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.

A Woman Yells, “Maxine!” 14 Times Outside My Brooklyn Window

By Karisma Price

Please Lord, let it be
a dog dead in the street
and not a woman black
as me. Today was a good
day. I drowned my hash browns
in a plate of ketchup and David Ruffin
sang about the bee’s envy. I rode
the subway without complaining
today and there was no delay
after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
The only crimes I witnessed
were the solid-built man refusing
to rise and let the old woman sit
on the hard plastic of subway seat,
and the white woman who was bold
enough to leave her apartment
with “dreadlocks” tangling out her scalp.
Today, I almost forgot
that I was far away from my mother
and her growing hands that would grease
the driest parts of my scalp without being
asked to. Today, I almost forgot
that anyone who doesn’t share my face
would care if I went missing. Maxine
should be the name of a Jack Russell
or a Retriever that has escaped
its leash and run into the street
for some type of wet freedom
nothing else but the rain offers.
I know nothing of pet ownership
but I know what it is like to fear
the night and every precious thing
that can get lost in it.

Karisma Price is a Cave Canem Fellow and an MFA candidate in poetry at New York University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, Four Way Review, The Boiler, Vinyl, and elsewhere. Originally from New Orleans, Karisma lives in New York City, and along with Kwame Opoku-Duku III, she is a founding member of the Unbnd Collective.

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