Larissa's Blog


The attachment of Trump supporters to a venal, self-serving, obnoxious man is not unprecedented. Trump supporters display the same psychodynamics as the cult followers of Jim Jones or David Koresh. They systematically reject any information that conflicts with their delusion of a powerful father figure who loves and protects them, even at the expense of their health and welfare. These people will support Trump even if, as he has said, he shoots someone in broad daylight, or even shoots them.

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For Holocaust Remembrance Day, "Kalinivka, Prmysl, Dora"

Kalinivka, Kalinivka: The ground over the mass graves is hard, the soft grass grows. The Ukrainian Guard, boy and girl, make love, happy to be alive. In the Ukraine, collectivized, they walked on corpses. And the Germans alone protest, her father tells the girl. Siberia, purges. Like the Irish, their parents collaborate; Hitler fights the Russian and English masters of their rural lands. Now here, Kalinivka. The mass graves crack with green life. 1941 is forgotten in the summer of ’43. She is 19, pregnant soon.Prymsl 
By1943, the ghetto holds the few not deported, living in tunnels, basements, caves, the hiding ones, the ones who know. All the rest to camps in Poland, Germany, or dead. The boy no longer likes the girl, but through her, he got his Kapo job. Even his mother says, marry. Have a child. The female Kapo bears a boy through the camps, Prymsl, through the unknown tombs of Poland, the unmarked graves, the walls marked with Jewish blood, the bloody broken nooses, the dark rain. She wants the boy to marry her, he makes excuses, says, the Germans won’t permit. That the child will die soon after the war, that she will beat her head upon the grave until it bleeds, that sorrow is unknown. The death of the Jewish children is unseen. Poland is always green.Dora 
Germany, Harz Mountains. The Germans turn now, now SS. The war is failing. Fewer the slaves to command, the girl, heavy with child, translates, working, starving, carried in rail carts for miles to build the V-2s. A rachitic Jewess cleans the barracks, the boy’s eye turns, with pity, with lust; he gives her bread. From Erfurt to the extension camp, Buchenwald’s new Dora, Northausen. Here they spare the rope to hang. All are hungry, the Germans too. The Allies bomb the industrial camp. Liberation. Rows of corpses, the eternal rows, line Northausen. The Germans are forced to respect the dead. Kalinivka, Prymsl, the unseen dead, now here in respectful symmetry, no longer piled in heaps, but rectangular, marked. The flowers grow, the burghers sing, “After every December, there comes a new spring."


