Saturday, December 31, 2011

Carol Novack 1948-2011

Carol Novack died of lung cancer Thursday at 8:55 pm. She was a genre-defying writer of lyrical and inventive work, imaginative and beautiful. She was a lightning rod who brought together thousands of artists from around the globe in collaboration and exploration as publisher of the groundbreaking Mad Hatters' Review. She was also my good friend, quite irreplaceable.

Here is her lovely piece, "Destination."

(for Jean Detheux)

On the hill, there is an easel holding a painting of a town. You
are always traveling to the town, but whenever you think you’ve arrived,
there is nothing but stones, statutes and indigestible
bread. You return to the painting. You wonder if there’s a detail
you’ve missed, a clue that will help you find the town. You let
your eyes be deceived. They are connected to your heart with its
longing to nest; you are possessed with owning. You lose your
perspective again and again, wanting perspective, you are cursed.

You have come to rest. You think perhaps this is my town or
close enough to the one I was walking towards, at least when the
moon guided me like a mother it seemed to be. I can’t be too
fussy; I will die with dust mites and sand crabs and there will be
no home in death. But now, always now this town is different
from then, at least my memory of soft greens and blues with
gentle angles, or so it seemed, seems. This town is all glare with
acute turns and sonic booms. It won’t hold me, rock me, is neither
mother nor lover. It has so few dimensions for me though it has
dimensions for the neighbors, I suspect. They talk about rules,
have so many they can’t keep track of what’s forbidden. Too many
of them stay indoors for fear of breaking a rule. The chandelier
drops are cameras. They don’t understand. They make more rules.
This town’s windows need insulation in the frigid seasons when
the voices grow colder and louder. Nothing grows and the
kitchen shelves are vacant. One can hear the real estate agents
screaming in their white rooms. One can see their angry shadows
through white curtains. Always white – that is what the
denizens want: a neutered town in which you may disappear
into your shadows. They say that colors invite arrest. They
think they are invisible, the fools. Perhaps they are invisible
and I am the fool.

Here again I have to walk on stones for bread; the bakers don’t
know me. So I will move on. This is not a town, well not mine.
That is my perspective, not this.

He frightened me when he clasped me to him in the night,
when he lowered the volume of his voice to speak of the mirage
of walls and roofs. Not so long ago, he seemed to be my destination.
He was mine and I was his or so it seemed. After an
orgy of mirrors, we sucked and picked at one another’s bones.
Then he strayed into that other woman’s residence and stayed
too long, I took the turn back to where I’d been going, but
couldn’t find it. Pain was my map; I could hardly see clearly.

So I found you hiding in a hedge with thorns, not crying but
chanting, no, singing, singing a lament to your mother; you
crooned, wanting to crawl back into her, so I came and stroked
your head. I remember your hair as soft as dandelion puffs and
you trembled but kept still for a spell entranced you let me
be your home. And then like flotsam, you floated away, you
with your eyes dense with storms. I carried on, tore off my red
dress, taunted you. Who can stay still? Who can remain in homes
with so many rules? you pleaded. I left that town a long time ago,
I answered. At least I thought I did. You looked like a rabbit in a
wolf’s yellow eye. All homes have rules, you said. You said I am
a nomad. I have no choice. You do, I replied, drawing you into
me for the last time, feeling like the rabbit in your jaws. But
was I the wolf? Now I have forgotten your name.

In those towns they lock up the homeless when they remain in
one spot and throw stones at Gypsies. Like snails, the Gypsies
carry their homes on their backs. The denizens say it’s not
right! Everyone must pay taxes and mortgages like us – despite
interest rates. They rape the land we have purchased and pillage
the daughters we have sown and own. Lock them up!

The Gypsies say it is a curse to want to own, a curse to be
possessed. It is a curse to want to possess and be possessed,
a curse to own. You can seek to become the color of any of these
towns with their home teams, but the shade will be unbecoming
and oppressive. You will see!

I try hard not to want but keep gazing at the painting, as if I
had perspective or could learn it. My eyes are connected to my
heart with its longing to nest; I can’t help but let it flutter its
wings and woo my eyes. How foolish. I keep traveling to the
towns, all the same the cursed towns with their statutes and
stones. None is the town I seek.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hydrogen Jukebox This Thursday 12/22 -- come read with the band!

Dear Friends;

Please come to this special Christmas edition of Hydrogen Jukebox, hosted by the inimitable Brant Lyon. I am featuring, backed by the Ne'erdowells poemusic band. THERE IS AN OPEN MIKE, so bring your work.

Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia Street (off Bleecker Street)
6:00 - 8:00 pm (sign-up for open 5:45 p.m.)
$7 cover includes house drink

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Occupy Poetry on the December 12 Day of Action

Please join me at Su Polo's iconic open mike at the Nightingale Lounge, where I will be featuring with George Spencer on December 12 to support the Occupy Day of Action.
Political poetry is welcome, as is anything you choose to read or sing.

$10 cover and 1 drink minimum. 3-5 minute open mike; sign-up at 6:30 p.m.

