“The Best Stories” by Dan “Sully” Sullivan

Dan “Sully” Sullivan


In first grade, Peter brought a fat
branch down on my neck for slogging
around the first base line. It broke
the skin & wasn’t the first time
I blubbered in the grass in front
of everyone. I fixed masking tape
over my nipples before gym
in middle school so they laid flat
in my uniform, did not draw
attention, snickers, or titty-twisters.
Unlike other fat kids that put t-shirts
on to swim in the lake at Montrose,
I never wanted to wear anything
that made me feel heavier.
I’m not sure when I first felt fat.
I do know that my first grade teacher
told me to pull my shirt down
while reading out loud to the class
because my belly was hanging out.
I don’t know how much
I liked school but I learned.
I also know when Curtis swung
his backpack in circles & hit me
in the head on accident, I broke
his nose. I know rage erupts
from large shadows in my gut.
Even today, as a man taking up space,
my rage is a child I struggle to know
how to hold. I wonder what narratives
we privilege, which get retold, when
it is okay to be fat or angry. I’ve heard
I was born looking like I had thirty
marshmallows smuggled in my cheeks.
Had toes like ten dumplings.
Fat rolls pinch-ready.
You were a big baby, my mom says
every Christmas. I still am, I joke
every Christmas. The best stories
        are round.
They come back to you.

from Rattle #79, Spring 2023


Dan “Sully” Sullivan: “I’ve been thinking a lot about learning to love the body I am in, coming to terms with the cyclical nature of my conditioning, unearthing where unhealthy rage resides and waits, and the intersections of memory, joy, and trauma. If I don’t confront my own narratives, they will always come back for me. What space can I carve for new ones?” (web)

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