An apology poem

poetry+friday+button-e1341309970195After writing a rather unfriendly poem about blue jays recently (here), I did some research and realized that I may have misjudged them.  I thought it might be fun to write an apology poem, but I needed to explore a few examples first. So, I looked to the ultimate mentor apology poem:

This Is Just to Say.
I have eaten 
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which 
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

–William Carlos Williams

And can we just sit with that sweet perfection for a moment? Ahhhhh…

Next, I read through some of the poems in the wonderful Joyce Sidman’s This Is Just to Say- Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. Due to some time constraints, I wanted to skim through, but I found myself pulled in headfirst, going back to the beginning and reading each wonderful poem, the apologies and then the responses, again and again. What a treat! The characters shine through their poems and it’s amazing how much comes through about their struggles, their emotional truths, and their connections. I can’t wait to share these poems with my students.

One of these poems, Fashion Sense , begins with the line “I am so sorry for my rude words,” and later continues
“all the next day, I wished I could take those words back.
I kept thinking of what you always say to us:
words can help or hurt, the choice is ours.”

Isn’t that last line wonderful? I know I’m going to add it to my repertoire of classroom mantras. While there are so many other poems that moved me (like Secret Message  and I’m Telling You Now), Fashion Sense seemed like the best mentor poem for my type of apology. I lifted the first line from it to begin.

DSCN7307

to the blue jays

I am so sorry for my rude words.
I spoke hastily,
judging you from what I’d heard-
your grating, raucous cries-
and also the rumors that said….
well, you know what they said.
I’m sorry for ignoring your beauty,
your glorious burst of color
in winter’s weary landscape,
for calling you names
and for telling you to go away,
like the bully I said you were.
Forgive me.
I promise now I’ll watch you closer,
let your behavior speak for itself.
I won’t judge all of you
based on one or two bad eggs.
I’ll notice when your crests are up or down
and whether you sneak away
with foraged food to cache.
I’ll imagine your forgotten acorns
sprouting into forests of oak trees.
I’ll admire you,
with your multi-hued blue plumage,
settling like patches of sky
framed in circles of birch leaves.
I still wish you had better manners
and you could tone down the squawking.
But you’re welcome at my feeders.
Forgive me.

Molly Hogan (c) 2016

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Julieanne at To Read To Write To Be. Head on over to enjoy some more poetry!

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19 thoughts on “An apology poem

  1. murphpoet says:

    Great post! WCW’s poem has been a favourite of mine most of life, and I love Sidman’s book, a kind of modern homage to it. Your own poem fits in nicely. Love the photo too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do love that WCW poem. He was master of the few words but layers of meaning. Your poem is a delight, too. I’m sure the blue jays will be swooning. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jarhartz says:

    Oh, beautiful, boisterous blue jays! They used to bother me as well, but recently I’ve gotten to enjoy their bold ways. Love your study of Joyce Sidman’s book, one of my (and my students’) favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. katswhiskers says:

    An excellent post. I love that in the middle of time constraints you were still drawn in by the poetry. And though I have never known a blue jay, I feel I do, from your poem. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brilliant! I love the reflection, the learning and the synthesis! Oh, I wish I could be a kid in your class.
    My favorite line….well, you know what they said. Oh, my goodness. I need to use this entire idea in my middle school.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. cvarsalona says:

    Words are powerful and apology poems wonderful ways to reflect upon our thinking and words. I enjoyed your two posts as you wove one and backtracked to reflect upon it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this thoughtful follow-up, Molly. It’s a beautiful poem– how could the blue jays not appreciate the gesture of kindness?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tara Smith says:

    You promised, noticed, imagined, and admired – that’s the way to extend an apology!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. haitiruth says:

    Nice! I love “bad eggs.” 🙂 Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bravo, Molly! I loved reading about your process of studying “This is just to say” and Joyce Sidman’s fabulous book. You chose the perfect line to begin your poem to the blue jays. They are raucous and rowdy, but I love watching them dart in and out of the apple tree outside my bedroom window. And yes, these are words to live by: “words can help or hurt, the choice is ours.”

    Liked by 1 person

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