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James Byrne, from Blood / Sugar

Sestina for R

(with repetitions of two lines by Edna St Vincent Millay)

Dawn and again your voice cracks
like a vessel too thin for certain
vibrations. Demisting the window,
you rock gently from side-to-side,
your hand waving with a rhythm
that holds you to it as if by a drug.

Your doctor prescribes the same drug
on every visit, widening the cracks
in your downcast face. Deadly rhythm.
If treatment and health go side-by-side,
untreatable is your face at the window.
You're the same sunk vessel, for certain.

Like a vessel too thin for certain
vibrations, you re-alight in '91: a drug
binge at The Brain. Memory's window
props open, reconfiguring wisecracks
from the promo video. On the outside
you were a zeitgeister, the rhythm

of the club — the core of its rhythm.
What plans you had. Fame, for certain.
But the pilled-up crew at your side
guided a thin vessel. Love was the drug
fooled by its addiction. The cracks
widen in your profile at the window.

Who are you waiting for at the window?
The streetlamps click off to the rhythm
of a lit horizon. Chimney cracks
proffer terraced light to a certain
vibration, until the light, like a drug,
fires the body, flush full on the side

of your face (as if warmed from inside).
This is your life at the window.
Fear-hogged, shocked quiet by drug
after drug. Frail now, less of rhythm,
like a vessel too thin for certain
vibrations. Furrowed are the cracks.

Outside, traffic cargoes to a rhythm.
You hear a ghost sonata tap the window.
I listen in closely until your voice cracks.