Midsummer Darkness, a Kasen Renku

December 2003

This is the third on-line English language renku in which I was able to assume full sabaki-ship. I thank all my renjyu for trusting me when they must have had whole lot of anxiety, perplexity and doubt, along, perhaps, with some expectation. I know full well that I am a novice sabaki and there is also much to be desired in my English. And yet, daringly I set my goal as a sabaki and that was to somehow create an imaginary zone where all the writers share the time of kasen as if floating down a multi-dimensional river in space real-time in one kayak. As Johnye Strickland touches in her essay included in this presentation along with other renjyu’s essays, renku has a lot to do with our sense of time. On the other hand an’ya told us she had to go through a difficult time on her own, personally… while I struggled to feel everyone’s breathing, as we composed the first folio in my attempt to give life to this invisible ‘communal’ zone called ‘za’.

As readers might be saying aloud now, many conclude that it is nearly impossible to create ‘za’ without really sitting together face to face. But such deep and lingering contentment I felt for the past two on-line renku proves otherwise. Unless I had several of the same poets in my renjyu, however, I could never have reached ageku, the last verse, in Midsummer Darkness.

Here lies another irony of renku. Before that, let’s confirm the first irony : renku, even though the name stands for ren (relate/link) and ku (verse), it is actually about continuity and discontinuity at the same time. If one sees renku as an extension of haiku, it would be Very confusing.

Meanwhile the second irony is: za becomes alive with a new member(s), even though a new member(s) will have to go through a hard adjusting time on his/her own. I am grateful to all my eight renjyu indeed. And dear our judicious spectator, the cold air from outside always refreshes us! Readers, be sure to read his comments at the end.

After completing this kasen, not-chosen verses (most position was chosen from 10 plus verses) keep haunting me whispering: “are you advertising your limitation as sabaki ” Oh, I can not do anything about it…In another time I will be a better sabaki.


Midsummer Darkness
The Kasen

led by eiko yachimoto
started 21 June, 2003
completed 22 August, 2003

(first folio recto)

morning heat —
the goslings growing as tall
as their parents……………………..gary warner

bare feet on the lawn
lakeside taichi practice……………..eiko yachimoto

clean and white
pyjamas billow between
miners’ tenements……………………paul conneally

delicate parabolas
strongest cables……………………..john r. snyder

fresh-filled jam jars
on my kitchen shelf
cooling by moonlight…………………kirsty karkow

surveillance cameras
along the chilly stone wall…………..carmen sterba


(first folio verso)

zig-zags shatter
the grinding grey of cloud,
the breathless mountain…………….john e carley

from the iron slag
a korl woman rises……………………johnye strickland

Oh, Diana,
unaware that the huntress
could be hunted………………………jec

new life for the team*
hugs for The Slugger’s wife………….js

if this love spills
into the world…
build an ark…………………………….kk

a thumb-size warrior
rows with a chopstick oar……………ey

in a loquat moon
the top car swinging
on a ferris wheel………………………an’ya

midsummer darkness
the grandfather clock ticks   ………js

Mt. Kailas
a saffron robe moves on
the narrow path……………………….kk

drowned horsefly
how glad I am you’ve flown away…..an’ya

under the magnolia blossoms
a half-finished canvas
estate sale…………………………….jrs

in lucy’s land **
the post box starts to sprout jec


(second folio-recto)

after the shootings
children run in the streets
contagious smiles……………………cs

I eat an avocado
ever so slowly……………………….an’ya

surprise, surprise,
the old fishmonger
resets his bluffside booth…………..pc

a snowflake melting
on a salted sea bream………………jec

menfolk talk
of the Boston Tea Party
around a bonfire…………………….an’ya

scattering nomads
the wounded mammoth turns……..jrs

the computer freezes
midway through
the librarian’s search……………….cs

our eye contact
through musty book shelves………an’ya

i must admit to tears
at Cio-Cio’s aria
on the wind………………………….pc

a bag of blond hair
with ‘john aged six’ on it…………..pc

changing of the tide
twin dolphins leap toward
the golden moon……………………js

across my pillow
the curve of a long night………….kk


(second folio-verso)

thick dawn fog
a river of warmth flows
from a farmhouse…………………..jrs

a crate of small apples
saved for the cider………………..ey

my face is blue
and so are my family’s
Crayola portrait……………………gw

eighty-eight temples
in just fifty-nine days…………….pc

countless blossoms
delivered by the storm
arrive unspoiled……………………cs

way after teatime
the sun still in the sky……………jec


*at the completion of the kasen: winning a new life
**lucy’s land: from “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, lyrics by John Lennon; “Lucy” is the protagonist of the song, performed by the Beatles.

Read the Poets’ & Spectator’s Comments:

an’ya
John E. Carley
Paul Conneally
John Snyder
Carmen Sterba
Johnye Strickland
Gary Warner
Dick Pettit, Spectator

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This entry was posted in Renku, Vol 3-2 December 2003 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Midsummer Darkness, a Kasen Renku

  1. csterba says:

    This brings back a lot of memories when John Carley was alive, and I still lived in Japan.

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