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 (intro by Editor Chloe N. Clark)

Welcome to…. YUM-DERDOME!

As you may know, we at CX have some differing food opinions among our editors—these range from the slightly argumentative (all pizzas are good, some pizzas are better) to the nearly friendship ending (licorice is a gift to humanity [no it’s not. (yes it is!)]). We spend so much time debating foods and getting angry at each other, that we decided it was time to focus our rage more productively... on our past contributors!

So we’ve put out a call, to our previous contributors only, to send us 500 words or less of flash non-fiction in defense of their weirdest food obsessions, their most shocking guilty pleasure snack, the pineapple (pizza) of their eyes, the Oreo flavor of their heart, the foods they despise that everyone else loves.

This will be an ongoing series dedicated to all those problematic food opinions we know and love and rage about. Maybe this will stop the Hive from waging war within itself—at least until the next new Oreo comes out.

The Runza

I worship at the altar of the Runza.

When you order a Runza, the menu says, “a Runza sandwich”. It is not a sandwich. It is enclosed—a zipped up sleeping bag of beef, cabbage and onions.

A Runza is a meat pocket, and as modern feminism insists, everything is better with pockets.

A Runza tastes like Sunday lunch. After church, my family and I would buy a bag of Runzas and crinkle fries and replace the smell of incense in our nostrils with grease.

Runza is a restaurant chain in Nebraska—only Nebraska—and it is part of what keeps my marriage together. My husband was also a native Nebraskan. He spent Husker game days of his youth at Memorial Stadium ushering with his boy scout troop. To him, autumn tastes like paper-wrapped pasty, eaten in a screaming crowd of thousands.

My in-laws live in a town with one grocery store and two Runzas. They bring us frozen Runzas as a baby shower gift, and I tuck them away for a day I know I will be too groggy to see straight. I know that exhaustion will make me homesick and thankful for something simple.

My grandfather, according to legend, ate his peanut butter sandwiches with mayonnaise and a slice of Romaine, so when I consider my food obsession I feel less revolutionary.

Here is how to eat a Runza: unwrap the paper and dip it into ketchup. Take a bite. The filling will fall out into the pile of ketchup, so rescue it when you dip the Runza again. When you finish, your hands will be covered with ketchup and smell like a Polish grandmother’s pantry.

You are so, so lucky to be visiting the land of the Good Life.

Also known as the Runza.

Rachel Mans McKenny is a writer, lecturer, and native Nebraskan. When she's not dipping crinkle fries in ketchup, she writes things for places like The RumpusElectric Lit, and Scary Mommy. She tweets @rmmckenny and blogs, sometimes about Runzas but mostly about books.


2 Poems: Friendship & Not all poems are forks