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.

Poet Wrestling with the Reunion of Broken Parts

5 The Smile of the Body That Surrenders .jpg

by Rosebud Ben-Oni (Art by Bill Wolak)

No one wants to talk about linear transformations
if one lands you in the ICU & it’s a matter of converting

power into motion & your only chance is
to covet, when the fever is speed. Think 

of an eigenvector of shear
mapping: how being that sick

distorts the direction of everything
but you, steady course & clear head.

Not that anyone believes you
rose so high like two balloons,

straight upwards & close to
bursting. Like your own lungs

drained into emergency room
fodder: the little fool babbling

she’d become a final test,
algebraic, the very study

of what it means to reunite broken
parts. When the fever’s this, no one

can solve it & even the doctors
drew from the wrong logic: Soma,

soma. & all we can do is. Sending you
over the edge, collective prayer to

the pseudo. Across your eyes, their shadows
rose high, disembodied & kind. The body, creaked

the machines, unconnected. You heaved,
intersecting this world of imperfect

symmetry,
& loomed &

dipped, wavering
the northernmost

star. It was both of you who bent metallic
glass & graphene grid. From soul, mind

& psyche. It wasn’t them. Or that they gathered
& wept & gave in: if her fever had reached

just one degree higher. To this day it remains
an open secret, how if it wasn’t for

pneumonia,
you’d never know love

so conically, through vector
& matrix & leukocyte 

collecting like eraser flecks
& all the times you rubbed

& abused tender
paper, until so thin,

a pencil would punch
right through, voiding

what can be said
about the nature 

of a solution
as accident.

Was it worth it, the years
the fever must’ve taken.

Did it make it that much
harder, to exceed new

limits as they whimper: soma,
somnolent, soaring.
Since, here,

arrows do end
like stop signs

obscured by tree rings
of graffiti. & all you can

do is
covet

that old fever who never breaks
or yields, its power to dislocate

what has made you delicate, so that you are,
briefly, fundamental. Like pure & complete

expression. & nothing, you tell yourself,
will ever separate you again, when it hits

from both directions,
as if throwing you

from a busy street
& right back into it.


Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of the 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery, forthcoming in 2021. She is a recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and CantoMundo. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, POETS.org, The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, TriQuarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal,Hunger Mountain, The Adroit Journal, The Southeast Review, North American Review, Salamander, Poetry Northwest, among others. Her poem "Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark" was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, and published by The Kenyon Review Online. Her second collection of poems, turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, was selected as Agape Editions Editor’s Choice, and will be published in 2019.  She writes for The Kenyon Reviewblog, and currently teaches at The Speakeasy Project and Poets House. Find her at 7TrainLove.org

(Artist) Bill Wolak has just published his fifteenth book of poetry entitled The Nakedness Defense with Ekstasis Editions. His collages have appeared recently in Naked in New Hope 2017, The 2017 Seattle Erotic Art Festival,  Poetic Illusion, The Riverside Gallery, Hackensack, NJ, the 2018 Dirty Show in Detroit, and 2018 The Rochester Erotic Arts Festival.


Artist's Statement, "The Smile of the Body That Surrenders", collage

I make collages out of all kinds of materials.  Most are made out of paper engravings. Many collages are digitally generated or enhanced.  To begin a piece, I select some sources—either color or black and white. If I’m using  magazines or prints or old books, I cut out some images or parts of images that interest me. Then I start working on a background or some other sort of chance construction. Much is left to fleeting insights. These are tiny miracles of inspiration. Depending on whether I’m using scissors and glue or digital images, each collage could take several hours.

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