Take My Light

Everything bent away one day, turned dark when I blinked, took the universe on a spin, taught it how to crash and burn beyond recognition of any kind of come back. Sometimes I wave at the memory, but usually I ignore it ever existed at all. Sit here like a clean slate that never had a choice to be anything other than a daze wiped blank by my mind’s eye when I looked away. The dark grows on me like skin I was always meant to slip into and get stuck there. I stopped searching for light, put a halt on the idea that a glow exists in anyone’s eyes like a compass that may show me which way to go. I’ve taken that road and it ended with a road block that said nothing more than go fuck yourself. I stepped over the stones, just along the cracks of the corner, kicked in the eyes of anything that resembled the idea of a catalyst claiming to know my name. Buried my name, along with my story in my own throat and swallowed it, secrets and all, to make sure no one could ever see it, touch it, taste it, fuck it. I am clenched in the hands of myself, owning every filthy piece I rooted myself in and taking back the sharp edges mishandled by hands dirtier than where I was hushed into a burial I never prepared for. I clawed my way out, took the stitches off my lips that told me to hush, ripped the scream hiding belly deep, and let that mother fucker roar like an engine made new. Head to toe covered in a show of bullshit, spotlights on to reveal the mess of me and look at the goddamn audience now. Yeah.. you don’t want to miss this. Sorrow always makes the best story lines, draws a crowd of wait and see… watch the way she drops to her knees and exit before the end. Save yourself from the bloodshed of her eyes blinded over, walk away from the disaster when it looks too familiar. Don’t pity me. Pity the eyes that drip with vanity, the mouth choking on ego, the fiction saving face like kissing ass and caving in. Pity the heart that spit on your soul, bit into your spirit, and walked away shiny and clean. I always fall for shiny things that whisper promises like stars that come true, just before they shoot like bullets instead of wishes and hit me in the heart. Split me open like a letter that says, I’m sorry we ever happened at all, but you’re brilliant. Now go find the light again and shine like you always did. And they swallow your light, leave you in the dark of your sorrow, because it’s too messy to watch. Your heart is not convenient when it’s broken like that, when you feel like that, when you can’t move on quicker than that.. get your shit together in the silence of it all. Your feelings, they are too loud, too true, too painful… I feel sorry for you.. I’ve moved on… you’re making it really hard for me to act like we never happened. I am sorry, but… please, go shine again somewhere. Your dark is fucking up my light. Well, I’m so sorry. You keep my light, I’m not shining again. But I promise to keep my dark out of your way. I won’t let anyone touch it. The story ends with me finding solace in my own dark, by myself, for myself, in spite of you holding the torch fired up with my light. Flame thrower, I look better in the dark anyway, unseen, out of sight, out of mind, heartless like silence, but still fierce like my soul that cannot ever be hushed into an ugly corner.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

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Ocean Refusing the Salt

I barefoot climbed the ladder of you like heart wide open, no fear of falling, knowing you would catch me as I dropped onto you. Soul meets soul, you caught each moan, your mouth like arms wide open, skin clinging as though acceptance was found in sweat between our soul’s shells. I held it close, listened to the sounds we created as though the ocean never could fit like that, believed the waves could never settle into a calm turned to full stop. Until the calm came in doses of I don’t know and I don’t care… and it sounded a lot like the ocean rejecting the salt, freezing the waves to become nothing more than a shore that never was ready to see the worth in the way we turned the tide. The ocean refuses to sing like that again.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

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The Graveyard

I am guilty of losing myself in pieces nestled closely against all that makes my heart beat in chords that strike veins enough to make it matter. What can I say? Songs like that slice in, rearrange my soul in a way it never can be again, then quietly leave me, gentle as silence but hard like sense you make without words. I let it ruin me. I am not sorry for that. I let it ruin me completely, fallen fetal and pieces broken so jagged, I become a threat to myself, but only until I reach in, hold those pieces, bleed wounds that promise to scar, and I stand again. Eventually I stand again. But I leave the wound open so I can always feel that moment. I visit it like a graveyard at night, where everything is lost, but me, the ghost who brings flowers to all I ever wanted but didn’t get… and I say, it’s okay… it’s okay… you can still love what you cannot hold, even if it doesn’t hold you back. This is how I learned to love myself… haunting my own wounds until they heal with nothing more than my own hands, crossed over my own heart, writing songs carved from my throat that bleed in permanent ink across pages imprinted across trees; I stay in the graveyard on bended knee, holding flowers from the best of me. And nothing was ever a waste, the music says so.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

