Dirty, Warped, & Cracked

What if the lens through which you came to know yourself was dirty, warped, and


  Do you scrape off the sick with a scalpel

     Or splash it with bleach, leaving sorrowed streaks?

  Do you shatter the glass with the hammer of your pain?

     Or seal the cracks with salve, conjured from your tears?

  Do you sand the warp with the terror of your torment  

     Or buff them smooth, with the scour of your rage?


What if the lens through which you came to know yourself was only an illusion?

  And you could alter its image with your will

  And you were cleansed in the canals of love and affection 

  And your heart was nourished with the promise of infinite dreams

  And your wounds were sutured with the thread of hope

  And your scars were soothed with shea until they ceased to exist

     And you were flying among the stars?

Stephanie Andrea Allen is a Black southern writer and scholar currently living and working in the Midwest. Her work can be found in various online and print publications, including Star*Line, Inkwell Black, Big Echo: Critical Science Fiction Magazine, Sinister Wisdom, Black From the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing, and in her collection of essays and short fiction, A Failure to Communicate. Her collection of speculative short fiction, How to Dispatch a Human: Stories and Suggestions, was released on March 2, 2021. She is currently working on her first novel and a new collection of short stories. You can find her on Twitter at @S_Andrea_Allen, Instagram at stephanie.andrea.allen, and at her website at https://www.stephanieandreaallen.com/