It's now one week out from the official launch of my book at the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (aka AWP) Convention and Bookfair, which will be held this year in Boston. If you're going to the conference, you can find me signing books at Booth #708, or at a couple of other venues over the course of the five days.
To celebrate, I will post a few poems in the lead-up, just to tantalize you!
This is the poem that provided the title for the collection. It was first published in the inaugural issue of Barn Owl Review, and I will read this at the Birds of a Feather Reading scheduled on the first night of the conference, March 6:
The Sword-Swallower Finds a New Calling
She swallows stones, now--
throat like a creek bed.
Started with pebbles. Palmed
several to warm them
before she plucked one,
placed it in her mouth,
tongued its smooth surface, imagined it
transubstantiated into a pearl.
She filled herself with pearls
until her skin rivaled their milkiness.
Under the floodlights, she glowed,
audiences rapt as they never had been
when it was just another trick,
sword seeming to disappear
in the scabbard of her throat.
She savored another stone,
tasted the vinegary remnants
of a thousand compressed years.
She felt a kinship
with the grain of sand she imagined
locked within the stone's heart,
which could have begun life
in the mouth of another creature,
could have evolved
into something else entirely.