In Praise and Envy of Jericho Brown’s Poem “Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry”*

Griffin Woldridge

“My children,
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth.”
(1 John 3: 18-19, The Jerusalem Bible)

Logan Weaver

This is a poem for the poem I wish I had written,
the poem singing not just Jericho Brown’s
tender people who work in grocery stores,
but Jericho Brown, himself, who has
grown up anxious, maybe fearing
his big black car will not just stall, not cough
and rattle to a stop in those tiny towns,
but quit, meaning that’s it, what he knew
was coming all his life I could not know,


being white through no privilege
of my own, just born that shade
from my parents who came through
the Great Depression and the
Second World War and did not discount
Jericho Brown’s people, their shade of brown,
but also did not consider their community
in need, believing them so happy-separate

Lesly Juarez

in their care-free town just outside town,
happy days here again as if the good times
had always been just around the corner
grocery, the shoe-shine stand, gospel
hand-clapping-and-waving Sundays,
and the best baseball (“Let’s play two”)
on weed-cut diamonds in fields fallow
for what seemed forever, a tall, all arms
and high leg kick pitcher bringing the heat,
the ole dark one, coming down

Jose Francisco Morales

from the only mound permitted Satchel
to Josh, neither looking back, and
too occupied to imagine the college kid,
Jackie, tough-skinned enough to take
the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the Reverend King
rightly named marching at the front
of his volunteers unarmed except for
their God, into the fray, a people
not overcome on black and white T.V.,
a people falling, rising again and again

Leandro Valentino

like the grocery store workers
in Jericho Brown’s poem, saying,
Thank You and Sorry we can’t help you,
but we can save a seat for you,
after work, on the bus rounding
the hot corner, heading home.

Mollie Sivaram

*Brown, Jericho. “Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry.” Poem in The New York Times on-line, June 15, 2020.

Jarred Ray