Beyond the Lake Prize: “A Powerful Weapon” by Steve Henn

We asked the winners of the 2016 Lake Prize (featured in our Winter 2017 issue) about their work and the inspiration behind their stories. Read about all of the fiction finalists and the poetry finalists.

Poetry runner-up Steve Henn discusses his piece “A Powerful Weapon.”

Steve Henn: My friend Anna was telling me about getting into embroidery. Somehow this turned into a conversation about chucking hankies at people. Which turned into the idea of a gun that shoots hankies embroidered with compliments at people. It’s sort of the polar opposite of “I want to put a hole in your face.” I see you, life is hard, we’re all stressed – but you’re appreciated. I really need to find an engineer to make the thing. Know any?

Purchase a copy of the Winter 2017 issue of Midwestern Gothic.


Steve Henn is the author of 2 collections from NYQ Books, Unacknowledged Legislations and And God Said: Let there be Evolution! His 3rd, Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year, will be released this school year from Wolfson Press. He wants to acknowledge that the boy in the poem is an actual person, though not someone he knew well, who died by turning his father’s handgun on himself. Steve thinks it’s a bad idea to keep guns in the house, though he knows for many in the Midwest and in his home state of Indiana, this is not a popular opinion. He couldn’t’ve written his poem without slightly misinterpreting a conversation with his friend Anna and thanks her for the inspiration. Links to books and recordings can be found at

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