The Flying Saucer Poetry Review, Winter 2023 (issue #2)

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14 | SPECIAL FEATURE: A Renku by the Poets Thirteen (with an essay discussion by Joshua St. Claire), Winners of the 25th Annual Critters Readers’ Poll for Best Poem

Editor’s Note: This magnificent renku, or collaborative, linked verse poem, and the essay discussion, or tomegaki, by Joshua St. Claire, who served as the sabaki, or poem leader, that accompanies it, were both first published in the debut issue of The Lotus Tree Literary Review, Autumn 2022. As you read, notice the marvelous way in which this poem takes an exhilarating and wholly unexpected turn to the speculative! Enjoy.

Quantum Entanglement

hear our words
and forget Ithaca…
the raider’s dream
-Joshua Gage

his sword’s tip
nudges an anemone
-John J. Dunphy

a polyp retracts
into flowery form
hiding harpoons
-Brian LeBansky

saltwater surges
around decaying driftwood
-Alison Jennings

moonlight gleams—
trees at the start of the sands
have gone a burning brown
-Harris Coverley

smoke from a thousand twinkling fires
dotted with cooking pots that bubble, hiss, groan

morning, blood red
a child lies pale
under early snow
-Lee Garratt

shaking with phantasms
head still filled with the unknown
-Matt Schumacher

newfound desire
careful equilibrium
-Alison Jennings

heart palpitations
enchanted with excitement
-Brian LeBansky

butterflies in my stomach
as she emerges
from the willows
-Amber Winter

wet palms staunch sunbeams
clouds feather – imbibe galaxies
-Carla Stein

flashes on the moon
new tea served to astronauts
superluminal flight
-Wendy Van Camp

horizon—two suns
nuclear summer into winter
-Harris Coverley

white space
in the quantum entanglement
of our awareness
-Irina Moga

opium dreams breed
epicurist infinities
-Carla Stein

wyrd visions of poppy juice
centaur armies rage
through drifts of blossom
-Lee Garratt

wandering through realms of faith
and truth, the midnight hour ends
-Alison Jennings

new phase of matter
time-translation symmetry
forever cycles
-Wendy Van Camp

my marigolds trampled
by a mastodon
-John J. Dunphy

La Belle Dame
dances for him
wearing ferns and moss
-Joshua St. Claire

Adonais, knights wait: fate’s cold
hillsides cryogenic states
-Matthew Schumacher

runes pulled from underneath a stone
looming over
the damp brain of the lake
-Irina Moga

tell of shivering ranks of eunuchs,
skies dark with being
-Lee Garratt

at absolute zero
the rubidium atoms
form a Buddha
-Joshua St. Claire

candle flame snuffs out
awareness unexpectedly returns

a whistling skull—
thought only the wind
until the tune changed
-Harris Coverley

rattling of chains
from inside the dusty attic
-Amber Winter

meteoroids falling
from the deciduous-eyed
moon’s white lashes
-Matt Schumacher

the region, the soil, the clime
perfumed with smoke and sulfur
-Joshua Gage

in temperate rainforests
orange leaved plants
producing ambergris
-Brian LeBansky

carefully harvested by whales
carrying jewels on their backs

as they glide through
seagates of the depth
fanning out melodic tones
-Irina Moga

their jubilance understood
by the universe at large
-Wendy Van Camp

petals beckon stars
pollen dusts bees, ants
wasps dance on fallen wombs
-Carla Stein

army’s quest for a new Queen
Venus shines the brightest
-Amber Winter

[This renku was started on 5/1/22 and completed on 8/24/22, via email.]

Editor’s Note: Thank you, poets extraordinaire, for this work of orotund and overflowing poetic fervor!

About the Renku: Quantum Entanglement


Joshua St. Claire, Contributing Editor

I approached our editor, Justin Sloane, with the proposal of working with some of the writers in his circle to produce a renku in the spring of 2022 and I was delighted that he agreed. I was also a bit nervous because I would be working with a group of writers whose prestige far exceeds my own. A diverse group answered the call: award-winning authors, editors of storied journals, educators, artists, and even a poet laureate. Contributors hailed from North America, Europe, and Africa. Experience with Japanese poetic forms, renku specifically, was diverse as well. The group included highly experienced and world-class haijin who have studied renku extensively, beginners with no to minimal experience, and everything in between.

For those readers new to the form, the roots of the renku date back hundreds of years to ancient Japan. A proper historical survey of the genre along with its roots and branches could fill several volumes. Even a suitable description of renku, as it has been practiced for the past few decades within the Anglosphere, could easily run into the hundreds of pages. However, simply put, renku is a form of linked poetry, produced collaboratively, within a traditional set of rules and structures, in which each verse links to the immediately prior verse and shifts away from all other prior verses. Its effect is similar to a movie montage in which the reader comes to understand the meaning, not merely through the semantic content of the verses, but, more importantly, through the juxtaposition of images between verses.

As you are reading, be aware of a few special verses defined by the rules of the form. The first three, known as the hokku, wakiku, and daisan, set the renku in motion. The final verse, the ageku, must close the poem and link to its beginning. The moon appears three times and blossoms appear twice in set verses to remind us of the transience of beauty in life. The remaining verses build a bridge between these tent pole verses to discuss love, the seasons, philosophy and the fruits of the imagination.

I asked Joshua Gage, an experienced poet with significant training with renku, to write our hokku, the first verse of the renku. He produced several excellent verses, and I ultimately chose “hear our words.” I queried the group to let me know if they preferred to write a renku with primarily literary or speculative content (as our group of poets included several prominent speculative poets). Joshua Gage also sagely proposed the idea of starting our renku with traditional, literary subject matter and then pivot into the speculative. This was an excellent concept and we proceeded in this way. I asked Wendy Van Camp to produce our second moon verse (“flashes on the moon”) which introduced speculative subject matter. I chose the title, “Quantum Entanglement,” from a verse by Irina Moga. This poem requires us to hold several related—but wildly different—ideas in our minds simultaneously, in a sort of quantum superposition, which results in a poem that is greater than the sum of its verses.

My sincere thanks to each contributor and to our host, Justin Sloane. It was absolutely my pleasure to work with all of you. Thank you for the opportunity.