Tag Archives: poem

Three Poems for Inauguration Day: ‘I Used to Be Much Much Darker’ by Francisco X. Alarcón

On the occasion of Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day, we would like to share with you three poems from our early volumes—poems we believe speak to values that will be very much challenged by the incoming administration.

“I Used to Be Much Much Darker” by Francisco X. Alarcón (who died last January) appeared in ZYZZVA No. 3 (Fall 1985). A playful even jovial poem, it tells, in English and in Spanish, of the speaker’s love of self, of reveling in his “darkness”—something others would deem unworthy of celebration. Indeed, as the speaker plangently notes: “but anyway/ up here ‘dark’/ is only for/ the ashes:/ the stuff lonely nights/ are made of.” Yet it’s the poem’s indefatigable cheerfulness—could we even call it optimism?—that remains with the reader.

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Three Poems for Inauguration Day: ‘Snake’ by Sherman Alexie

On the occasion of Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day, we would like to share with you three poems from our early volumes—poems we believe speak to values that will be very much challenged by the incoming administration.

“Snake” by Sherman Alexie appeared in ZYZZYVA No. 77 (Fall 2006). In the poem, a driver recounts the accidental running over of a bull snake. But what is really being recounted is how the speaker takes responsibility for the creature’s body, and how respecting the dignity of others, and holding oneself to account for actions that affect them, is akin to holiness.

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Three Poems for Inauguration Day: ‘Justice Without Passion’ by Jane Hirshfield

On the occasion of Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day, we would like to share with you three poems from our early volumes—poems we believe speak to values that will be very much challenged by the incoming administration.

“Justice Without Passion” by Jane Hirshfield appeared in ZYZZYVA No. 12 (Winter 1987). In the poem, the speaker observes a friend’s son practicing the piano, noting “he is like a soldier or a saint: blank-faced, and given wholly/ to an obedience he does not need to understand.” Perhaps, the poem suggests, justice rests in understanding when obedience is merited, that justice requires us to be aware if we are only playing “for playing’s sake.”

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‘Poem for Noguchi’ by Matthew Zapruder, ZYZZYVA No. 108, Winter Issue

matthew-zapruderMatthew Zapruder is editor-at-large for Wave Books, the poetry editor for The New York Times Magazine, and an associate professor in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College. Next August, his book Why Poetry? will be published by Ecco. Two of his poems—”Poem for Noguchi” and “Stari Trg”—appear in the new issue of ZYZZYVA, which you can get here.

The following is “Poem for Noguchi” in its entirety. You can hear Zapruder read from his work, along with ZYZZYVA contributors Kathleen Alcott, Scott O’Connor, and Ella Martinsen Gorham, at the Winter Issue Celebration at Diesel in Oakland on Thursday, January 26.

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‘Hotel Bar’ by Ruth Madievsky, ZYZZYVA No. 106, Spring/Summer

ZYZZYVSpring2016coverRuth Madievsky is the author of the collection Emergency Brake (Tavern Books). She is also a  doctoral student at the University of Southern California’s School of Pharmacy, and a research assistant in an HIV clinic in Los Angeles.

Two of her latest poems appear in Issue No. 106: “Wind” and “Hotel Bar.” (Madievsky has been published in ZYZZYVA before. Her poem “Poem for Spring” appeared in No. 103.) Her work, as described by Maggie Millner in an interview with Madievsky, forces “a dialogue between her romantic and clinical inclinations and suggesting the body’s dangerous propensity for betrayal.” “Hotel Bar” could be seen as an example of that. Here it is in its entirety. You can read that poem and “Wind,” too, in Issue No. 106, which you can order here.

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‘On the Road’ by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch: ZYZZYVA No. 106, Spring

Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch is the author of the poetry collections “Rockclimbing in Silk” (Seren), “Not in These Shoes” (Picador), and “Banjo” (Picador). In 2014 she held a residency at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse to mark the centenary of the poet’s birth, and she is the recipient of a Hawthornden Fellowship. She lives in Wales.

Two of her poems appear in ZYZZYVA’s Spring/Summer Issue (No. 106), including “On the Road.” An examination of Madame Tusaud and her long-lasting craft of wax figures, “On the Road” isn’t so much intrigued by the Tusaud’s waxworks as it is by how they ever came about. “To make the dead appear living, the living dead//without quite meaning to, is a skill I cannot/ yet take in …,” says the poem’s speaker. What follows is the poem in its entirety.

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Legendary Frontier Days Told for These Times: ‘Paul Bunyan’ by Larry Beckett

Poet and songwriter Larry Beckett has been embarked on a quixotic project, retelling the legend of the famed, semi-fictional logger Paul Bunyan (not to mention his “blue-eyed ox,’’ Babe) in ways that capture the barbaric yawp of olden times in a voice that speaks to our current culture, and implicitly, paralysis of spirit. Bypassing empty debates about the pros and cons of “American exceptionalism,” Beckett flat out launches into the introduction of this hero of a thousand faces: Out of the wild North woods, in the thick of the timber And through the twirling of the winter of the blue …Continue reading

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‘Letter to Galway From Tahoe’ by Heather Altfeld: ZYZZYVA No. 105, Winter Issue

Heather Altfeld’s first book, “The Disappearing Theatre,” won the 2015 Poets at Work Prize, judged by Stephen Dunn. Her poems have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Green Mountains Review, Poetry Northwest, Okey-Panky, among other publications, and in ZYZZYVA No. 92 and 99. Her poem “Letter to Galway from Tahoe” is in ZYZZVA No. 105.

Addressed to the late great poet Galway Kinnell, who directed the poetry program at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the speaker of the poem finds herself seeking the ear of Kinnell, who has died only months ago. “I turn to you because I think you were one of the ones a little like me,// for whom terror and beauty were like the green languages of birds/ we longed to interpret, and felt, if we could not do so,/ that we had failed.” The following is the poem in its entirety.

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Adventures in Language School

Joseph Di Prisco is the author of several books, including novels—the most recent of which is All for Now (MacAdam/Cage)—and two poetry collections. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Prairie Schooner, and The Threepenny Review, and his poetry was published in the Winter 2011 issue of ZYZZYVA.

Two new poems by Di Prisco appear in ZYZZYVA’s Spring/Summer issue: “Symptomatology” and “Adventures in Language School.” Here we present the latter, which is characteristic of the humor and the warmth that imbues Di Prisco’s charming poetry.

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Terra Incognita

Melina Draper is a poet living in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her most recent book is Lugar de Origen–Place of Origin (Oyster River Press), a bilingual book of poetry co-written with Elena Lafert.

“Terra Incognita” is one of her two poems published in ZYZZYVA’s Winter ’11 issue. Both poems take Charles Darwin’s travels through Argentina in the 19th century as their theme. In “Terra,” as Darwin uncovers fossils in a place that “quaffed blood, ingested gristle, guts, and bone,” it’s hard not to think of Los Desaparecidos, the thousands upon thousands of people who “disappeared” during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War of the late ’70s and early ’80s.

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Second Wind

The white of the ocean’s foam-froth is said to contain all colors, while the sea’s green-blue depths are composed of the colors our ancestors could not bear. Or could not bear to let go: the story varies with the source. And the shadow that lies on the sea is cast by no flying or orbiting thing, but by the ocean floor where it blocks the light from the sun at the heart of the earth. These things, however they might terrify, are nonetheless true. I will hold you through the shivers and terrors. I will kiss the unholy curve of …Continue reading

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