My California

by Lee Herrick

Here, an olive votive keeps the sunset lit, the Korean twenty-somethings talk about hyphens, graduate school, and good pot. A group of four at a window table in Carpinteria discuss the quality of wines in Napa Valley versus Lodi. Here, in my California, the streets remember the Chicano poet whose songs still bank off Fresno’s beer-soaked gutters and almond trees in partial blossom. Here, in my California, we fish out long noodles from the pho with such accuracy you’d think we’d done this before. In Fresno, the bullets tire of themselves and begin to pray five times a day. In […]

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My Unsent Letter to You

by W. S. Di Piero

I’m writing in December. The almanacs call this a cold full moon. I watch it shadow through its veils. My book says of amor fati: want nothing more than what comes at you; love necessity; relive life’s phases in round time, evermore. Pain, unpain, joy, pain, groceries, car woes, plague. Our master plan of repetitions that can’t be planned for. We’ll never want things back. We’ll rush every instant as the last. I say love. I repeat it. I want to drink the lived, absent episodes of any hour, as we drink each other’s words, on the porch, under trees, […]

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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,

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by Dominica Phetteplace

She says Namaste even when not in yoga class, whereas I will not say om under any circumstances. She says she doesn’t resent the younger generation, that they are completely of a world that we made, that to hate the young is to hate ourselves. She says that guys on dating apps indicate their marriage suitability by listing their hobbies as ‘hiking’ and ‘rock climbing.’ Her hobbies include cocaine and gambling, but she leaves those off her profile. Somedays she doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, but if I say I want to get coffee she will walk with […]

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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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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: 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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National Poetry Month: ‘Richer than Anyone in Heaven’ by Jennifer Elise Foerster

by Jennifer Elise Foerster

April represents National Poetry Month, intended as a way to spread awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. To celebrate, each Wednesday we will be taking a deep dive into both ZYZZYVA’s recent and distant past to share some choice selections. For the final week of April, we present Jennifer Elise Foerster’s poem “Richer than Anyone in Heaven” from ZYZZYVA No. 95, Fall 2012:  I abandoned my shoes at the corner of Market & Pine. It was hailing. We were holding tin pots above our heads. Collecting the granulated wind and singing. I don’t care about my shoes, I said. The city […]

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National Poetry Month: ‘Art Wong is Alive and Ill and Struggling in Oakland California’ by Marilyn Chin

by Marilyn Chin

April represents National Poetry Month, intended as a way to spread awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. To celebrate, each Wednesday we will be taking a deep dive into both ZYZZYVA’s recent and distant past to share some choice selections. For this second weak of National Poetry Month, we present Marilyn Chin’s poem “Art Wong is Alive and Ill and Struggling in Oakland California” from ZYZZYVA No. 9, Spring 1987. You can order selected back issues of ZYZZYVA here: I. Chi Pai Shih was born in the Year of the Boar. And a bore he was; his […]

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‘Still Life with Cacography’ by Dean Rader: ZYZZYVA No. 111, Winter Issue

by editor

  Dean Rader is a professor of English at the University of San Francisco. His most recent poetry collections are “Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry” (Copper Canyon Press) and “Suture” (Black Lawrence), written with Simone Muench. You can see him in conversation with other ZYZZYVA contributors tomorrow at East Bay Booksellers. Two of Rader’s poems are featured in ZYZZYVA No. 111. Presented here in its entirety is the poem “Still Life with Cacography”: “If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here— right to their waist or right to their ankle—and one of the people in that room happened to have […]

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Testaments to Our Will to Live: ‘Objects From a Borrowed Confession’ by Julie Carr


Somewhere along the way, confessional poetry developed a bad rap. Perhaps it was the result of ubiquity: by 2003, every other turn of the radio dial delivered a soul-baring lyric to one’s ears (“On the way home this car hears my confessions,” went a lyric from a band literally called Dashboard Confessional), and college freshman creative writing classes were inundated with impressionable students expressing their angst through pen and paper. (You may have sat next to one, you may have been one yourself.) These days, mediums such as Facebook, Tumblr, and, well, Medium allow us to broadcast our inner lives […]

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