David Zaza

David Zaza lives in New York where he runs a design studio specializing in arts publications. His poetry has been published in print and digital magazines since 1992, including The Quarterly, Medusa’s Laugh and The Perch among others. Recent multidisciplinary projects include The Goldberg Variations, an audio project which presents his recited poetry with piano accompaniment; Before and After, or At The Same Time, a series of one poem and three illustrative fine art drawings; and [unreliable], a poetry/drawing collaboration with visual artist Mark Fox. With Fox, he created two puppet plays: A Criminal’s Story, produced by Saw Theater, Cincinnati; and The Kiss, produced by Franklin Furnace, New York.


Begin to retreat. Make
a steady return to silent comforts—
make hearing a sense that squints.
There is nothing else but
this to acknowledge—
His voice, impossible.

The first time it sounded
middle-ranged, aimed
straight ahead. In time
it grew wider, a voice
incorporating hundreds
of characters. It became
heavier than the initial
surface it carried, colored
and hot, now buoying
everyone who waded
into it. The voice
of a loved one, holding
its notes into the next measure—
where at first, it had been
just a single note.

His voice was meaning
without content—lines
not sentences. Listen to
the way it would sound,
falling into illness, into
sleep, into anything that
changes a voice—age,
coldness, degrees
of seriousness. Listen
to it whisper, in a language
that is not understood.
It whispered nothing.

Admit to having never
heard it, to not having
listened closely, or
to simply not having understood.
It will not be listened to
any longer if a voice
that beautiful
cannot sing on demand.
If it shuns, it should be
shunned. If it lies,
ignore it. If it cracks,
his voice shows him
to be someone delicate
and vulnerable and
unable to say the right

Listen to anything else—
the shiny pulse of the inner ears,
blaring hum of their music.
Return to older voices
that have changed so
much they have circled
back to their first state.
His voice, like all voices,
will not last. Remember
this loss, and retreat
to a previous deafness.

Every Which Way

For Richard Serra

We seek a darkness in the deep, and
equilibrium every which way under the sea.

But the shore is relentless, insistent, it
hunts what is free, searching for
finality in the water’s infinity. It turns
us into prey—naked nightswimmers

scared of the silence in the black. Scared
of symmetry and the beasts snaking
through it. Scared of rippling heights, and
scared of the night and its threat of release.

Inevitably, we sink in the shallows, try
to forget lost coastlines, riding centerlines
through the waves. Like surfers become
water itself, we crouch, we crest, we crash.

The Pump Quench

The mug of racing time
blinks its eyes as you enter.
Words seem molecular
in your voice, a natural
gift, cool as someone else’s
rain in someone else’s city.
The brasserie’s yellow light
jaundices your eye without
dulling the furtive look you
rehearsed for decades.
It shines through the thinnest
of learned accents.

Would you be hurt if
we mistook you
for an era, rather than
a man whose son is splitting
the ungrateful atoms
of his separate parents?
He takes a puzzled horn
to his lips and explodes it just
as you would. The brass rings
a true nocturne as he nods.
Your metronome heart
beats in arrhythmic counterpoint.

Together you two travel
across states of history and
heritage. The unspoken details
cling, and weaken
your bond. You wash
them away in the English
Channel and emerge
renewed as a vow between
lovers. Both of you are
breakers, crawling ashore
together, each filled with
the electricity of future life.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN