David Joez Villaverde

Issei Sagawa as Ouroboros

Autumn Head by Erik Brede

Pang is born small enough to fit in the palm of his father’s hand. He grows and grows and learns that sashimi means to pierce meat, to slice flesh. This is an understanding of hunger—a raw want, a melting on the tongue. He calls this way of knowing: beast. It is tender skin under nib of canine. The mouthfeel of maguro. Salt. Pepper. Mustard.

In his dream the mouth is just an entrance to suffering. The horror he holds swells from urge to definition to obligation. He continues. Tiny tendrils become roots. He folds into form. This is his dream, this gnashing and devouring forever, this endless seeping of flesh into flesh, the body just the body,

the body of this
form is cutting, a knife edge
red under cold tap

water eddying foam in the sockets of her breasts, washing away the blood that cries out from the mouth that opens to receive it. When he closes his eyes he can still taste her lips her thighs her stubborn meat demanding he

limbs from their meaning, flense skin,
fat, tendon from bone

pare away pleasure from self, silence his desire. In the uncontainable night, truth presents herself as carnal knowledge revealed. Life masquerades as death. He carves a caress in her neck, breathes back and forth into the change. He becomes his appetite, a beginning without end. Eats the tip of her nose. Her cheek.

It is dusk in the Bois de Boulogne. The sun is a bloodshot eye that sets on the sins of the world. Water laps at the suitcases that swaddle her remains. Everything is in color. He is free. He is famous. His weakness unrolls into being, a thing without knowledge of itself. And still this gnawing grasp, this pull ever downward, this voracity without end. Still he continues, dreaming of being consumed by her. He knows no greater embrace than to swallow and be swallowed.

The cab driver jokes she weighs as much as a corpse. He tells him she is books. He still picks her up by the spine, leafs through her corpus. When he dreams she dies anew, bleeding out the words of poetry she translates. When he shoots her she does not move, she does not make a sound, she draws her last breath, she reads:

say to the silent
earth: I flow. To the rushing
water, speak: I am.


About the writer:
David Joez Villaverde is a Peruvian American multidisciplinary artist living in Detroit, Michigan. He is the winner of Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 poetry contest and his poems in Crab Fat Magazine and L’Éphémère Review are 2018 Best of the Net nominees. He has been recently published or is forthcoming in Yemassee, RHINO Poetry, The Indianapolis Review, Yes Poetry, and Occulum. Visit him at

Image: Autumn Head by Erik Brede. Manipulated photograph. No technical data specified. By permission.