The Poetry Issue: Letter from the Editor

by Laura Cogan

ZYZZYVA No. 123, Spring 2022, The Poetry Issue

Dear Reader, One of the messages we’re most relentlessly bombarded with is the importance of happiness. In so many ways, pop culture cynically suggests that happiness could make us successful, on our own terms. Happiness, it seems, is its own kind of currency. And lack of it becomes yet another reason to punish ourselves. It seems especially cruel that happiness is often elevated as a kind of measure of success that can, theoretically, be achieved, witnessed, and celebrated outside the paradigm of capitalism—as though it’s available to any of us if we only choose it. We absorb the truism that […]

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On Overturning Roe v. Wade: A Note to our Readers

by Laura Cogan

Dear Readers, We recognize and are heartbroken by the monumental consequences of the Supreme Court’s radical decision to eradicate the federal protection of abortion rights. It is profoundly undemocratic on every level: in its grotesque distortion of the proper role of the Court, in its unjustified incursion on personal freedoms, and in its blatant advancement of minority rule. No state should have the right to force birth. It is subjugation. It is inhumane. It is extremism. Such outrageous incursions into the private healthcare decisions of families and individuals will only compound existing inequities in our country. We are clear-eyed about […]

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Messiah Wolf

by Joe Donnelly

When I was a boy, my imagination was ripe for wolves. But, it wasn’t the usual folktales and fables that got to me, or the scenes of wolf packs airbrushed onto the panel vans of my suburban youth. At six years old, my wolf was a companion, not a cautionary tale or a signifier of

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The Third Daughter

by Vanessa Hua

The Chairman is dead. Outside, the people of Chinatown are cheering. They light firecrackers and beat pots and pans, chanting as they march three floors below the window of my apartment. Their signs say, “Smash the Emperor!” Drips of paint spoil the sweep and curve of the calligraphy, the characters bleeding as if shot. Shouts

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Community Plot

by Bryan Washington

I’d started tending the ex’s plot. The lettuce and the garlic and the turnips. It wasn’t my idea, the apartment complex had a community garden, and of course I’d seen you out there but we didn’t have shit to say to each other. We met on the stairs after my guy left, and it was another few weeks before we spoke. I’d seen you around, though. Sometimes I’d catch you staring. Our eyes met, and you’d look away. You were an old man, living alone, always in the same greasy cardigan and the same burnt brown shoes, which was everything […]

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Friend

by Dominica Phetteplace

She says Namaste even when not in yoga class, whereas I will not say om under any circumstances. She says she doesn’t resent the younger generation, that they are completely of a world that we made, that to hate the young is to hate ourselves. She says that guys on dating apps indicate their marriage suitability by listing their hobbies as ‘hiking’ and ‘rock climbing.’ Her hobbies include cocaine and gambling, but she leaves those off her profile. Somedays she doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, but if I say I want to get coffee she will walk with […]

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Biodome

by Juhea Kim

April 13. Almost midnight. Through the worn twill curtains, a viscous light was flowing into the apartment like amber. Park washed his face in the bathroom, took his meds, and sat down on the sofa with the remote. One click, and the blue light of the TV mingled with the sodium yellow of the room. He flipped through the channels. Game shows. Contestants competing for money, for marriage. The women are showing off, swiveling their hips and winking at the camera, and then they’re ranked by the amount of applause they receive. People awwing over tiny puppies. Slow, close-up shots […]

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Love Story, With Cocaine

by Tom Bissell

ZYZZYVA Fall 2011 Cover

Maarit’s father had given her a dog because he hoped it would provide her with something to do. It was true that Maarit did not have much to do, though she always felt busy, which was, perhaps, a natural consequence of waking up daily at 3:00 p.m. Most of her activities involved spending her father’s

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Wool

by Mark Labowskie

Martin exits I-89 before he needs to and progresses town by town. He keeps pulling over to eyeball a fiery spruce or an outcropping of mica, admire quaint inns with ivy wreathed around their VACANCY signs and crumbling breweries offering hard apple cider tastings. He’s eager to reach Tunbridge, but knows anticipation is the greatest pleasure. He stops to buy a mason jar of corn whiskey from a sweet old man on a porch, thinking how happy he’ll be once he reaches Lola and Dot’s barn. Then, realizing his spirits are at that peak where they’re in danger of toppling […]

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Desire, Text, & a San Francisco Apartment: Interview with Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian

by Daniel Benjamin

ZYZZYVA Volume 35, #3, Winter 2019

I sat down with authors and artists Dodie Bellamy and the late Kevin Killian in their Minna Street apartment in San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon in early May. I didn’t know it would be my last time seeing Kevin—he died following complications from chemotherapy on June 15, 2019. On the day of my visit,

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The Family Issue: Letter from the Editor

by Laura Cogan

ZYZZYVA Volume 37, #2, Fall 2021 (No. 121)

Dear Readers, Water, food, air: these are the essentials of existence. But for many, family—however we define it—is as central to our experience of life, and our sense of self. Whether we define ourselves in terms of or in opposition to our families of origin; whether the families we build and seek out appear traditional or unconventional; whether family represents a source of stability and community or of tension and loneliness: family—that inner circle in which we find ourselves supported and challenged, embraced or painfully invisible—is the site of so much of the drama, intrigue, romance, tragedy, and comedy of […]

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The Fixers

by Troy Jollimore

Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 film, Fargo, begins with the following statement: “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

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