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, Kevin was in high spirits, even though he and Dodie had recently returned from a hospital stay following his cancer diagnosis. Kevin was enthusiastic about ongoing projects, and seemed to be speeding up more than slowing down. In tributes to Kevin following his death, many

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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.” The statement was, of course, false. So far as we know, there was no desperate man, in Minnesota or anywhere in the Midwest, who hired two goons to kidnap his wife in the hopes of stealing the ransom money that would be paid by his

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The Street Sweep

by Meron Hadero

ZYZZYVA Volume 34, #3, Winter 2018

Getu stood in front of his mirror struggling to perfect a Windsor knot. He pulled the thick end of his tie through the loop, but the knot unraveled in his hands. He tried again, and again he failed. Did he really need the tie? He guessed it would probably be easier to persuade the guards at the Sheraton to let him in with one. And even then… But he couldn’t work out the steps, so Getu put the necktie in his pocket and decided to try his luck without it. Sitting at the edge of his mattress, he waited for

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Alabama Funeral

by Kristen Iskandrian

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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The Wedding Visitor

by Elizabeth Spencer

ZYZZYVA Volume 29, #2, Fall 2013

It seemed a good thing to do and because he hadn’t come there in so long, he went slowly. Approaching the house from the road before it spiraled up the drive, he sat for a while and gave it a long look. Like many Southern houses, the original structure was almost lost among the many extensions. There was the added side porch where everyone lived out each day, enjoying sun through the enveloping series of windows. He recalled another, earlier porch out back, screened in, added to escape the hot summer nights. They had slept under mosquito nets and hoped

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Anyone Can Do It

by Manuel Muñoz

ZYZZYVA Volume 34, #2, Fall 2018

Her immediate concern was money. It was a Friday when the men didn’t come home from the fields and, true, sometimes the men wouldn’t return until late, the headlights of the neighborhood work truck turning the corner, the men drunk and laughing from the bed of the pickup. And, true, other women might have thought first about the green immigration vans prowling the fields and the orchards all around the valley, ready to take away the men they might not see again for days if good luck held, or even longer if they found no luck at all. When the

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The Technology Issue: Letter from the Editor

by Laura Cogan

ZYZZYVA Volume 37, #1, Spring 2021 (No. 120)

Dear Readers, At the beginning of George Dyson’s latest book, Analogia, he describes how, in 1716, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz hoped his calculus ratiocinator (an instrument that brilliantly anticipated digital computing) would “work out, by an infallible calculus, the doctrines most useful for life.” With this device, Leibniz imagined, “The human race will have a new kind of instrument which will increase the power of the mind much more than optical lenses strengthen the eyes.” I am struck by the analogy and how well it lends itself to piercing Leibniz’s optimism; for just as vision is not, in itself, perception, information […]

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National Poetry Month: Invitation

by Al Young

In memory of Papa Jo Jones & Philly Joe Jones There’ll be all the requisites & O how exquisite the presence of night blooming jazzmen & women, flowering in aurora borealis like all the rounded midnights & Moscow nights and New Delhi dawns you ever wanted to drop in on or sit in with or pencil into your calendar of unscheduled delights. There’ll be love in all its liquid power, rhythmic & brassy; mellifluous forms, flashing flesh & the slippery glittering skin of your teeth; enchantment, male & female; the orchid chords of hothouse scat as pop song, as darkness […]

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National Poetry Month: Twenty-Seven Objects of Explicit Wonder

by L.A. Johnson

1. house with lawn gone yellow 2. no matter which direction, the wind 3. swimming pools and dreams of pools 4. coyotes that shriek like children 5. naked intruders 6. scent of honeysuckle through a sunroof 7. dish, broken, never thrown away 8. half-lidded sentences that ramble on 9. swimsuits drying on balconies 10. water even a seahorse would swim in 11. the clear circles a hawk makes in the air 12. reservoir, with a lover’s name 13. confessions heard over the ocean’s waves 14. two eggs cracked, each with two yokes 15. fingerprints on mirrors 16. fire danger warning: […]

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