“Suicide Note” by Steve Henn

Steve Henn


Hey Zeb,

Remember when you dubbed Soundgarden
for me in high school and I said it sounded like
a symphony of chainsaws? Chris Cornell died
today. God Bless that man and his Gift
of a generation’s greatest pipes. So much
of what I learn to appreciate I disregard
at first listen. I saw Sparklehorse once
opening for Mazzy Star. My brother and I agreed
that Hope Sandoval looked and sounded beautiful
and that Mark Linkhaus must’ve been
“a little too into his artistic self.” Now
I can’t listen to It’s a Wonderful Life
without crying. My family never knew jack
about modern music but my dad did keep a copy
of Portnoy’s Complaint on the bookshelf
behind the television. That book was good
for me or it wasn’t, whatever.
It didn’t matter, or it mattered less
than I’d’ve overeagerly argued it did.
In my Escort that we called “The Big Blue Shit”
we’d sing along to Eddie Vedder’s
“I’m goin’ hungry”—we could only falsetto
pantomime Cornell’s part. I remember once
when Musgrave walked in to his classroom
and chalked no one here gets out alive
on the blackboard. A bunch of kids were like
what’s that supposed to mean? but you and I
pretended that we knew just what he meant.

Poets Respond
May 21, 2017

[download audio]


Steve Henn: “This poem is in response to Chris Cornell’s suicide this week. Suicide is an issue that has touched me personally and has touched my old bestie from high school, Zeb, and the poem is an attempt to write my friend a thoughtful response to Cornell’s death and our shared history that I couldn’t quite capture in a text to him on the day of Cornell’s suicide this week.” (web)

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