Love Crimes is a raw and moving collection of poems about relationships by debut poet Sayde Scarlett.
Largely consisting of epitaphs to love lost, the collection begins with an invitation to “Engage Me.” In “The Play” the poet writes her lover and herself into a drama, asking wistfully, “How does it end, this play?” In a litany of complaints about lovers who have done her wrong, Scarlett’s bitterness seethes: “You were the vulture, I the carcass”; “You had me by the soul, or by the wrists.” “To Touch To Taste” and “Skin” show that love sometimes deepens, but more likely, fades away over time. The cleverly conceived “Chemical Soak” shows love moving from flirtation to disaffection to resurrection, while the affair in “Wine Stain” leaves an indelible impression.
At times, the meter of the poetry tends to fall short, forming as repetitive song lyrics or rhymes rather than actual verses, such as “For Love” or “The Play.” It’s a very modern approach, but one that hardens the subject, as if love and romance are a fast and flippant ordeal. This does not seem her true intention given the words, but it is unfortunately what is conveyed in the form.
However, this is not to say Scarlett does not win in other ways. Deft composition skills are shown in pairing poems: “Love’s Letters” (“She loved the act of writing them…”) is followed by “Love’s Letters Unreturned” (“And with every letter, she whittles herself away”).
Overall, Scarlett shows a zest for sound and imagery and an innate gift for appealing wordplay. At only 35 pages, readers will enjoy her take on romance, while wishing for a more substantial sampling.