Thirteen Ways of Looking at My Past Employer

With the greatest of apologies to Wallace Stevens for this bastardization of his beloved blackbird

I was of two minds, now 
Returned to one: You do not deserve

Among offices and conference rooms,
The only things moving efficiently
Were the lips of your greed. 

Meditation on founders and CEOs:
You sold out your company,
Our country, our world. 

A worker and their mind are one. 
A worker and their spirit are one. 
A worker and their company 
Are not one. 

I do not know which to scoff at more:
The hypocrisy of your words, your
Classes demanding completion,
Or your poor management choices. 

Injury to injury, you brought 
Back day terrors dormant 
For more than a decade. 

Icicles fill my poetry again.
I break them off, and they stab
My wrists in crucifixion.
Icicles melt, and I scar over scar.

The bonuses you graciously gave ultimately
Paid medical bills. Do you think
I owe you something?

I know the written word. 
So, too, do I know your heart.
You don’t have one.

You believed I would fly quietly,
Wings impotent against the current.
You are impotent. 

You seem to have forgotten karma,
That the universe is circular.
You are part of the circle. 

At the sight of your icon, 
Agencies will turn,
Knowing your acronym means willing
Inhumanity, blame, and mishandling. 

The people are moving.
Justice must be on their minds.  

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright March 29, 2024, all rights reserved 

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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