Sale!

American Male / Steve Henn

$7.50

Product Description

American Male

poems by

Steve Henn

ISBN: 978-1-59948-917-9,  ~52 pages, $13 (+ shipping)

Projected Release Date: February, 2022

An Advance Sale Discount price of $7.50 (+ shipping) is available HERE prior to press time. This price is not available anywhere else or by check. The check price is $11.50/book (which includes shipping) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001. 

PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date entitles the buyer to a discount. It does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above and the price only applies to copies ordered through the Main Street Rag Online Bookstore.

About The Author

Steve Henn teaches high school English in northern Indiana. His previous books include Guilty Prayer (Main Street Rag, 2021) and Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year (Wolfson, 2017). He’s proud of the children of he and late American artist Lydia Henn. He roots for the Fighting Irish, played high school soccer, and gives poetry readings in all kinds of places, from Pittsburgh to Long Beach, travel conditions and money conditions and time permitting. His favorite food is crab cakes, which are also a unit of value measurement for anything in the world (this book = 3 crab cakes). Find out more at therealstevehenn.com.

Comments

In the concentration of these pieces, our poet maneuvers through life—as bereaved, as father, as brother, as son—traversing narrative after narrative and landing, each time on poignancy, heartbreak, grief, epiphany. Steve Henn in American Male takes us through adolescent venoms into adulthood doubts, deaths, and dilemmas, asking “How In God’s Holy Name is This Boy Ever Going to Survive?” Henn then helps us, his readers unearth that amidst hurt and cruelty and high school, there’s a little hope, somehow, in the darkness: even if we search for it in strawberry pop or inside the St. Louis Arch. ~Erica Anderson-Senter, author of Midwestern Poet’s Incomplete Guide to Symbolism from EastOver Press, 2021

Samples

I Could’ve Said This But
Instead Controlled Myself

 

My backyard birds sound better
than your backyard birds
my brother posted on Facedump

I wanted to comment you’ll never
reach enlightenment if
everything’s a competition

I mean hey, maybe I’m wrong,
maybe God loves the fuck
out of sports – enjoys
seeing losers vanquished
in championships

Loves the glory
of the final adrenal rush
keeping the winners up
pouring champagne
on each other ’til dawn

Maybe God loves
a champion who gloats

Maybe God loathes
humility and simple
friendship, maybe

The Nuclear Arms Race
jolts up God like
an eleven year old in front
of a tv-full of pro wrestling
sucking down his fifth
can of Jolt! soda

Every time he sees
one human body slam another
he emits an Oooooooooh!
like he’s watching a fireworks show
and punches his little brother
hard, on the upper arm

 


 

World’s #1 Dad

 

I haven’t made a family dinner in weeks.
I am not winning the Single Dad Olympics.
Father’s Day is imminent. Last year
I cursed my father at his grave
Then wrote a sorrowful-angry essay about him.
How will I feel this year? I would like to
Meditate more on my children.
I would like to do my damnedest
To appreciate whatever it is they cobble together
To appreciate me. Another decorative change
Jar I’m not really collecting, or that loose
Bag of gourmet jelly beans. If it’s mediocre that’s
All the more reason to make an effort.
When I was maybe 9 I insisted we buy
Our Dad a “World’s #1 Dad” t-shirt
So he could (I imagined) wear it proudly
But my sister, 4 years older and wise
To the ways of middle school, said, God,
No. Who would want to wear a thing
Like that? She was right.
I’d probably feel like a total asshole
Wearing that shirt. But my Dad
Went ahead and wore it.

