Mathias Svalina


I started this one business that builds skyscrapers in your likeness.

What could be better than a 500 foot building in the shape of you looking out over the expanse of vague lives down on the streets of Manhattan?

What says I am somebody more than 70 stories of you among the old crust of stone & steel on the skyline.

Picture yourself towering over the Chrysler building with a look in your eye that says “Suck it, Chrysler Building.” Picture your gigantic arms folded in haughty disdain, or perhaps casually holstered in the pockets of your slacks or designer jeans. Picture the cut of your coat writ Everestian among those elevator-plagued relics of history.

Picture the epic base of your feet, how the little people with their weeping & their children & their envelopes, how they pass by your feet, how their day’s path is defined by your feet, how some child would see the feet & slowly crane his neck up to look to your towering visage cast against the cadmium burn of the blue sky & how you would seem to be looking down on him both in inspiration & derision, how the mothers would never notice the burn in their throats, how the fathers would continue in their mindless urge toward prayer before meals & how the child would begin to cry like a dog that has broken its old tooth on a bone – what shoes would you be wearing?

But seriously, picture how big your dick would be. It would be useless to try & tell you this is anything but the grandest of vanity. But, I propose as counterpoint, what is the function of the human superorganism other than the extension of the few, lucky, brutal vanities? Where would we be without our kings & our popes? What a simper it is to believe another intellect lies behind those dormant clots of eyes? What form of cannibalism is this urge toward equality?

The avalanche of human history must forever self-propel, by which I mean that you must remind the people around you of your superiority. And yet to say it to their faces, well, that is out of fashion.

A skyscraper!

A skyscraper in the shape of you!

It is not only business, it is how art enters the daily life. Even Reubens of the beautiful bubble-butts was a diplomat, attempting to bluff the Dutch into Catholic capitulation. No ocean of luscious beaver pelts, washing into Amsterdam in creaky wooden tankers could keep this city from the resolute control of the British, just as no amount of blood assuages the fury of the heart. But again, I say, this is vanity but also allegory.

Not only do we build the skyscraper in the form of your outward likeness, we build the interior in the exact function shape & twirl of your veins & arteries & organs. The employees in the building of your body pass through your chutes & sphincters in their daily work. There are the obvious undesirable, one might even say officious, offices of guttural organ; the places for those who never dream of a desk at the command of the eyes. We have the finest conceptual architects constructing our skyscrapers with precision computer modeling – it is crucial that the buildings are not only structurally sound but anatomically coherent.

In a sense, of course, it is blood flowing through the buildings veins, isn’t it, in the sense of a suicide pact or an ocean voyage? For what is a man but the internalization of so many other humans, the little twist of the neck unconsciously stolen from a childhood teacher who could never remember his name, the fixed voice his father used just before the door was locked.

The true equality is the raising up of one, the increase of the individual into a monster of chrome & glass. Equality is not a horizon line. It’s not the connection between one person & another or the movement of water in an aquarium. We don’t ride the roller coasters for the loops & the splashes.

Mathias Svalina is a co-editor of Octopus Magazine & Books. His first book, Destruction Myth, was recently published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center.

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