Nightingale Lounge
213 Second Avenue
(NW Corner of 13th St. & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003

Friday, October 14, 2011

Poets Respond to Jung's Red Book

Cornelia Street Cafe, October 15, 2011. 6 p.m. Writers Respond to Carl Jung’s The Red Book (Liber Novus) Introduction by Michael Marsman. Joel Allegretti, Charlie Guzman, Dean Kostos, Patty Oliver-Smith, Kristin Prevallet, Lynn Shapiro, Larissa Shmailo, Tod Thilleman & Michael T. Young

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Compass Award entry--I am shortlisted!

I am very pleased to have been shortlisted for the Compass Award, an international competition of translators, for my translation of Nikolai Gumilev's acrostic on the name of his wife, Anna Akhmatova. Here is the Russian and my translation.


Addis Ababa, city of roses.
Near the bank of transparent streams,
No earthly devas brought you here,
A diamond, amidst gloomy gorges.

Armidin garden … There a pilgrim
Keeps his oath of obscure love
(Mind, we all bow before him),
And the roses cloy, the roses red.

There, full of deceit and venom,
Ogles some gaze into the soul,
Via forests of tall sycamores,
And alleyways of dusky planes.


Аддис-Абеба, город роз.
На берегуручьёв прозрачных,
Небесныйдив тебя принес,
Алмазной,средь ущелий мрачных.

Армидинсад… Там пилигрим
Хранитобет любви неясной
(Мы всесклоняемся пред ним),
А розыдушны, розы красны.

Тамсмотрит в душу чей-то взор,
Отравыполный и обманов,
В садахвысоких сикомор,
Аллеяхсумрачных платанов.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Persian Version of Dancing with the Devil

My poem, "Dancing with the Devil," has been translated into Farsi by Mohammad Mostaghimi (Rahi). This is now the fourth of my poems to be translated into the Persian, and to appear in Iran. Poetry does not require preconditions, even if diplomacy does. Thank you, Rahi! Mamnoon!!!!

Dancing with the Devil

They say that if you flirt with death
You’re going to get a date;
But I don’t mind---the music’s fine,
And I love dancing with someone who can really lead.

Persian version of the poem: dance with the devil

Translator: Mohammad Mostaghimi (rahi)

لاریسا شمایلو

رقص با شیطان

شنیده‌ام اگر با مرگ برقصی

تو را به جاودانگی می‌برد


به گمان من

عاشقانه رقصیدن

همراه با یک موسیقی شگرف

با او

مرا به آن سو

پرتاب می‌کند

گزاشتار: محمد مستقیمی-راهی

Friday, July 15, 2011

I am not your insect

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, the catch, le mort. Mother Kali, you have made me what I am: brilliant, feminine, 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.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Winedark Sea

In the east, in the eastern rising lands, a tide, westering, earthdrawn, rising, the morning sun bloodied in its wake. She drags, pulls, shifts, hauls, trascines her hydraulic load. Tides born of tides, moondrawn, myriadheaded, within her, within her blood, oinopa ponton: the winedark sea. A wet sign calls her hour, bids the earth-shaken fallen rise, bids the wet-dirt wounded rise, bids the blooddimmed peoples rise, as she radiates out, out, out, forever from her bed. The wet sign calls her hour, bids all to rise from childbed, bridebed, deathbed, rise. He comes, the pale salt vampire, in clouds and tears, and claws, battle-led, draws, battle-red, mouth-to-mouth, limb-to-limb, skin-to-skin. There. Here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Persian version of "Oscillation"

I am very pleased to have another poem translated by Iranian poet Rahi (Mohamad Mostaghimi). The English text is below, and you can view the Persian at Rahi's blog at I wish I knew how to say "thank you" in Farsi.


Cellular grandfather, pity me: once it was understood

how things were done, how the boiling ferns invited the

glaciers to come, how the dinosaurs asked to die. Os-

cillation: The world was born in swing and sway, and I,

fasting slowly, am not random nor mad, but large, and

more precise than you. My blood makes air and cells; my

moon subtends the sky; my tides squeeze life out of rock.

All my night journeys find a sun; I leave orchards and o-

lives behind

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Aging (Fibonacci Sequence: 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89)

Dear Reader: If Fn is the term of the sequence, then F=0 if n=O, F=1 if n=1, and F=Fn-1 + Fn-2 if N is greater than 0. Now age.




two (I)

I 2 threeeeeeeeee

5 school, ruled 2 three

hate math 8/5 parents split divisor 3 & me

bad teen luck black eight-in-hole no triskaidekaphobe call five ringtones call.

now lucky legal drink I’m old-gold-rolled ready-to-hold I stick on 13 so play vingt-et-un tonight with me.

still 13 in the soul getting old with a balding working luck. 34 is dirty floor & still behind, & the legal drink now a double, hit me hit me & no! not prime.

Fivefive, now fivefive, finally loving the mother/other/the 21-still-angry child & forgiving the serious careerist, so knowing, so sure, so 34. Take our bald inner luck as it comes, let’s leave the dirty floor alone (why are these aches okay ,why are these losses, these losses, so possible to endure?) Five years plus ½ century, decoding while eroding, ofivefive.

89 am I 8 or 9? The young ones are 34, my children 55. There are 13 pills in the morning, 13 pills at night. But what, exactly what might happen next? A working soul and another season’s turn, what else did I ever have? This word is greater than my numbers, the poésie of my self. I take the garbage out and set it on the street with joy. Tell me your secrets: I am the one who truly wants to know. Lemniscate, I move toward ∞ today.

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