Sari Krosinsky

Some of the newer poems I’ve been working on deal with the comparative improvement in my depression over the last few months (and the elimination of extra pharmaceutical problems). Here are two of those, the first from last fall, when I was just getting through the medication withdrawal and starting to reemerge. 

Recovery

I’m having feelings again. I can’t tell you

which. I’ve forgotten their names.

Like small mammals, they creep

through the brush, leery of giants’ feet.

The small mammals evolved into lions-and-tigers-and-bears-oh-my since then. The next poem is from a couple weeks ago; I wrote the first draft on the way to print a proof copy of a chapbook dealing with my stints (thus far) on a psychiatric ward. 

Sunday Stroll

If anyone were near enough on the Sunday-empty

campus, they’d hear in the shortness of my breath

not the labored pant but the heated gasp

of being a physical body among physical

bodies—tree and lamppost, concrete and sky—

’til inattention turns my steps to the main street

and quiets me. I let my hair fall before my face

’til I can reappear as social animal and conceal

the bliss of muscle pulling bone under skin.

Geeking out this morning over the detection of gravitational waves, I thought I’d share this poem from A God’s Life with Ben’s general relativity-based time travel idea—that one might be able to transform between movement in space and movement in time something like the way one transforms between mass and energy in special relativity. 

The Pesach Seder

 

A little girl—Rachel, Jeremy said—

holds a basket over her head

for me to choose from.

I draw a tiny triceratops,

find its mate on the table,

almost as far as possible from Jeremy.

 

Rachel sits next to me

and flashes a wide baby-flirt

smile. Then, she attacks

my triceratops with her stegosaurus.

 

Across the table, Jeremy secures a spot

by his other cousin. He asks Ben if he’s still

working on his time travel theory.

 

Ben straightens from his slump.

“Well, I’ve gotten as far as an approximate

equivalency between space and time,

but I need more calculus

before I can get it exactly equal.”

 

“What would you do, if you controlled

time?” I say. He answers, “I’d go back and see

what really happened.” But nobody sees that.

 

Michael, Jeremy’s uncle, comes

from the kitchen saying, “Chicken’s

in the oven. Let’s get this show on the road.”

 

After the first half of the Seder

over bowls of matzah ball soup,

Michael and Jeremy’s dad argue

about the war; his mother waits

for Grandma Ruth to finish the story about her first job

during the Depression. She’s heard it before.

 

A couple glasses of wine later,

Michael starts balancing plates

on his nose. Jeremy’s mom

punches her brother’s arm.

 

Rachel tugs my sleeve, beckons me

to lean closer. She tells me how her mother

used to put food out for the neighborhood

alley cats, and Rachel named them.

 

Her favorite was a gray tabby

with a hint of orange in his coat.

She named him Marmalade.

 

Then winter came, and Marmalade

stopped coming around. Ben explained

about death, about the unknowable.

 

Then, their mother died.

 

She says she hopes the stories

aren’t true, that there isn’t only one love

for each person. She says she doesn’t want

to believe god could be that cruel.

 

Later, on the subway, I pull Jeremy

into a crushing hug. “I love you, too,”

he says. I wish he didn’t.

 

The new poems are still coming. Here’s another, inspired by some of the vastly sage professional advice and self-help tips I’ve heard.

Etiquette for Job Seekers

Do not cross your legs or hang them open.

The Deciders are great believers in the angles

a sentence makes, in the knowledge

measurable in degrees.

 

Do not ask questions.

They must believe you know everything

— yes, even where the bathroom is.

 

Do not slouch your shoulders and twist your fingers so.

They’ll think you’re hiding something

in the dimensions dancing inside the spacetime

between your palms, behind your chest.

 

Do not expect them to know

they don’t know you.

New poems have been mostly slow to come these years, but this one came in less than 24 hours, and it’s one I’ve been trying to write for years. I think I’ve managed it, this time. 

I bit a guy once.

I was 17 and didn’t know

he was roleplaying. He was 18

and I didn’t know he was roleplaying

for two months. I didn’t know that when he said

—as his fingers fucked me, handcuffed to a tree—

that I should say “no”

if I wanted him to stop, he meant

that exact word. When a few weeks later

I said, wanna stop

—around his bleeding hand between my teeth—

I didn’t know he thought I

was roleplaying. When I told him,

let’s not do this anymore,

he asked, why didn’t you just say “no?”

Irene is mistaken when she supposes Kavi to be Indian in the opening poem of “A God’s Life.” The main inspiration for the mythology of “A God’s Life” is the Mihr Yasht, a section of the Avesta, sacred Zoroastrian text, but Kavi isn’t a Zoroastrian god either. He’s part of an imagined proto-Indo-Iranian pantheon, based partly on a study of existing theories in linguistics and comparative mythology, partly on my own interpretation of sacred texts in English translation, and partly on the idea that the earliest poems (in the chronology of the story) are occurring at a moment when a new greatest-of-all god is displacing the old gods — not only lowering their position in the hierarchy, but beginning an evolution that culminates (in later religions) in the belief that they never existed. 

