To escape the cage
locked with combinations
long ago set to memory
—there’s the trick.
But rust can hold fast
the once calculated
fall of the tumblers,
and the self find itself submerged
in icy waters.
Where then’s the oil
of reason, and what contortion
can dislodge a skeleton
key stuck in the gut?
A brinksman revels
in the unraveling
of himself before a gasping
world. Here’s the man
that rattled his crib all day,
turned breathless and blue.
There, there, what’s wrong?
Restraint’s no longer polished
illusion. It’s time to panic.

Richard Foerster is the author of five collections of poems and the former editor of Chelsea and Chautauqua Literary Journal. His honors include NEA and Maine Arts Commission fellowships, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, and the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, among others. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies since 1975, including The Best American Poetry, Poetry, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, and Kenyon Review, along with many more.

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