Steve Evans on Flame

Flame is a twelve-part investigation - evocative of Heraclitus and Bachelard -into the properties of fire: the flame hidden in tree limbs, the flame that boils sugar in ultra-fine gradations (section II: "Le Cuisson du Sucre"), the flame of a concluding "Torch Song" (section XII), the flame taxonimized into "surface fire / ground fire / crown fire / known among collectors / as the most beautiful ever minted / _and an hardy man of herte among an heep of theves_" (section VII), blister-inducing flame. Formally, Healy favors centered lines of varying lengths (sections I, IV, VII, and X) but also works with stanzas, prose paragraphs, and shaped forms. In section III, he disconcerts a strict phonemic set with asterisks, virgules, empty parentheses, and hyphens:


Clarity *

A lacy cyan in a lyric


Nail a city train / racy / analytic / an aria

( )

Litany in an

Icy air / lit

Tiara / alacrity / act-act act-act it ran / a

Yarn / tin can / crania / atria / canal / act-act


A work of lexical verve and obduracy, _Flame_ passes in and out of referentiality, baiting exegesis here, outpacing it there, hermetic one moment, textbook (or cookbook) clear the next: "I visit to shall zero / with certainly not a of Mr. / unable to step in the same river once" (VII).