Arc de Triomphe, 2005

Once I arrived in Paris, I declared war against Time.
That November I marched nonstop days and nights
up and down snow-slicked avenues and streets.

Spies adored my aging face. It’d given away
one secret after another. I had been shafted.
Journalists never covered my side of the story.

On the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, I was on parade,
but Time, drunk and happy, had been too busy
snapping photographs. My beret wasn’t enough.

The Arc de Triomphe rose tall like a general.
Its sculptured reliefs stood proudly like epaulets.
Its tourist army was electrified like moths.

Underneath its arch of carved stone, a flame burned
eternal for the bones of an unknown soldier. How
odd that a faceless man could have so many friends!

Napoleon Bonaparte, the wily rascal that he was,
had calculated that stone reshaped to honor the dead was
his best shot against Time. So far he’s winning.

A journey you’ll never forget.


In his fourth poetry collection Road Work Ahead, Raymond Luczak sets out on a turbulent journey after ending a 15-year relationship. As he meets kindred souls on his travels, Luczak wonders what it means to love again. He opens the suitcase of his heart in far-flung cities and points beyond. His poems, pungent with musk and ache, will open yours too.


The black-and-white photograph shows a grassy road through a sparse forest. Above the road is a transparent square with a bright orange border tilted to the side. The text on top of the square says ROAD WORK AHEAD. Below the "sign" are the text in white and orange: poems | RAYMOND LUCZAK.

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