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.


by Rachel Mans McKenny

At the one-chaired table in a café (you know the one, the one by the railing). Create a barrier between the world and your grapefruit.

Eat with a grapefruit spoon, serrated edged and silver. Your grapefruit is broiled; the sugar, an iced pond.

Poke the edges and trace each triangle. The veins of the fruit barely resist. Lift the section to your mouth and chew like cud, not caring if sour pulp sticks in your teeth.

He will pull a second chair; not notice the pulp, but notice the spoon. Hold it between his fingers like a sacred thing. It is.


Remove two soup spoons from the silverware drawer.

Divide the grapefruit into even sections. Sit together with stocking feet and mussed hair at opposite ends of your kitchen table.

Wear a smirk that promises competition.

At the count of three, stab fruit hard.

Rinse eyes.



Remember certain shoes thrown at presidents; countless tomatoes thrown into open car windows; rotted onions, as innumerable as junk mail, placed in that one asshole’s mailbox. Similarly, an unattended grapefruit will desiccate and become a palm-sized projectile for windows adjacent to your ex-lover, watching Netflix on the couch you bought together.


Instead of cutting it, peel the grapefruit, strip away its chalked skin and feel the paper napkin texture as the sections tear away and the veins cut loose.

Examine what a naked grapefruit looks like.

Lick the sections and dip each in a bowl of cinnamon and sugar. Lie on the floor on your stomach and eat, placing each section on your tongue individually.

Or stand up and set as many pieces of fruit in your mouth as you can. Let the juice run down your chin, seep into your blistered fingers, and sting them.


Pick the hardest grapefruit from the display, the one which countless fingers have passed over and over and discounted because of the patches of green unripe. They dot like acne.

Place the grapefruit on your kitchen windowsill beneath the gingham awning. Let the grapefruit sit for a day, maybe two days soaking and softening. Look at the way the spots dissipate, leaving porous, sun skin.

Do not eat the grapefruit yourself. Place it on the doorstep of the old man next door.

Do not watch when he opens the door and glances down at it.

Rachel Mans McKenny is a Midwestern writer and adjunct professor. Her essay on the hidden history of Wonder Woman appeared in Electric Lit, with other recent publications in The Rumpus, US Catholic, The Chronicle of Higher Ed. Her essay on her mother's breast cancer will appear in My Body, My Words (Big Table Publishing, February 2018). She was a 2006 Presidential Scholar in the Arts. When not writing, she reviews books on her blog, Litsy @rachelm, and tweets @rmmckenny

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