Session Drummer

by Tommy Orange

I’m on a train and it’s Saturday so I don’t have to work, but when I’m not working Saturday I’m usually working. I mean it’s work only because I get paid and need the money, but it’s playing drums—like a drum set in a studio. I’m a sometimes session drummer working mainly at this studio in West Oakland where people know me as a good enough drummer to call when they need a good enough drummer for a usually mediocre album project. What I do for a living, as they say, is to wash windows. I wash building windows no […]

Continue Reading

‘A Special Kind of Freedom in Failure: A Conversation with Jim Gavin,’ ZYZZYVA No. 116

by Oscar Villalon

Jim Gavin’s fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope, Esquire, Slice, The Mississippi Review, and ZYZZYVA. Based in Los Angeles, he is also the creator of the critically-acclaimed television series Lodge 49, now in its second season. You can watch Lodge 49 on AMC every Monday night at 10pm. Issue 116 features a Q&A with Gavin, an excerpt from which appears below: OSCAR VILLALON: As a prose writer, as somebody who conceives of narrative through the written word, how did you go about recalibrating your sense of telling a story for a visual medium? JIM GAVIN: I have a dumb […]

Continue Reading

“Who” by Kevin Killian: ZYZZYVA No. 45

by Zack Ravas

San Francisco is mourning the loss of one of its greatest writers. Kevin Killian was not only a tremendous talent –– as a poet, a novelist, a playwright, an art critic, and more –– but one of the most gregarious and giving souls one could hope to meet. The following is his poem “Who” from ZYZZYVA No. 45 in its entirety: Who, I didn’t love him enough ninety thousand names for the government to gamble on, to conjure, out of a hole so big it could be only Who said to me look at my lesions, no, Kevin, really look, […]

Continue Reading

‘Little Key’ by Joshua Rivkin: National Poetry Month

by Zack Ravas

April represents National Poetry Month, intended as a way to spread awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. To celebrate, each week we will be taking a look back at ZYZZYVA’s recent and distant past to share some choice selections. For our final installment, we present “Little Key” by Joshua Rivkin from Issue No. 103: Hopes are shy birds flying at a great distance, seldom reached by the best of guns, Audubon wrote in his journal thinking not of the hawk or the wren but of course the sparrow. An animal throat untwists the shadow of your name. Song replying […]

Continue Reading

‘Lost Boy’ by Matthew Dickman: National Poetry Month

by Matthew Dickman

April represents National Poetry Month, intended as a way to spread awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. To celebrate, each week we will be taking a look back at ZYZZYVA’s recent and distant past to share some choice selections. For our fourth installment, we present “Lost Boy” by Matthew Dickman from Issue No.108:  I’m standing behind the 7-Eleven moving a crushed-up can around with my foot. I’m maybe twelve blocks away from the house I grew up in. I could walk there right now if I wanted. See who’s living there and if the house is the same or not […]

Continue Reading

‘The Geology of Us: To be Responsible Citizen of Earth’ by Lauret Edith Savoy: ZYZZYVA No. 113

by Lauret Edith Savoy

In celebration of Earth Day, we present Lauret Edith Savoy’s essay “The Geology of Us: To be a Responsible Citizen of Earth” from Issue No. 113 in its entirety: The following is based on a February 20th talk given at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, as part of the Institute’s “Facing the Anthropocene” project. Like you, I am grappling with what it means to be a citizen of Earth. It goes without saying that we live in an unprecedented time. Human beings have become a dominant force in global environmental change, responsible for altering the world’s atmospheric, […]

Continue Reading

‘Midnight, Talking about our Exes’ by Ada Limón: National Poetry Month

by Ada Limón

April represents National Poetry Month, intended as a way to spread awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. To celebrate, each week we will be taking a look back at ZYZZYVA’s recent and distant past to share some choice selections. For our third installment, we present “Midnight, Talking about our Exes” by Ada Limón from ZYZZYVA No. 94:  The sun is still down and maybe even downer. Two owls, one white and one large-eared, dive into a nothingness that is a field, night-beast in the swoop-down, (the way we all have to make a living). Let’s be owls tonight, stay […]

Continue Reading

‘My Madness is My Love Toward Mankind’ by Devon Walker-Figueroa: National Poetry Month

by Devon Walker-Figueroa

April represents National Poetry Month, intended as a way to spread awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. To celebrate, each weeek we will be taking a look back at ZYZZYVA’s recent and distant past to share some choice selections. For our second installment, we present “My Madness is My Love Toward Mankind” by Devon Walker-Figueroa from ZYZZYVA No. 112: For Nijinsky People are mistakes and I do not want to commit any. Opinions are in me. God is in me. More than anything, immobility is an invented thing. I have two ends and they are both on fire. Because […]

Continue Reading

‘Astray’ by John Sibley Williams: National Poetry Month

by Zack Ravas

April represents National Poetry Month, intended as a way to spread awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. To celebrate, each week we will be taking a look back at ZYZZYVA’s recent and distant past to share some choice selections. To begin the month, we present John Sibley Williams’ poem “Astray” from ZYZZYVA No. 112:A neighborhood gone missing. Only the torn electrical tape that held it together remains of the cul-de-sac where most of us learned to drive in circles. No bedroom windows left for songbirds to strike each morning or streets made of tin foil or walls of […]

Continue Reading

“Summer at the Baltic Sea, 1958” by Kelly Cressio-Moeller, ZYZZYVA No. 110, Fall Issue

by Zack Ravas

Kelly Cressio-Moeller is an associate editor at Glass Lyre Press. Her work has previously appeared in ZYZZYVA No. 101. Her poem “Summer at the Baltic Sea, 1958” from ZYZZYVA No. 110 is presented in its entirety below: The sepia-toned man & woman sit together in a Strandkorb an arched canopy pushed back their heads turned toward each other eyes smiling she wears a strapless swimsuit her body leaning forward arms mid-motion as if brushing away sand he wears a striped beach robe one hand wrapped around his raised knee on the footrest the other holding the side of his neck considering her […]

Continue Reading

‘Invisible Relations’ by Jenny Xie, ZYZZYVA No. 111, Winter Issue

by Jenny Xie

Jenny Xie is the author of the poetry collection Nowhere to Arrive (Northwestern University Press). Her latest collection, Eye Level (Graywolf Press), won the 2017 Walt Whitman Award, and is currently a finalist for the 2018 Pen Open Book Award. Her poem below, titled “Invisible Relations,” appears in ZYZZYVA No. 111. There are no simple stories, because language forces distances. The days gummy and without drink. And a question stammers in the mind for weeks, one key aquiver on the piano. In the course of a day, your head will point in all the cardinal directions. It is good to […]

Continue Reading

‘Carpe Diem’ by Lucia Berlin, ZYZZYVA No. 1, Spring Issue

by Lucia Berlin

Lucia Berlin was an American short story writer, who developed a small, devoted following, but did not reach a mass audience during her lifetime. She rose to sudden literary fame eleven years after her death, in August 2015, with FSG’s publication of a volume of selected stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women. ZYZZYVA published a number of Berlin’s stories during the Eighties and Nineties, and her work can be found in Issues 1, 4, 18, and 31. Below is her story “Carpe Diem” in its entirety from ZYZZYVA Issue 1. Most of the time I feel all right about getting old. Some things give me a pang, like […]

Continue Reading