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Review: Blood / Sugar, by James Byrne

In Blood Sugar James Byrne's fine poems explore a variety of themes, combining light and shadow, tenderness and wit. The tender 'Dragon Tree', with an analytical undertone, implies female power, subtly exercised:

The blue-rimmed room
distinguishably yours

a week long lingering
jasmine tinged ...

to

I study your note
its weaponry -

life over death
and distance that can be narrowed
to the length of a finger.

In the ambiguous Incest, which describes a scene on a film set -

He can only play himself:
a version of the sea, uncontainable.

Their strange breed of surface tension
is capable of locking a bedroom door.
The villain is a ghost in white sheets.

The style is conversational, which gives the strong subject matter great impact. Madness or implied madness and unexplained disappearance are recurring themes written in a story-teller's narrative style but with the structure of poetry:

Red letters wedged under the door,
too many for counting, all addressed to the man who vanished one night
into a blue winter fog...


from Femcroft

In Holty Mansions the tenant identifies with the

young girl, Chloe, who went mad in the bedroom...Six months in
and I have begun to feel a little closer
to what it was: the menacing white
of the walls in winter, the way faces
shapeshift in knots of the wardrobe...