I am listening to Abraham Hicks, whom the well-loved New Age maven Louise Hay, may the Universe rest her soul, calls “one of the best teachers on the planet.” Abraham is an “ascended” energy being channeled by a woman called Esther. She is touring the country, orating in impassioned spurts marked by anaphora. Tonight, Abraham is advising her enthusiastic audience that they must seek their bliss. She tells them to find a personal frequency, assuring her listeners that everything they could ever want is being stored up for them in their very own “vortex.” All they need to do is think positive thoughts. So what’s new? A medium is promising people that she can make them rich and happy. Hasn’t this always attracted the needy and the greedy and the seedy? Why is this different? Because uncritical positive thinking has led us to Donald Trump.
Positive thinking has traditionally been reactionary. Go back, for example, to the 17th century to the first new age thinker, Gottfried Wilhem Leibniz (1646 – 1716), philosopher, polymath, and an inventor of calculus. Leibniz believed that God was good, and therefore, all was for the best in the world. Voltaire parodied this philosophy in Candide, or Optimism; Dr. Pangloss, Candide’s tutor and the Leibniz figure in the book, intones “All is for the best in this best of possible worlds” as he, Candide, and Candide’s love, Cunégonde, undergo war, earthquake, pillage, and cannibalism. For the victims, the Leibniz school recommends prayer.
VoltaireHay also believed that all is well and perfect in the world, or would be if our thoughts were sufficiently positive; even earthquakes and bad government, says Hay, are caused by faulty thinking. Affirm Donald Trump is loving and honorable and he will be, since thoughts create reality. To that end, both Abraham and Hay urge their followers not to watch the news so as to remain in positivity. Seekers must also not involve themselves overmuch in the problems of others; this, according to the Ayn Randian Abraham, causes you to leave the “high flying disc.” Followers must seek to inspire rather than lend a hand.
At a time of extreme income inequality, class struggle is discouraged by the New Age. Hay suggested that the ambitious let the enormous yachts and other conspicuous consumption of the wealthy give them pleasure. The idea is that if you don’t admire the rich, you might not become one of them. And followers should not look at statistics about poverty: There is plenty for all of us, every prosperity talk insists, and all economies are personal. Collective bargaining, even standing up for abused co-workers, is a no-no.
No one who has sat by an ocean at twilight, breathing its air and listening to the gulls cry as they fly by, can doubt the perfection and majesty of the world. And positive thinking, faith in oneself, and a belief that life is good are healthy outlooks. However, constant meditation on unreal thoughts, saying bad is good, fat is thin, poor is rich, is Orwellian doublethink, doublespeak. And it has prepared us the climate of lies we live in today.
Affirmations are absolute, employing words like all, always, everything, only (“Everything I need is coming to me easily and effortlessly; all my desires are met before I even ask; only good comes to me now”). The gradations of experience, its nuances and subtleties are lost, like rare species of Amazon frog in a pink bulldozer of unreality. And positive thoughts alone are dangerous: Negative feelings, verboten in the New Age sphere, have survival value; anger, which Hay and the 12 Step programs would banish altogether, lets people know when their boundaries have been crossed, when they must stand up for themselves, and most importantly, that they are worth defending.
Thinking in absolutes, affirming what is, isn’t, not defending your point of view (Deepak Chopra advises this), idolizing the rich, staying positive no matter what, and never getting angry is a formula for a mystified and de-hormonized generation, it might be said, a Trump generation. Such people will never be empowered to “create their reality,” as the gurus suggest, especially if that requires conflict, struggle, or effort. It is also painful that people with inadequate medical care are urged to rely on affirmations in times of serious illness, even told their thoughts have caused their sickness.
I think a red light flashed the first time I heard Hay affirm that it was good to take a five-minute break from work every two hours. I grew up in a union household and, as I recall, it was 15 minutes every two hours, not five. No matter—if your work situation is poor, it is because of your thoughts, so get cheerful.
At the end of Candide, Voltaire has his character say, “Il faut cultiver notre jardin”—“We must cultivate our garden.” We are responsible for creating our reality, but not in the atomizing, anti-worker manner Hay and Abraham suggest. And nowadays, negative emotions are highly appropriate. Because if you are not pissed off nowadays, I’m not sure I want to know you.
–Larissa Shmailo

Come out of the darkness about depression this holiday.


On the perfect roof, near a perfect ledge,
A small terra firma with a narrow edge,
No temporizing with last-minute balance,
No handhold, no foothold, no anchor, no ballast.
And once committed, once into the air,
No hovering, no kiting, no waiting there.
The polygonal street and the shining dark cars
Attacked at meters per second squared.
Once over, soon over: a thing done just once:
Like fireworks and New Years’ bells, fast and intense,
Quite finite, soon finished, thought long, slow begun,
And forgotten by others like the old year now done.

Auld Lang Syne

Robert Burns (Scotland, 1759-1796)Auld Lang SyneShould auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And never brought to mind? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And auld lang syne!Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear, 
For auld lang syne. 
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne.And surely ye'll be your pint stowp! 
And surely I'll be mine! 
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne. 
For auld, &c.We twa hae run about the braes, 
And pou'd the gowans fine; 
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit, 
Sin' auld lang syne. 
For auld, &c.We twa hae paidl'd in the burn, 
Frae morning sun till dine; 
But seas between us braid hae roar'd 
Sin' auld lang syne. 
For auld, &c.And there's a hand, my trusty fere! 
And gie's a hand o' thine! 
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught, 
For auld lang syne. 
For auld, &c.(1788)16 Comments12 Shares


I am not surprised that the word *vulnerable* is banned at the CDC; this seems a logical extension of the Trumpian worldview. There are no vulnerable persons to a bully; there are simply weaklings, crips, marks. The compassionate person sees vulnerability and says, this person needs my help; the Trumpian sees vulnerability and says, this person can be taken.
Auden put it best in "The Shield of Achilles" :
A ragged urchin, aimless and alone, 
Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
Were axioms to him, who’d never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept.