Mithra the character is Mithra as the ultimate spy god, and Kavi is one of his many spies: “Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, proves an undeceivable spy and watcher for the man to whom he comes to help with all the strength of his soul, he of the ten thousand spies, the powerful, all-knowing, undeceivable god.” (Mihr Yasht X.46, translated by James Darmesteter, “The Zend-Avesta.” New Delhi: Atlantic, 1990. Vol. 1, page 131.) The epithets about Mithra’s thousands of ears and eyes are understood as representing his spies. In “the divorce,” the eye closing on Mithra’s helmet is Kavi.

The gods of other pantheons make appearances here and there, often in ways that twist several mythologies together. The bit about gods communicating by burning letters is an imagined extension of burnt offerings, which of course manifest in various ways in many religions. 

Bob and Sari will give feature readings along with Art Goodtimes at The Range Cafe, Bernalillo, on Wednesday, Nov. 11. The reading begins at 7 p.m., with open mic signup starting at 6:30 p.m.

The event is part of a gathering of poets and poetry lovers with host Bill Nevins on the second Wednesday of each month, 7-9 p.m. in the art gallery room of The Range Cafe, 925 Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo, NM. It’s free to all (donations welcome).

Sari will publicly release “A God’s Life” and “Courting Hunger” at the reading, and Bob will have copies of “Small Amounts of Blood: Poems 2014,” released earlier this year.

UPDATE, 11/2: RSVP on Facebook, Meetup or Google+.

UPDATE, 10/30: Announcement from Host Bill Nevins with Additional Details

Poetry at the Range Café, Bernalillo on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 7 p.m. will feature a Triple Treat of Featured Poets: Sari Krosinsky, Robert Arthur Reeves and Art Goodtimes.

We will also have a time limited open mic. First 11 poets who sign up can read for up to 5 minutes each. Open mic sign up at 6:30 p.m.

EVERYONE is most welcome to come enjoy poetry, have a dinner or dessert or tasty libations in the Range Café’s full restaurant and bar. Free, with donations very much appreciated.

SARI KROSINSKY is a writer, artist, Maude activist, and novice game-maker. Ze has written three books of poetry and publishes Fickle Muses, an online journal of mythic poetry, fiction and art. Sari lives in Albuquerque, N.M., with zir partner, Robert Arthur Reeves, and cat, Emma.

ROBERT ARTHUR REEVES is the author of Small Amounts of Blood, Tisha B’Av: A Diptych, Because: Meditations on the Beatles Songbook and several other poetry collections. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his partner Sari Krosinsky.

ART GOODTIMES is the guiding spirit of the Talking Gourds Poetry group and a legendary voice of poetry in the Western Slope of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where he lives and writes poetry and journalism and performs.

Books by each of these fine poets — and others — will be available for purchase at the event. They make GREAT holiday gifts. Bring your books and cds to sell and swap, poets!

Hosted by Bill Nevins bill_nevins@yahoo.com. Mic and sound amp provided by Jesse Ehrenburg.

I’ve been working on “A God’s Life” and “Courting Hunger” since 2004. The following background notes on the writing of the books are reposted from the Kickstarter campaign, ending Sunday, Oct. 11, at 9 p.m. MDT.

“Courting Hunger:” Truth and Fiction

Mementos related to "Courting Hunger:" the Indigo Girls concert ticket from "How not to love a straight grrrl," my card from the nonprofit I worked for in Albany (SASU), train tickets from my New York to New Mexico move, my last bottle of testosterone, my mathletes pin ("Imaginary friend"), the quilt mentioned in "Kaddish," and Emma, who is not a memento but insisted on being in the picture anyway.
Mementos related to “Courting Hunger:” the Indigo Girls concert ticket from “How not to love a straight grrrl,” my card from the nonprofit I worked for in Albany (SASU), train tickets from my New York to New Mexico move, my last bottle of testosterone, my mathletes pin (“Imaginary friend”), the quilt mentioned in “Kaddish,” and Emma, who is not a memento but insisted on being in the picture anyway.
The poems in “Courting Hunger” occur between ages 4 and 34, or 1982-2012. Though the events are told as I remember them, they don’t tell all that I remember, and probably often diverge from what others remember. Some of the most important people in my life aren’t mentioned at all, or only in passing. Sometimes I deliberately omit parts of a story that are relevant to What Really Happened, but not to the poem. E.g., I cut a line from “Compassion” which clarified that my parents didn’t reject me when I told them I’m transgender, as my parents’ awesomeness is beside the poem’s point.

The book is also fictionalized in lesser ways. My sensory memories are often blurry, so I reimagine those to give poems more physicality. My favorite sort of metaphor is to interpret the setting as a reflection of the situation. I mostly do this with actual settings, but sometimes I’ll combine events or invent details to serve the metaphor. E.g., “The building stands on stilts, holding us / above floods. The stilts stand on sand” describes the building my high school was in, as well as implying the dangerous instability of social orders grounded in oppression.

