leaning towards the sun

            (for Charles Bukowski)

in the old empire they placed
milestones on the road
to mark the distance from Rome

from Senate and slaves
Cicero, bread and circuses: life or death in the decision
of a dictator’s thumb

in reverse they marked the distance
from the Rhine’s flowing border
the Carpathian hills

from blood and murder unmasked

and you would’ve felt
the impossibility of all that

more than most,
your grizzled German blood

that barbarous face (and reputation)
your strange mixture of glorious defeat
and civilized grace
you would’ve sat by the roadside
bottle in hand,
leaning towards the sun

saying, “hey, there’s nothing
back there
nothing further on

there’s only you and me


tapping a finger to
your chest,
throwing out a salute

and laughing

This is a reprint of work originally published in A Synonym for Sobriety.

Ben Adams is a writer from Adelaide, South Australia, who has studied literature and history, clerked at video stores and petrol stations, been paid to wrangle cash at beer-soaked music festivals, and worked in academia. Many of his poems have found publication both online and in print over the last decade. His first complete collection of poetry, A Synonym for Sobriety, won the Single Poet series award from Friendly Street Poets and was published in 2019. Find him on Instagram (@bts.adams) or Twitter (@badbadams) and, finally, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bts.adams.

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