Cotton Xenomorph is a new literary journal produced with the mission to showcase new, and ecstatic art while reducing language of oppression in our community. We are dedicated to uplifting new and established voices while engaging in thoughtful conversation around social justice.

from Time Enough At Last

by Laura Passin

Zone 2

The musty school reports say
I was a happy girl
but I remember hating everything

about my sad little self. Someone, clearly,
is wrong. When my mother began
to disappear, I’d barely

arrived in my life.
There must have been a crossing
when her darkening mind erased my birth,

when all her light ceased to find me.
I didn’t see it happen.
Who tracks her own shadow?


Zone 7
RIP Richard Kiel, 1939-2014

The alien in “To Serve Man” is not an alien,
underneath: it’s a giant.
God bless Richard Kiel, all seven feet of him,

for tricking us into forgetting
we’re made of meat.
Why shouldn’t aliens love us?

Why wouldn’t some bigger, better
kind of person come
to save us from our own decadence?

(Jesus did, they say,
without even a spaceship.)
Kiel was alien

to our daily bodies.
When you are a tower of bone,
you collapse like civilization—

loosened limbs, anarchy of joints,
tides of blood.
He needed a wheelchair in his last years:

too much self to carry.
Out of the alien costume, that huge face
belonged to another monster:

James Bond’s nemesis, Jaws,
teeth cast from steel.
He kills by biting—

we’re made of meat.
Jaws was supposed to die,
eaten by a man-hungry shark,

oh, the humanity!
But the writers found
the better story: Jaws defeats the shark

and rises from the waters,
to walk another toothsome day.
Jaws outsharked Jaws.

Only hunger conquers hunger.
It’s a cookbook,
it’s a cookbook.


Zone 0

Rod Serling wants you to learn something.
He knows your desires
might be filled. Sometimes getting your wish

is the worst thing that will ever happen:
the day you’re granted immortality,
they sentence you to life in prison.


Zone 8

There’s a shadowland of sorrow:
a zone where you almost begin
to believe you can be a whole person

again. You notice the weather
even when it’s not raining.
Others have long since forgotten

you were lost, of course,
but that was true ages ago.
No one loves your loves for you.

It’s not dark everywhere,
like you thought—but you know
so much more about shadows.


Zone 9

Barely believable that we met at all.
We had to live in this exact moment
in history, when an insomniac in Chicago

might type something to be read
by an early riser in Glasgow.
The past couldn’t dream this future:

at 16 I knew I could love a girl
but I didn’t know
that the world would let me.

If I had a time machine,
I’d take a picture of the two of us,
and tell that scared self:

you will love again and again.
The world will stay too big,
but your reach will grow

until you gather the future
and the past in these
trembling hands.


The Twilight Zone

A place where I can remember
my life as though it happened,
as though anyone’s (as though I am) watching.

A place where I trust pleasure.
A place where she says yes
you can kiss me yes yes.

A place where the smoke leaves your lungs
before you see the fire
someone has lit in your hand.

Laura Passin is a writer, scholar, and feminist at large. She earned her PhD in English Literature at Northwestern and her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Prairie SchoonerAdrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer WomenThe ToastRolling Stone, and Best New Poets 2013. Laura lives in Denver with too many cats.

from The Colony is Collapsing

at the art institute of chicago