 


 

American Male

 

I know why I don’t golf.
I have a temper, you see, and
even though my younger brother
bested me at most things
involving athletic grace –
or perhaps because of it –
long did I incubate a singular
competitiveness, encouraged
by coaches, teachers, my mother,
but mostly male figures,
mentor-slash-authorities, adults
who determined that unleashing
a hypercompetitive 9-yr-old contestant
nearly foaming at the mouth
with crazed lust to possess
whatever ball happened to be in play
and put it right where it belonged
would prepare him admirably
for 21st Century American capitalism
or prison or the Senate – really just about
any American institution,

so I can’t golf because I can’t handle
intending the ball to fly straight
while watching it slice through the trees
to the right or plunk in the drink
because if it does I’m throwing the clubs,
the bag, and the caddy in after it.
I don’t golf because it’s like learning ballet,
any 44 year old novice would clumsy
through it so awkward, breaking
ankles and spraining wrists, stepping
on someone else’s feet with those
probably unnecessary – don’t you think? –
spiked shoes

For reasons much the same I don’t fish.
For a few years I did but it always
felt like my body was learning a language
my brain was too ossified to interpret,
klutzing the pole toward the water
casting the hook behind me to catch
in my hair. Come to think of it,
I do not like to do anything I’m bad at,
which might be why I’m good at
so few things – that flash temper
immediately responsive to quick
humiliating frequent failure – two weeks ago
when I was taking too much
Welbutrin on accident consequently
feeling super stressed contemplating
secret suicide I had a minor anxiety
attack at Menard’s because I failed
to accomplish buying a mower.
What nascent genius saddled the
American Male with yardwork? Why
do I always feel a surge of anxiety
stepping into a hardware store?
Isn’t it true I’d rather sit out back
in a cheap lawn chair reading poems
than do the edge trimming
or admire a full wall display
of oppressively shiny tools?

The President plays golf too.
Any President. Take your pick.
And there I rest my case
’cause no ambitious 9-yr-old
with his faculties intact, capitalist
or otherwise, wants to grow up
imitating that buffoon.

 


 

Jack’s Gettin Up There

 

I told Jack I don’t know
if I’ll make it to 70 and
he laughed and then he didn’t.
Jack’s gotta be 80. Once
in class some kid asked him
what Viet Nam was like
and he said a real picnic.
He’s got a crusty exterior
but a heart bigger’n’ a wooly
mammoth’s. I fear the day
he dies. I fear it like
I fear the death of my own
mother. It would be
wonderful to let go
of the fear. It would be
so beautiful, not to be afraid.

 

Additional Information

Weight .3 lbs

About The Author

Steve Henn teaches high school English in northern Indiana. His previous books include Guilty Prayer (Main Street Rag, 2021) and Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year (Wolfson, 2017). He’s proud of the children of he and late American artist Lydia Henn. He roots for the Fighting Irish, played high school soccer, and gives poetry readings in all kinds of places, from Pittsburgh to Long Beach, travel conditions and money conditions and time permitting. His favorite food is crab cakes, which are also a unit of value measurement for anything in the world (this book = 3 crab cakes). Find out more at therealstevehenn.com.

Comments

In the concentration of these pieces, our poet maneuvers through life—as bereaved, as father, as brother, as son—traversing narrative after narrative and landing, each time on poignancy, heartbreak, grief, epiphany. Steve Henn in American Male takes us through adolescent venoms into adulthood doubts, deaths, and dilemmas, asking “How In God’s Holy Name is This Boy Ever Going to Survive?” Henn then helps us, his readers unearth that amidst hurt and cruelty and high school, there’s a little hope, somehow, in the darkness: even if we search for it in strawberry pop or inside the St. Louis Arch. ~Erica Anderson-Senter, author of Midwestern Poet’s Incomplete Guide to Symbolism from EastOver Press, 2021

Samples

I Could’ve Said This But
Instead Controlled Myself

 

My backyard birds sound better
than your backyard birds
my brother posted on Facedump

I wanted to comment you’ll never
reach enlightenment if
everything’s a competition

I mean hey, maybe I’m wrong,
maybe God loves the fuck
out of sports – enjoys
seeing losers vanquished
in championships

Loves the glory
of the final adrenal rush
keeping the winners up
pouring champagne
on each other ’til dawn

