Poetry from Katherine Anderson Howell

Photo: Benjamin Lehman

The Millionaire of American Sadness

American cheese
and white bread
and Bugles on fingers
like dragon claws
And the high school
defensive end who
grew up to go to Harvard
and take my Zoloft
so he wouldn’t run
out of his own.
And that’s in my
American medical
record now because
I called early to
ask for a refill
and had to explain
how all the sadness’s
errors are cleared up by
someone else in America.
And isn’t that what made you:
marriage built on
one spouse’s secret,
the memory of a drunk
father, a child who
cannot eat peanuts.
A pile of blue pills
promising waters
in which no one
drowns but no one
swims either


Katherine Anderson Howell writes and parents in Washington, D.C. She is a licensed esthetician, an activist, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the editor of Fandom as Classroom Practice: A Teaching Guide (University of Iowa Press, 2018). Her poetry can be found in Misfit Magazine, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and The Account, among others.

*title comes from Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

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