National Poetry Month: ‘Northern California’

by Rage Hezekiah

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we’ll be sharing a poem a week from our archives. The following poem, “Northern California” by Rage Hezekiah, is from Issue 116. You can read more poetry by Rage Hezekiah in the issue itself, which is currently available from our Store. You stood at the edge of the stone fruit orchard while I scaled the ladder, a picking basket against my belly, brimming with shiny-ripe plums. Father, you came to California willing to farm at my side, practiced shattered Spanish with the men I’d befriended. When I left after lunch to get high, you never said […]

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National Poetry Month: “Object Permanence”

by Luiza Flynn-Goodlett

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we’ll be sharing a poem a week from our archives. The following poem, “Object Permanence” by Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, is from our recent Bay Area Issue. You can read more great work from local poets in the issue itself, which is currently available from our Store. Yes, the red-tail who swooped across our windshield didn’t actually vanish in the gulley, circles still. And when the alarm wakes you, I trust that soft nest of curls will be safely conveyed  to hover at a chalkboard, fall in your eyes. But the calls keep getting closer. So straighten your tie, […]

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National Poetry Month: ‘A Moment in Time’

by John Freeman

The following is an excerpt from John Freeman’s forthcoming book of poetry The Park, out May 2020 from Copper Canyon Press. You can also read more of John Freeman’s poetry in Issue 115. On a windy day I come upon a woman crying to herself on a bench. The park has hidden her in its embrace and I must decide how to be, to stop or keep walking by, to pretend not to see? Or should I flinch at her pain, even as she, so dedicated to caroling her despair, does not. How pain does this, makes us its instruments. […]

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National Poetry Month: ‘We Californians’

by Meg Hurtado Bloom

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we’ll be sharing a poem a week from our archives. The following poem, “We Californians” by Meg Hurtado Bloom, is from our recent Bay Area Issue. You can read more poetry from Meg Hurtado Bloom in the issue itself, which is currently available from our Store. We never admit we have a problem. We compress. We knead. We withdraw toxins. Sun-blind and blond-hearted, we hang around Valhalla, keeping old warriors alive. It’s all super-casual. Our host, the spectral Spanish king— whose every vein burned blue as winter wind, who left us names for every hillside— has betrothed […]

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Ring Around the Equator, Pockets Full of Acres

by Chia-Chia Lin

Chia-Chia Lin is the author of the novel The Unpassing (FSG). Below is an excerpt from her short story “Ring Around the Equator, Pockets Full of Acres” from the Bay Area Issue, which you can purchase at the link. You can also apply to our Fiction Workshop with Chia-Chia Lin by submitting here. When Delepine first started running, the air shredded her lungs. Like inhaling powdered glass. After a run, she kept right on sweating and her face kept coloring, peaking at its maximum carmine hue when she was doing something embarrassingly low-impact, like sitting at her desk and rattling […]

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Mrs. Sorry

by Gabriela Garcia

The first time I see her, she is buying cold cream. What she wants, she says, is a moisturizer that doesn’t feel heavy, doesn’t sit on her skin like so much weight. I lay out her options: whipped argan oil, cold-pressed and refined; our new micro-beading exfoliating lotion with gentle 7 percent alpha hydroxy; the best-selling hyaluronic acid-plus-B-vitamins gel with all-day-stay technology, patent pending. Her red fingernails tap the counter as she slides a credit card with her other hand. She buys all of them. A few days later I see her across my booth in the shoe department. She […]

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Hangover 1.1.2019

by sam sax

Like a hammer swung into antique champagne flutes / Like a family heirloom traded for a Twix / Like a red dictionary dropped from a replica famous bridge / Like a robe made out of skin that, turns out, is your skin & oops you must wear it / Like the man who lives in your occipital lobe slowly whittles a sad stick and sighs / Like a headwrap made of crane flies / Like a framed section of your brain hanged in a museum / Like a school of hungry kids all banging their forks & knives at once […]

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by Michelle Latiolais

If a diner had to ask, for escargot tongs, or for the tiny fork for prizing out the snail, for a napkin, or more of the delicious butter from Normandy, we had failed. To be asked to bring the pepper mill…but a table already had their dinner salads…hmm, no. One brought the pepper mill to the table beneath one’s arm, salads balanced along wrists and forearms. What course came next, what items would be needed for the consumption of that course, these were first laid down, ready to be put to use, the bone dish for the trout, the deep […]

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The Rough Beast Takes a Painting Class

by Alexandra Teague

The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through. —Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America / The teacher says white is not truly a color, / containing as it does, all wavelengths of visible light. / She says the Rough Beast’s claws might be useful later / for scraffito—to scratch back through to what’s beneath: / cyan and magenta; Goldman-Sachs and Donald Trump. / The teacher says Trump is not a color. But everyone knows […]

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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 […]

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‘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 […]

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“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, […]

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