Larissa's Blog

My Gumiliev translation to be published on!

Very pleased that my translation of one of Nikolai Gumiliev's acrostic poems on the name of Anna Akhmatova will be published on!Larissa ShmailoNikolai Gumiliev (April 15,1886 – August 25, 1921) on the name of the poet’s wife, Anna Akhmatova. I have used successive kh to transliterate the Russian x in Akhmatova’s name.

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.

Tr. L. Shmailo

Аддис-Абеба, город роз.
На берегу ручьёв прозрачных,
Небесный див тебя принес,
Алмазной, средь ущелий мрачных.
Армидин сад… Там пилигрим
Хранит обет любви неясной
(Мы все склоняемся пред ним),
А розы душны, розы красны.
Там смотрит в душу чей-то взор,
Отравы полный и обманов,
В садах высоких сикомор,
Аллеях сумрачных платанов.

"My Dead" on FULCRUM Page

Very pleased that my poem, "My Dead," appears on the popular FULCRUM  Facebook page this weekend.


My husband lost his shirt at cards; insolvent, he then drowned
in slick Cancun on our honeymoon; years now, it still astounds
how fast, how fast, a living hell can turn a life around.

My godchild told me pointedly if she were to attempt
to die that she'd succeed at once; her word she quickly kept,
and took a hundred opiates and drifted to her death.

My punk-rock pimp, a crush of mine, loved theater and art.
He sodomized and strangled a young man close to his heart,
then packed a bag of bondage toys and left for foreign parts.

Before her death, my mother called and calmly sat me down;
if she could do it all again, she'd have no children, none.
She lived her life in anger and, despite us, all alone.

My father drank and slept around; he was a well-liked guy.
He said I love you once to me the night before he died.
Was there a feeling come too late or panic in his eyes?



Ladybug, the autumnal, menopausal forest is aflame,
Burning with your yearning and desire: go home.
No season of mists or mellow fruitfulness for you, only
The hot flash of Eros dying, growing old.

Fall now, the deep loam envelopes your breasts,
Dugs that hang low. The crimson leaves as
Veined as your hands, varices red and blue,
Glitter with last dew, the brilliance before death.

Can you, withered Phoenix, rise?
Female over fifty, do you have your music too?


You must have seen it, at a crepuscule shore;    It strikes as lightning does, trembling the sky,      with summer rose and lilacs calling "more,"   and the flash of white egrets as they fly.     
You must have heard it, crickets in the dusk,   the flap of water on smooth stone and bark,   the sound of a lone loon in the summer musk,   the breath of your lover as she speaks in the dark.       
Self-centered, we cannot see God in ourselves,    and in others we too often miss the divine;   in nature, not ours, we sense eternal lives    for a moment alive in our chattering minds.   

The fascists are winning

The fascists are winning because I am losing my sense of humor. They are here to stay, past the election in November, which Trump will claim was rigged. Trump will say he won by a landslide and call for revolution, as he did when Romney lost. All the armed militia, Klan, Nazi, and the 72% of Republicans who doubt Obama was born in the United States will answer his call. But until then, I can imagine Trump and Sarah Palin having a discussion about geopolitics, and smile, a little

The Mythology of Donald Trump

In his book Mythologies, Roland Barthes examined the ways in which modern society creates myths about its experience. Using semiotics, he wrote of the atmosphere of disorder a stray lock of Calpurnia's hair creates in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Julius Caesar and how writers on holiday are thought never to stop writing.
The mythology of Donald Trump is that his presidential campaign is a reality show that will be promptly canceled in November. Statements that threaten violence, like his suborning assassination this week, are part of an entertainment, like The Trumpanos or The Walking Trump or Game of Trump. Scary, yes, but contained. He'll just retire after the election, we --- kinda -- think. And give up the media attention, the crowds? Think of Trump's red face as he mocks and smears and threatens. No, in this show, the best, or worst, is yet to come

Sympathy for the Devil

Trump Agonistes? No, not really. I doubt that this embodiment of classic narcissistic personality disorder has anything remotely like inner struggles. All the room in his small soul is taken up by resentments and racism and rows large and small.
Friends, you know I am no fan of Trump. I have lost no opportunity to point out where he is wrong, and I consider him wrong in everything. But now, seeing him as mentally ill, I feel sorry for him. He is a rattlesnake, an unempathetic and vicious man, but a sick one, a tragic one. However, and forever, ‪#‎neverTrump‬, ‪#‎neverthislostsoul‬

Trump and Media Addiction

The reason Facebook and Twitter are addictive is that they operate on variable reward schedules. Sometimes you get 10 Likes, sometimes 100, sometimes none. Rats will run mazes much faster when rewarded variably than when consistently rewarded. Gambling, guys that don't call when they say they will, social media all trigger the addictive response. And Trump is an active addict of outsized proportions with the impulse control of a gnat. Imagine him at work? Yes, another reason ‪#‎neverTrump‬.

The Banality of Donald Trump

Today, or yesterday, Trump targeted the grieving mother of a slain US soldier and asserted that Russia "is not going to go into the Ukraine." I am no longer envisioning Trump as a mastermind of evil. His stripe of evil smacks of banality, as in Hannah Arendt's phrase about Adolf Eichmann. Perhaps this impulsive id-ruled man is average, ignorant and self-seeking and banal.

Are You Trump Ready?

Are you Trump ready? Answer the following Yes or No questions to see if you are ready for a Trump presidency.1.     Waterboarding is not a war crime. (Y/N)2.     It is okay to kill the families of suspected terrorists. (Y/N)3.     Asking the Russians to hack US databases is funny. (Y/N) 4.     Everything Trump says is funny. (Y/N)5.     The children of immigrants are immigrants even if they were born in the USA.
If you answered Yes to any one of these questions, congratulations! You are absolutely Trump ready. Yes, just one Yes answer qualifies you  -- - you know we wouldn’t give you a hard test!