5 a.m. on a Sunday and I accidentally wake my husband.
“Poetry piled up overnight,” I explain. He murmurs,
“Death by poetry,” and rolls over.
But I am here thinking how Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, 
and great poets I don’t know enough about 
have carried me through the night—
this most recent night, one that runs off the edge
with too much always, too dark always,
inscribed by oligarchs who don’t care a whit
about poetry or the people who write it.
And suddenly, I am thirty again, 
wanting to pierce my eyebrow,
listen to music too loud for my age, 
roll up my sleeves and fight. 

I look for reminders of where I have been,
where it is I think I should be,
something to ground my crisis.
It’s on my right shoulder,
purple tattoo of a feather,
sharp point scripting critical words: 
Carpe Diem. 

Carpe Diem.

Reminding me one life 
is not enough, that I will never be 
Langston or Maya, 
but I can live in my own words, 
I can live my poetry,
write metaphors that make sense to me. 
Fingers to keyboard, penpoint to paper,
needle to the thin skin of nobody listening yet,
it’s all okay in this, the early morning.
Just me, the marks on my body, and poetry.
The quiet rebellion of indelible ink.

-Katherine Gotthardt

Katherine Gotthardt

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, hails from the Northern Virginia/D.C. metro area. She considers herself a writer by nature and by trade, having begun writing for fun as soon as her mother helped teach her to read. An active part of the literary community, Katherine is current co-president and a founding member of Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Katherine has been a Prince William County Poet Laureate nominee and was the winner of Inside Nova’s 2019 and 2020 Best of Prince William award in the category of author. Her poetry and prose book Get Happy, Dammit: Staying Inspired and Motivated in an Often-Unhappy World received a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association. Katherine's children’s book, A Crane Named Steve, hit number one in its category on Amazon in 2019. Katherine then took first place in the free verse category of Loudoun County Library Foundation’s 2020 Rhyme On poetry contest for her piece "Discussion Topic." The Prince William Arts Council and Poet Laureate Circle awarded her the 2020 Outstanding Poetry Project Award for her leadership in Write by the Rails' Poems Around Town poetry installation. In 2021 Katherine earned second place for "Aftermath" in a Poetry Society of Virginia national contest and the regional Seefeldt Award for Arts Excellence in the category of Individual Artist. She won first place in the Virginia Writers Club statewide Golden Nib contest in the poetry category for her poem "Kayak." Katherine was recognized as a PW Perspective 2021 DMV Best Business award winner in the category of author. In April 2023, Katherine’s poem “Now Entering Manassas” was the winner of Manassas, Virginia's adult “time capsule” poetry contest. Katherine read her poem at the 150th anniversary celebration, the translated version by Jorge de Villasante was read in Spanish by Bianca Menendez, her poem was published in Neighbors of Historic Manassas magazine, and it was included in the city’s time capsule. While Katherine is well-known for her poetry, she also has established a solid reputation for writing articles, columns and short fiction. She is a full-time writer for a government contracting company assigned to NSF and is published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has authored 11 books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Under a Lilac, Late April, A Crane Named Steve, Get Happy, Dammit, D.C. Ekphrastic: Crisis of Faith, Thirty Years of Cardinals Calling and Get Happier, Dammit. She uses proceeds from her books to support giving back initiatives.
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