Skin in the Game

As a person with a mental illness, I have skin in the game of the Trump resistance. Nazis (now, sweethearts, is there really any lingering doubt that Trump is a Nazi?) routinely gassed mentally ill and other disabled people. As eugenicists and ableists, fascists exterminate you if you can't be used for free or cheap labor. Remember that loud dog whistle to the base, Trump's gleefully mocking the New York Times reporter with ankylosing spondylitis, and see Jeff Session's recent attack on regulations protecting disabled people. Not to mention the wholesale Republican war on Medicaid and Obamacare. They will be coming after the Americans with Disabilities Act next, and I intend to fight them every step of the way.

A Brodsky Nativity Poem: Christmas Star

Christmas Star

by Joseph Brodsky
Tr. L. Shmailo
In a cold time, in a place accustomed more
To scorching heat, than cold, to the flatness of plain,
than hills: A child was born in a cave to save the world.
And it stormed, as only winter desert storms can.
Everything seemed huge to him: his mother’s breast,
The yellow steam of the camels’ breath. And from afar,
Their gifts carried here, the Magi, Balthazar, Melchior, Caspar.
He was all of him just a dot. And that dot was a star.
Attentively and fixedly through the sparse clouds,
Upon the recumbent child in the manger, through the night’s haze,
From the depths of the universe, from its end and bound,
A star watched over the cave. And that was the Father’s gaze.


Rich people are rich more because of your efforts than theirs. It's pretty simple. You are paid a fraction of what the product you produce is worth. Your boss pockets the rest. You also pay taxes for the roads and bridges and transportation and construction that business uses; they get a chunk of your sales taxes, too. And you pay for their employees' education. *And* you contribute to government tax breaks and incentives, especially nowadays. Many other freebies. When it comes to the one percent, you support them, not the other way around.If you say this, you will be attacked. You will be called a loser and accused of envy. You might lose your job. But it is true. Capitalism is socialism for rich people.

Trump Is Winning and We Are Wimps

Trump is winning and we are wimps. He owns the Internet now, will control 72 percent of television now that DOJ has approved Sinclair's acquisition of Tribune (not counting FOX), owns the courts, has taught local police to be brutal, has listed Black Lives Matter and other black organizations as terrorist groups, has successfully incited Nazis, KKK, and other gun-toters to violence, and has triumphantly dominated the Republican Party. And like any good fascist, he has cemented his relationship with business with his tax bill. He's right - he and his generals really have done more than any other dictators in one year. We have been outmaneuvered, and better wake up to that fact going forward.


1. Establish charismatic leader.
2. Acclimate populace to propaganda and lies.
3. Undermine democratic institutions.
4. Attack opposition, especially media, intellectuals, minority groups.
5. Start hauling away #4 to concentration camps.
6. Leave behind a cult-like nation of troglodytes to inform on one another.
7.Go down in history as an abomination and an object lesson that some may learn from, hopefully.

Nora at 13 from Patient Women in Unbearables Anthology

Delighted that an excerpt from Patient Women, "Nora at 13," appears in the new Unbearables anthology, From Somewhere to Nowhere: The Death of the American Dream. Thanks to editors Ron Kolm, Jim Feast, and Shalom Neuman!

