Two poems by Steve Henn

Are You Picking Up What I’m Putting Down?

My GF tells me

her new friend likes to lift

I say I prefer to put down.

Not to criticize your fitness

by disparaging it but to never

actually pick anything up.

For a solid ten seconds I catch myself

worrying – when she inevitably starts

lifting my GF will get both bulkier

and more cardiovascularly refined than me

then I feel bad about critiquing anything

about my GF’s body, even if hypothetical

then I feel bad about feeling bad

and I try not to text her about any of this

because according to all these insightful

poems by women I’m reading

isn’t it just like a man to require reassurance

when pretty much the only problem is

he’s being an idiot? I am how I am

which is soft, like men often expect women

to be. I couldn’t not cry at my last four

poetry readings. My most indelible memories

are not of courage, but terror. Yes, terror.

I’m not exaggerating. Every night until

he turned 11 my youngest son accepted