Joe on Jury

My grandfather’s book,
“Joe on Jury,”
 memoirs of an America
 that welcomed volunteers,
 peers signing up for civic duty, 
 sitting for days on that hard bench, 
 deliberating. Whether or not 
 they thought him equal
 was not evident:
 Italian immigrant, 
 warehouse worker,
 large, hard hands,
 soft-hearted folds on a face
 that listened, observed, recorded.
 The stories he told of the suspects.
 Those descriptions of the bailiff. 
 There was pride in those narrow circles,
 script inked onto loose-leaf paper, 
 lines faded over the years,
 pages handcuffed 
 into a pebbled black binder.
 I’ve still got it stored 
 somewhere around here.
 Shame, I’ve never sat on a jury.
 The times I’ve been summoned,
 I’ve been on the stand,
 countering a speeding ticket
 (20 over in a school zone)
 fighting for custody of my kids
 (yes, I’m aware of the irony),
 not living up
 to anyone’s expectations.
 But oh, the way I write,
 like I still have my grandfather’s pen.
 How I long
 to make something lasting. 
  
 -Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt 

Katherine Gotthardt

Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, is a founding member of Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. She currently serves as President and has twice been nominated for Poet Laureate of Prince William County. She was the winner of InsideNova's 2019 Best of Prince William award in the author category. Katherine considers herself a writer by nature and by trade, having begun writing for fun as soon as her mother helped teach her to read. She has been writing, editing and teaching for more than twenty years. While Katherine's first love is poetry, she also holds an interest in writing articles, columns and short fiction. Besides being published in dozens of print and online journals, she has authored seven books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water, Bury Me Under a Lilac, Late April and A Crane Named Steve. On Facebook, dabbles in short pieces that she calls her "social experiment," #KatherinesCoffeehouse. In her "other" life, Katherine is a marketing writer for an IT company and CEO of ATW- All Things Writing. She works with local publications and is Editor in Chief of Prince William Living magazine. Previously, she wrote for Bristow Beat, News & Messenger, Potomac Local, PW Business and the Quantico Sentry. Katherine aims to use her professional background to elevate the practice of writing and give writers a space where they will be recognized as laborers honoring a timeless craft. "Writing is hard work," she says. "I want that work to be valued." Katherine's full profile can be found on LinkedIn.
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