Larissa's Blog

More love poems for Valentime's Day

We will love like dogwood.Kiss like cranes.Die like moths.I promise.

For Six Months with You
For six months with you, I wouldQuit my loverLeave the citySell my books.
For six months with you, I wouldLive in KansasJoin a carpoolShave my legs.
For six months with you, I wouldBe an actressWait on tablesBurn this poem.
But what if it doesn’t work out?
If it doesn’t work out I’ll join a convent
If it doesn’t work out I’ll cut my hair
If it doesn’t work out I’ll leave the country
If it doesn’t work out I still don’t care.

For six months with you, I wouldBreak the true lawBreak my poor heartBreak my vow.
Now ask me what I’d doFor a year or two. 
Williamsburg Poem  shaking like the El beneath the Williamsburg trainI wait for him to comebridge and tunnel meeting like the girders of the Elhis hard arms open my thighs
in the hood they have names for himthe girls say his names:they call him dos cafes con lechethey say ruega para nosotrosthey say he’s yucca, white and shininglike the crucifix on your breastthey say he’s lucky like a spiderthey say he’s yucca, white and hard
they watch himrun like a wolf on the rooftopsrun like a wolf on the rooftopsevery night
rumbling like the train beneath the sidewalk and the El above my headencircled by these girders and his arms hewhispers spray paint and graffitipulls me down into the subwaypulls me down and up againlifts me to the bridge the girders tattooed light the open El
his mouth burns the asphaltgraffiti burns my thighsand I run through the clotheslines that flap on the roofsI run through the night after him.
the girls give me garlicthe girls all pray for meand I pray with the words from the spray-painted wallsand the girders that shake on the Eland I pray:
he is my catholic con lechehe is my old native religionI pray: ruega para nosotrosI pray: ruega para mi.
he is my brujo lobo blancohe is my amor y aranaand my prayers are as dark and as deep as his nightas the hole he will fill with his eyeshere in me
laughinghe opensmy Williamsburg thighs.

Poems for Valentine's Day and the discovery of Einstein's gravitational wave

The universe is hotExpandingImmediateAnd this explosion is a paradoxA particle and a waveDiscrete and continuousRelative, absolute, and real.
Time itself surrenders to the Big Bang.Space finds new dimensionsAnd space-time curves like I doTo your energy, to your gravityTo our new age of relativityAnd our energy and our mass and our energy times lightAre exponentialDefying gravityExploding creationA unified field.
I glance and a boson blinks into view. 
 A strong force beckons 
even as  a weak force radios decay. 
 The gravity  of the situation 
the magnetism: 
 I observe and my attention 
turns particles into power tracks into trails whims into waves.  

Lager NYC

You, volunteer:Reichsgeboren.You choose to be hereSelect.
You, volunteer:You know the difference Between cause and effect:The people on the street Are too stupid to have homesToo filthy to washSee them root through the garbage Nicht essen aber fressen Ni yest' a zhryat'They deserve to be thereThey deserve to be there Select.
Concentrate:See the dark peopleSitting in the cellsThey deserve to be there They deserve to be thereAnd the women of the FrauenblockThe Fraulein triple XControl her, detain herPick her up  Select.Cause and effect:You know which is which.Select.
You, volunteer:We see youOn the job where you whisperHalf of what you thinkAnd none of what you feel.
See the clock:The digital tattoo says run nowRush to the train the transportWho cares who gets inWho cares who gets outPush into the car the transportWho cares who gets homeWho cares who gets shotArbeit macht frei.You choose this You choose:Select.
Hey, you, volunteerWe find ourselves together in the subwayThe Grand Ka-ZeZentral:Here in Ka-ZeYour face is not a face Ni litso, a morda:Your face is not a face But a snoutWe don't eat here, we devourNicht essen aber fressenNi yest' a zhriat
We don't give an inchAnd we don't give a damn Only weaklings fall to the tracksGod knows the difference Between cause and effect.
The selection is over:Look how it happened that you fell.You choose thisYou choose thisSelect.

Jamas volveré

To touch the sidereal limits with the hands — Otero .
Gone are the stars that are not the sun That punctuate heights no longer heights, Heights become space. Things I will never know With my proximity senses are gone, all gone:
I will never hear a star upon this earth, But I feel the warm gusts your wings stir up. If in the daytime I were to leave bread and fruit for you You might come again. I am not so different from The mangrove swamp where you play.

