National Poetry Month: Opening the Mail

by W. S. Di Piero

ZYZZYVA Volume 35, #3, Winter 2019

The notices hit my inbox once a week, it seems,dusty phantasmal names sickly and unwanted.I don’t remember them, the boys from my high school,their Irish, Slavic, Italian names in the “subject” line,put there by Principle Father Rich, once one of us,we tough tender souls weathering snotty skies.The announcements come like rude enchantments, a sullen choirbeseeching with their newly minted news. They were there,as I was, but the names are husks, blowing through time,boys I never knew: Charlie McNally, Cosimo Picucci,Stosh Grzywinski, the Two-Streeters and corner boys,vets, mummers, contractors, bankers, teachers, priests,returning to their place among the infiniteunheard-from dead. The e-mails […]

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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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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

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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

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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

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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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