The Sword Swallower's Valentine's image
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The Sword Swallower's Valentine

Sandra BeasleySandra Beasley June 16, 2020
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You had me at that martini. I saw

you thread the olive’s red pimento throat

with your plastic swizzle stick, a deft act

at once delicate and greedy. A man

paid to taste the blade knows his match.

The pleasure. The brine. I wish we had time,

I said—you stopped me—There’s always time.

That’s when they called me to the stage. I saw

your mouth’s angle change as you made a match

of my name and Noted Gullet! Steel Throat!

Ramo Swami, the Sword-Swallowing Man.

I want to assure you it’s just an act,

but since age seven it’s the only act

I know. My mother recalls that first time

she caught my butter-knife trick: a real man

might not cry, but the real boy wept. She saw

my resolve to build a tunnel from throat

to feet. A dark that deep could go unmatched,

she warned. Your smile is the strike of a match,

the hope of an inner spelunking act.

Facing the crowd, the sight of your pale throat

tightens mine at the worst possible time—

that fickle tic of desire. Yeah, I saw

his last show, you’ll say. Lost focus, poor man.

Funny how women make and break their men,

how martinis both break and make a match.

The best magician will hang up his saw,

release his doves, if the right woman acts

to un-straitjacket his body in time.

If lips meet, the hint of gin in your throat

will mingle with camellia in my throat,

same oil used by any samurai man.

I trained against touch once upon a time,

not knowing a rigid pharynx would match

a rigid heart. I’m ready to react,

to bleed. As any alchemist can see,

to fill a throat with raw steel is no match

for love. Don’t clap for these inhuman acts.

Cut me in two. Time, time: the oldest saw

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