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.

At the Museum of Mercy

by Betsy Housten

In the lobby, a box of wine and a Mason jar to pour it in, for
when nothing else will do. Once fortified, proceed to the room
bathed in blue light. Solace will find you here, slide its palm

underneath your sad busted heart, but not self-pity, nor denial.
The room is full of small comforts: soft blankets to hide in
and consider your next move, an oak apothecary chest stocked

with herbal infusions to calm the burdened mind. You will see
notebooks and easels, a pottery wheel, a sewing machine.
Tools to help you create and keep your hands busy, provide

temporary respite from the way the world's pressing in on you.
And there's a person, someone you know but not well, standing
quietly in a corner until the pencil breaks or the needle jams

or you still can't stop crying; their job is to offer an unsolicited
kindness, compliment your hair or give you a Tupperware
of homemade lasagna, at the moment you decide to give up.

Then will appear a mirror on the farthest wall. Walk toward it.
Watch how your chest rises and falls. Behold your reflection,
your one untidy body. You're breathing in it. It's yours.


Betsy Housten is a Pushcart-nominated queer writer and massage therapist, and the winner of an Academy of American Poets award. Her work appears or is forthcoming in formercactus, Cold Creek Review, Bone & Ink Press, Vagabond City, Burning House Press, Memoir Mixtapes, Longleaf Review, and Glassworks Magazine. She lives in New Orleans, where she is pursuing her MFA in poetry. 

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Manifestos: Joanna C. Valente