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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In its Spring 1986 issue, ZYZZYVA published a short story by Moroccan artist and writer Mohammed Mrabet, which was translated by the late Paul Bowles, who was living in Tangier at the time. “Chico” was taken from the story collection Marriage with Papers, which was published by Bolinas, California, publisher Tombouctou Books that May.

A spare story of a man seemingly bent toward violence, “Chico” is also an ironic tale of a generous idler turned ingrate toward a hospitable friend. There’s no real moral to “Chico,” only observations of people’s contradictions. We can speculate as to why Chico acts so belligerently (life in prison? being spoiled as a child?), whether,  as the narrator says, nobody could save Chico from himself. These open questions make “Chico” something of a small tragedy.


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