Open Letter

I am here to remind you:
Nothing you made was for us.

Not the wide spaced office
where every voice but ours
echoes (no, we don’t need to be
talking our every working moment,

and we really don’t want to know
about your breakfast burrito), nor
your fluorescent lights, humming
such staccato, even you might

have needed headphones (if you
shut up long enough to listen),
nor your paint that pushes us
from frantic to everyday blues,

your ergonomic chairs made
for the narrow and straight, your
poorly acted webinars with no
automatic captions (even your
series on ethics where you asked

for feedback you didn’t actually want)
not your intranet sans email or phone
(who needs a real person to help, right?)
or your doors ajar only when you want
something after hours. Let me remind you

how your resource groups and mentors
are employees too tired to respond
(yes, I did reach out more than once)
your screens, your forums, your channels
demand our constant vigilance, processes
are housed in separated clouds, policies

crafted so only attorneys understand.
I could, if I wanted to, continue, but I think
you get the point. Or maybe you don’t want to.
Maybe that’s the real point, isn’t it? How
it’s easier to roll in big power like Trojan horses
when you believe we are all alone. When you

think no one can breach the inner wall, we
are each anomaly, lonely freaks of nature.
Here are some not so gentle reminders:
You told us to be assertive and proactive.
Collaborative, productive, growth minded.

Be forward leaning. Innovative. Authentic.
Ethical. Resilient. Creative. Okay, we are.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright June 23, 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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