Three Poems – Grace Sullivan

La  gargotte

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

other party. 

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. 

when in








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 

with my


and i


i miss


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.