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Isotropes an excellent example of Haibun, fantastical poetry in Japanese form.

Byline: Reprint from Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Isotropes: A Collection of Speculative Haibun

Author: “T.J. McIntyre”

Publisher: Philistine Press

Date of Publication: 2010

Page Count: 15

“Things are changing
But nothing changes
And still there are changes”
- from “Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi” by Enigma

Isotropes: A Collection of Speculative Haibun book of poetry is an excellent poetic dirge, the author is purportedly T.J. McIntyre, another important work of anarchy offered for free from Philistine Press. The series of 15 poems moves through the violence of the apocalypse and the mirror of love lost into the post-apocalypse and the perfect union. The title “Isotropes” is defined as “uniformity in all orientations” and is a term used in physics, mathematics and biology, in biology particularly is “uniformity in cell walls” as if the poetry, struck by lightening riffs on time and the search for the perfect Zen.

Haibun is a traditional 17th century Japanese form of poetry crafted by the famously popular Matsuo Basho, an innovator of Haiku. Known for his travels, This Writer suspects he kept journals or letters with descriptive prose (perhaps influenced by prose genres from China) and everyday language, interspersed with Haiku. The Haibun at its root, is prose paragraph writing highlighted by one or more Haiku. The prose paragraph traditionally is a description of a person, place, object or a diary or a travel journal entry. This description may be a tribute to a special moment or an event or may exist as fiction or a dreamscape. The prose paragraph should be in the Spirit of Haiku existing in concise and imagistic realms. Stylistically, this book of poetry is sublime, the paragraph writing flows as if an unfolding story highlighted by exquisite Haiku, the work is the craft. Each poem offers a different theme, Olympus and the fall from grace, abandoned children, biology lab, mother, traveling and being pregnant, a violent takedown, violence in the schoolyard, living underground during a nuclear war, a doctor’s office, California falling into the sea, a love affair in the schoolyard, a girl who believes in God, on a ship during a storm and being haunted by a lover culminating with the perfect union love affair. Singly the poems create a dirge of violence and time, together the poems travel through the apocalypse with a happy ending, as if bringing the reader into the post-apocalypse unscathed.

The poetry begins with a fall from grace,


When the winds first blew down from the outer tip of Olympus, it carried with it the dust of time, of loss, of empty years that went on for far too long without any meaning. There was an ache spanning the entirety of the crater itself. We did not notice at first, but that was all before things went bad.

the hanging bodies
swaying from cords in closets
blood lost in red dust . . . ”

and explores the idea of violence and the apocalypse, perhaps part homage to the changing violence of weather systems and war, the underground war zone North America and perhaps part personal reflection. The poetry, expertly written draws the reader in and dances in places of the past, casting them into realms of mythologies that haunt us, like the reading of a good horror story, it is raining.

“When We Moved Underground

When the bombs finally rained down from above, it was almost a relief. Months had rolled by in a constant state of waiting, of not knowing if today would be the day. The anxiety was almost too much to bear.

sleepless nights
looking up at empty skies
waiting for the end

We spent our time preparing, trying to keep our minds off the inevitable. We knew what would happen; it was only a matter of time. We reinforced our storehouses and prepared for our new lives underground . . .”

Reading this poetry is like having just stumbled on “War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells being read on radio in 1938, the invasion by aliens, the apocalypse, the end of the world. Perhaps prophetic, it moves through the collective psyche of the places that haunt us, the shadow places the mind goes unbidden and celebrates them. Weaving into the story of apocalypse is the background story of love lost with the redemption story of perfect love.

“The Sea Wife Retrieves Her Man

It was a quiet night, like any other. Just Hans, Obediah, and I above deck. A flash of lightning lit up a mountain range of distant clouds high up in the western sky.

winds ruffling sails
under a moonless sky
cutting through the sea

Waves rose. Winds blew. Tiny drops of salty ocean spray pelted through my wool coat, making it even heavier than usual. Obadiah screamed something my way, but I didn’t hear him. I wasn’t really paying attention. My coat was too heavy. Despite the chill, I slipped out of my coat, only wanting to have that weight off my shoulders.

thunder rumbling
ocean and sky merging
a brewing tempest . . . “

A celebration of the dark of night and the post-apocalypse in traditional Japanese poetic form, Isotropes: A Collection of Speculative Haibun by T.J. McIntyre.

Available @ Philistine Press.

Genre: Poetry, New Age

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