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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Hospitality

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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‘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 […]

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‘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 […]

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‘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, […]

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‘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 […]

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‘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 […]

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