Working Theory

The working theory is this:
If we rage at something
we are not, we become
what we fling ourselves
against, protecting our bodies
from the blunt force
of socioeconomics,
and the active threat
of a tenuous future. I am

here today in an Airbnb,
safe only through the grace
of a fortunate marriage,
no house, no vehicle
to my name, in my name,
everything held in a cloud,
someone else’s server,
even this poem a reminder
we come to the world
with nothing, and we leave it
just the same. And I’d like

to think it is freeing to own
only what I’ve collected:
too many shoes and purses,
knickknacks, figurines, blazers
I will probably never wear,
shoes my children kicked off
as babies, secondhand dresses
with prints and ruffles. But even
they are stored elsewhere,
others holding them in accounts
I can never pay for, will never
get to pay for. And if you think I

have chosen this, have taken
a vow of poverty, you will have
thought better of me than I do
of myself, unhappy I judge so
harshly my parts that do not
succeed in systems—
the very threats I condemn,
because I knew what it meant
to have scarcity in my past,
and I feel it encroaching now,
in the face of my assertions:

No one should have to borrow
everything in order to survive,
and worth cannot be calculated
in dollars. I do not believe we are
empty. Everyone is their own
home. Everyone does deserve one.
Everyone is owed their name.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright May 23, 2024, all right 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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