Storyline, v2**

Trigger warning. (Suicide, self harm. )

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

After a while,
we get tired of telling
the same story,
the one where we
are interstitial animals
separated by a hand
that decides we are
made to be poor and alone.
And while, yes, creating
means some solitary

confinement, we do want
people to hear us, to see us,
value us the way CEOs,
investment bankers, doctors
and lawyers are graciously
bestowed a livable wage.

But since case law does
not stand behind us, we
keep telling those horrible
tales, the one where artists
cut off their ears simply to
stop the noise, or a writer
swallows a bullet, pulling
the trigger on anything
more they might ever

have written. It is time to
tell a new story, one where
we build our own plotlines,
and unarmed characters
win against antagonists. We
can revise the denouement,

the way the book turns out.
We can illustrate how justice
ought to be. How we ought to be.
Our lives are not on auction.
No one gets a discount.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright June 11, 2024, all rights reserved

Author's Note: The original version of this poem draft appeared here. This past weekend, I brought the draft to a workshop to see how I might distill the original rant and ramble. I received some great feedback, during which we had a discussion about how my longer drafts come to be. I'm still not entirely happy with v2, but it's better. I may or may not pursue another revision. At this point, it's more a creative exercise, but we'll see where it leads.

Please note, I am not experiencing a mental health crisis. But many creatives are, and many have been marginalized. Having been in that state too many times, I empathize.

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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