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About this poet

Dana Levin is the author of Sky Burial (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). She teaches at Santa Fe University of Art and Design and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

The Gods Are in the Valley

Dana Levin

The mind sports god-extensions.

It's the mountain from which
        the tributaries spring: self, self, self, self—

        rivering up
                on curling plumes
        from his elaborate
                head-piece

                of smoke.

His head's on fire.

Like a paleolithic shaman
        working now in the realm of air, he

        folds his hands—

No more casting bones
        for the consulting seeker, this gesture

        seems to mean.
                Your business, his flaming head suggests,

                is with your thought-machine.

        How it churns and churns.

        Lord Should and Not-Enough,
                Mute the Gigantor, looming dumb

                with her stringy hair—

                Deadalive Mom-n-Dad (in the sarcophagi
                of parentheses

                you've placed them)—

He's a yogi, your man
        with a hat of smoke. Serene, chugging out streams

        of constructed air...

Mind's an accident
        of bio-wiring, is one line of thinking.

We're animals that shit out
        consciousness, is another.

The yogi says:
        you must understand yourself

        as projected vapor.
                Thus achieve your

                superpower.


About this poem:
"The poem was sparked by a drawing accompanying an 8th Century Chinese alchemical text, The Secret of the Golden Flower. To me, the drawing makes an argument for the multiplicity of self, the projected self, the vaporous, ever-changing nature of self: self as smoke. Something of continuous interest to me."

Dana Levin

Copyright © 2013 by Dana Levin. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 19, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Dana Levin. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 19, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Dana Levin

Dana Levin

Dana Levin is the author of Sky Burial (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). She teaches at Santa Fe University of Art and Design and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

by this poet

poem
Six monarch butterfly cocoons
      clinging to the back of your throat—

      you could feel their gold wings trembling.

You were alarmed. You felt infested.
In the downstairs bathroom of the family home,
      gagging to spit them out—
            and a voice saying Don’t, don’t—
poem
In the moment between
the old heart and the new
two angels gather at the empty chest.

The doctors flow over them as winds, as blurs, unnoticed but as currents
around this body, the flesh of the chest peeled back
as petals, revealing

a hole.
In it

the layers are fluttering—the back muscle, the bone, the chrome
poem
Through shattered glass and sheeted furniture, chicken
wire and piled dishes, sheared-off doors stacked five to a
wall, you're walking like cripples. Toward a dirty window,
obstructed by stacks of chairs.

And once you move them, one by one, palm circles through
the grime and cup your hands round your faces,