Devourer by Elya Braden 

By Elya Braden 

Devourer (2007), Dana Schutz


inspired by Devourer  by Dana Schutz

What if people could eat themselves?

                                                      – Dana Schutz, 2007


Before satisfaction, the abandonment of restraint.
How long have I craved the particular salt
of my own skin? My four-year-old thumb
in my mouth, nesting in hunger’s soup.
For years, tiny pricks and cuts bloomed red
on my fingers’ ridges and valleys—clumsiness
or a thirst for my own coppery well?
I remember that first boy who went down
on me, his tongue a wild bird unlocking
my cages. Afterwards, his head turned away.
I gathered his face between my palms,
licked my wet joy from his lips. His eyes:
beetles scurrying from the light.
His silence: a knife I held to my own throat.
Perhaps every faceless femme in my flesh-
on-flesh dreams was really me. Is ambidextrous
another word for ménage-à-trois?
How many resolutions has my hand
crushed in its fist—glutton, sot, thief?
When my regrets crust every poem I pen,
when bilge water fouls my fields,
when Red Sea effluence rims my eyes,
when my hunger insists on sacrifice,
I will shove this traitor into my pink
cave and feral my teeth. Flesh of my flesh,
blood of my blood, let me be my own
Eucharist, my own savior, my own salvation,
my own Last Supper.


Elya Braden took a long detour from her creative endeavors to pursue an eighteen-year career as a corporate lawyer and entrepreneur. She is now a writer and mixed-media artist living in Los Angeles and is assistant editor of Gyroscope Review. Her work has been published in Calyx, Causeway Lit, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Rattle Poets Respond, Willow Review, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her chapbook, Open The Fist, was recently released by Finishing Line Press. You can find her online at

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