Old Man Packing For Rome

Adam Berlin

The Coliseum where man and beast did battle,
where competitive fairness was not discernible
among the cheering like so many heads helmeted,
swords sheathed, is still time zones away.

The history-book past made vivid
by Hollywood extravaganzas is nearly
as tactile as the unzipped American
Tourister flat on my bed ready for packing.

Which pants for an August buona sera and
how many button-down shirts for a night on
the town are my sartorial decisions made
light by luggage wheels.

I once backpacked four full months.
My shoulders were strong and tanned,
the color of Tuscan brick when smaller
towns and curving roads were my desire.

Now cities are my destination.
Modern cities.
Amenities.

Rome too, before it became that Rome
or this Rome, while being built, must have
pre-flourished with meandering
paths for travelers, years before
the Apian Way.
Like a jet route.
One direction.
In and out.


About the Author

Adam Berlin is the author of the novels The Number of Missing (Spuyten Duyvil), Belmondo Style (St. Martin's/winner of the Publishing Triangle's Ferro-Grumley award) and Headlock (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill). His short novel Both Members of the Club, winner of the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize, is forthcoming from the Texas Review Press. And his novel The Number of Missing is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil press. His stories and poetry have appeared in numerous journals. He teaches writing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and co-edits J Journal: New Writing on Justice. For more please visit www.adamberlin.com