SORRY and Other Poems


sorry I called your salad transgressive 
sorry I thought you said “garbage sale” 
sorry I vowed to love you “like time loves a face” 
sorry I hissed “redefine elegance” between reps 
sorry I said “form is emptiness & emptiness is form” instead of “those jeans look great” 
sorry I was wearing our half-empty tandem horse costume at the time of my arrest 
[re: your wedding] sorry about the tambourine 
sorry I counted how many lukewarm crepes it would take to cover my corpse 
sorry I stared down the years like an idiot while our relationship deepened of its own accord 
sorry my recitation of the Bhagavad Gita filled the breakfast nook with an atmosphere of despair
sorry I kept noting the things that drive you crazy but don’t bother me & vice versa 
sorry I held out for decency, despite a gazillion horrors shit-storming to the contrary 
sorry I experience the world in a way that I can’t understand, let alone explain & sorry for what I assume is a
                 similar predicament on your end 
sorry I suggested “fireworks salesperson” as a possible career path for your nephew 
sorry I likened time to a giant drain into which everything we love disappears, but not sorry for noting the
                 the incomprehensible frequency with which everything loveable continues to happen 
sorry I said “the moon landing was real, but everything else is fake” to your brother-in-law 
sorry I suggested we “paint the dog” within earshot of your family 
sorry I muttered “the mail sends us” in my sleep 
sorry I insisted it was “valt & sinegar” 
sorry I gasped “vibes” into the endless night sky 
sorry I tried to work “Jericho Trumpet” into our love language 
sorry I insisted “everything but actually” over & over again until there was no one to disagree 
sorry our love grew so large it included the entire earth & then the universe 
sorry I referred to myself as a “leak without a bucket” in the same room as a cop 
sorry I fell in love with the world/forgot my passcode 
sorry I invoiced your child my standard life coach flat rate 
sorry I asked to text your baby 
sorry I said you had the body of a poet 
sorry I called your inner child a “curator of despairs” 
sorry I referred to your worldview as “above the knee” 
sorry I suggested we play “find the tab the noise is coming from” 
sorry I used the word discourse too many times at breakfast 
sorry I offered to console your pet with fresh blood 
sorry I hissed “virtue isn’t heritable” at your grandparents 
sorry I noted the inherent limitations of your second-person perspective in their
                 fundamentally second-personal normative moral and political theory 
sorry I muttered, “postmodernity is what happens when modernity recognizes it’s a tradition”
sorry I murmured “time wastes us” into your baby monitor 
sorry I got down on one knee at the Toyotathon sales event of the year 
sorry I told your imaginary friend to keep it real 


an avant-garde 
art piece 
in which you 
spend your life 
never making 


all your
                 dead friends
cheering your


history teaches 
not even ridiculous hats 
keep us alive 


I stopped drinking
                 for 20 years 
worried too much

looked around 
                 no one else saw 
how terrifying 

Jason Sebastian Russo

3 Questions for Jason

What was your process for creating this work?

I came to writing after being in music for a long time. As a songwriter, I learned the value of a hook: melodic, rhythmic, or conceptual. Conceptual hooks are usually lyrical; a lot of country music relies on them. These poems are just that, I wanted to pare everything down to essentials while still being engaging. They are the chorus or refrain—or several choruses—of unwritten songs. I’m a maximalist in my prose and music production, so when I write poems, it’s a process of refining and editing an enormous amount of options. It’s a lot of iterating and cherry-picking.

What is the significance of the form you chose?

I’ve been obsessed with Japanese poetry since my late teens. The poetry of Ikkyu and Dogen has been a source of comfort and inspiration for a long time. They've had an impact on my life and writing. I’m interested in beauty, but I’m also interested in forcing the human brain into impossible places as a way to snap it out of well-worn patterns. Also, I’m interested in humor because poetry is constantly under the threat of being self-important, imho.

What is the significance of this work to you?

I don’t know how to answer this one. The significance is the poems, I think. Your question makes me wonder what they are significant of, though. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Jason Sebastian Russo is a writer, composer, and artist based in Brooklyn and central New York state. His work appears in The Nervous Breakdown, Hobart, Forever Magazine, New World Writing, and beyond. He has toured and recorded with Mercury Rev, Pete International Airport, and Hopewell, among others. Find samples of his work on and follow him on Twitter: @retsoor

Next ((Titivillus Has Entered The Chat)) >

< Back (My Father's Grief)