Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Revision of Poem in Iambic Pentameter ("The More You Leave")

The more you leave, the more I want you back.
When you return, our love life seems to lack.
Believing you are unassailable
I yearn for you to be available.
And then you come; I cannot be more bored:
I like your leave, but not your coming toward.
Your distance charms, disarms my eager heart.
But close, I wish we were again apart.
Do stay away, and I'm forever rapt,
but close, you leave me empty, dull, and sapped.
So go away; I'll love you as before.
Love's ebb and flow is tricky as a whore.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A poem in dactyllic hexameter ("This is the rupture of heart . . . "):

This is the rupture of heart; love's sharp scalpel will cut mine apart.
Only a surgeon could see how to operate so well on me.
This is the intricate pain, come dissecting my frog hurt again
Eros is clinically bold, and a professional, totally cold.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Aleksandr Blok (November 28, 1880 – August 7, 1921), the great Symbolist poet of Russia's Silver Age ("Night, avenue . . .")

Night, avenue, street lamp, the drug store,
Irrational and dusky light;
Live another decade, two more—
It stays the same; there's no way out.

You'll die, then start again, beginning
And everything repeats as planned:
Night, the cold canal's icy ripple,
The drug store, avenue, and lamp.
Tr. L. Shmailo

Ночь, улица, фонарь, аптека,
Бессмысленный и тусклый свет.
Живи еще хоть четверть века -
Все будет так. Исхода нет.

Умрешь - начнешь опять сначала
И повторится все, как встарь:
Ночь, ледяная рябь канала,
Аптека, улица, фонарь.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


The more you leave, the more I want you back.
And then you come and only give me flack.
Believing you will never come again
I pine and yearn, and prize you above men.
And then you come; I cannot be more bored:
I like your leave, but not your coming toward.
The dance of love taps fire when you're away,
and trips and falls when you return to stay.
Do stay away, and I'm forever rapt,
but close, you leave me empty, dull, and sapped.
So go away; I'll love you all the more;
Love's ebb and flow is tricky as a whore.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin (June 6, 1799 – February 10, 1837): I loved you once . . .

I loved you once, and this love still, it may be,
Is not extinguished fully in my soul;
But let’s no longer have this love dismay you:
To trouble you is not my wish at all.
I loved you once quite wordlessly, without hope,
Tortured shyness, jealous rage I bore.
I loved you once so gently and sincerely:
God grant you to be loved this way once more.

Tr. L. Shmailo

Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может,
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.
Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.

Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vladimir Mayakovsky's Last Poem

Vladimir Mayakovsky's (July 19,1893 – April 14, 1930) final poem before his suicide. The Oka mentioned is a tributary of the Volga.

It's after one. You've likely gone to sleep.
The Milky Way streams silver, an Oka through the night.
I don't hurry, I don't need to wake you
Or bother you with lightning telegrams.
Like they say, the incident is closed.
Love's little boat has crashed on daily life.
We're even, you and I. No need to account
For mutual sorrows, mutual pains and wrongs.
Look: How quiet the world is.
Night cloaks the sky with the tribute of the stars.
At times like these, you can rise, stand, and speak
To history, eternity, and all creation.

Tr. L. Shmailo


Уже второй. Должно быть, ты легла.
В ночи Млечпуть серебряной Окою.
Я не спешу, и молниями телеграмм
мне незачем тебя будить и беспокоить.
Как говорят, инцидент исперчен.
Любовная лодка разбилась о быт.
С тобой мы в расчете. И не к чему перечень
взаимных болей, бед и обид.
Ты посмотри, какая в мире тишь.
Ночь обложила небо звездной данью.
В такие вот часы встаешь и говоришь
векам, истории и мирозданью.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Formal Exercise: Sestina: Live, Not Die; Live Not, Die

Sestina words: monkey, parenthesis, punctuated, question, Shakespeare's, angels

Now, how shall it continue, bright primate? How shall this be punctuated?
An Oxfordian series, cursive, moving ever on, entailing every monkey,
all keyboards in existence, black and white, and all of Shakespeare's
work? Therein lies a tail. Is my silly, hoping life, then, the parentheses
in the mind of a savage, loving god, or a twitching, rapid question
in the tick-tock of the void? Comma or coma? Which is it to be? Angels,

you decide. Faster: My hope today, a ferocious hankering monkey,
wrestles with Thanatos in my psyche's mud, a bout observed by angels,
and, truly, always about you; my demons, who intone Shakespeare's
verse like a Polonius behind a curtain, his platitudes punctuated
by doubt, growing like a semicolon in my gut, close these parentheses
without fortitude or Fortinbras, a Hamlet dangling on his question.

Come, ask me if I dare, beloved, before I go, to ask the question:
Would you say, turning me aside, as an afterthought, in parentheses,
"That is not what I meant at all," leaving me, a grinning, groping monkey,
to chase distant mermaids in the sea spray, those soggy singing angels
who sing to drowning women like me? I am not brave, not Shakespeare's
heroine, and will not declaim mercy for men in a speech punctuated

by all wisdom, warm, maternal, eternal, I am, rather, a rattled, tangled monkey,
fur matted, teeth sharp, staring down my death in a showdown punctuated
by words, words, words, words, words, words; and those in parentheses
whisper with epithets of my end; here I sit, periodic, asking the angels,
how long a sentence I will have, and will I ever write one as good as Shakespeare's?
"Two bees, and not two bees, and they're soon extinct, too;" begging the question,

petitio principii: assuming the initial point, how shall I get to the final, punctuated
by logical fallacies, tautologies, circular, as raw as the tail ass of a monkey;
me, to persuade you, had we words enough for time, there could be no question,
no crime, in assuming infinity, in basking in eternity like seraphim, bright angels
whose divine lust could last a trillion biers and years, through a million Shakespeare's
lines; but our lives are slashed by a Ginzo knife through the tail, trapped in parentheses.

