because while some truths lend themselves to equations, others are best described in verse

Don’t apologize.

angel, Hollywood

Sorry is not a poem
you post on your wall,

framed in flimsy black plastic
that wouldn’t hold a body.

Sorry looks at you,
dead straight, only

when the war is over.
Then it unfriends you on Facebook.

Sorry has no metaphors.
No spindly pale analogies.

It smells like your future
ex running late on a Thursday,

face scrubbed
with a stale washcloth.

Sorry tastes
like what i imagine

funeral flowers taste like,
broiled. Sorry is the sound

of a silence two
seconds too long;

is the difference
between stalking

and lingering, between
dancing and dithering,

between a kiss
and being caught.

Sorry is always caught.
But is hardly ever contrite.

40 responses

  1. powerful…a great capture of sorry..the silence two seconds too long..the funeral flowers. A great write, Joanna.

    February 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    • thanks, Ayala! sorry can mean so many things…

      February 20, 2013 at 10:56 am



    February 19, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    • thankya! i think i took that stalking and lingering line from something i heard you say… poor Mark: he keeps coming to our workshops, and somebody always steals his lines (usually me!)

      February 20, 2013 at 11:02 am

  3. Rule #6: Never apologize β€” Its a sign of weakness. Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS. And then their’s Nixon’s amoral “Never look back.”

    February 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    • Yes indeed, Carl. At least to your Rule #6. We just did a workshop on why poetry should never apologize… or be apologized for.

      February 20, 2013 at 11:05 am

  4. Sorry looks at you,
    dead straight, only

    when the war is over….and sorry tastes like funeral flowers….dang, a bit of gag reflex on that one….snap….way to break it off with this one joanna…felt

    February 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    • thanks, b. didn’t mean to make you gag, though. smiles.

      February 20, 2013 at 11:18 am

  5. I’m afraid I have been sorry, much to much in my life. Sorry I think is an unwanted gift, given to you when young. By the time you are five, you are already sorry. With age you may stop saying it, but the unwanted gift stays with you a lifetime. Thanks Joanna

    February 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    • Thank you, George. The thought of sorry as an unwanted gift, given as a child…. yes. Sometimes I feel we are sorry way too much. And then sometimes not enough at all.

      February 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

  6. Hi, Joanna! Apologetically enjoyed your poem. How often people feel one word can mend all bridges, heal all wounds, erase all errors. You nailed it with the final couplet!

    February 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    • *smiles.* Thanks, Denise. This one was like pulling teeth to get it out… even with all the help from the workshop t’other night. Thanks for reading and sharing!

      February 20, 2013 at 11:38 am

  7. Very original and precise in its details! I love the future ex with the stale washcloth.

    February 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    • thanks, marilyn! πŸ™‚

      February 20, 2013 at 11:41 am

  8. This is exactly what Sorry is… Especially when it is used as an empty word. Thanks for writing this Joanna…:)

    February 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    • thank you, Yiota. it is empty all too often, i think.

      February 20, 2013 at 11:48 am

  9. oh dang it..true…and felt

    February 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    • thanks, girl. πŸ˜‰

      February 20, 2013 at 11:55 am

  10. Oh my goodness! This made me yelp out loud in my office! So good. So damned on the nose, it’s scary. Not a second wasted, not a word overwritten. You nailed it to the wall! Oy! Dig this:

    “It smells like your future
    ex running late on a Thursday,

    face scrubbed
    with a stale washcloth.

    Sorry tastes
    like what i imagine

    funeral flowers taste like,

    Yes, I ate funeral flowers on (first) wedding day and that’s exactly how they tasted. If you don’t have a La Poetessa Crown (or tiara, whichever you prefer), go out and buy one and wear it proudly! Put it on my tab! This writing is like fine wine, a finer cigar and falling asleep in 1600 count silk sheets all rolled together. As the young people used to say “Big Ups!”

    February 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    • Mosk, wish I’d a’been there to hear your yelp. πŸ™‚ Thank you, my friend; you are as always, too too kind. You really ate funeral flowers? Huh. Really?
      *going out to shop for a tiara now*

      February 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      • Yes, for marriage #1 I also ate a lot of crow and because her family was from Vietnam, I also ate soup made partly of canine, their version of hazing me perhaps. And, no, I don’t know where they got the dog either. Ah, 1994, not a good year for me or OJ.

        February 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

  11. This is excellent! You have spoken truth here. That last stanza is a stunner:

    Sorry is always caught.
    But is hardly ever contrite.

    So very true!

    February 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    • thanks, Mary! poets should always be searching for truths, under every rock and in every heart, i think. smiles.

      February 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm

  12. Ouch. The last lines are quite a punch. It’s true. Lots of “I’m sorry”(s) are just a kind defensive response

    February 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    • i think i like the first lines best, for just that reason (the “ouch” factor), i guess. πŸ™‚ thank you, Gretchen.

      February 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm

  13. Sorry tastes
    like what i imagine
    funeral flowers taste like,
    broiled. – That’s amazing imagery. It inspires dry heaving, in the best possible way.

    February 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    • a poem that inspires dry heaving, of any sort, is a success in my book. πŸ™‚ thanks, wanderer.

      February 20, 2013 at 12:58 pm

  14. Tight, precise and brilliant, Joanna! Such deep image and slicing simile! Lobed this! ~ j

    February 19, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    • thanks, Joe! high praise, from a poet such as yourself. πŸ™‚

      February 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm

  15. It’s just a word, but you made it so much more!

    February 20, 2013 at 5:47 am

    • thanks, Stan.

      February 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

  16. sorry tastes like a funeral flower is the best line i have read today…. this poem is real and sorry to me is like l love you on a helium balloon — it so easily can float away… thank you for this honest poem….so well written

    February 20, 2013 at 7:11 am

    • wow, Tracy. “like I love you on a helium balloon…”– sounds like a poem in itself. thank you for your very kind comment.

      February 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm

  17. Oh, I do love this!

    February 20, 2013 at 10:27 am

    • thanks, Laurie! πŸ™‚

      February 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm

  18. Love your take on “sorry” — read powerfully

    February 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    • thank you!

      February 23, 2013 at 10:46 pm

  19. I love that I accidentally found you (in the first place), Joanne. I could say I was sorry, but that would not be honest. I love that this art of noise that we practice is so precise and lost _ At the same time. I wonder how it has been that only a very few ever cross the bar_ Into this dimension of trust. I am honestly being sorry, now, because I cannot be in your community of physical presence. I admire and view this confab of friends as a prediction of elemental flows that are forging further contact-In realms that may raise the stage_ To a view a new presence of love and ubiquity. Furthermore, I love your poem _ For it raises all of our boats to a path of box car sequiturs and sequence… Sorry, I tripped and dropped an anomaly _ It won’t be in the way and after reading the wonderful comments I hold that I am trying which is all that matters. Joanne _ I find your progress important and sustaining a true drive for discovery. Every version is worth the effort and I truly appreciate the welcome you express. It must relax the stress to release the essence of changing place with what is not worth Worry. I am hopefully not a sorry mess. I wanted to express a sense of how not Sorry You are. Well done and will I ever write again_ I hope so… One day Returning to work Monday _ Yay! Ulric

    February 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    • U., you are definitely not a sorry mess! And I truly hope you will pick up the proverbial pen one day again soon. In the meanwhile, congrats on your convalescence and returning to work. Your comments here, and your sentiment, are always very much appreciated.

      February 23, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      • J _ busy days, and thank You for your return note. It is good to be in contact. I hope you have a wonderful day. Bye now. Ulric

        February 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm


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