Black Lawrence Press. Chapbook, 52 pages. October 2019. Available for Preorder HERE.
A book about boxes, Lizzie Borden, queer intimacy, and the violence of the family.
If it is possible to queer a murder, Lisowski does it here, wearing the persona mask of Lizzie Borden, the familiar familicidal subject of too many jokes and skipping rhymes. Swinging non-chronologically from branch to blood-stained branch through the convoluted and uncertain history of the Borden murders, Lisowski discovers a kind of friend in Lizzie. These poems, sometimes quiet and demure, sometimes sung confession, sometimes full of hot desire. Each poem a pear, uniquely flavored, hanging barely from a tree in the balmy wet air of a New England summer. Inventive, sexy, self-aware to an almost dangerous degree, Lisowski applies layer after layer of powder foundation, demanding: “Look at me: I wear / my suffering on my skin. I wear my skin / on top of my other skin.”
—Chase Berggrun, author of R E D
Zefyr Lisowski’s BLOOD BOX is as much ouroboros as box, employing a circular structure to revisit the famous Fall River murders from alternating perspectives. Bookended by Lizzie Borden’s voice, the collection shimmers with uncanniness as Lisowski channels the dead. The result is an exquisitely constructed danse macabre that shifts between reportage and invention, avowal and disavowal—an assembly of voices tethered together by a grisly loss. Moving us between the ghastliness of a father who “twisted the heads off pigeons” to the radiant beauty of a “pear tree’s bright plumage,” BLOOD BOX is disturbing, dazzling, and riveting.
—Simone Muench, author of WOLF CENTOS, ORANGE CRUSH, and with Dean Rader, SUTURE
Zefyr Lisowski’s BLOOD BOX fearlessly excavates the secret and multiple lives (longings and regrets) of Lizzie Borden and her family. Mysterious and evocative, terrifying and tender, this is a powerful voice singing praise and elegy within the same breath, pressing against the world’s constraints to dream flight.
—Ching-In Chen, Lammy-award-winning author of recombinant
Dealing in secrets, Zefyr Lisowski’s BLOOD BOX stands at the threshold of a violent domestic silence. Unknowability generates a hybrid text of multiple methodologies, all of which circle around its empty center. Lisowski writes, “The God I know / lives behind a locked door, and only hoards / His good things. If He has children, / He beats them without fail. If He has neighbors, / He chops apart their houses. Tell me, / who wouldn’t believe.” The fear that characterizes coloniality haunts the Borden family, trapping them in a labyrinthian coffin, where death generates death in a way that is neither spectacular nor foreign. The brilliance of this text lies in its guilty blood, housed in grayscape littered with the familial.
—Raquel Salas Rivera, author of x/ex/exis, lo terciario/the tertiary, and while they sleep (under the bed is another country)