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*Photo Credit: Amy Judd

Beauty Applauded

All that makes me beautiful, each part that makes me… Me, is never anything you can see. Close your eyes, it’s not found in the picture. A picture says a thousand things, stories that lie in all their honesty, unfolding a moment in time that says, see me, know me, remember me when I was smiling like this, the way my eyes lit up once upon a time. There’s more the picture doesn’t say. The hidden parts of a story the eye cannot know. The best parts, the worst, it’s never in the picture, but the heart. Can you see it? It’s unfiltered, breathtaking, the most honest view you could ever be lucky enough to look at… but looking is nothing if you don’t see it, learn it. Know someone like that. Tear the filter off your own eyes that cover the view of all you perceive to matter the most. Take the blindfold off, it only suffocates the ego you think you don’t have. You want to be true and real and raw? Strip yourself down and show me your heart, unfiltered where the colors of your light can only be true there. That’s where beautiful exists. It’s not the temporary beauty borrowed from the light that hits your face just right. It’s not the smile in the picture that may be lying through perfect teeth. It’s your heart, undeniable and incomparable to anyone else. It’s only yours. Don’t hand it out and then apologize for the way it breaks. Even in pieces, it’s beautiful. Even in pieces, you are beautiful, thanks to that heart of yours, and all those cracks, taking me to my knees, stealing my breath with an honest view of everything that ever mattered. I will always applaud that kind of beauty. I will never apologize for my heart.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

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The Ripple Paid Forward

This is the hardest fight I’ve ever held my fists up to, broke my own throat with the scream that spoke like a whisper, but felt like a mountain crumbling into a river to show the river how to be more than a ripple. I was more than a ripple, but with all the trying, my efforts went under and I watched myself drown there. I saw you watching from the banks… I heard you say, keep going… keep trying, but you didn’t offer your hand to me because it was covered in pain. I took a deep breath that day, crawled out from the bus I was under, and saw a smile somewhere that mattered more than mine ever could. I was looking in your eyes. I wanted to feel that one more time.. but I never can. So when I searched the room for my heart to be a piñata busting open with confetti, love.. I missed. Tore a vein instead, but I remembered your eyes in that moment, borrowed the memory of that light before I went dark, and for the only minute that mattered, it saved me just enough to stay and search for the light inside that is capable of making any ripple at all, even if it’s from the tiniest pebble, the smallest smile. It is the hope we carry, like a grain of salt… and that one grain is enough to save a life.. sometimes.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

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The View

I am wrong, even when my mind says otherwise and takes a right into the left lane of oncoming traffic and even there… I don’t hear the horns blowing. Tuned out the background noise because the symphony in my head is the headliner on the main stage, the concert of the year and the venue seats hundreds of thousands. I don’t hear the applause, only the focus of the ticket that got me there and I’m dazed like the spotlight, frozen only where the light shines. Until it doesn’t anymore and it’s nothing more than headlights smashing into my blind spot where the road was once so fucking clear.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

Ruined Art

Well, I thought I was making art here, thought I would show this white room how to be red. I only wanted to be confetti falling across this white gown, arms strapped down. I won’t do it again. I won’t. Because you ruined the picture I was painting, you shot poison into my veins and wiped my slate clean. My thoughts settled into the white noise, I could not resist the peace. So does that mean you saved me? No. Because there’s still so many colors waiting to bust from under this gown, still so many shades locked under restraints…. and I’m telling you.. when you untie these hands, I’m going to turn this room into words that paint walls with forever from the good vein. I’m going out with Poetry, raw and unbandaged, just to show you… pushing someone over the edge doesn’t mean you saved them. Sometimes the destruction is beautiful, but only if you look the colors in the face… look me in the face, like you didn’t take my life when you tied my hands.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

My Name

They stare through you here, like everywhere, so it’s not any different. Strangers not looking you in the eyes, but smiling as though they know your story because they know your name, but I can call myself anything. Change my name for each chapter, label each of my pages with who I am or who I appear to be. Maybe I just look like a bitch or a whore, or maybe I’m amazing. Maybe I’m sick, but goddamn beautiful. What do you care. A name is only a name like a label is nothing more than an opinion. I am never only a page that you can dog ear with your filthy hands, rip it out. Do what you please. My story isn’t a dot to dot book, boy. It’s not an I spy game of where your fingers rest today and where they may wander tomorrow. I’m the story you binge on, without purging. You are fucking starving for it. You just don’t know how to choke on depth, so you thumb through blindly, trying to find the parts you deem good enough to keep. And I say, fuck you… every piece of me is a masterpiece. I know that now without needing to search your eyes for the pages you skipped over. Jump over the cracks, mother fucker, hop scotch your way to the next highlighted story line and the next and next and next and next and fuck you. This isn’t red rover… I don’t need an invitation to be good enough.

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Like My Legs

I came out of it squeaky clean, still scathed from wounds that eat me alive, and yes, I still call them by name. They still never answer, as though I don’t exist, like they never made me bleed and tasted it, saw it on the bed sheets seeping a cry not known. But here I am, as clean as it gets. As clean as I will ever be. Because I still have these cracks where you were once inside deep, when I was worth it, when I was worth it. Then I became empty and I will stay here, so I can feel the way the cracks spread wide like my legs once did.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

Villain

There’s not a betrayal deeper than someone you once loved making you the villain of their story in order to move on. It hurts. But people move on in different ways. I’ll be the villain you never loved at all, so you can bask in a new light that I never threatened to turn dark.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

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