"In A Cure for Suicide, Shmailo writes (as the founder of Fulcrum Magazine Philip Nikolayev points out in his introduction) as if she is …” constitutionally predestined to sing out her lines…her eyes filled with life and love, pain and death, freedom and coercion, the real of the mind and the imagined of the heart.” In the poem “Dancing with the Devil,” the poet sings about the need to throw caution to the wind and trip the light fantastic with the Devil:
“They say 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.”
Shmailo put herself in the deceptive calmness of the eye of a hurricane, asks us to tell her what makes us tic, and takes us on the Harlem River Line, like the “Duke” took us on the “A” train. In a sea of mimics this poet is an original voice."
—Doug Holder, Ibbetson Update, May 2008
"Larissa Shmailo plumbed the depths of human emotion and the heights of such extreme human states as homelessness, madness and grief in her dramatic 2006 spoken word CD The No-Net World. Although the majority of the poems in her latest chapbook, A Cure for Suicide, read less like conventional monologues, the turbulence, sensuality and unabashed wildness that engirds her earlier work is very much alive in these twenty-four poems."
—Joselle Vanderhooft, The Pedestal Magazine
"Reading A Cure For Suicide Shmailo’s themes and preoccupations make themselves known to us. There’s “movement”: the identifying of personal turmoil with the turmoil of nature, as explored in ‘My First Hurricane’. Then the whirling, spinning inebriated dancing of the title poem follows, which, in turn, is followed by the nihilistic ‘Dancing with the Devil’. She returns to contemplating the movement of nature in ‘Oscillation’, informing us how ‘The world was born in swing and sway’, going on, then, to consider movement of a poetically technical kind in ‘Sea (Sic)’, where she addresses us in the italicized parenthesis under the title: (Readers: Please read the stanzas in any order you like.)* So for Shmailo, even the words of her poems cannot be assumed to be stationery; even they are just as subject to the possibilities of movement as everything else in the world."
—Richard Barrett, The Altered Scale
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, gin
1 case tequila
several cases beer
1 bottle Mescal
2 ounces good marijuana
three large peyotes
coffee 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 bacalåo, 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 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 will 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 and possibly the same nose. He will be wearing a hat. He will appear preoccupied, perhaps agitated. He will be sweating.
You will wonder where he has come from, and whether he is suck. 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.