Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It

The poet, William Carlos Williams, has intrigued me for years. I was first introduced to him through the Caldecott honor book A River of Words by Jen Bryant. I find his poetry copied and imitated in many places. When I see a piece that uses one of his poems, I have to buy it.

Little Boy by Alison McGhee and Peter Reynolds uses the format of “The Red Wheelbarrow” just like Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. So much depends upon . . . Those words have the power to haunt me.

So you can imagine my joy when I discovered Gail Carson Levine’s book Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It. These poems make me laugh out loud. I knew that I wanted to compose my own poem of false apology. Gail Carson Levine states “. . . don’t even consider writing this kind of poem unless you can get yourself into a grouchy mood. You will be wasting your time.” So, I have been on the lookout for the perfect situation, because generally I am not in a grouchy frame of mind (although some may disagree with that statement, you will have to take my word for it). If you look, you will find it.

One warm day, after biking, I planned to wait for my husband on a wooden bench in the shade. As I approached the bench I could see a mass of ants swarming on a morsel of brownie that someone had left behind. My plans for resting in the shade were cancelled by this sight.

This Is Just to Say

I have flicked

the brownie piece

off the bench

I planned to rest upon

Therefore, your relatives

may not make it

home for dinner

as they were attached

Forgive me

but I need the

bench to be


19 thoughts on “Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It

  1. as they were attached

    I love that line. I can not imagine you in a grumpy mood. But frustration and grumpiness does come across in your poem. The attitude makes the poem. Now I want to read the books you suggested.

  2. Your poem caused me to do one of those silent chuckles. You know, where your body sort of shudders, but no sound comes out? Hilarious. I think the voice at the start of your slice definitely set the tone. I am a big fan of William Carlos Williams too. I love River of Words and his many great mentor texts. I didn’t know about the reference in ‘Little Boy’ but I will have to check that one out.

  3. Jaana says:

    This is so great! I just reserved two of the books that you mentioned at my local library! I think that my high school students would even get a kick out of writing poems with the title “Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It”. Thank you for your insights into writing poetry!

  4. I just checked out A River of Words over the weekend, still need to read it though. It looked very intriguing. Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It, sounds hilarious. I love that the book inspired you to look for a “grouchy” moment and lead to such a funny poem.

  5. Elsie, you have provided resources for us to consider and you have demonstrated the influence of another writer to show how one may write in the style of a trusted mentor. This is rich sharing with powerful messages. You are walking the walk! Many thanks.

  6. Love it. WCW is one of my favorite poets and his apology poem is a great mentor text with any age. I’ve had some great pieces written because of it. Now I’ll have to get this book too. My poor Amazon bill….

  7. I’ve just added another book to my list of “must check out soon” books. Thanks for sharing this poem and the book Please Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It. Your poem made me laugh and gave me a new thought for poetry with my kindergarten students in the spring.

  8. I love this book too. I may have to purchase it so I’ll have it and not have to wait for it to show up from my hold list. Thanks for sharing your perfect apology poem.

  9. Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It is going on my Amazon wish list RIGHT NOW! (BTW: I’m about to head over there to buy her some more Bizzy Bear books thanks to your gentle nudge about her forlorn expression.)

  10. So funny, Elsie. The anthology is a delight, I agree. I love that you really did wait for the ideal moment! Beautifully done. I love that extra thought of the relatives maybe not making it home for dinner! I have one class I’m working with who’ve been writing these, and then I found the book of poetry by Levine. They are thrilled, & now writing more.

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