Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

Lesson to Myself

I am not for everyone, maybe not for anyone at all and I am slowly learning to be okay with that.

Taking the lesson that every wrong look isn’t a death sentence plunging a knife into my heart. Learning not to see the color of someone’s eyes as a judgment that translates rejection.

Those shades always did kill me. I try to wrap my mind around the attitude that doesn’t care and that’s an easy thing to say isn’t it? Doing it is a different path and it’s never been level. Trips me with the jagged edges, makes me fall over the cracks, and maybe it’s me pushing myself down the way I mastered so long ago.

I guess, if I’m being honest, this lesson of not being my own worst enemy is the hardest one I’ve taken. I keep failing it like self sabotage is the best grade to earn and I owe myself every retake that’s offered by now. I want to get a perfect score on letting the world fall away without touching me first. I want extra credit for being able to smile and walk away unaffected, bonus points for holding a conversation that doesn’t rip my insides into a grave that buries me alive because I can’t breathe.

I always wonder why I was picked to be this person, the one who cannot pull it together even if my life depends on it and now my life is depending on it. But still there are days when something inside of me says, you can’t do this.. just jump. Another part of me that forces my eyes to stay fixed on the lesson of being undisturbed by eye contact, because why does it even matter? And why does it feel like dying inside anyway? Why am I like this?

I would love to know the answer, but I’m blank. It’s a slow process. Working through the disaster of yourself to find the pieces that fit together to make at least a little sense. I haven’t found any that fit yet, but I’m searching.

Digging soul deep. It’s not easy, but I will give myself an A for effort, and keep trying to solve the mystery, until I can crown myself and call it a victory.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


*Photo Credit: Amy Judd via Pinterest*

Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

Lesson in the Stars

It’s okay to sit with the pain

for as long as you need to.

Sometimes we have to get

on our knees, carve out every

ounce of pain from old wounds

until it hurts us again and again

and only then when we soak up

the reason from fresh blood

do we understand exactly

what the lesson was for.

And understand, that sometimes

it was simply for you to see yourself

in the dark, so you can recognize

a new version of you that is capable

of shining bright enough

to bust the dark to pieces.

And now you don’t question

how the stars were made.

Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

Blue or Gray

The Sky was always blue or gray, sun shining or storm brewing, never anything in between. At least not for me.

The birds were either singing or they weren’t.

I always did have trouble with the middle, I always did have trouble with the almost, the not yet, the half way, the not today. I only see the now or never, the all the way in or count me out. It feels like everything I’ve ever known roots itself on my shoulders like the whole universe waits there to grow and no matter how heavy it is, I’ll carry it forever. Because if I don’t carry it, that means it cannot ever touch me. I can’t see it or know it. I can’t feel it or hold it. I have to be blind to it. Maybe that’s a good thing. Because I can’t carry anymore. I have to be fight or flight. Out of sight, for the sake of my mind, but mostly for the sake of my heart. My poor heart, it never did learn the half-hearted way of doing anything. I don’t know how to be the person who loved someone once, a long time ago. I am whole heart, both feet in, all of my soul for all of my life. That is to say if you ever had my heart at all, I still carry yours every day. I don’t know how not to. Sometimes I wish I did. But I don’t make wishes anymore. I watch the Sky to know what kind of day it’s going to be. Blue or gray. Sun or storm. You never know when the sky will change and maybe I will too. I’m still waiting. And I know the color of the Sky doesn’t matter. It fell a long time ago and it’s the heaviest thing I’ve ever known. But my cup, it’s been empty ever since. The birds, their song was lost in the last big storm and my heart once held all the music. Now it doesn’t anymore. It just doesn’t anymore. I don’t have a reason, emptied out every rhyme I ever knew. What about you? Does your spirit still come alive regardless of the Sky and its colors?

I used to say, the Sky is always purple just before it falls. And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the purple. It’s been a long time since I flew there or anywhere. When the sky fell, I did too. And ever since then the Sky has been only blue or gray. So now I just wait for the next storm to roll through. Maybe the birds will get their song back soon. Maybe we all will.

Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

When the Sky Fell

I guess this is part of saving myself. I tell myself the distance helps, but it’s a knife straight through the center of my heart. We both stand back, look on from afar, like strangers tend to do sometimes. Baby steps in this lesson of losing and letting go. I don’t always know and as much as I try to do it with grace, I am aware it’s anything but pretty. Is it supposed to be? I don’t think so. Because it mattered, so the graceful walk away… well, that’s for the mild hearted I guess. I am too passionate to tread lightly away from the view of that sky, even when it covered me as it fell like a storm that took my heart and smashed it to pieces with your name still inside. What can I say? I never did see a storm that made me run the other way. I’m the one who’s always running towards it, like a storm chaser risking it all just for one glimpse of the beauty, even when the edges are rough. Even when there’s a little dirt around the picture perfect sky. I will go stand under the same sky that fell, hold my hands out with a welcome, knowing it will fall again with the same ending. I will never weaken myself by toning down my heart enough to pretend the thunder was too scary to ever call the storm by name again, like it never happened at all. I guess I care too much sometimes. Mark myself with every piece, not only the good parts, but all of it. It’s a slow process to hold on to everything, feel it as much as I can until I don’t need to anymore and finally let it go. It kills me to watch it fly away. Maybe it always will. Maybe it already flew away a long time ago, but I’ve been holding it this whole time, so close to my heart, until I was ready to watch it fly into that same sky. I’m not ready for that just yet. Not this time, but one day… one day, I might be okay with looking into your eyes, like the storm itself, without wanting to run or hide or die… or cry. Maybe that’s when the lessons will hit me and I’ll know what the pain was meant to teach me… and I hope it leads to me saving myself. Whatever happens, I know this is always going to hurt. So be it. I will still hold the hand of that pain with good memories. I remember the colors in the sky before it fell and the shades it became after. In some strange way, there’s comfort in the memory of both. And even though it still covers me with the pain of how it fell when I wasn’t looking, I still see you flying. Piecing the sky back together just right, so you can watch those sunsets you love. I have seen the only sunset I ever need to see, still hold it like it’s the one thing saving me, and maybe I’ll hold it until I’m me again. Then let it go and save myself by shining like that moment before the sky fell on me to set you free, so you could fly away to where you need to be. I hope you fly straight into the eye of your dreams, touch each one with all of your heart, and never let go.

Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

Mourning Empty Graves

I want to be a clean slate, wiped blank from all that affects me, uncracked from all that reaches into my bones deep enough to hurt forever. The pain that touches me, shouldn’t even graze my skin, but it plants itself inside, grows old wounds until they spread new. I hate the way it never stops splitting me open, the way I root myself so permanent into moments that should be nothing more than a corpse rotting in the rear view mirror. I can’t walk away from those graves, on my knees, holding flowers in memory of a time that forgot me long ago. And I don’t visit those graves, they visit me, like a haunting that never stops turning my heart cold. They try to make a home of me when I don’t know the way. Lost the directions so long ago and if I ever had a home somewhere, I don’t recall the address anyway. Maybe my heart is homeless, searching for places that offer shelter, even if only temporary, even if it offers nothing more than feeling anything at all, as long as it’s more than nothing. There’s so little in the more than nothing, but god… there’s so much to be found. Like finding a smile when you don’t have one and it feels so much like love promising to stay forever. Even if forever is only a few days, it was longer than never and sometimes… that’s everything isn’t it? But my knees are dirty, the way they plant themselves on the graves of anything that ever made me feel more than nothing. My hands, they are bleeding from the thorns of these flowers I won’t stop holding in the memory of what? Maybe to remember a time when I didn’t have the need to make myself bleed like this just to recall the time I got this scar, and feel all the pain that caused it. If I don’t feel it like it’s set on replay forever, then it’s forgotten and if it’s forgotten, then it never happened. I can’t let the scars heal like that, to make them never matter like that, wipe the slate clean like that. I don’t want to be cold like that, but I want to be big like that, be able to move on like that. I pause myself, stop myself, trap myself knee deep in the dirt and blood and pain. For what? Give me an award for recognition of holding pain like I hold my breath. Brand me with validation that proves I matter, that all the pain was worth it. Show me where the light is or a tunnel that leads to something that shines over the clouds stuck in my eyes like scars that tell the healing no. Backhand me numb so I fall off this ledge that never stops feeling. And why does that ledge deserve my feelings anyway? Turn out the power and reset it to now. Take me to the black out where everything turns dark, wake me up when the amnesia rips my heart open and smashes it clean or anything from yesterday or before. Fill it with only today and tomorrow where there are no graves to visit, no flowers to meet death in my hands, no scars for me to rip open to show the dark that took my light. Bring me a sky that shows me light that’s mine for the taking, so I can see what I should be shining for. I need a reason to dig my heart out of those graves, and bring it back to life again. I need to live again without being triggered when the wind blows too hard against me and leaves me gutted. I am so heavy with wanting to be as light as a feather of two birds that once flew together or even just one bird who was always okay flying alone.

Stephanie Bennett-Henry