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A Rehearsal in Decay

by William Eichler


Dermatophagia- a psychological condition in which a person compulsively bites, chews, gnaws, or eats their skin.*


It doesn’t really have a taste, 

but the texture is a little like 

chicken. I bite down on the tips

and gnaw until there are nerves


exposed beneath my teeth 

and layers of myself slinking 

down my throat. And I reflect 

on the fact that my own flesh

cannot sustain me. 


I hunger and 


I hunger and

I hunger,


but the grit of my teeth 

against the weakness 

of my skin leads to nothing 

but red rivulets flowing

outward to be wiped 


On rough denim 

dark enough to hide 

the stains. Each day

I wonder if I will 

bite deep enough 

to see the bones 


that I have never even

had the chance to break,

and I wonder if they will 

be as white as I imagine

them to be. Eventually


the pain of the rending 

brings me to a stop 

and I stare at the hands 

of a corpse. 

*Definition taken from,concept%20in%20mental%20health%20research.

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