“From under the El in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to her window seat on the Harlem Line, Shmailo is right on track with poetry that dances with love, death and desire. The proverbial urban poet, Shmailo masterfully mixes the beauty and the gritty, in New York City.”

—Doug Holder, Ibbetson Street Press


“Reader beware: these are poems that lurk. Larissa evokes a stark, incisive view of the mad world where ‘graffiti burns my thighs / and I run through the clotheslines that flap on the roof' and you will not escape it by closing her extraordinary book. ‘I will slash my wrists,' she tells us, ‘and from my wrists will come ants and tired shopkeepers,' and we believe her. Writing doesn't get much better than this.”

—Jackie Sheeler, Talk Engine


“In these visceral wanderings into Larissa Shmailo's narratives, we venture through the teeming back alleys of Brooklyn on through the poet's labyrinthine youth until we reach the trepidatious poetic psyche of a woman who has lost in love but keeps on gambling with a strength to envy and behold. In Paran is not here to soothe — this is a book willing to discomfit and excite anyone who has grown too comfortable, inciting them to ‘forget the right answers/consult necromancers/allow the forbidden/ignore the guilt ridden/unlearn all the learning/embrace this new burning.'”

—Amy King, I'm the Man Who Loves You


“Larissa Shmailo invites the reader to ‘imagine a use with me for all that doesn't fit.' Her poems, alive with discomfort and broken pieces, teach an art of compassion without illusion.”

—Robert Viscusi, winner, American Book Award, Astoria


I want to know
what makes you

I want to know
what makes you
fickle; I want to know
what makes you stick.

Tell me

which ion propels you
which soothsayer spells you
which folksinger trills you
which hardwood distills you
which downward dog twists you
which protest resists you
which neural net fires you
which siren desires you

which villennelle sings you
which jailbreaker springs you
which Uncle Sam wants you
which calculus daunts you
which lullaby lulls you
which confidence gulls you
which apple you’ll bite from
which hither you’ll welcome


forget the right answers
consult necromancers
allow the forbidden
ignore the guilt ridden
unlearn all the learning
embrace this new burning

to know
makes you



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