Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry, Uncategorized

The Unapologetic Rise

Ball of fire explosion, engulfing the sky to swallow it whole, wipe it clean to take flight like I own it, writing my name across to prove it.

Prepare for landing, bottle rocket simmer, cold to the touch, flying without wings, floating from a free fall into a freeze frame daze like a picture show stuck permanent on a pause button broke, no remote. Space shuttle heart, taking off to the moon, suited up to catch stars with my teeth, I let the Milky Way borrow my eyes so it can see me the way I see me like this when I’m on the high end of this up. All these stars in my hands, I toss them like prizes to the wishers, the dreamers, all the make believers who still believe in something. The stars left over are stepping stones, mini trampolines, bounce house treasures that shine until they turn to lily pads and land in the lake below, let’s go.

Bare feet sinking into the mushy bottom of the lake trying to take me or save me from myself, I grab the stars that went out when gravity didn’t matter and hold them like they’re holding me first. Deep breaths in, head above surface, but nothing left to see. The sun set itself off when it saw me coming, went into hiding until I go under and it sounds like a dare sometimes, but the truth hurts too much to care if it is or not. I stay in the water because my feet will get dirty if I step out, hold the lily pad until I sleep, because it’s holding me too.

Fucking adrenaline rush, horseback girl, you forgot your saddle again in the confusion of the gallop. But it never did hurt when I got bucked off, hooves like hammers trampling bare legs trying to find the bone beneath the skin and I just got up and said “good boy, Flicka!” and climbed right back up there. Rode like the wind was chasing us and we won… we always won. The gravel isn’t as hard as it looks, you know? The asphalt took the skin from my knees once, wouldn’t give it back, took some blood and left a scar. I still trace it sometimes, makes me remember bike rides, riding bareback, all the times I got bucked and trampled and didn’t care at all. Maybe it was the innocence. I was still soft then but strong and sure and everything. I think of her a lot. Wish she had stayed.

Or she could’ve taken me with her, showed me her hiding place. But she didn’t. She left, took the innocence with her, while I stayed here to battle alone, fought demons, met some monsters with eyes like mine, buried secrets in the yard where my horse once roamed.. but they always dug themselves out and hid in my closet for too many years to recall at the time. Until I turned the light on, woke them up with a sledge hammer crying like a wake up call on demolition day and those mother fuckers were scared. I’m glad they were. Hope they shit their fucking bones with every swing of the hammer while they smiled with those creepy teeth until I hit those too. Turned the light out, burned the place down and walked away smiling with my innocence back and her hand in mine.

Well, I would’ve ridden away if my horse was still here. But there’s nothing left here except an old bedpost piece I found in the attic once. That was before the flames. And maybe it smells like smoke in here, but I breathe it in like a first breath being born into a second chance. Tastes like I imagined happy always would, I hold it in until I’m blue, scared to let it slip out, because it may leave and never come back like everything. Chance in my hands now for the first time and don’t even think I would ever let that drop. Don’t ever think you can take it from me even when I’m dead. You won’t.

High rise like a sky dive, dipping toes across the edge of the world where the sun cuts into edges of mountains, I scream to hear the way the echo mocks me there and I can’t stop because it’s beautiful. There’s love in the air up there. Not the kind that lives in someone else’s eyes, even up here I don’t believe in that. I mean self love. It doesn’t bother me to say that at all because I fought scary shit to get here. To this place.. where I don’t give a shit, even if it flew, what anyone thinks of me. Up or down.. I hold my own, I don’t put it in hands of another. I’m not here for validation, nothing to prove, I broke the scoreboard of all I was force fed to believe I was supposed to be. Turned off the beauty pageants, threw out the magazines that feed eating disorders to children and then put them on the cover if their ribs poke out just right. Said a big Fuck You to America’s Next Top Model I once watched like a drug in my veins on repeat and fuck you, Tyra, for ever acting like a fat girl was ever gonna win anyway. I can’t ever get that time back. Wasted on things I was trained to believe in, like skinny equals pretty and women are these little sex dolls lined up for a mans approval like they know what the fuck lies on the scale between one and ten. As though you wouldn’t put your dick in a one or three or anything offered. Please. Take your shirt off and go mow the lawn with your fucking man tits and sit the fuck down.

No one really cares about intelligence anymore or conversations. No one wants to strip your mind down or see your soul. I’m not sure if that’s sad or disgusting or just the shallow world we live in where you choose the girl who looks good on your arm so your ego doesn’t get hungry, while she’s starving herself to keep fucking you. And if a deep conversation hit you in the face, you wouldn’t know it unless you could motorboat it.

I’m in a new place now. Let go of analyzing my flaws for how they look for someone else. Dropped the resentment. I have no regrets now. We have to go through that shit to get to a better place sometimes and I won’t say I’m glad I went through things, but I’m glad I made it to where I am now. Done with trying to solve the mystery of anyone else. I am full of myself. I fucking love myself. I think I’m amazing. Does that bother you? I don’t give a fuck. I earned this shit.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


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