by Lisa Wells
University of Iowa Press, 2018
eISBN: 978-1-60938-548-4 | Paper: 978-1-60938-547-7
Library of Congress Classification PS3623.E4755A6 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6


Proceeding from Hélène Cixous’s charge to “kill the false woman who is preventing the live one from breathing,” The Fix forges that woman’s reckoning with her violent past, with her sexuality, and with a future unmoored from the trappings of domestic life. These poems of lyric beauty and unflinching candor negotiate the terrain of contradictory desire—often to darkly comedic effect. In encounters with strangers in dive bars and on highway shoulders, and through ekphrastic engagement with visionaries like William Blake, José Clemente Orozco, and the Talking Heads, this book seeks the real beneath the dissembling surface. Here, nothing is fixed, but grace arrives by diving into the complicated past in order to find a way to live, now.

“Woman Seated with Thighs Apart” 

Often I am permitted to return to this kitchen 

tipsy, pinned to the fridge, to the precise 

instant the kiss smashed in. 

When the jaws of night are grinding 

and the double bed is half asleep 

the snore beside me syncs 

to the traffic light, pulsing red, ragged up 

in the linen curtain. 

I leak such solicitous sighs 

to asphalt, slicked with black ice, high beams speed 

over my body whole 

while the drugstore weeps its remedy 

in strident neon throbs— 

I doubt I’ll make it out. 

It’s a cold country. It’s the sting of quarantine. 

It’s my own two hands working 

deep inside the sheets. 

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