"Madwoman" in From Somewhere to Nowhere Anthology

Delighted that my prose poem, "Madwoman," appears in the new Unbearables anthology, From Somewhere to Nowhere. Many thanks to editors Ron Kolm and Jim Feast! Madwoman  Here I am again    walking among these vague and tepid people    they evoke a slight feeling of distaste in me    they smell my  pain    they have no idea     I just hold my phone    the cellular phone I use for a disguise    and I talk, talk to the ultimate answering service     I walk and I talk to  God when you died I ripped the electrodes out of my skull    and ran away     from the land of cables and TV sets     great battles of television were fought here     great battles were lost     Soho is no different from uptown or downtown     it’s all money and talking and bars     sex and cars     job job job     so I went to see the trees The trees were beautiful    the leaves forming patterns of light on the ground    and as the light  played on my hair and my cheeks     I realized that no one ever dies     they just become trees    even Marilyn Monroe was alive in a leaf     I saw for an instant your face all acquiver in the shaking of a fern    in the light of the wind    and I kissed the trees    so I knew you were not dead     not really     you would not be so cruel as to die     really die Under the West Side Highway     I met all the men who lived there and one girl     she was 22 and pregnant and had AIDS     I didn't stay long but I stayed long enough     under the West Side Highway    I slept with Jesus in a cap     talked madman Spanish with Tito and the dirty apostles     knew there would always be enough loaves and fishes for me     knew that no matter how hard it got     I would always be safe and held near     close to God     it was my destiny to be greatly loved   I chose then to be close to God     to throw away my clothing and be close to God     there were times when not even a shirt came between me and God Under the West Side Highway     I spoke to Jesus     his face always changing     now Alex who lived in a tent near the wall    now Panama drinking wine     now Juan in his tin and cardboard hut   You followed me    watched me     you were worried     how would I get home and back to the life I had known     and I said     look who's talking you died after all     it's hardly for you to criticize me if I go off the beaten path a little too And as for the others    they worried too     unknown to them the protection that I had     and had always had    I said to them all     don't worry     I will love you     pray you home    look can't you see….I am your guardian angel    and you thought I was just homeless and mad    as though God hadn't made the whole world just for me Well now I am cured     I go to the bank    I take pills     I sit in restaurants have a job     I worry about money     and whether my new boyfriend has AIDs     we don't even have sex     he's too busy with his job     it's just as well     none of these men have anything that would compel you    or keep you through the night    its just banging bones after all      You see very few men have souls     and very few men have courage     the few who have the courage to follow their souls are mostly all dead     lost in leaves     people kill them you know     I don't know any more    I take pills and talk into the cellular phone    sometimes I think I hear your voice     sometimes I think I hear you and then no     it’s just the pills    I get a hum in my ear     its not you     I know you are not dead    but you're not here either    and I miss you I am cured so they say     but you can't really ever take the gift of madness away     once you have been stripped by God of everything     clothing  family  freedom  senses     you are his for life     and I was stripped     oh yes dear lord of everything     every last thing     God took everything     leaving only my soul     but I found that was enough   And you     you people think you have things     but really the next breath you take is the only thing you have     so how different are you from me  Look at us again    we the homeless     and see us for who we are    the archangels of God  You can not take the gift of madness away     I will always know about trees     will always see the arch of my lover's neck in the patterns of their light     I will  know that the patch of sky between the birch tree and the willow is him    his azure face    and I will always hear the voice of God wherever I go    no pill can block him out    no TV set can drown his voice    no fool can block the face of God from me    Look at me     madwoman     I am Magdalene  I am Joan of Arc    I am St. Marilyn Monroe     and I will always be your angel baby     I will always be your saint     pray to me.

This Is Different

The lip service to democratic values is gone, the judiciary is a tool of the executive, the media as watchdog is vastly undermined, propaganda is rife (Sinclair with the merger will reach 72 percent of TV households), the government is a white supremacist one, fascist governments are our models, right wing evangelicals are successfully taking evolution out of our schools and now, with the tax bill, can wage political campaigns without losing nonprofit status, climatology and other sciences are under attack, so much more. This is not business as usual; this is fascism and we have to fight with all our might now, literally all our might all the time, or else.