The Voices of the Whales

by Isabel Zapata

Translated from the Spanish by Robin Myers 1. I’m interested in the language of animals. 2. Whales, especially the humpback whale and the various subspecies of blue whale, are known to make repetitive sounds with different frequencies we consider to be songs. 3. When we look at animals, we hope to find virtues we lack. 4. Although sexual selection is thought to be their primary purpose, whale songs remain a mystery to scientists. 5. The human body is a symphony. (Charles Ives) 6. The universe is a symphony. (John Cage) 7. Nothing suggests that whales are trying to communicate with […]

Continue Reading

Coup de Vieux

by David L. Ulin

For Tom Magee thrice in three nightsthe dead have come my waytwice it is youtwin cities accentrough and lowlike a globusin your throatI can hear the timbreyet I cannot carryback a word you say then last night my grandfatheran ancient apparitionif younger than hewould be aliveeighth of a millenniumsince his shtetl birth and allthat’s left

Subscribers only: to access this content, you must be a member of ZYZZYVA Studio. Membership is included with any subscription. Subscribe today, or if you are already a subscriber, log in to continue reading. (Read our FAQ for more details, and contact us if you have any trouble logging in.)

[…]

Continue Reading

New poems: ‘Giant Dipper Chronic’ and ‘To See It’

by Cate Lycurgus

“Giant Dipper Chronic” I’ve been on this coaster for decades. Car for two—but just one bar to lower—one, or none. Where I lock my heart in for the slow climb, waiting for what great heights. It trundles up the wooden scaffold, building the long pitch toward platinum surf, alternately to fog. In one, I hold my own hand. Teeth rattle out of my control; it’s crest to trough, each time. Yet I scream without sound all the way down. A flash at the top takes a photo of your dread   to get you to buy it back, but—you’re too […]

Continue Reading

Poetry Takes Bloom

by Tess Taylor

In the late spring of 2020, when everything seemed a bit bleak, I received a phone call from my old friend Hannah Fries, a poet who’d known me when I was writing poems and working on a farm in the Berkshires. Hannah is now an editor at Storey Press, and she had a fascinating proposal for me: Would

Subscribers only: to access this content, you must be a member of ZYZZYVA Studio. Membership is included with any subscription. Subscribe today, or if you are already a subscriber, log in to continue reading. (Read our FAQ for more details, and contact us if you have any trouble logging in.)

[…]

Continue Reading

‘Gardeners’ World,’ or What I Did During the Plague

by Cynthia White

“Gardeners’ World, or What I Did During the Plague” For that hour, only the earth of his garden. Dark and friable as chocolate cake, thronging with nematodes and fungi, more microbes in a spoon than humans on the planet. A fear-free hour. An hour without my trip-wired heart. Were you aware the peony, like the

Subscribers only: to access this content, you must be a member of ZYZZYVA Studio. Membership is included with any subscription. Subscribe today, or if you are already a subscriber, log in to continue reading. (Read our FAQ for more details, and contact us if you have any trouble logging in.)

[…]

Continue Reading

Soul of the City: ‘Deal: New and Selected Poems,’ by Randall Mann

by Gus Berg

With an illustrious career spanning over several acclaimed poetry collections, Randall Mann is a luminary in contemporary poetry. His impressive body of work includes Complaint in the Garden (2004), which garnered him the prestigious Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry, and Breakfast with Thom Gunn (2009), a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the California Book Award. The depth of Mann’s talent is further showcased in Straight Razor (2013), a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and Proprietary (2017), a finalist for both the Northern California Book Award and Lambda Literary Award. Now, with Deal: New and Selected […]

Continue Reading

Boxing

by John Freeman

In the waning days of those years in London I took up boxing. I didn’t want to unload on some unsuspecting soul so I found a sparring partner. She turned up, neck tatted, face pierced, dred- locked and strong as hell. A Turkish woman with East London stenciled on her left forearm. Before boxing she

Subscribers only: to access this content, you must be a member of ZYZZYVA Studio. Membership is included with any subscription. Subscribe today, or if you are already a subscriber, log in to continue reading. (Read our FAQ for more details, and contact us if you have any trouble logging in.)

[…]

Continue Reading

Worries

by Edward Derby

Hungers, germs, personal email gone to SPAM, lost postcards that explained everything, what to do about the weeds in the gravel, catalytic converter theft, a blood stain in a library book (page 17), sock holes, black holes, global warming, automatic subscription renewals, bankruptcy, asteroids, air quality, a helicopter circling the neighborhood, eviction, sagging underwear elastic,

Subscribers only: to access this content, you must be a member of ZYZZYVA Studio. Membership is included with any subscription. Subscribe today, or if you are already a subscriber, log in to continue reading. (Read our FAQ for more details, and contact us if you have any trouble logging in.)

[…]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

Thanks

by Paul Wilner

for nothing, and the memories, or some. It would appear that we are trying too hard, to fill the silence of those terrifying infinite spaces with even more talk than before. It seemed like a good time to take a break, take five, take a knee, take a chance rather than fill the air with more of our lessness. But thanks anyway – I know you meant well, whatever that might mean. The planet spins, the moon shines and Ruby and the Romantics had it right – If we live, our day will come. […]

Continue Reading

‘Albatross’

by Paul Wilner

(For Peter Greenbaum, 1946-2020) The British rocker died for our sins, of course, right on time. No ancient mariner, he ate some acid  from that smug asshole Owsley Stanley, who always had the good stuff, but  didn’t know what to do  with it, or himself. Of  course, he was a legend, like Liberty Valance, or Sportin’ Life. Lonely kid In his basement practicing  his ax. The ax fell, a long  time ago, the shock of  recognition administered  by all-too-ready mental health “professionals.” Clapton is God, the poster  said, as another child fell out a window. He was  fleet of foot, […]

Continue Reading

‘For McClure’

by Paul Wilner

Debonair dude, bird thou never wert. Fly high, higher, highest, higher than that, far. Lionhearted lover roaring of sex, death and tantric miracles. You rode the wave, surfed above and beyond beatitudes to a still harmonic humming. Cool customer, hot to the touch. In Eternity, you pose the ecstatic, unanswerable koan. “Before you can pry any secrets from me you must first find the real me. Which one will you pursue?’’ Mane, mind and scrotum, you are ready to meet your Maker, and ours, in a blue velvet Paradise. Death be not proud, nor is it humble. Jesus, he was […]

Continue Reading