the french atmosphere never
truly blended with
birmingham’s urban air.
the clink of lattes being set down, however,
went along beautifully with the mechanical
sounds of sloss filling the city.
dust became cigarette smoke once
you stepped inside, tinting the whole
diner with a grey overcoat.
women dressed like the 50s men dressed like the
bourgeoisie styling the same loafers each time
they walked in.
and i stare at the diner’s window now,
keep thinking i see a puff of smoke,
but it’s never true.
just like that old furnace, this place
is abandoned, shut down.
Two Parties after Carl
Dennis’s “Two Lives”
You have your arm wrapped around my waist
and your solo cup in between your lips. The
energy is enough for a hundred but there’s
only nine of us, we dance to dumb songs and
still scream the lyrics. You’ve never seen the
There’s still laughter but it’s muted.
They’re close but not entangled.
They treat music like fine wine and
just hum the tunes. But it is not a
silent party. It’s warm; liveliness
fills your mind, your heart, not your
We move and we can’t stop. The floor
becomes lava so we jump on the furniture
and fall into each other’s arms. You’ve
chosen to forget your own problems And
face the music And so have I.
They face each other. Problems between
them hover in the air because they don’t
want to forget them; they want this
party to fix them. They want the
laughter to solve them all And so do I.
camera, my camera makes me look like a tourist
i am a
i want them to look at me like i know this city, i don’t
know this city, i know
the first five roman emperors and that there aren’t as many ancient ruins
for us to tour on tuesday because nero set this city on fire
(nero was the fifth
but there is still a cobblestone road cleopatra once walked
and i saw the site of caesar’s stabbing but it didn’t feel real
because nobody was stabbing anybody
people are a lot nicer here now than in the
they are laughing on the streets, not shouting or
and if they’re shouting, it’s because they’re greeting
their friend, enrico, who they’re about to laugh
and if they’re fighting, it’s because they’re tourists.
you think the photos of the city are just the
the speckles of beauty within the ugliness of urbanism
but there are
1 there are fat pigeons waddling around almost every street corner. we are getting out of the cab and the driver is taking our luggage out as i can’t stop staring at this one pigeon half a block away because he’s waddling towards me and i know my fear is dumb because i know they’re dumb but it doesn’t stop my breath from hitching or me from slipping through the hotel’s entrance first. i know already he won’t be the last dumb pigeon i see and my mom keeps trying to say “it’s not that bad” but it is because if she was in a city where spiders constantly crawled across the buildings or started scuttling towards her she would freak out too.
camera, i hold up my camera
and nothing is ugly here not the buildings not the language
not the people the people are dressed in
button-up coats, stringed-up heels, runway walks
this must be where they get their inspiration for pantene commercials.
there are vespas roaring around every
and they aren’t afraid to scrape your sneakers
the drivers won’t give you right of way
but they aren’t angry with you for
in their way no one is angry
nighttime falls and streets are still filled
because you eat dinner at 8
and you can see all the stars even
2 my parents are following my directions through the city because i’m apparently the only one who understands apple maps. it is just the three of us on this trip me and my irritative mom and my stubborn dad which means my dad has to ask exactly what our next move is after every single turn and my mom has to get exasperated with him and how long it’s taking us to walk even though it’s only been ten minutes. i see my friends on instagram when we finally reach the restaurant and i wonder what they’re doing.
3 we don’t get back to our hotel until 11 pm which means we don’t fall asleep until near 1 am and my mom always wants us to start moving at 7 am. i try to use my excitement as a distraction from how tired i am and try not to think about how i won’t be able to sleep on the plane to birmingham next week because i can’t sleep on planes and how we will arrive back home at 2 am and i will have to get back to school the next day. i tell myself “i’m in italy” as a distraction from the fact that i will get no rest this spring break.
camera, i am filming
Grace Sullivan is a junior in the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ Creative Writing Department. She has won a Scholastic Writing National Award and been previously published in other literary journals, but this is her first time being published by The Mire. When she is not writing, she can be found watching Netflix, baking, or riding horses at Indian Springs.