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It wins a race 
against itself
on my bathroom floor,
sliver of a creature,
house centipede
with too many legs,
hairy footed,
creepy in its
coordination, genius
of its own navigation.
It is automation
in miniature,
able to skim
relative miles of tile,
dust, dip, crack,
a marbled plain —
in seconds, a miracle
of self direction.
What a way
to start the day.
Last week sometime,

I read a headline,
in the Times, something
about a three-legged
lion crossing
an African river
of crocodiles —
click here
to find out why.
I didn’t, caring
only that it succeeded,
that it didn’t need
to take some
calculated gamble
we attribute
to other animals,
rather, it knew
itself, understood
what it could
accomplish, and
did. Then
somewhere in
New Zealand,

the transmission
tower that collapsed,
outages skidding across
whole regions
in an infrastructure
fail. Three out of
four of its legs
unbolted, men
and media scurrying
to place blame,
cover up where
possible (as if
dysfunction
so powerful
can be hidden)
no one really
looking at process,
investigation,
how the thing
got there to begin
with, how it came
to be undone.
Meanwhile, an insect

with less than
a raisin brain,
manages hundreds
of legs at once,
and a disabled lion
successfully survives
a river of teeth
and angry hippos.
And here we are, yes?
Tripping over
our own two legs?
Disassembling what
we have built,
unthinking, over-
thinking, dismantling,

falling? Are you
understanding the irony
yet? The oxymoron
of ourselves?
Go ahead and laugh.
There’s a bug
running up your pantleg.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, copyright June 25, 2024, all rights reserved

Revised June 27. 2024

Inspired by this LinkedIn post by Dr. Jason Price and this New York Times article.

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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