National Poetry Month: In Love With a Woman

by Lady Nestor Gomez

I should die in miscommunication breed fantasies unregulated, losses innumerable Mejor hablar español o componerme en nahuat I could speak and not offend I would stop a symphony and find closure erase bus stops and listen to my sister, the violent rain waiting for your seven days This isn’t a poem of love or hate but our days traveling in gray sand black night beaches and post-birthdays to speak to you I could hide and not love die in anonymity vanish in the ’80s with the rest of my ghosts but I can’t stop searching engines for your name our […]

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti: The Latin America Notebooks

by Mauro Aprile Zanetti

“He traveled a lot and he traveled light. He always carried a raggedy Pan Am bag about the size of a large toaster, in which he packed a change of underwear and an old navy tie in the unwanted event that a tie might be required somewhere, and he didn’t want to embarrass his host. And he always carried small notebooks, which he filled with images, poems, political observations, character sketches.” These are Nancy J. Peters’s words portraying her business partner and lifelong friend, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Her tribute to San Francisco’s first Poet Laureate was paid on the occasion of […]

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Ramiro

by Patricia Engel

Ramiro will tell you himself he was just another slum kid from El Cartucho. He lived in a one-room apartment with his mother and another family of seven who let them take up a corner. They’d come from Pereira with Ramiro’s father when Ramiro was just beginning to walk, but his father got stabbed beneath his ribs while shining shoes in front of the Palacio Nariño and Ramiro and his mom had to find their own way. He’ll tell you his story like he was some kind of miracle, not getting into basuco like every other kid in the sector.

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In This Annihilated Place

by Wanda Coleman

ZYZZYVA Volume 28, #1, Spring 2012

“Cast ’em out! For he deceives us all!” Some call him Preach, others call him Crazy John. We’ve called him out of his Christian name so much we’ve forgotten it. Most of us snigger at his ranting, sometimes to his face, daring the retort if he’s bold enough to make one. At those moments, he tightens his jaws, screws his lips sideways, and those crystal blue eyes either haze over or flash depending on who’s doing the taunting. Rarely does he remain silent. Usually, he’ll spit some variation on it, like it’s the only quote he knows. Maybe it’s the

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My Brain’s Too Tired

by Wanda Coleman

Mrs. Jackson, we’ve sat in silence for over five minutes. Perhaps you need additional time to gather your thoughts. Would you like to continue our session or should we reschedule? Continue. I’m sorry I stopped talkin’. But the mere thought of what I have to say exhausts me. It’s so heavy, Dr. Flowers. It’s as if my brain is worn to a frazzle. I haven’t heard that expression in years. My mother always used to say that. Ha! You find something funny? No. Not a damned thing. Just the opposite. Tragic. The first shrink I went to was some prize

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Alabama Funeral

by Kristen Iskandrian

ZYZZYVA Volume 36, #1, Spring 2020 (No. 118)

The sitter arrived with a Ziploc bag of brightly colored string. “For friendship bracelets,” she said, one eye veering off. “Yes,” Bette said. The sitter’s eye was particularly lazy today; Bette had never gotten used to it, although she herself, when extra tired, had an eye prone to drifting. Bette was aware that she could be, in a multitude of ways, a perfect hypocrite. She was named after Bette Midler, which had always embarrassed her, so she told people she was named after Bette Davis. “So it’s ‘Betty’?” people would ask, and then she’d have to correct them, and they’d […]

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Taming the Dog

by Kristen Tracy

We hope it’s a safe and restful holiday for you and your loved ones. In that spirit, we’re sharing Kristen Tracy’s poem from Issue 112, “Taming the Dog”: Your dog arrives at my open window filled with advice. He sees how I trim the beans and complains. He believes the way I tenderize my lamb is an abomination. The neck may be tough, but in my house we use everything. We hang our laundry. We beat our rugs and there is joy. Last night, he caught me pruning the magnolia tree, appeared beneath my ladder, fur holding the light of […]

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The L.A. Issue: Letter from the Editor

by Laura Cogan

ZYZZYVA Volume 36, #2, Fall–Winter 2020 (No. 119) - Night Version

The following is Laura Cogan’s Letter from the Editor in our new L.A. Issue. You can purchase a copy of Issue 119 from our Shop page: Dear Reader, Though Los Angeles occupies an outsized space in America’s (and even the world’s) cultural imagination because of the film and television industries, its literary culture is comparatively overlooked or minimized. Here on the West Coast we are busy enough going about our work that it is easy to forget for long stretches at a time the still significant East Coast bias in publishing. And then every so often someone in New York sends […]

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Photisms

by Juan Pablo Villalobos

It might not feel much like Halloween this year, but it is Halloween, so we’re celebrating with a spooky tale you can find in Issue 99. We promise it’s more treat than trick, so read on: The chubby little boy remains impassive. Mamá and Papá have left the consulting room now, leaving him on his own, but even so he’s not fazed by the situation, he’s over there, just quietly sitting like it’s no big deal, in total control of the moment. Suddenly, before the psychiatrist can say anything, he raises his right arm with the index finger outstretched, as […]

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Passion Tempered with Patience: An Interview with Paul Yamazaki

by Stephen Sparks

ZYZZYVA Volume 33, #2, Fall 2017

Paul Yamazaki made me want to be a bookseller. When I met Paul, I’d been working in bookstores for fifteen years, but it wasn’t until getting to know him and seeing just how established and comfortable he was with his place in the publishing ecosystem that I began to find a similar comfort myself. At the time, I was working as a manager and book buyer at Green Apple Books on Clement Street, and have since, at the beginning of 2017, become with my wife the owner of Point Reyes Books.  Paul has been at City Lights Bookstore for nearly […]

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Cathedrals of Hope

by Lauren Markham

In 2004, when I was first old enough to cast a ballot in a presidential election, I lived in a small Vermont town, population 1,136. It was home to farmland, a cemetery, a snowmobile shop, a church, an elementary school, and a town hall that most days sat empty and unused. The leaky clapboard house my three roommates and I rented was shared with mice that ate through our cupboards and a badger who lodged in an unfinished back room. My roommate Margaret used to sunbathe on our lawn to the occasional honk of a passing car; we all enjoyed […]

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Cathedral: Some Marginalia on Reading

by Paisley Rekdal

“It’s okay to be white,” reads the sign posted in November by the Social Work building on the University of Utah campus where I teach. White poster, fine black letters in Arial font. The sign disappears in a day, though photos are taken, passed via social media. Two posters with the slogan “Stop the Rapes, Stop the Crime, Stop the Murder, Stop the Blacks” are then taped up, each with a web address for the manifesto “Blood and Soil” written by Vanguard America. These, too, are torn down. Someone spray-paints racist epithets on a campus construction site. This is not […]

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