Translation of “Dyr bul shchyl” by Alexei Kruchenykh

Russian zaum poem  Дыр бул щыл
вы со бу
р л эз
English transliterationDyr bul shchyl
vy so bu
r l ez
Translation of "Dyr Bul Shchyl" into Unglish*
Pot nag choganichatblaxyou be nat g id

*With thanks for the term Unglish to mIEKAL aND

From "Mirror, or a Flash in the Pan" in #specialcharacters

$ $ $
Today, Ritar watches television; soon there will be no cable, so she must watch and watch and watch, drinking the gin she buys instead of meat and vegetables.
She sees that the reality shows have created a Malthusian generation. You’re eliminated. Fired. Out. Gohome.
The reality shows train people in servitude as the 21st century wants it.
Despite humiliating, impossible challenges, despite verbal and physical abuse, no one wants to go home.
Perhaps there is no home to go to.
And despite the horror of going home, as though all contestants were ACAs born into hellholes, no one cares when someone goes home.
Contestants grovel before the judges and snipe at other contestants.
Fired. Out. Go home.
Snipe willingly, enthusiastically and eagerly.
Go home.
“At least it wasn’t me.” They not only think, they say.
Do it to Julia.
Competitors detract from one another, the performances of other competitors. Their characters. Their looks. Meanly.
It is, Ritar sees, class war: The judges are from the upper classes; contestants are usually poor. The shows deign to allow one working class hopeful entrée to their world, at least temporarily. Fame, if short-lived. The promise, if not the substance, of wealth. Temporarily, for a lottery time.
Do it to Julia.
As in the Project Runway episode with Team Luxe. In which the team, losing, made a pact not to “throw any of their members under the bus,” not to scapegoat anyone to go home. Solidarity, temporarily. And the persistent attempts, ultimately successful, of the judges to make them––the team, not the judges––choose someone to be sent home.“Someone’s goin’ down,” snarled Michael Kors, later characterizing the group’s attempts at loyalty and cooperation as stupid, explaining “You have to be more self-sufficient.”
Betrayal and treachery, now termed selfsufficiency.
“Who is the weakest?”
“We don’t want to…”
“WHO is the weakest?”
Do it to Julia.
And the winner of Season 7 tells the world that he is inspired by Russian and German military fashion, walking with his lead model, who is wrapped in a swastika.
Do it to Julia.
And the lexicon of all these shows, television staples in a time of unemployment, is:STEP ITUP!
Step it up.
Work harder (for less money.).Because you are inadequate.
Because your performance (painting, cooking, comedy routine, dance, enterprise, design, sewing, attitude) was not good enough. Was lousy, in fact. Should never have seen the light of day. Sucked.
Ditto: your face, pores, hair, legs, teeth, butt, breath, facial expression, feet.
Your too-happy, too-sensitive, too-creative, too-too-too-too self.
Sucked. Sucks.
And it wasn’t because we asked too much. Gave humiliating tasks. Judged unfairly.
Ciao. Aufwiedersehn. Toodles.
                                                              $ $ $

He follows her

 He follows her with his voice; she sees him with her skin, and drinks him with her hands, in the storm touch which will crush his chest against her breast. The poppies pour
 their juice in the red rain which will crack, in time, all o- ther things. She drinks him with her hands. He follows her to her breast. She sees him with his chest, in this bo-
 dy not her own, but which, in the night, is hers. Like the heat that swells all  things, she sings the night with him. He follows her with his voice; she sees him with her skin

February issue of Plume now up!

The February issue of Plume is now live at
With poetry by Gail Mazur, Kelli Russell Agodon, Alan Shapiro, Carrie Etter, Carol Frost, Barbara Hamby, Devin Johnston, Thomas Lux, Christopher Shipman, Ron Smith, Geoffrey Young, Hélène Cardona translates work by José Manuel Cardona, Adam Tavel reviews Greta Stoddart’s ALIVE ALIVE O. Featured: Emmanuel Moses translated by Marilyn Hacker.


Christ was born in a cave, dark, dank, and blind;
The prophets imbibed hot pedal-pumped wine;
In the sunstroke lands of mirage, drought, and thorn,
Why, Nabi, were our "big" religions born?

