My Best

She said, “those clothes look like shit, falling off like they’re trying to run away faster than you are… and didn’t you just buy those two weeks ago? Can’t you see what you are doing to yourself? You are hurting everyone around you. You looked good two weeks ago.. but now, you look like a fucking sack of bones that fell out of the closet behind my closet.”

Well, I said.. it’s not really something I choose to do every day.. I don’t know.. it chooses me like it has a hold on me, a grip around my throat and I can’t scream anymore. It’s not about my size or your size or her size or anybody’s size. It’s bigger than that, just bigger… too much to explain.. too big for me to handle anymore. They are making me stay again.. I don’t care anymore.

“Well you need to care..” she said. “This is your life… you have people who care about you and you’re just throwing that away like you don’t give a shit..”

And I do… I do give a shit. I’m trying. That’s all I have.. I am trying. It’s the best I have right now. It’s the best I have.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Fiction Doesn’t Make Me Bleed

I See You

So shrug it off. Drop the heavy from your shoulders light and smile. You fucking smile. You know it will change your whole day. Open your eyes. There is beauty everywhere. And isn’t it funny how simple minded thoughts like that may have good intentions, but listen… just listen. The beauty you see is yours, so look at it all day. I hope it makes you smile. I hope it fills you with magic and positivity and all the warm, fuzzy feelings you ever wanted. But don’t assume that everyone has the same view as you. They don’t. Trust me when I say they have their eyes wide open and they see a different picture. You probably haven’t seen those shades before through your own eyes, so I know it’s hard to understand. But try. Try harder to stop paying the stigma forward. It’s not funny. It’s not an eye roll moment for someone who just can’t stay away from the drama. When someone is in pain, when someone sees a different view than you, and you label it as negativity or drama, I get it… that’s taking the easy way out. You are copping out. You are scared. Fear does strange things to us sometimes. Closes our minds, turns our hearts cold. But there’s nothing more cold than sitting in the dark of yourself, when the room empties because your eyes.. they tell stories that hurt, so no one looks. It’s too familiar. No one wants to stroll down the memory lane of their own pain that somehow unfolded in your eyes. They look away. Make a left to the quickest route out because that seems right, but it’s just easy, and sometimes easy is the quickest way to jump ship. The beauty you see… it’s fucking ugly. No one wants to look long enough to understand how the picture you see isn’t the same as the one they look through… so they blind their eyes, board their heart shut dark, because what if some of your dark crosses into their light like a reminder they wanted to forget. Not everyone has to read your story, love. Only the brave ones. Brave enough to pierce every edge of that board, bust open the glass, blow over the smoke, dig up the mosaic to read each piece like a revelation of a reflection so loud, they taste it. The ones who get it from the long version that doesn’t need a short cut, a cheat sheet, a cliff notes edition of why your eyes tell stories that makes the dark hide itself. The ones who aren’t afraid to look at the parts you forgot to shine today, dulled over raw, scuffed up like reality heard the truth for the first time and didn’t turn away… those are your people. They’ve been cut by your sharp before, but still bend their knees to understand the break you start and end each day with. It’s not pretty, never a promise to be anything more than what it is and goddamnit… I will cut my knees open just to sift through the beauty in your breaking. I swear to god… I will climb inside every wound and bleed just to show you.. I see you and I understand so much, it hurts… but I stay. I always will. I will never be the one who looks away, no matter how dark it gets, I will stay for the light… and if it never comes, I will give you mine. I will never let you sit in your own empty room. Promise.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Be the Flame

I almost always have my foot ready on the mark, set perfectly, until the trigger pulls the chamber into go and I freeze like my heart is wild, but not wild enough to break out of the safety. So I stand on the line, watch the world take a head start, while I analyze if there’s enough time to catch up. My heart takes off without me, she has always been wild that way. I catch her every once in a while, feels hot to the touch, like brave and beautiful filling the cracks of where my coward sleeps cold. I keep the fire sometimes, just along my fingers, use it to warm myself with the memories of growing wild in my own roots that bloomed with the proof of brave and beautiful. I was planted firm, grounded without doubt and so full of light that offered certainty to my shine. That was before I learned how some things can be lost or taken or forgotten. Before I knew that nothing can be a promise other than a lie. And sometimes the things you believe are yours forever get lost for a while. The light finds another place to shine and you welcome the dark because you believe you already wilted. But the dark can never be a promise that offers to feed anything other than your fear and the fear thrives on you giving up. It blooms on the thought of you staying down, foot on the line, set to safety, never crossing over to where the light shines wild and the wild feels free. This is the hard part. This is where you stand on your own, despite the light that faded away and in spite of the dark holding you down. You get up and fight the dark off, so you can find the light again, even if you have to start from scratch. Carve the dim shine from wherever you find it, add to it until it’s brighter than the flame, then be the flame. Be the flame. Rip it open, let the center burn you, because it’s in the center of the fire where you find the key that unlocks your safety and sends the fear back into the dark. Release the chamber, ready on your mark, set on the wild in your heart… and go. Go like you are not chasing brave anymore, because it has always been chasing you. You are the flame.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


