The poem in question: I’m Not Sorry
I wrote this poem, and at least one other, during a class at BYU: HEPE 129 (it’s pronounced “heppie”). I believe it was called “Fitness and Lifestyle Management,” though that may have changed in the 20 years since I was there. It was a class I took for P.E. credit, because I was, and am, adverse to actual physical education.
My then-girlfriend was also in the class, and I would often find ways not to pay as much attention as I should. One time a friend of my girlfriend was talking to me and I said something about doing something “metaphorically.” Confused, she asked if I meant “metaphysically,” and my girlfriend rolled her eyes and responded, “No, he definitely means metaphorically.” I have no recollection of any other part of the conversation.
Anyway, one day during class I jotted down “I’m Not Sorry.” It doesn’t have any particular personal meaning that I recall; I just thought it would be funny. I guess it’s obstensibly about someone getting out of a bad relationship.
The lyrical style is inspired by They Might Be Giants, probably their song “Hey Mr. DJ I Thought You Said We Had a Deal.” At the time I must have been listening to TMBG a lot, as the back side of the page on which I wrote “I’m Not Sorry” contains the lyrics to “The End of the Tour,” which I maintain is one of their finest compositions.
For me, the dearth of punctuation in the poem emphasizes the flippant attitude of the speaker toward the person he is addressing; he can’t be bothered to dress it up for her.
There are some minor variations in the different versions I have. The lines
Act like I haven’t even heard
And you’ll slam the phone down in my face
are sometimes written as
And act like I haven’t even heard
You’ll slam the phone down in my face
Appeal, appeal to my guilt sense
Entice me, you must think I’m dense
is sometimes written as
Appeal, you appeal to my guilt sense
Entice me, you must think I’m so dense
The last two lines as originally written are
I don’t wanna see you anymore
Because I already said I’m sorry once before.
Finally, here is an image of the original handwritten version:
Poetism Commentary: “I Am Not Your Random Abuse”
The poem in question: I Am Not Your Random Abuse
This is the second poem I wrote when I (arguably) should have been paying attention in my HEPE 129 class at BYU. As with I’m Not Sorry, written a few days before, the theme is someone who has escaped a bad relationship. “Random Abuse” definitely seems more forceful to me, though.
It’s written from the perspective of someone who is the victim of constant gaslighting, though I don’t think I had ever heard that term back then. (Thanks, exit from the LDS church, for teaching me!) Narcissism also seems play a prominent role in the other party’s actions.
The title is an homage to the They Might Be Giants song “I Am Not Your Broom,” and the TMBG influence can be heavily felt in the meter and rhyming. However, today when I read this poem, I think if it were a song it would sound something like R.E.M.’s “Mystery to Me.” The words themselves are almost rambling in nature, and I particularly like the slant rhyme of “something” and “dumpling.”
As evidenced by the image below, the final version went through a fair amount of revision before being deemed “suitable” for publication. It looks like the only portion that made it unscathed from the initial draft was the final stanza / “chorus.” One other interesting tidbit is that the two lines before that final stanza were initially part of the web-published version, as my collective printout includes them:
I find those lines at once disturbingly dark (domestic violence innuendo, anyone?) and hilarious: never would 18-year-old me dream of a beer bottle. It would of course be soda.
The numbers in the margin of the handwritten text indicate the number of syllables per line. I count those often, but this is the only instance I can find of writing them down. And finally, here is my attempted transcription of the original text:
The final version is definitely more… refined, but the original quick rambling has its share of charm. Especially
I mean, if that isn’t golden verse, I don’t now what is. (Just kidding, I do.)