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Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

I Know You

You don’t know me, but you do. I don’t know you, but I am you. Maybe we have never met, but we are the same. I know you. I have walked in your shoes at times and yes, you have also tried mine on a time or two, walked the same path, felt the way it hurts when those shoes become uncomfortable as we outgrow pair after pair. This path… love, this path… it’s not always smooth, is it? Sometimes it gets a little rough, cracks and crumbles along the middle, and other times, it breaks, like an earthquake showing up to say, “go the other way” just before that path falls out from under you and you fall too. I have fallen like that, face first into lessons I never wanted to learn, but I learned. Feels like being force fed lessons found in my own medicine sometimes and aren’t those always the ones we spit out a hundred times before we finally give in long enough to taste the pain? And it hurts to swallow down the understanding that swims in the pill of our reflections, but refusing it only makes the path a lot longer. It’s easy to get lost there, hard to be found there. That’s why we are here though. Walking the same paths, learning from each other, sharing lessons, like lending shoes as we outgrow them. You can borrow mine. Maybe they’re well worn and tattered, but I promise… they will fit you perfectly, long enough for this part of the journey. Try them on. I left secrets inside from the time I was on that same journey, and perhaps you can learn some shortcuts from my mistakes, as I learn from yours. I will meet you at the crossing. You’ll know me when you see me, for I will be wearing the pain you once wore and I swear to god, I will make it beautiful, the same way you make mine look beautiful. Nice to meet you. I’ve waited my whole life to see my pain in your eyes and I never knew until now… how to wear these lessons like a lifeline that saves us all. Thank you for showing me. -Stephanie Bennett-Henry #stephaniebennetthenry #ragingrheoric Photo by: Anja Stiegler

Photo by: Anja Stiegler

Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

Saving the World

The biggest lesson you can learn is that no one is going to live your life for you.  No one is going to do everything for you.  Ever. This is crucial to understand because no matter where you come from or how you were raised, your life is up to you. It’s in your hands. Maybe there will always be people catching pieces you drop, or bracing your fall, but in the end, it’s your call. You can go anywhere you want. You can do anything you want. But you have to get there on your own. No one is going to pave the roads, love, and sometimes, most of the time, those roads are rough. You have to learn to brace yourself, catch yourself, applaud for yourself. You take the road to where you want to go and do the work to stay, without looking back at anything behind you.  Eyes forward.  Dreams don’t live behind you. They’re up ahead, through the bumpy roads, over the mountains and sunsets you haven’t seen yet. Keep going. You will get there. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, but it does come. And when you get there, darling, you can look back, take a breath, and say, “I did that!” Yes,  you did. Yes, you will. I believe in you more than I believe in my own heart. You are going to make it. I promise.  And I can’t wait to see the roads you take, the dreams you breathe, the light in your eyes when you finally reach the place that feels like the journey was all worth it.  I will be the one applauding silently, on the sidelines of where you took your first breath, and I will be the one smiling so big, so proud of you with those eyes that look just like mine and that heart… saving the world.  You go save the world. 

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry 

#stephaniebennetthenry

Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry

The Light of the Room

The truth is hard sometimes, like a dark room always circling with a cold draft, and we call to the shadows or we look away from the ghosts. I’m talking about the room that has a thousand blankets, the one with so many arms offering to hold you, the room with windows full of sunlight and perfect views, but yet nothing can warm you. It’s as empty as anything I have ever known. This room, with its frozen center, is the one place we linger into, where the doors and windows lock behind us. That room. If you’ve been there, then you know, not even god can open the door. Not even knee-pleading, raw knuckles, empty-throat screams aimed towards the sky can save you. It’s the room of your own mind, where your heart goes to die. And there’s nothing pretty about the slow death that seeps in, chews away with hungry teeth, and hollows you out so deep, the only thoughts that fill you are the ones begging you to end it. Whispers to you at night that the pain will stop if you do, the emptiness will end if you do, the worthlessness will stop stacking up against you… if you do. And sometimes we sit in that room for years, trying to turn those voices off, trying to shrug it away as if it will go away. But it never goes away. It stays. It stays. And those voices start becoming the light. You contemplate walking into it to find a quick route to a peace you once knew but don’t remember anymore. And fuck… it hurts. There are not words to describe the way it hurts. I only know that I could be on a stage, spotlighted perfection, with a million people applauding, asking for an encore of more… and still I would feel only that empty room of me, begging for the light that does not shine like the coldest, darkest reflection against the inner turmoil eating me alive and licking its lips after I finally give the voices the answer they were so hungry for. Until they are not anymore. I dance in the light and the weight of the world unlocks the room and it no longer feels heavy, but light and free. I fly to the place where I can be me once again, before the room locked me in and broke my soul when I wasn’t looking. And the eyes of the world turned blind, washed their hands, and swept the mess of me under the rug where out of sight, out of mind, means everything is perfectly fine.

