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ISBN 1 58998 409 9

Sam Dot's Publishing
PO Box 782
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Iowa 52406-0782
ISBN 1 58998 409 9

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Prominent author, humanitarian and bookshop owner, John J. Dunphy has written a passionate commemoration to Vietnam Veterans that is stunningly elegant in style. For those familiar with Dunphy's work this will be no surprise - his haiku, haibun and haiku sequences provide a wonderfully satisfying read. Dunphy presents a tableau of small poems that is startlingly rich given the brevity of haiku and haibun. The book's pages recount lives lived in time of war and its aftermath. We read of the Memorial wall, the VA hospital, Purple Hearts, a Nam scrapbook, Veterans Day, causalities, mementos, and much more. These are Vietnam Veterans as we have never seen them before. They are a far cry from the ones we have previously been exposed to ad nauseum - rugged, tough blokes, battle-scarred and battered, unable to return to society. However, Dunphy portrays this culture as sensitive:

	cleaning the luger
	he took from a dead German
	old man starts to cry
Not that this social vacuum held them back from seeing beauty where it would be thought impossible
	during the firefight
	a rainbow
Dunphy's spirited book reveals a dialectic between the horrors of war and the beauty that can still be found
	next to names of war dead
	pressed flowers
	from their last battlefield
Dunphy cleverly phrases his haiku to free people up from the scars of war:
	Vietnam Memorial Wall
	an ex-Marine recruiter
	salutes three names
The haibun use a relaxed narrative manner that is deceptively casual. Dunphy, as it were, remembers the old soldiers and their stories with sensitivity and feeling. With his wit, aplomb and confidence the way in which he introduces us to Veterans and their background is a good deal more sophisticated and complex than its informal patina might suggest. So we meet the belated casualty, the Nam-bound son, Nam vets before "the polished granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial", combat-weary GIs, and the women who served during the war. As Dunphy puts it, in his haibun WOMEN OF WAR:
Over 2.6 million Americans served in Vietnam during the war. Women comprised about 10,000 of that number. Ninety per cent of them were Army, Navy and Air Force nurses.
	grunt weeps in a nurse's arms
	after his amputation
Speaking of history, in particular Vietnam history in which Dunphy is richly verses, it was a revelation to me - though to my shame, it should not have been - that so many women served in Vietnam,
eight military women, killed in the line of duty, are listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Dunphy has a sensitive way to summarise the abomination of war - as he writes in FACING THE WALL, where visitors read the names of the "over 58,000 Americans killed during this conflict" -
This experience is especially poignant for Nam vets seeking the names of those with whom they served. They will never know a closer reunion with their fallen comrades:
	Vietnam Memorial
	aging veterans reflected on
	names of young men
during the Vietnam war life was tough (BATTLE COLORS)-
Both sides exchanged automatic weapons fire while they were pelted by cold, drenching sheets of water,
but was even harder for many veterans who now battle
depression, alcoholism and drug addiction.
While commenting on these atrocities the ever poetic Dunphy finds in these indignities a chance to discover the voice of sanity within (BATTLEFIELD MOMENTO)
the long-ago battlefield: where a veteran searching for mementos discovers that Over the years nature had effaced all traces of that horrendous engagement
and that,
Beautiful flowers now bloomed where once men had died.
The book concludes with four haiku sequences, THE WALL, VFW POST, RETURN TO THE WALL and OLD SOLDIERS FADING AWAY. The haiku sequence, THE WALL, reminds us of what we have read in FACING THE WALL , that
The polished black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC - popularly known as The Wall,
which "subtly reflects its visitors." In the sequence we see "four middle-age men", "a young woman" and a wheelchair-bound man, each of whom, in their own way, tries to make sense of their loss. In VWF POST, veterans are in a bar where, amid their drinking binge, they recall the past whilst a lone Nam veteran
	sits alone
	drinking quietly
In RETURN TO THE WALL more visitors are seen - a wife, a son, a woman, an elderly couple and a man. Whilst they mourn the loss of loved ones, there is
	a candle
	left burning on the ground
	its flames almost out
The last and title poem, OLD SOLDIERS FADING AWAY, pictures the casualties of the war: a sleeping man in a flophouse, an Agent Orange victim, a whiskey-drinker, a
	World War II vet's wheelchair
	pushed by his Nam son
and, "the Nam scrapbook" beside a coffin. The sequence and book end -
	VFW Post
	at a back table
	Nam vet plays solitaire
With this haunting vision Dunphy ends his poems about the Vietnam Veterans. From this tapestry of inhumanity, influences, pressures and privations, emerges Dunphy's art. With this richly detailed and enlightening collection, Dunphy has brilliantly captured the horrors of war and its terrifying aftermath.

reviewer: Patricia Prime.

STELLAR POSSIBILITIES is a collection of haiku that are mostly based on the conceit of alien invasion. Taken on a lighter level, the collection raises a wry laugh, if you think in terms of television and film and the development of science fiction, since it's heyday in the 1950s. Not that I am denigrating sci-fi as such I think that sci-fi tends to tell us more about how humans function as a race than anything much about extra-terrestrial beings. But on a deeper level, there is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with investigating how we represent "ourselves" and the "other" in relation to ourselves. In this neat A5 booklet of haiku we have a demonstration of that discourse in microcosm, with the added replacing of the "other" with the "alien."

With that, I quote a couple of Dunphy's haiku here:
	their make-out planet
	the alien teens' parked spaceships form
	more crop circles

		the alien convert receives a host 
		on each tongue
And a special mention for Dunphy's haibun ALIEN INVASION which boxes clever with a drunk's imagined enemy:
	drunk hurls a rock
	at the streetlight
Overall, an enjoyable and humorous collection of haiku that show a new way of looking at an old premise.
reviewer: Barbara Smith.