I wrote the early drafts of most poems in “Courting Hunger” in 2010-2012, a period when I went from maintaining well (or well enough) on antidepressants to my worst and longest bout of depression yet (still going). In the three years since, I’ve been hospitalized for suicide prevention three times (the first two in 2012 actually, but not addressed in this book); had a prophylactic double mastectomy (an experience totally unlike the conjectured breast reduction in “Don’t say ‘transgender’”); was treated with electroconvulsive therapy, along with various antidepressants and experimental uses of other sorts of medication; and discovered through a friend’s help that many attributes of mine which I hadn’t encountered in other people are typical of people on the autism spectrum.

Because of those and other experiences, my understanding (including how I perceive some of the events described in “Courting Hunger”) has changed substantially from that expressed in the book. For a while, I tried to integrate more recent poems that reflect those differences, but they didn’t really fit. Instead, I completed the book with my 2010-2012 perspective intact. (The newer poems are the kernel of the next book, “Call Me Crazy” — Bob came up with this title, as well as the titles of all my books so far.)

A History of “A God’s Life”

I wrote and workshopped the first draft of “A God’s Life” — then titled “The Book of Names” — in 2004. Not my best workshop experience, but it did much to inform the evolution of the book, though there was only one bit of advice I used in a direct way: needs more sex. The comments helped me figure out what wasn’t getting across. For example, a poem that takes place at a family gathering in the suburbs, meant in part to illustrate the narrator’s discomfort in dealing with the web of relationships that having one relationship entangles him in — was understood to represent suburban family life as the happy ending the characters must be headed for. I mean no slight to those who prefer it, but the characters in question would find no more happiness in such a state than I would.

I had to put the manuscript aside while I worked on my thesis, “god-chaser.” As distressing as it was at the time, and as much as I still disagree with the logic of the decision not to allow a verse novel as a thesis (in short, because verse novels are more difficult to publish), I’m glad it worked out that way. Some of the poems in “god-chaser” would probably never have been written if I’d been focused on finishing “A God’s Life.”

Another … let’s say “benefit” of the delay was that my experiences over the next few years while finishing the book shaped its evolution. My general anxiety about losing Bob was sharpened and focused by his cancer diagnosis, and those experiences deepened two characters who became more central to the story in the process.

I also added another storyline to the book. I have a way of writing about religion and mythology that’s been described as simultaneously pious and blasphemous. I don’t mind so much if I offend members of my own religion (Judaism) or the dominant religion in my corner of the world (Christianity), but I still worry that Zoroastrian readers, should there be any, might take “A God’s Life” amiss. And for a long time I was determined against including anything involving Islam, though it felt like a major oversight in the context of the story. Given the narrator’s loathing of monotheism, I didn’t think I could introduce an important relationship with a Muslim character in a way that wouldn’t stir the loathsome cauldron of Islamophobia. I think I did find a way to accomplish that, and without violating the demands of character or story.

I submitted the manuscript to several publishers at different stages, and it received one acceptance and a couple near misses (including a we’d-take-it-without-all-the-“fuck”ing). Then, of course, I decided to self publish, not only to keep the price down, but to do all the “fuck”ing I please.

The two books I’ve been working on over the past 11 years are at last ready to be released in November. Through fictionalized autobiography, “Courting Hunger” explores love, family, friendship, identity, sex, drugs, rock & roll, sickness & health. In “A God’s Life,” an exiled spy god working at a queer video store in Washington Heights reflects on his past loves and wars and tries not to start any new ones.

To be among the first readers and help fund publication, check out the Kickstarter campaign, ending Sunday, Oct. 11.

Book cover images
In “A God’s Life” and “Courting Hunger,” an exiled spy god and a human deal with their addiction to loving doomed mortals.

Crescent Moon by Araldia
One of my favorites by Araldia, titled “Crescent Moon,” but I always think of it as “the sea creature” or “the pink crustacean.”

I’ve been pretty thoroughly nonverbal for some while, but the visual art has been flowing. In the past, I’ve mostly gravitated towards representational art in my own work — though I love abstract art by others, like my favorite fractal/digital artist, Araldia. Lately I keep drawing these abstract/organic/geometric things and collaging them with fractal art and NASA public domain images using GIMP. I wonder if the abstraction and the trouble with words are connected?

For now, I’m stashing my visual artwork on Flickr [Edit August 5, 2015: and now on DeviantArt, as well:]. Here are a few samples:

Solar Prayer Brain Geometry 1 Martian Dinosaur

UPDATE, 2015/4/23: The book page is now set up with the changes. You can order “god-chaser,” “Complications” and “Yossele” directly from me with payments processed by Paypal (no account required). You can still order all of Robert Arthur Reeves books except “Yossele” through Amazon, along with some journals featuring our poetry. Also check out the new digital poetry page for a free ebook of “Yossele” and free audio poetry from “Complications” and “Hush.”

ORIGINAL MESSAGE: I’m taking “Yossele: a tale in poems” (chapbook) and “Complications” (CD) off of Amazon in a couple weeks, but don’t worry ;), you’ll still be able to get both through outerchildpoetry.com or in person.