You see, after a while, you get tired of telling 
the same old story again, the sad one, where you 
are the interstitial animal living between grains 
of ancient sand, separated from both
land and sea, by some careless hand that said 
you were made to be lonely. And while I know 
being a writer is solitary (how else will we ever 
get these so-many-words out of our salty-sweet 
minds?) I do not think anyone was made to be alone. 
When we are, at least for too long, the words 
build up like bulwarks, shutting out waves 
that might help to draw us in to a beautiful
and bountiful collective, or wind that might sweep 
us into a lifegiving dune. Look, I know we want people 

to read our words, to understand us, to hear us, 
to give us a value like CEOs and investment bankers 
and lawyers and doctors are graciously bestowed—
because if nothing else, have we not at least had to study 
life itself? Why doesn’t that earn us a degree and a living?  
And so we keep telling that horrible tale, the one 
where the artists cut off their ears just to stop the noise 
from overcoming them, or the one with the writer who swallowed 
a bullet, pulling the trigger on anything more they might 
have ever written. So what I am trying to say is, we need to tell 
a different story now, one that has a better ending. One in which 

we have built our own plotlines, and every character 
works against the antagonist. And it doesn’t matter 
who the villain is—lord knows, we have too many choices 
there. The point is, the theme is, the thesis even a stupid critic 
will be able to deconstruct is, we as protagonists, we are rewriting 
the denouement, the way the book turns out. And if anyone 
wants to buy the movie rights, if somehow we are discovered, 
our answer will always be, my life is not on auction, 
and you can’t get me at a discount. You can’t plaster 
my words or my face or my name anywhere without 
my consent. And when you pay me, you will pay 
the ones who made my story possible. Every. Single. 
One. Of. Us. Do you see, now, how there will be 
justice? Do you see how we change the world?  

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright March 14, 2024, all rights reserved 

**If you are in crisis or think you might be, PLEASE call or text 988. Or chat at 988lifeline.org.  

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 was a past-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 published in dozens of journals and anthologies and has authored 12 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, Get Happier, Dammit and We All Might Be Witches. She uses proceeds from her books to support giving back initiatives.
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