But Your Soul is Beautiful

Pretty girl, you forgot to put on that smile today, the way you are expected to. Sad girl, with that heart now hardened like you became one with the cold in the stone, flip it over. Maybe the mask is hidden beneath where the bright side lost its way in the shadow. Lost girl, looking down like your eyes are glued into concrete where your dreams are stuck and they can’t breathe. Maybe you lost your light there too, I expected more from you. Silly girl, you can’t shine in the dark. You can’t make it far without the mask. You can’t make it at all unless you at least fake it with a little bit of effort. You had one thing to do and you ruined it. What will people think? You can’t just go out and let the world see you like that, being real like that, fucking it all up like that. Why are you constantly dropping the ball, diving headfirst into your own fall? It’s not that hard. You should have this mastered by now. People don’t really think you have a beautiful heart, stop being naive. No one fucking looks at that. It’s the outside that counts. The world cannot see the inside, they can’t hear the shit you’re constantly spilling like blood from your heart, ready and willing to bleed for the sake of the words, in the name of healing. What do you have to heal with such a beautiful soil? But here you are, face down in the blood bath of poetry, like a massacre you can’t stop calling home. It doesn’t make a difference. No one wants to open an ugly package, you know? Why don’t you take care of the outside before you invite people to look in? That’s not going to save you. Don’t be stupid. You gotta be full-face, made up perfect, eyelash Barbie, not a hair out of place, and lose a few pounds because thin can save ugly sometimes. You need to be boutique perfect head to toe, shoes to match the look, cram your foot in, whether it fits or not… do it anyway. Yeah, beauty hurts sometimes, but it’s worth it. No one cares how you feel inside- get your shit together on the outside, girl. Brush your fucking hair, and smile for once like you mean it. Smile with perfect teeth showing to prove it. Head up always, there’s no looking down unless that’s where you want to be. Stand up straight. Display yourself like art begging to be cat called, welcome the whistles, invited or not, to make it matter. Beauty validated by a strangers approval; you made it. Beauty validated on that scale of one to ten; look at you being a ten. Beauty validated by a notch in the belt, damn girl. Doesn’t it feel good? To be beautiful like that? Cat called like that, rated on a pig scale like that? Fucked like that? Well, you need to carry yourself like you’re proud of that, be so proud of that. Be a lady like that. The inside is nothing if the outside is shit… learn it. You really need to learn that. Have you learned it? Then you earned it, didn’t you earn it? Mold the outside perfect, like bait making the inside seen, show it all, flaunt it all. No one wants mysterious. Show it like an invitation for the cat-calls to whistle hard enough to blow up that sex doll displayed. Own it like cleavage shoved up in your face for your social media selfies, and don’t forget to say “thank you” to all the men who comment how beautiful you are. Because you are… they all said so. Why would they lie? They’re looking at your face.

They are all looking at your face. Even though most of the pictures show your breasts popping out to make you look super confident. Right. So, be a good little whore and say thank you. It’s the least you can do. It would be rude not to. Go on now.. do what you were taught to. Work it like the sex object you’re expected to be. Do it like you love yourself. Make the grade, get off with a warning instead of a ticket, and get so many “likes” for the lady you are. And we’ll all pretend that you are filled with self confidence instead of self loathing, insecurities. We will smile and pretend you are beautiful from the inside out, because your breasts… they said so. The scale said so. The notches in the belts keep saying so. The “likes” said so. The world said so..

Why don’t you believe it? Who could have possibly made you feel so worthless?

Who said so?

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


The Glow

So, go. Go on and glow with that smile

of yours showing magic how to be and

those eyes of yours that never stop

hitting me like a hammer making sure

the feeling is nailed in hard. Well done.

Perfected without any effort, I am rolled

over into all that ever was, falling

through the last ledge of my own pieces,

I have finally crumbled.

Succumbing to the road’s end, where it is

only a straight path, lined with crooked

signs, one way, and road blocks that

say your name. I am crashing through each

one, lead-foot, pedal to the floor,

windows down, throwing caution out,

and I hear the wind sing as it catches

all these notes I cannot sing anyway.

Breaking the fall of the loss with its

teeth, clenched tight around the wings

that never flew, throw me to the flames;

ashes blow from where I never grew.

I still see the glow.

I still see the glow.

