends
    we sit on the swings
    by the East River

    1. Keith, Debbie’s verse is a non-seasonal verse, as it was supposed to be. I know things can get confusing when we have ‘season words’ translated from the Japanese, but “warm” on the spring list applies to the weather (warm day, warm breeze…), not to the temperature of a foot bath, one’s creme brulee, etc.
      This week’s challenge is a spring verse. (and I like your ‘pilgrimage’ verse a lot! )

      1. Lorin: thanks – now I see better. This, my first proper renku, is a great learning experience; a high spot of the week.

  37. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    Debbie Scheving
    the glow
    of buried treasure
    lights the lantern
    gathering in
    buried treasure
    with the herbs

  38. Debbie — congrats on a fine winding-down verse and to John thx again for showing the depth and fit of the offerings.
    a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    at the pumice step
    heat shimmer sways
    the beaded curtains

  39. Debbie: congratulations! Lovely verse–just the thing. And John, thanks for yet more illumination. Hadn’t known about the numbering. My guess would have been that one number takes care of all numbers, but, no, it’s more complicated and interesting than that.
    And thanks everyone else for fun contributions this whole long way.

    a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    Debbie Scheving
    making like a frog
    with a squish
    in the mud

  40. a warm soak
    before the pedicure
    – Debbie Scheving

    soft twittering
    as the night sky
    begins to twinkle
    – Betty Shropshire

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