Randolph Healy's _Flame_ (Bray, Ireland: Wild Honey, 1997). _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:
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).
This chapbook arrived in the company of two others in the indispensable Wild Honey imprint, one of the few sources of innovative Irish writing available today: _Tiny Pieces_ by Bill Mills and _Syzygy_ by Trevor Joyce (both 1998).