cover image Apocrifa


Amber Flame. Red Hen, $16.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-63628-063-9

The expansive and formally inventive second collection from Flame (Ordinary Cruelty) considers the cornerstones of romance—doubt, surrender, grief, resolution—through poems about hunger, exploration, and forbidden fruit. Though some of these tropes feel hard-pressed, their execution in individual poems is dynamic and effervescent: “you, fallen/ for the roadmaps/ of my skin.// i seek/ adventure/ in your hair’s/ tangled vines.// mouth nomad;/ you, oasis pooling// sinking with every rise.” The strength of this collection lies in the structural ingenuity of its poems; Flame uses poetic license to preface each with translated definitions of love-adjacent words from dozens of languages. Her source languages span the globe and time itself, from Inuit, Tshiluba, and Urdu to the extinct Latin and Yagan. The varied forms here, from sonnets, epistles, sestinas, and cinquains, allow for dual interpretations and narrative fluidity. These entries need to be consumed slowly to be best appreciated. (May)