Mathias Svalina’s Destruction Myth opens (ironically) with a series of creation myths each more comically outlandish than the last. In one, the universe comes into existence when Larry Bird retires to his basement to build a series of increasingly tinier clocks. In another, the universe rises out of a rotting pig corpse. In another, we are told that, in the beginning, “there was a pen that drew itself into existence.” All told, Svalina presents 43 creation myths (each titled “Creation Myth”) before offering the thirteen-part destruction myth promised by the title. Perhaps predictably, the title of this final poem is “Destruction Myth.”
The effect of presenting so many creation myths is to underscore the arbitrary nature of our most cherished mythologies in general. Whether humanity evolved from a ghost (as Svalina posits in one poem) or the universe emerged from a tuba that wanted to play polka music (as he suggests in another), we’re all here now (the collection, taken as a whole, implies), and there’s no real point in asking where we came from (big picture-wise), or at least no point in taking the question too seriously (as religion and science tend to do), because the only thing we can be relatively sure of (as the final poem makes clear) is that everything will eventually come to an end. The good news, however, is that poets like Svalina can have fun mixing and matching the tropes of mythology with the flotsam and jetsam of popular culture to amuse and provoke an otherwise jaded world.