Yellowing Maple

The following rengay won first place and $200 in the 2023 Haiku Society of America rengay contest, with the commentary appearing on the HSA website. Also published in Frogpond 46:3, Autumn 2023, page 182, with the commentary. This rengay, which also appears on my Rengay website, was originally written 6 October 2019, on a blue-sky day at the Seattle Japanese Garden.

Yellowing Maple


by Ion Codrescu and Michael Dylan Welch


Japanese garden—

the emptiness

of the teahouse Ion


grass in the cherry orchard

wet with dew Michael


stepping stones . . .

different languages

in the air Ion


hungry koi—

the moonbridge crowded

with children Michael


the calligraphy

of pine branches Ion


a turtle sunning

at the pond’s edge—

yellowing maple Michael

Commentary by 2023 Haiku Society of America Rengay Contest Judges


“We both picked ‘Yellowing Maple’ as our favorite rengay. It presents such a lovely image of a Japanese garden. While it could be anywhere, for me it is Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, where tourists from all over the world come to enjoy the teahouse, the moonbridge, the Japanese maples in the fall.” —Marcyn Del Clements


“A work of art. I absolutely love the artistry and beauty of this rengay. So aesthetically pleasing. This rengay stood out for me above all the others with its you-are-there descriptions. Each verse was a mini-clip of a Japanese garden, expertly crafted to evoke a different experience. With each one, I was taken to that place and that moment, and to the different sensations and emotions they evoked: melancholy, surprise, joy, tranquility. I was particularly struck by the freshness of the second verse and the painting-like imagery in the fifth. I was also pleased with the technical correctness of these two-line verses, which were not simply three-line haiku divided into two lines. Well done. A truly gorgeous rengay.” —Seren Fargo