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Floyd Patterson 

- After “Loser: The Most Honest Sports Story Ever Written” by Gay Talese

I boxed a boy; I beat him. 

All I wanted was to

get past the first round.


I boxed another boy.

I beat him. I

smiled at him,

at them all.

No one smiled back.

It’s okay to be the good guy when you’re winning.


Sonny Liston hit me. 

I hit the floor,

felt for a trapdoor in the ring

to fall through, felt

everybody circle me, 

like a family, blew

a kiss I can’t remember. 

We’ll see what you’re like when someone beats you. 


I boxed Sonny in another ring. 

He beat me.

All I wanted was to

get past the crowd

into my car. I wore a fake

moustache. I went to Madrid,

ate soup, began to believe

I could be somebody else.


I learned to fly. 

I learned to check the screws

someone would loosen 

if they wanted you to fall

A guy like me, who smiles, has no business losing. 



Katherine Anderson Howell has turned her back on academic labor. She parents two boys in Washington, D.C., where she also writes, resists as an activist, and works out a lot. She writes in multiple genres, and you can find her work in places as varied as The Journal of Fandom Studies, The Rumpus, and Snapdragon: A Journal of Arts and Healing, among others. She tweets @GenKatieOrgana, and is a Hufflepuff who everyone thinks is really a Gryffindor. 

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