Sea (Sic)

(Readers: Please read the stanzas in any order you like.)

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,the order of my words.

                                This body, wholly holy, sings as best it can, lisping the mantra “sole.”

                              Alone. Why did the singing stop, and why? 

                         No, I never broke an honest sweat, did I think the ocean would forget?

                       In the horizon’s glance I see a wave rise, rise, rise and die, out of nowhere again, but why?

From In Paran.

Bhakti 2

You will leave your wise men. Your mind, with no object to rest on,I loved him so much that I followed him on morningswill ride onwhen I could have slept, slept late, slept and notthe horse offelt the pain beside me, curled round my my breath.body like a spoon. His body like aAnd you will be mylight in the bedroom, his smile body, ever a dog in the bed. He shakes And if you missme with hugs, overwhelms me with salvation,kisses. I raise my arms to embrace his neck; neverThere is nothing in the day except him. returning, I willoffer it, Bhakti, ever returning, again and again and again.

Abortion Hallucination

A vision   of a snake   with glowing red eyes  
formed by the light of     garbage trucks and    screeching   new cars  
driven by men   who had once    bought me dinner  
then hated me when I didn't want to fuck them twice
Carlight   passing late at night   on a street   of an   ugly
precinct   lying   deceiving   the unwary who think that it leads home

It is late so dark it is almost light   that time of night when
the light hits the metal and the glass of summer windows left ajar
make me want something   someone   I don’t know who

The metal gate to the yard refracts this message via Queens boys who
drive too fast too late at night      refracts this message to the window   where
I watch from the couch
In the corner of the basement where my father used to lie I
Watch, interested, as the snake
grows larger and more menacing    I am
taken slightly aback but remember him    remember that I like
handling snakes    and smile
and as always he softens   grows smaller
becomes a hippopotamus   I have won again   I have stared him down
made him warm
and the Nile gives up its life to me
animals carnivorous and calm   come home to me
two by two

I watch for the longest time
until the largest fills the window with his face
black as light
Agnus Dei

for this man’s baby  for this man’s baby  for this man’s baby
came the flood.


t(his), (he)re

t(h(is)) (which is ours)
here (ours,(he)re now)
t(his) h(ere) (you, pre(sent)
t(here) (my (fu)ture is (y)ours


He told me, repeatedly, that people considered himthe most intelligent person they’d met; that he was not more successful was a conspiracy of minorities, lesbians, blacks, and gays, and a coterie of cliquesthat sucked up all the grants.He visits me; his handsome features, now marred by fat, peer at me. “What are you reading?” he asks. (A hundred pages a day, to live.)He is an expert on Nabokov, international relations, modern artDavid Foster Wallace, Heidegger,and the poets I translate.(And yet he never understood Karenina, any more than Nabokov did,as they focused on the crevices in her carriage train,in that foreshadowed bier, but not on the abortions,nor the Vronsky of her death.)
Before him, I remember feeling beautiful, and those times people said I was the smartest woman they knew.
"My Vronsky" appeared in the St. Petersburg Review


I want to know what makes youtick.
I want to knowwhat makes youfickle; I want to knowwhat makes you stick.
Tell me
which ion propels youwhich soothsayer spells youwhich folksinger trills youwhich hardwood distills youwhich downward dog twists youwhich protest resists youwhich neural net fires youwhich siren desires you
which villennelle sings youwhich jailbreaker springs youwhich Uncle Sam wants youwhich calculus daunts youwhich lullaby lulls youwhich confidence gulls youwhich apple you’ll bite fromwhich hither you’ll welcome
whatmakes me  forget the right answersconsult necromancersallow the forbiddenignore the guilt riddenunlearn all the learningembrace this new burning
to knowwhat makes youtick.

