Published on Academy of American Poets (


I’m sorry, could you repeat that. I’m hard of hearing.
To the cashier
To the receptionist
To the insistent man asking directions on the street

I’m sorry, I’m hard of hearing. Could you repeat that?
At the business meeting
In the writing workshop
On the phone to make a doctor’s appointment




Hello, my name is Sorry
To full rooms of strangers
I’m hard to hear

I vomit apologies everywhere
They fly on bat wings
towards whatever sound beckons

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry
           and repeating
                       and not hearing

Dear (again)
I regret to inform you

I       am




Copyright © 2020 by Camisha L. Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“A person bumps into me on the street and I instinctively reply, ‘I’m sorry.’ Seconds later, I regret it. I notice the same compulsion towards apology as I navigate the world as a hard of hearing person. What does it mean to feel compelled in this way, to ask forgiveness over and over for interrupting other people’s comfort? Through this poem, I am grappling with what’s happening beneath the surface of those exchanges, the cost of all those apologies, and, ultimately, the unnamed cultural demands of the hearing world.”
Camisha L. Jones


Camisha L. Jones

Camisha L. Jones is the author of the chapbook Flare (Finishing Line Press, 2017). The recipient of a 2017 Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship from the Loft Literary Center, she currently serves as the managing director at Split This Rock and resides in Herndon, Virginia. 

Date Published: 2020-01-03

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