The hard shell hides soft insides
break it open, watch it bleed
oh, how the blood seeps
so deep.
How does one excise the stain
once it sets, without removing the rest?
I go back and forth
on whether it is worth it
on whether I deserve it.
Woe be to the weigher of scales
who decides what I deserve
when the deep dark comes.
Will I be measured in
ounces or pounds
in what I do or what I don’t?
Will they cut straight to my heart
scarred but strong
or to the body
and the burdens its carried for so long?
Oh, the time they will waste.
I judge myself enough.
I crack open my carapace
prod the fleshy core
watch it shiver and squirm
at a touch
so callous
I mark my skin with all my sins
make myself an offering
and save them the dirty job
I’ve already done so well.
And what of the other shells
I’ve since shed
will they be counted in the end?
The old mess
discarded and replaced
with new shiny shapes.
Line them up side by side
and see how far I’ve come
decide if growth matters
when fate takes its measure.
What if no one waits
at the edge of the light
no scales to tell me
wrong and right?
What if this self-immolation is only
for self-immolations sake?
Oh, the time I will have wasted.
At least no one will see
such folly
but me.


Liz White often finds herself wondering if humanity is simply the botched science experiment of an adolescent alien. She entertains herself with such thoughts in her spare time and spends the rest as a full-time copywriter, sometime poet, and free-time fiction writer. Her topics of interest include questions of the “What if?” variety, augmented reality, and the bottomless pit that is human nature.

Art can illuminate even the most elusive and difficult to comprehend ideas. Visual rules and tightly codified visual metaphors help scientists communicate complex ideas mostly amongst themselves, but they can also become barriers to new ideas and insights. Dr. Regina Valluzzi’s images are abstracted and diverged from the typical rules and symbols of scientific illustration and visualization; they provide an accessible window into the world of science for both scientists and non-scientists.