TJ McIntyre's stunning collection of haibun packs a library full of ideas into a compact space. With genres ranging from sci-fi to fairytale to realism, Isotropes is as unclassifiable as it is brilliant.
(Haibun: a literary composition that combines prose and haiku.)
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
The winds battered the dome. The metal supports groaned as they bent and
swayed. The Plexiglas, once so clear, grew pock-marked and stained a faint
maroon. The storms raged over and around us. We watched digital displays from
the weather satellites, but they were useless. It looked clear and clean on the
screen, but we could see the funnel clouds overhead. Dust devils danced around
the perimeter of our base, and all night long, the weather screamed.
there was no pattern
Olympus began to crumble in on itself. We watched, helpless, as waves of dust
raced down the cliffs and came at us like a dirty red typhoon. Soon all outside
light was blocked. What little sunlight we obtained on this distant outpost dimmed
and then faded away, leaving us in the dark. None of us liked what we saw when
the lights went out, when the solar generators lost their charge and the windmills
ceased turning. The turbines and ever present electric hum grew quiet. None of
us knew if it was imagined or real, but we feared dust came in through cracks.
We could taste another world, one very cold and very unlike our own.
when we faced our end
nobody struggled or cried
we tied our own knots
Promethean Petri Dish
At the microscopic level, the cells split, recombined, and danced a
dance invisible to the naked eye. A tango of sorts, the cells altered
little by little with each gyration, becoming something more than they
were. When they started banging against the lids of my Petri dishes, I
knew I was on to something, and I still could have turned back. But
that was never an option -- I’ve always moved forward and thought this
time should be no exception. I added a little more heat, the glass
broke, and they were free.
the world lost itself
I was nowhere to be found
The Orphans in the Wood
When our parents left us alone in the woods, we clung to each other for comfort.
The wind swept around us, sending down torrents of twigs and leaves that
crunched as they hit the dry earth below. In the morning we shivered with dew.
our breath fogging
frost glistening on tree tops
creek water murmur
So this is what it meant to be an orphan? To be alone, isolated and without
protection in a cold world? What is a child without a parent? How could we be
anything except prey?
trails tend to fade overnight
the laughter of birds
The house on the horizon looked unreal. Candy glazes sparkled in the growing
sunlight. A puff of smoke emanated from a licorice chimney, and we knew that
inside there would be warmth. We knew it might be a trap. Anything too good to
be true usually is, after all. But, by that point, we did not care. We just wanted to
a homely widow
lives among uneaten candy
her oven stoked high