To the period's point now, signaled by a capital flourish and punctuated
with the Oxfordian serial clause (I should have been a pair of claws instead of monkey
balls): given infinity, when my molecules scatter, on some infinite star populated by angels,
might they not reassemble as me, my primate self, with you, a man as fine as Shakespeare's
best, again, to dance together, coupled, contained in divine parentheses)?
For the thought of you, whom I love, I trouble the divine to ask this question.

My monkey question is not eloquent, nor metaphysical as angels:
It stands in parentheses, rolls not from the tongue as Shakespeare's,
but loves you, period, whichever is punctuated, in eternity or extinction.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Metrical exercise: Anapest: Waiting for MRI poem #3

'Twas the night before brain scan; my dear Facebook friends
share their love and their kind thoughts in notes that they send.
I am touched, truly moved by this loving support;
May God bless you, dear creatures, you mad, rad cohort.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014


Jaded and exhausted nurses walk the wards
repeating curses; dying patients call for mother,
crying for a glass of water. Greedy doctors
buy stock options, sell us meds containing toxins;
leeches would be more effective than these MDs'
best directives. People tired and sick, emergent,
can't get help though help is urgent. Here a man is
screaming, bleeding, here a woman's life's receding .
Richer folk may think they’re served well, wind up
in the same prescribed hell. Hear me, patients, for
your welfare, this is not the place for healthcare

Monday, June 30, 2014

Metrical Exercise: Trochaic Tetrameter (Waiting for MRI poem series)

MRI won't be till Thursday;
waiting is a practiced sense;
anyone can face life's dangers—
takes the strong to bear suspense.

MRI with contrast or not,
little magnets map the brain.
Soon I'll feel my body changing,
entering another plane.

All I am is quarks and gluons,
energy and impulse-filled;
There is no material realm here,
and these quanta can't be killed.

So I wait without much straining;
courage comes from quanta, too.
I'm the field of every being;
parts of me are parts of you.

Don't look toward a grave to see me;
my old soul has other plans;
All of me will dance with helium,
I'll be sun, and leaves, and grass.

Friday, June 27, 2014


A razor cuts your wrists, but
what cut you off from me?
Is true love quart'red below?

When (blew) an azure sky
separates the chambered clouds,
which Earth will you then save,
which elements recycle?

These eclipses should portend,
but I would always be
the bastard that I am,
had the maidlienest, brightest star
eclipsed upon this gesture.


* To Harrow Marrow: Whatever these eclipses portend, what saves you is not salvation with its grace, but the grace of no salvation.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Your underfoot, your exterminated, your bug. My unabashedly hairy legs, whose gymnopèdes twitch like a chorus for a fatal Sharon Stone, delight in ces mouvements qui déplace les lignes, in the motion, the quiver, le mort, the catch. Mother Kali, you have made me what I am: feminine, brilliant, entirely without fear. Like my mother, I watch and pray for prey—that it be there, that it give gore, that I feel it die, that there be more.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I have lost your fingers

You are as thick as molasses, brown as oak, and your ears are crêpes suzettes; your cheerful legs are also thick. The pupils of your eyes are small bridges to disaster (after). Your cheekbones cut the cumulus clouds, and your toes are decimal wonders; your pancreas is a mighty fortress to our God. I remember your kidneys, plumlike, and shaped like violas. All your orifices tell of wonders; surely your ass is a wiry insect that I feel but cannot see (woe is me). Your breasts dance; your aureoles are gazelles that sleep in meadows more blue than green. Your vulva is an apple already peeled, as wet as fresh moraine, alive as snow.

I have lost your fingers and must find them again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I am the new poetry editor for MadHat Annual!

Dear friends, I am pleased to be joining the MadHat team as poetry editor for the amazing MadHat Annual. Thanks to editor-in-chief Marc Vincenz and team MadHat Alex Cigale, Jonathan Penton, and Clare L. Martin. More anon!

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Larissa Shmailo's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Penguin anthology Words for the Wedding, the Brooklyn Rail, The Unbearables Big Book of Sex, Barrow Street, Fulcrum, Drunken Boat, Gargoyle, Cardinal Points, Lungfull, Big Bridge, Rattapallax, and About: Poetry. She was the winner of the 2009 New Century Music Awards for spoken word with music for her CD Exorcism; her first CD, The No-Net World, is heard frequently on radio and the Internet. Larissa's books of poetry are In Paran (BlazeVox) and A Cure for Suicide (Cervena Barva Press). Read her new e-book, Fib Sequence (Argotist Ebooks) at http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/fib-sequence/16347718 (free download).

Larissa translated the original English-language libretto of the Russian zaum opera Victory over the Sun performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; it is archived at the Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA), and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Most recently, she received honorable mention in the international translators' competition for the 2011 Compass Award sponsored by Princeton University. Larissa translated a bibliography of Bible translations in the languages of the Russian Empire for the American Bible Society and contributed to the anthology Contemporary Russian Poetry published by Dalkey Archive Press.

Read Larissa Shmailo's new e-book, Fib Sequence, from Argotist Ebooks, FREE, at this link: http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/fib-sequence/16347718

Larissa blogs at http://larissashmailo.blogspot.com

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