Mathias Svalina was born in Chicago, where his parents were both chemists. He is the author of five chapbooks as well as five collaboratively written chapbooks. His work has been published widely in journals such as American Letters & Commentary, Boston Review, Diagram, Jubilat, and Typo. He has won fellowships and awards from The Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, The Iowa Review and New Michigan Press, among others. With Zachary Schomburg, he co-edits Octopus Magazine and Octopus Books. He currently teaches writing and literature in Denver, Colorado. Destruction Myth (Cleveland State University Press, 2010) is his first book.
There was a bunny with a broken leg
& a mink with an empty stomach,
Somehow they coexisted peacefully
& were able to create the world.
When Hollywood heard about this
they sent a team of idea people out to meet them.
that the bunny & the mink uncreated the world.
They drank up all the oceans
& hairdried all the clouds.
They knocked down all the mountains
& flicked the switch that turned the sun off.
They sat together in the darkness
neither one really knowing what to say.
The mink leaned over to the bunny,
put his paw on his friend's shoulder,
said: Well it's been a wild ride
& bit the bunny's throat out.
In the beginning there was a book
but every time a villager read the book
it meant something different to her
than it did to her friend or her mother.
The villagers fought over the correct interpretation.
Mothers ripped earrings from their son's ears.
Children stuffed their parents' mouths with gauze.
Priests bludgeoned bakers. Twins disagreed.
Eventually someone decided to throw the book
down the well, but when she picked it up
a shower of keys fell from its pages,
each key labeled for a particular villager.
There were no locks at that time
so the villagers took their keys home
to their basements & garages & built locks
& locked up everything they owned.
They locked up their houses & bikes first.
Then they locked up their drawers & their pockets.
One villager built a lock for his mouth
& then another built a lock for his eyes.
Years later a team of scientists in white coats
discovered the village. All the villagers
had locked themselves completely still
& only a few sneezes revealed that they were alive.
The scientists radioed in for a team of pickpockets
who stole the keys from the locked villagers.
But even the pickpockets could not be of help
because none of the keys opened any of the locks.