Zef Lisowski is a Southern, trans/femme artist, poet, and writer, currently based in NYC. Their work has appeared in Hobart, decomP, Vetch, and other publications; they’re a poetry reader for Apogee Journal and author of the collaborative poem zine/exploration in femme monstrosity Sundress Comma Fangs. Find them in Brooklyn this summer in tank tops and cut-offs or on the internet as zefrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Portrait as black swan,
portrait as feeling of uncertainty with body,
as I’ve been in this dance studio before,
because you have, portrait as only beaks,
portrait as idea of feathers sprouting before
actual feathers sprouting. Feet wedged
into slippers (cut off at the heel), feet wedged
into picture frame (cut off at the ankle). When
not trying to dance, I am a dark blur, absent
song, threat of violence:
it’s only the thought of motion that makes
us bearable. Shoes on stage like a still-life,
egression from fleshed prism, or (prison)
Ginger Fitzgerald Presents Brigitte Demands Regarding Shared Lycanthropy
after Ginger Snaps (2000)
“Out by sixteen or dead on the scene, but together forever.”
What Older Sister Ginger Says to Brigitte:
Your flesh putrescent: feral thing, tethered thing, thing-of-the-crop-and-brindle. Thing at edge of thingness and other. Sister hold me, envelop me, curl body with/in mine: trace revolting furry fingertip against revolting furry jaw.
What Mentor/Lector Sister Says to Brigitte:
Let the hair produce like corn from scar tissue. (Exsanguinate subject quickly as possible and resume.) Let the hair produce like benediction from creasing, creased brow. Let the hair dominate narrative of self. Breastbone like armor, breastbone like furry pillow for head, breastbone like unknown flower blossoming thick and weighted with dripping fruits.
What Ginger’s Interior Monologue Says Meanwhile:
Insertion, unrelenting mouth, grinding hips. Hard-edged sternum, flesh. Let be summoned first boy’s fingers crammed down panties, let regurgitate, let bones become buried in damp rags. Let boy be gone, let next boy take his place, let next boy be gone. Until moment of transfiguration we nothing but ache for moon, absolution, I thought it was for sex, but it’s to tear everything to fucking pieces.
Sleepaway Camp II
after Jesse-Rice Evans
When submerged in water, they fall apart:
what was to be expected, leaving scrub
of midwest for these pines? the i tethered
by what happens in cabins between boys.
by rough bark, hunched shuffle,
booming hands. Distant
shore, haunted shore. Stretched
out into _____________,
into ___________________. What
they were trying to say
before the you wedges hand
deep inside their clothes. What box
are we in, where was it, the skin is crawling, camp’s pebbly earth.
The lakeside: an egret, mid-flight against the moon. An escape, future dry as the
needlebed prickling my collapsing ankles.
Blur of feathers much a prediction like my mouth’s yammer: please, slow down, stop—
“wet” can contain multiple meanings.
Museum/Poem Beginning with Line by Sarah Fox
Who let the witch out of the Dictionary
of Symbols? Bouquet of rosy maidenhair
strung out into a person, person strung
out behind plate glass— a man, wrathful
face red as a strawberry—an abscess. Reflective
self in museum, I’m talking about a sign
beneath all the other signs that says: WHY
STUDY PICTURES WHEN YOU CAN
STUDY THE REAL THING. That says, look––
when I was in second grade, I thought I was a
fern bog, unsifted pondside shore. I was seven
and he was two years older and I let him fill
my mouth until he was sated. I made myself an
opening until there was nothing left to fill. A hole
with nothing to own, stick twigs forming body,
Look. Look. An ember that burnt away, but still
comes back. Look. A skeleton, polished so
skillfully, it glints gold.
From the Series “My Ghost”
After Adam Fuss
Let the body constrain itself.
Not the outstretched arm, but the
scrubby darkness surrounding the arm. Not
the golden chalice, but the barely heard
invitation to drink. I am an invitation to drink.
I am learning to be at ease in crowded rooms
(very different from learning to be easy).
But. My ego is a thing parallel to myself.
As in: A rusted ladder :: it. Scabbed knees :: it.
The thrust of her jawline as she enters the room.
You said, “eat, body,” and fastened
the smokescreen. When isn’t privacy a violation,
when can’t the body be a thing to be held,
locked in a room, hurled away? Nothing.
Sarah Winchester Mystery Poem
After Mary Kelly, Sarah Winchester (1840-1922), Winchester Mystery House (1882-)
This winding, unwinding house.
My father willed to me a swarm
of builders, flies, escalating with
roofbeams. When I said I wanted
more, I meant of everything: body
and house filled to burst yet
still filling; scrim, gore, mor-
tar, curtainrod. Scribble
it down as a
multiple choice map to make
your way through: if
you feel trapped in the skin
hanging from yr ribcage, choose
Passageway A. If
you’re waiting for salvation
of any sort, choose
Passageway B. Otherwise,
the third destination
is the letter you sent me
(still saved), dated 31 3 ’62:
The wounded are dying every day
This is a three story building and very
large at that and every room is full its
very sad times indeed.
I can only make wrong turns.
Our ghosts will never leave us alone.