Zumwalt Poems Online

The Handcuff King

The Handcuff King

Escape pays for now:
suspend me upside down;
lock glass and steel;
fill fully;
water flowing over.

But if my escapes entertains,
understand that it is my existence.
I can handle building-size milk cans, Chinese water torture cells,
underwater crates and being buried alive.

Faced with flight or forced-fight,
the choice is easy
but understand I must force fight to flee:
no escape is without struggle.

But without escape or the opportunity of one,
I must hang on
and for how long?

Until I burst?

Or until I meet the next world:
the destiny of all that depart?

Explain to me the retreat available:
the extrication that sidesteps;
the evasion that slips the lock,
that springs a liberation.

No,  you know no more than I about withdrawal.
You just know more about staying the course
and that won’t help much
when I need to leave, not the visage of death,
but death itself
and its closely shrouded, tightly bound design.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Comments on: "The Handcuff King" (12)

  1. I liked this. I think I get it too, its about an army of pink flamingos coming to beat up some penguins right…right?


  2. Me too I liked it but I do not think it is to do with pink penguins or black and white flamingos I think it is about Harry Houdini discussing escapology with Death? Brilliant work beautiful words!


  3. There is a stunningly tense beauty in these lines. So cleverly crafted–the imagery is vivid and gripping. Well done, my friend


  4. Th3 Scribbl3r, willowdot21 and Vampire Weather,

    Thanks for reading and commenting! Appreciate your support of these poems!


  5. i can imagine the panic as its nearing the end and your still not free like being in a straight jacket not that ive been in one lol loved the words xxjen


  6. this is a great metaphor for the struggles we face in life..at least that’s how i read it..

    But if my escapes entertains,
    understand that it is my existence.
    I can handle building-size milk cans, Chinese water torture cells,
    underwater crates and being buried alive…

    we are able to handle so much as long as it makes sense..as long as it seems to be worth it…that’s great


    • claudia,

      Thanks for your careful reading. I try to look for three levels in some of these Zumwalt poems — in this case I think it’s the struggles of Houdini, the struggles of all of us in life and the struggles indicated in the endless cycle of life and death.


  7. i def get the allusions to houdini or someone similar…movies like the illusionist…there is always a trick…and explanation…but if it is not performed correctly it could lead to death…and still that risk is entertaining…dancing the edge…until someone falls off…


  8. I like this – and I love the title!


  9. jennygoth, brian and mareymercy,

    Thanks very much for reading and commenting!


  10. I’ve been reading through some of your poetry, and the image of force fight out of being suspended out of escape upside down is clever and gives pause for thought.


  11. Thomas,

    Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting!


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