Monica Sharp

Monica Sharp

Monica Sharp lives and writes in Florence, Italy. Her international spirit travels with an American passport. She moonlights as a legal researcher when not parenting, managing people and projects, or writing. Her writing has been published in The Florentine, Rome-ing: Firenze, Bosphorus Review of Books, Fevers of the Mind, Adamah, and Synapse. Find out more at


Velvet night drops like a dark cloth
Velvet cake sweet in the mouth
Velvet words chase doubts away
Velvet rabbits come out to play
Velvet sauce garnishes a cornish hen
Velvet silence at midnight
Velvet sounds pour out of a cello
Velvet shawls over noble shoulders
Velvet brocade swirls on a parquet dance floor
Velvet heart conceals a smallpox scar
Velvet hands around my waist
Velvet-covered stays in my corset laced tight
Velvet gloves encase confident hands
Velvet pillows upon a chaise
Velvet tubes cover chandelier chains
Velvet red roses in a crystal vase
Velvet chocolate truffles on a silver tray
Velvet cream spills into my coffee
Velvet letters in velvet folds
Velvet words – they never grow old
Velvet hair, black and fine
Velvet feather shorn into a smart dark shape
Velvet duvet on my own bed, dusty green beneath my head
Velvet cream spills into my coffee
Velvet dreams, I love them. Every time.
O Venice in velvet.

Giurovich and Minni, or the Two Caffès

Caffè Giurovich and Caffè Minni are four blocks from each other, in the Libertà neighborhood. They each hug a corner, Giurovich on a busy street, and Minni on a slightly less busy street. We did not understand the name of Caffè Minni for some time because the stylized script was hard to read. Was it Caffè Mimi? Mimmi? Mini?

I am going to Caffè Mimi, we would say, and then stop and correct ourselves, or is it Mini? Because our Italian was insufficiently confident, and more importantly, it seemed socially inappropriate, we did not dare to ask the kind, efficient women who worked behind the counter to clearly articulate the name of their business for us foreigners when we ordered our caffè normale and budino di riso. And yet it was such a pleasant place that we patronized it almost every day, even when we were confused about its name.

Finally, one day, after closely inspecting the font on a paper bag that had held a cornetto vuotto, we concluded with satisfaction that the caffè was in fact called Caffè Minni. It is difficult to not know the name of a bar that brings us so much joy and which we frequent daily for their cases of fresh pastry and sandwiches, the periodically droning espresso bar, the marble counter, the well-kept, efficient women who assist their clientele with genuine smiles.


The courtyard is lush and dark but we are not allowed to enter it. The tall doors open onto the balcony. When the doors are open in the morning the air is fresh but the mosquitos will come in after lunch. When the doors are closed the air becomes stifling. When the children are playing on the balcony the babysitter closes the shutters and the room becomes even more stifling and dark but mosquito-free. And so my space becomes smaller and smaller.

Florence: Everyman

The metal Everyman steps blithely from the midpoint of Ponte alle Grazie.

He always startled her. With his black umbrella, his rigid top hat, his squared-off legs, the right leg outstretched west toward the sunset, his smooth face needed no expression to convey its confidence.

But pedestrians hurried past Everyman at every hour of the day and night, and after a few months he didn’t even turn a head.

Perhaps Everyman felt l’appel du vide, the call of the void, the irresistible desire to jump.

Not just jump: the final jump into the green and waters below, where Everyman would not float, or swim, but sink.

Secret Sommelier

Oh yes,
The sangiovese and I have had a
Few long conversations. Blood of Jove,
Per Bacche! Does the blood
Good, it does, said the medieval doctors:
Like drinking the fresh stuff.
The French prescribe a daily glass of red for expectant mothers.
It tastes like ink, the Spanish know this in
Iberia, vino tinto. Qui in Italia
they simply smile and say, the red.
Tip me a glass, swirl it round. Let me
Feel the allure, the bruise, of freedom,
Of bad decisions, of sunshine, of graveled terraces,
The DOC and the DOCG. Let the liquid
Force a pucker on my lips, let it cut the
Hot grease of a grilled chop or steak, let it
Marry with hand cut pommes frites and fresh
Garlic aioli. Let me dive into it and swim in it,
Waterfalls of summer seasons and autumns bathed
In gold, the violet fruits swollen and sanguineous.
We operate each with metal snips until the harvest is in.
Who can say what stories a bottle contained, the price driven
Upward by nostalgia and regret, why else auction a
Chateau Lafitte or a Côtes du Rhône or Côte Ventoux vintage for
Hundreds, thousands. Open it when? when? when?
Both our fathers always said they would only
Drink beer, but that first father’s day when the baby was
Still wet and mewling, we opened a bottle of Paleo
Purchased as a truce one sweltering day in Bolgheri,
The reason for our spat long since faded. We were fearful
It had gone bad, gone off, gone south. We were engaged then,
And now here we were, parents.
We uncorked that potion,
Portioned it out into stems for our fathers,
The opulent fragrance filling the dining room, gracing
Our dinner. Both old men stopped at first sip. Agape.
Slackjawed. Disbelieving.
Stared and exclaimed, we thought we only liked beer!
That happens, if you’re used to the cheap stuff. Spend
A little, be transported, surprise yourself with a
Sound decision, even if it costs you dear.

Poetry in this post: © Monica Sharp
Published with the permission of Monica Sharp