How to Meet and Dance with Your Death (Como encuentrar y bailar con su muerte): A Cure for Suicide

This was told to me by an old Curandera, an India from Brazil whom I met in the Yucatan. She gave me this recipe and cautioned me that it could be done once, and only once.
To meet and dance with your Death, take:
2 gallons of pulque(fermented Mayan beverage), or, if unavailable, gin1 case tequilaSeveral cases beer1 bottle Mescal2 ounces good marijuanacarton cigarettesthree large peyotescoffee as needed
For three weeks, do not eat meat, starch, sweets, or cabbage of any kind. You may have citrus fruits, papaya, watery vegetables, yucca and bacalǻo, salted nuts, cream, and a little halvah.
Drink and smoke everyday, reserving the Mescal and peyote. Smoke the marijuana in silence; drink only when there is music playing and people are dancing; at other times, walk, preferably uphill.
Bailar can fuerza cada dia: dance vigorously every day, either alone or in a group, but never in a couple. Be friendly with the other dancers but dance with no one partner longer than a few moments, and do not stay in one spot as it causes blood clots. Dance until your hair and clothing are entirely wet and your chin tilts upwards naturally.
When you are not dancing, be silent or listen to music, but do not chatter and certainly do not converse. By all means, sing and chant, but do not ululate, because this brings forth unnecessary demons.
When you have finished the pulque and most of the tequila, go to the city. Find two men, one dark and one light; they will be your guides. It is good if you like them, but they must not be your lover—your lover always blocks your view of Death (su amante oscura su vista de la muerte).
After you have visited six interesting places, go together to an old room and take the peyotes; chop them well and mix them with strawberries and yogurt; the sour will help you not to vomit as much.
An hour after you have taken the peyote, the light-haired man will appear to be asleep. Do not disturb him: He is calling your Death.
Take the hand of the dark man. Ask him where he wants to go, and go with him: He will lead you to your Death.
Follow the dark man until he brings you to a crowd of people. You will see familiar faces in the crowd, family and old friends, but each time you turn to greet them, it will be a stranger. This is where you will meet your Death.
Your Death will be a man who looks like you, a little taller, but with the same color hair and possibly the same nose. He will be wearing a hat, but will not be bald except for a very little at the back. He will appear preoccupied, perhaps agitated. He will be sweating.
You will wonder where he has come from, and whether he is sick. Do not ask. And do not ask him to dance. Wait.
When he sees you, you will feel something just below your hair, or in your nostrils, as if the room suddenly had become very cold, or very quiet. You will hear a song—an unusual but very familiar song—and then both of you will leap to the floor at the exact same moment and begin to dance.
You will dance for a long time and you will never dance better. Death will continue to sweat. As his face begins to shine, you will see beneath his skin and know that you are not dancing with a man, but with Death. After that, you will never fear him again, nor seek him.
When the dancing is over, go somewhere and drink the bottle of Mescal; leave the worm in the bottle for Death.
Do this correctly the first time, because it can not be done more than once. To do this once is sagrado, sacred; to do this more than once is common, so no lo jode. If you do this more than once, you will do it often, and then you will become an old borracha who sleeps with common men. Punto.

PEN dinner honoring anti-Putin dissident writers

I attended the PEN dinner last night honoring Russian anti-Putin writers, novelist Lyudmila Ulitstaya and poet Maria Stepanova. In a discussion moderated by Gary Steyngart, the Russian writers spoke of the increasing constraints on freedom of expression in Putin's Russia, an Orwellian disregard for the truth, and the intense pressures on LGBT voices. We are honored to include many of these brave writers in our 2013 Big Bridge anthology, Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry. And, in many ways, are we not heading for the same boat?
Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry

The Diary of the Warsaw Ghetto (from Patient Women).

Interlude, from Patient WomenThe Warsaw Ghetto held out for 42 days against Hitler. Teenaged women armed with stones held out against tanks, troops, mortar, shell fire, and a week of bombing that would have made a citizen of Hanoi sit up and take notice. The Warsaw Ghetto held out longer against Hitler than entire countries did—Poland surrendered after a week. France, despite its much vaunted resistance, never even fought. Why did Hitler seek to destroy this ghetto, why was he obsessed with this particular ghetto, why was it essential that the Warsaw Ghetto be razed, and all its inhabitants, every, last one, found, shot, gassed, destroyed? Because of the diaries. The diary. The diary of the Warsaw ghetto inflamed Hitler’s mind. Jews, Hitler knew, always kept records, chronicles of their abuse. There was a diary at the ghetto in Lodz; they ran a newspaper there, controlled, yes, controlled, but beneath that, there was a diary, a true record, and his intelligence was convinced that there was a diary in Warsaw, too. Somewhere, somewhere in the sewers and the cellars was the resistance, and buried deep, deep there, with the resistance, were the diaries. The oppressed, Hitler knew, chronicled everything.Patient Women on Amazon
More about Patient Women