A Midwinter Virtual Renga*

Winter on Vine St., Natalya Critchley, 2017.


Renée Szostek

Claudio Mendoza

Timothy Adès

Snow-covered branches

become bright, lacy patterns

against the gray sky.

Icy ferns trace my window

as temperatures go down

January cold

skiing in the Alps, or else

April, village slush

I stroll amidst the snow. An

early robin chirps of spring.

My boots are too wet

yet many miles to the pub.

Fly me to your nest

London winters are mild now

not like Michigan, I guess

Depressed by dreary

drifts of snow, I long for warmth,

of winter weary. 

Sunday roast, walk on the moor.

Cheer up, love, the Super Bowl 

Icy snow: I fell.

Luckily a passer-by

helped re-erect me. 

I’m staying safe inside, yet

snowy scenes invite. I’ll try.

Crushed shelves on the shore, 

polar vortex they repeat.

Ice fishing till morn

Think of fir-trees in the snow

you might use a darker green

Snow gives branches a

frosty glow and blankets the

ground with quiet warmth. 

Deciduous zombies haunt my

escapade to the woodland

A child of our time

the world turns on its dark side

It’s winter. Tippett

An early class: I form the

only footprints in the snow. 

Four-point buck flashed past,

chipmunk rolls its finding home.

I’m not that alone

Just been in the countryside

by a beautiful river

Though an icy stream

flows musically, I long

for urban buildings. 

Head home before the long night,

shovel snow and scrape your car 

Look! no enemy

but winter and rough weather

that’s a Shakespeare song

A winter’s tale helps dispel

despondency, and delights.

To dearest William

aging was a long winter:

“Frosty but kindly”

Dick the shepherd’s by the wall

icicle hangs from a nail

I sculpted creatures

in the snow, which melted in

the relentless sun.

Will Frosty the snowman, say,

endure Olive the ice storm?

A joke: now is the

discount of our winter tents

Stratford camping shop

Discounted winter items

signal springtime’s near approach. 

Loud wind chills my hope

It ripped the tent, froze my thoughts.

Blossoms I must rhyme

Magi adoring in snow

snow census snow innocents

Unknown to magi

was the snowfall. Impressed they

would be, nonetheless. 

Bruegel’s singular snowflakes,

each a unique perfect gem

1560’s freeze

we need to change our habits

climate crisis now

Sunlight shines on silent snow

which sparkles, like jewels glow.  

Nuclear winter of

endless nights by the fireplace.

Ukraine fights for us

Winter in Australia

nobody on Bondi Beach

Sibelius does

sympathize: Finnish winters

effect endurance.   

Polar albedo feedback,

key in climate change nuisance

Oil coal planes concrete

cars meat fashion commuting

sun wind waves forests

Climate change gives warmth. I miss

harsh winds and isolation. 

Northern lights echo

Sibelius’s Finlandia,

a song of freedom

Winter was the storm season

fear more storms fear worse winters

Winter needed a

friend, so I learned to love the

blowing snow and cold. 

Olive left Mich. in a mess

half a million powerless

It’ll be a lot

worse than any winter if

we don’t fix it now

On crisp, cold nights, I see stars

without clouds interfering. 

Turkey mourns wake of

freezing, horrific earthquake.

50,000 souls

Soracte stands white with snow

maitre d’, fetch the big jar

Short days: I hardly

see the sun, and trudge along

in darkness, hoping. 

Michigan lakes and forests:

water, winter, wonderland

* Renga is a genre of collaborative linked-verse poetry that originated in Japan in the 14th century. It is based on a chain of five-verse stanzas referred to as tankas, each with 31 syllables (5-7-5-7-7 or 7-7-5-7-5). Several poets take part in its composition, an ideal number being three such as in the present renga written over the internet (GoogleDocs) during three weeks in February 2023. Each of the three poets contributes alternately with a three-line stanza (haiku or joku, 5-7-5) and a two-line stanza (geku, 7-7). Each contribution should complete a tanka and open a new one; however, we have treated this aspect here somewhat loosely.

Published in Small Town Anthology IX, Sidney Bastos & Alisha Siebers, editors; Kindle Direct Publishing, Seattle, WA (2023).


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