Take me to the place where that glow

is only a light in the distance that

never held magic;

tying my hands,

ripping my heart.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Heart Apology

I kicked the yellow out of your brick road, called it a liar, and went on a search for the one painted purple. I’m searching for happiness, so trim it off with red. I will do anything to get it, I am cut-throat mode, spilling out for one taste of that smile. I think maybe you stole it from me. Well, give it back. I break into the bend of cracking myself just the right size to spell happy across my face; I am starving for it. Counting bones until I reach the corners of where my mouth turns up to the sky, but no. The sky always answers no like my mouth always says no. And I am empty, trying to fill myself with anything left, but it’s too much. The binge never lasts like the purging promises to and I’m stuffed with all these big dreams trying to sell me on the idea of what happiness is anyway. Roll out the red carpet, I have beauty in my mouth, about to bite in and swallow pretty, because thin promises I won’t choke. But I choke on pieces broke, after I starved myself thin like that, only to see the temporary smile grab hands with my spine like that and say fuck you. You are nothing but a liar, trying to taste the flame without the fire. You think you are still going to burn? Think that sparkle is going to cut in just right to drape you beautiful? It’s not. Trust me when I say… it is not coming to catch your fall, fill your cracks, save your ass. Well, perhaps it’s an inside job, I need to practice that notion perfectly and display my heart like it’s goddamn art. Everyone will notice right? Look inside like beauty busted through to say, here I am! Yeah- here I am. Never felt more filthy. Cover myself in the shame from licking the underside of my wounds that never healed, throw the salt, I want to feel. Show me the path on how to heal or school me with the lesson on the direction of where happiness lives. It didn’t come with this skin I cannot break out of and there’s a battle inside showing me the face of a fool, knees bent, and broken. From outside looking in, inside searching for an out, my heart cracked into edges to become a weapon against me and I am losing. I am losing. Just along the purple, I lined every brick so perfectly, outlined the edges in the red spilling from pretty words and promises that never could stay whole. Still I’m lost along this road I paved with my own hands, digging up old graves to find where I lost myself when I was only existing. Searching bones of skeletons that taught me living for others would not kill me and their hands are all stained with blood. I’m just trying to come back to life again so I can breathe in my own name again without spitting anything out, without trying to force down a version that fits the box of expectations shaded over for blind eyes trying to see my colors. My colors… they run deeper than the surface of a yellow road pretending to be a sky. They are deeper than words lying to mean it. I mean it. Not everyone is a beautiful soul. Not everyone looks deep enough to even know. The surface cracked, my spirit cracked with it and we fell together in that grave. I see you sometimes coming to spit on it. I still feel it. I want the storm to take me from this place that grew colorless like only a sky without any light at all. Just a sky pretending to hold the stars, but it was nothing more than a blank page filled with words of wishes wanting to be true. My sky is good enough, it just wasn’t for you. I guess we all have a different view of the sky. We see what we want. My view rips through the surface where there’s another sky to see and I see it with all of my heart, I see it. I look beyond the view of a surface, that’s where the beauty is. It’s the whole sky, busted open, spilling colors of imperfections, and showing the face of the heart, unashamed for all it is, and unapologetic for the surface view of all you did not see from the yellow. I found myself in the grave marked with purple, the bones inside had no hint of red, but my heart was there, still beating and still beautiful like it always was. I’m sorry, heart, for doubting you and losing myself because of how you looked in someone else’s eyes, who couldn’t see past their own sky.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


The Stage

Tongue tied girl,

your wings twist into the bend

of a spine that could not cut it

the first time around that sky

or even the second and third.

But remember,

you are the master of those knots

you tie yourself into like asking

for payback inside the punishment

you wrote into a story that you weren’t

supposed to be starring in anyway.

Exit the stage, left or right,

the end is never the end

until you say so and I don’t hear

you singing just yet.

You are trying to fall into the finale of you,

expecting a call for an encore,

but the show…

is still casting, the story…

it’s written in pencil.

It’s still waiting for you to unfold,

truth of your story be told

as it is, not as a wish

of all you could have been.

Save those wishes for the end.

Right now, the cameras are still rolling,

the stage is yours,

the lights won’t shine until you say so,

the theatre is empty

the only audience… is you.

Pry the nails from the palms

of those pieces that will never

make the final cut to matter

center stage in your story

when the lights come on.

You will see….

When the tie in your tongue

unwraps itself out of the knot

to lash out and mean it.

When the crooked twist in your wings

straightens out the bend

to show your spine

how to cut in like a knife

carving a finale permanent

across the heart

of that standing ovation,

begging for an encore.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


You Are Not A Poem

I am sorry with every bone cracked unapologetic, but you will never be a poem penned by me. You will never be a ghost that haunts rooms of me until he moves on to blow a breeze across someone else’s memories, crossing hearts like hallways once called home. You won’t ever be words or lines or remember when thoughts for every now and then. You will never be the one who got away or the one who used to be. You are never going to be a letter, a denial, a promise that broke, or a lie that wishes for truth. I won’t turn you into silence or a scream wishing to be. You’re not a mistake in my story or a therapy session calling for me to have a seat. You’re not a poem. This isn’t about you. You’re not a ghost. I’m not haunted. You’re not in the lines or even in between. You will never be an end or one that tries to be. And I’m sorry that I will never be sorry. You were and always will be more than words in a poem, more than a ghost, more than the reason my heart is ripped open. You can’t ever be a memory. You will never be anything less than the front row seat to here and now and always. The songs still play. Even the ones left unfinished, they sing anyway. The music goes on. I always hear it. It never stops and I refuse to turn the volume down. I will never write a lesser version of us to reduce your worth or choke on silence to forget how much you matter to me. You will always be more than just a poem and bigger than silence tries to be. You will never be goodbye.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry