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The Fire Eater

A fire eater performed his tricks on Hollywood Blvd by the entrance to the 101 Freeway. It was autumn. Just as he was about to inhale the bright flame, however, he slipped on a leaf and fell into the street. A motorcycle swerved out of the way and barely missed him. The fire eater quickly got up and jumped back onto the curb. He counted his lucky stars. One star. Two stars. Three stars. But there was no reason to go on. At least he felt that way at the moment. His family of circus performers had abandoned him. He would have to make it on his own. Perhaps he could go back to school? Who was he kidding? Eating fire was his only skill. It wasn’t much of a marketable skill, either. Maybe he could make it on America’s Got Talent? Or get hired in a Vegas show? These were his hopes and dreams. But were they merely pipe dreams? For now, at least, he would have to be content with eating fire on Hollywood Blvd by the 101 Freeway. Maybe someone important would discover him there, tomorrow. Maybe the flame would no longer scar his autumnal heart.

Headshot of male standing in well-lit hallway, one arm crossed over the other, wearing a polo shirt and a smile.

JOSE HERNANDEZ DIAZ is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, Electric Literature, Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, The Nation, Poetry, The Progressive, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He has served as poetry editor for Lunch Ticket and editorial intern for Floricanto Press.


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