Original poem reprinted online here: "The Gods are in the Valley" by Dana Levin
Originally read: March 19, 2013
More information about the Poet: Dana Levin
The conceit of this poem is the first line, "The mind sports god-extensions" and the rest of the poem deals with the idea of "god-extensions" or finding the spiritual, looking for the spiritual, how the spiritual appears, and the basic structure of the search.
And with the form of the poem the way it is, then the most left adjusted lines represent the point and the flow happens from the left adjusted line. For example. "It's a mountain from which [the left adjusted line] / the tributaries of spring: self, self, self, self-- [indent]" Although just a small representation, there's an interplay of the point and how the point goes and is formed.
Like the idea of the self being describes through repetition as thought repeating creates meaning. The poem is like going towards an answer (spirituality) in a very round about way.
Yet there is a narrative component to this poem. There's the "paleolithic shaman: who addresses the "you" or the speaker, ""Your business, his flaming head suggest, / is with your thought-machine" This is where I think the poem is more comical than the traditional spiritual journey -- the language has a very pop culture/coin-a-term quality to it.
Yes, the search and the connections are important, but how important? "Lord Should and Not-Enough, M / Mute the Gigantor." Past me wrote down "Robo." And this might be me being biased with my past, but Gigantor is a robot from an anime series. There could be a connection I don't see, or there's some allusion I don't know, but this is the place where I couldn't take the poem serious anymore; however, I was enthralled with the illusory tactic of this poem that I kept on going.
For example line's like these, "Deadalive Mom-n-Dad (in the sarcophagi / of parentheses / you've placed them)--" The connection and disconnect of words like "Deadalive" and "Mom-n-Dad" followed by the self-awareness of the parenthetical is interesting because there's a show of the technique as thought to say that "technique" does demonstrate the point and shows off on the page, but at this point, all the meaning behind the words and the allusions lose their weight for me.
And so does the narrative aspect of the poem where the "yogi" continues to give advice like, "We're animals that shit out / consciousness, is another." Again I like the technique of t he split between lines to create an ambiguous fragmented sentence as though the speaker is trying to understand the information; however, "shit out consciousnesses" fits with the language of the poem, but not the content.
I'm not expecting reverence, and I could understand if this poem is a riff on the spiritual journey, but with lines like, "Mind's and accident / of bio-wiring, is one line of thinking" which connects technique, language and structure together to question and point out spirituality. Or even this line, "You must understand yourself / as projected vapor." It's an interesting image that points out the technique (projections of the spiritual), and the way of thinking.
The last line brings me out of it again, "Thus achieve your /superpower." Cliche superhero movie? Humorous in the context as riff on a shaman.
The poem doesn't commit to one side or the other, seriously looking at the journey, or a riff on the spiritual journey. I would've liked more focus on either or because the techniques of line breaks and spacing works well to achieve one or the other. Both at the same time doesn't work for me.