“Bottom Feeder” by James McKenna

Like a pig in its shit, I knew nothing
else and had no intentions of stopping.
Look at the ground long enough, it becomes

a sky. Look at your face long enough: yes,
it is a wound, some broken sluice. I was eighteen
and rootless. I would plant myself in any ground

that would take me. I would beg the earth stay
beneath me. I would take shelter in men
triple my age. Loneliness multiplies like this,

has no mirror. Not even in the motel rooms.
So I would ask them to describe me to myself.
They would hand me loose buttons, pencil shavings, rides

home, dozens of other apologies. I would
cook instant ramen when I got inside. I would
laugh at the inevitability: I would always

know my knees better than my face, I would always
lose at least one noodle in the draining exchange.
I must have bowls of them by now, scattered through pipes

all across central Florida’s sewage system. Given
the chance, I would devour each of them, slurp them
without hesitation. I know I would.


James McKenna is a senior at Florida Southern College. He has served as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal, an editorial intern at Coffee House Press, and is the managing editor of Cantilevers Journal of the Arts. He is a fellowship recipient for the 2019 Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets, and has work published or forthcoming in Grist, Maps for Teeth, and elsewhere.