Maybe God loves
a champion who gloats

Maybe God loathes
humility and simple
friendship, maybe

The Nuclear Arms Race
jolts up God like
an eleven year old in front
of a tv-full of pro wrestling
sucking down his fifth
can of Jolt! soda

Every time he sees
one human body slam another
he emits an Oooooooooh!
like he’s watching a fireworks show
and punches his little brother
hard, on the upper arm

 


 

World’s #1 Dad

 

I haven’t made a family dinner in weeks.
I am not winning the Single Dad Olympics.
Father’s Day is imminent. Last year
I cursed my father at his grave
Then wrote a sorrowful-angry essay about him.
How will I feel this year? I would like to
Meditate more on my children.
I would like to do my damnedest
To appreciate whatever it is they cobble together
To appreciate me. Another decorative change
Jar I’m not really collecting, or that loose
Bag of gourmet jelly beans. If it’s mediocre that’s
All the more reason to make an effort.
When I was maybe 9 I insisted we buy
Our Dad a “World’s #1 Dad” t-shirt
So he could (I imagined) wear it proudly
But my sister, 4 years older and wise
To the ways of middle school, said, God,
No. Who would want to wear a thing
Like that? She was right.
I’d probably feel like a total asshole
Wearing that shirt. But my Dad
Went ahead and wore it.

 


 

American Male

 

I know why I don’t golf.
I have a temper, you see, and
even though my younger brother
bested me at most things
involving athletic grace –
or perhaps because of it –
long did I incubate a singular
competitiveness, encouraged
by coaches, teachers, my mother,
but mostly male figures,
mentor-slash-authorities, adults
who determined that unleashing
a hypercompetitive 9-yr-old contestant
nearly foaming at the mouth
with crazed lust to possess
whatever ball happened to be in play
and put it right where it belonged
would prepare him admirably
for 21st Century American capitalism
or prison or the Senate – really just about
any American institution,

so I can’t golf because I can’t handle
intending the ball to fly straight
while watching it slice through the trees
to the right or plunk in the drink
because if it does I’m throwing the clubs,
the bag, and the caddy in after it.
I don’t golf because it’s like learning ballet,
any 44 year old novice would clumsy
through it so awkward, breaking
ankles and spraining wrists, stepping
on someone else’s feet with those
probably unnecessary – don’t you think? –
spiked shoes

For reasons much the same I don’t fish.
For a few years I did but it always
felt like my body was learning a language
my brain was too ossified to interpret,
klutzing the pole toward the water
casting the hook behind me to catch
in my hair. Come to think of it,
I do not like to do anything I’m bad at,
which might be why I’m good at
so few things – that flash temper
immediately responsive to quick
humiliating frequent failure – two weeks ago
when I was taking too much
Welbutrin on accident consequently
feeling super stressed contemplating
secret suicide I had a minor anxiety
attack at Menard’s because I failed
to accomplish buying a mower.
What nascent genius saddled the
American Male with yardwork? Why
do I always feel a surge of anxiety
stepping into a hardware store?
Isn’t it true I’d rather sit out back
in a cheap lawn chair reading poems
than do the edge trimming
or admire a full wall display
of oppressively shiny tools?

The President plays golf too.
Any President. Take your pick.
And there I rest my case
’cause no ambitious 9-yr-old
with his faculties intact, capitalist
or otherwise, wants to grow up
imitating that buffoon.

 


 

Jack’s Gettin Up There

 

I told Jack I don’t know
if I’ll make it to 70 and
he laughed and then he didn’t.
Jack’s gotta be 80. Once
in class some kid asked him
what Viet Nam was like
and he said a real picnic.
He’s got a crusty exterior
but a heart bigger’n’ a wooly
mammoth’s. I fear the day
he dies. I fear it like
I fear the death of my own
mother. It would be
wonderful to let go
of the fear. It would be
so beautiful, not to be afraid.

 

SKU: 978-1-59948-917-9 Categories: , , Tag: