Roswila's Dream & Poetry Realm

SEE ALSO: TRYING TO HOLD A BOX OF LIGHT (photos, realistic to abstract)

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Pudding House Chapbook Series
Columbus, OH 43213
Pudding House
(See end of post for ordering information)

John Dunphy's haiku, senryu, haibun and sequences have been published worldwide. I have been familiar up till now only with his wonderful scifaiku (sci-fi/fantasy form based on haiku). His "Old Soldiers Fading Away," a deeply moving collection of haiku and other short forms, has increased my respect for this author.

Although largely referencing Viet Nam War veterans, the collection can be seen to offer brief snapshots of those who come home from all wars. The implications of his poems are especially timely now as we in the USA welcome soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan. They remind us that we ignore our soldiers at the price of human life and well-being (no matter how we may feel about the war they fought in).

Dunphy gives us deep reaching fragments of time without glorifying or romanticizing anything. It may surprise some who are familiar with the haiku form, but these small writing forms are well suited to carrying such intense invocations...or at least they are in this writer's hands. Two examples:

VA hospital
a tree in the courtyard
scarred by lightning

Nam Memorial
a rusted peace button
taped over a name

True to the classic haiku form, both of the above unfolded further as I read them, again and then again.

Other poems stirred my ire, without being filled themselves with rage, but simply showing us the moment. E.g.:

war crimes trial
the defendant tries to suppress
another yawn

And the above haiku can lead us to examine, by extension, our own responsbility within our society, how we respond to our society's needs. Yes, these are not easy poems to read receptively. As many things that are necessary and important are not easy.

In a haibun (a prose paragraph, closed with a haiku) Dunphy speaks of the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, D.C. The haibun is a reflection on reflections before, as well as literally on, that shiny dark wall. The last line of the prose introduction, "They will never know a closer reunion with their fallen comrades," stands as a clear reminder of loss and mortality. Yet, as in the closing haiku below, also evinces a timeless connectedness:

Vietnam Memorial
aging veterans reflected on
names of young men

The last lines of the next to last series, "Return to the Wall":

a candle
left burning on the ground
its flame almost out

capture the entire book. It is true those old soldiers are fading away, burning out. However, they will not be forgotten, nor will those who went before and who come after them, as long as we have writers like Dunphy to remind us. To bring us to stand before the wall of memory and brave its reflections.

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PLEASE NOTE: Copies can be purchased through the author at:

The Second Reading Book Shop
16 East Broadway
Alton, IL 62002
$8.95, plus $1.00 postage
Illinois residents, please include 7.1% sales tax.
Out of USA, query for shipping rates.
Phone orders: 618-462-2830, Mastercard and Visa accepted.

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‘til next time, keep dreaming,


[aka: Patricia Kelly]

****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing or poems, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)****My other blog: ROSWILA’S TAROT GALLERY & JOURNAL.

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