And I am now. I am now. I am now. I swear to god and all the windows in that room. I swear on my smile that never ever was. I swear on my voice that turned silence into perfection. And I swear on you, wondering about the signs you missed. They were flashing right in front of you. You closed your eyes and sat on the rug, where my pieces lived, until they didn’t anymore. So, don’t cry now or pretend everything seemed fine. Don’t say I had it all or you never saw me fall. Don’t say anything. Just don’t say anything. Leave it to the silence of that empty room and remember how long I stayed there. Remember the suffering and turn it into a lesson, that sometimes the truth is hard to look at, but turning away from it does not mean everything is fine. It only means you saw all the signs, looked each one in the eyes, decided they were just too ugly to read, and too messy to hold without getting your hands dirty.

How clean are those hands now?

Stephanie Bennett-Henry #stephaniebennetthenry

Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry, Uncategorized

Feeding the Wound

Just along the center of the breaking, where the first crack was licked dirty, and the rest would spread like seeds planting new ones to take root, there is a bloom. You have not seen it yet, but you will. Just behind the glaze, left like a screen door slamming your eyes shut with tears, you’ve been on your knees far too long. Feeding the wounds, taking note of how to keep each one alive to save your life, but it’s time to let them die. You need to lay each one to rest to make room for the new blooms. Forget the wounds, doused in pain. They are all withered and half dead anyway. You feed them your tears, cover them in time, but each one sprouts a scar and your knees are covered in blood. Get up. That’s not your garden anymore. Your garden is so much more than that. Start digging it up. It has words and laughter, hope and dignity. It has your whole heart with all of your light. It has the version of you that you have not met yet. And she’s smiling. Take a shovel, love. Go find the garden where you are waiting to bloom.

Stephanie Bennett-Henry

Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry, Uncategorized

The Stars Come Home

Woman, made of spine, rooted deep where flowers grow, despite secrets long buried in the soil where ancestors died, holding their last breath like one last chance.

Woman, made of strength where one tree started alone, branched out with hands reaching, holding, bending, to welcome the others to evolve and rupture into a forest that never stops fighting to stay.

Woman, made of bones that break and flesh that tears, but a spirit that screams as a call to the brave to say, “your heart is wild, your soul is fierce, and without you, the universe would cease to exist.”

Woman. With those fearless feet, that sharp tongue holding words like knives beneath, there’s an echo in your throat that calls, a forest full of warriors that refuse to fall.

Woman, you are a legend of worth. If you ever forget, look around you at the other legends we call women. They are growing everywhere.

Birthing forests filled with brave hearts, kind souls, and unbreakable spirits. That’s why the ocean rolls and applauds in waves. That’s why the sky uses the sun the shine a spotlight on you. When the moon grows full, and the stars start to fall at your feet, they are falling home, because they know Home is you, woman. Home is you.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

#ragingrhetoric

Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry, Uncategorized

Hope Was My Weapon

I have had my feet kicked out from beneath me, fallen down to my knees, the breath knocked out of me. I have had to find out the hard way if I was brave or if I was weak, searched for courage in the lowest parts of rock bottom, lost my faith a hundred times. I have questioned my own spirit, misplaced my will, looked for grace in the ugliest moments and could not find it. I have tested the waters, swam against the most uncertain waves, begged the sky for more chances, screamed profanities at the silence. I have been tested to the limit, forced to prove who I am and all I am made of. It wasn’t easy, but nothing worth fighting for ever is. And the fight never stops, so I cannot ever stop. I was fighting for myself. I am still fighting and I will continue no matter what life throws at me. I am suited up and ready. I have scars stitched up with hope, faith in my own bravery, and strength running through my blood that does not let me quit. So, I stay. So, I fight. And maybe, I will win once again. But if I don’t, just remember that I never gave up, that I went out swinging, and I left a mark for the warriors to carry in my name, for my life was never once in vain.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

#ragingrhetoric

Poetry of Stephanie Bennett Henry, Uncategorized

In Dreams of Waking

There are spaces hidden in plain sight, between the white noise and the chaos, the peace behind the hell, the silence following the song. I hear them always. They wake me dead out of sleep, pinch and slaughter, yearn and bleed, hold me with promises, filthy me with lies, and they all break, like I break, torturing my pieces into the cruelest crumbling. Come to my window, sing me fast asleep with lullabies that swear not to make light of my heart as long as my eyes stay shut so tight, and just along the dark of night, the moon sleeps next to me and we dream of glowing in the dark in spaces that stay hidden. In my dreams I go there. Sometimes I make my home there. But I never stay to grow there.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry