Friday, July 10, 2020

Poetry Friday -- Fallibility

image via Unsplash


I am flawed. I make mistakes. I fail.
Miserably, and in cringe-worthy ways. All
the time. Yet I lift
myself up and flail
away at life, flatly
refusing to give up, refusing to take the bait
of “good enough.” I have the ability
to see the light in my aspirations, so I need to stand tall
and not bail
myself out with an alibi.
not be a liability.
and try
until I fly.
Until we all fly.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

I tried the new poetry form introduced by April Halprin Wayland at Teaching Authors last May -- In One Word. I started with the word FALLIBILITY. I used an online word generator to find all the words that are inside FALLIBILITY. Then I wrote my poem, using those words as the last word in each line.

Doing the internal work of antiracism is hard. It's painful to unpack privilege, to understand that I have harmed children (and colleagues) with my blindness, to lose my individuality and take group responsibility as a white person for systems of inequity perpetuated by whiteness. No matter how hard the work is, no matter how many times I fail, I have to get right back up and keep going. I have to stick with it for the long haul.

Ruth has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at There is no such thing as a God-Forsaken town.


  1. Oops, Mary Lee, I almost didn't see you standing there! Thanks for coming to the party! Your poem is perfect as we all contemplate the fall ahead. <3

  2. Wow, Mary Lee. You did not choose an easy word or easy idea. But, wow...great reflections within that word fallibility. I love that you use the word "cringe-worthy."

  3. I admire you so much, Mary Lee. Thank you for this - honesty and inspiring poem both. The way the words sound together - all from 'fallibility' it really is something powerful. It's a new kind of repetition that almost hides itself...a joy to read aloud. And yes, this work is hard...and yes you are so right that we must keep getting up again and again. xxxx

  4. Can I just say it now? You really are amazing! I think all of us, me included, or maybe me especially, are feeling like big fat failures in this area. Thank you for these beautiful words.

  5. I love what you did with this word-->And using words within the word to create the poem! I needed to read this today.

    May we all make the transition from "flail" to "fly" -- supporting each other along the way.

    Thank you, Mary Lee, for directing us with your reflections and poetry wisdom.

  6. Mary Lee, your poem is very moving and so well done! I have been thinking about trying this form. The idea of being good enough makes me think and though we might never be what we would like, we can still keep trying.

  7. oh my, Mary Lee ~ as so many have said, I identify! That shame upon my recent awakening...not realizing how truly asleep I've been.
    So. We start where we start.

    And along the way, our art helps us heal.

  8. The vulnerability in your (our) 'fallibility' resonates deeply with me as well, Mary Lee. I so appreciate the generosity of your spirit to share your journey as a human and a poet. :)

  9. Your poem reminds me of the Jewish prayer of repentance that we ask of our selves on the high holiday of Yom Kippur. We say “I have sinned, I have transgressed, I have done wrong” and continues on... Thank you Mary Lee for sharing your powerful and vulnerable poem, that helps us to look inward at our self and make changes.

  10. This captures how I've been feeling as a new mother. Thank you. <3

  11. Thanks for sharing about this writing prompt (cool one, April). And for being transparent about your feelings and experiences. "I have the ability/ to see the light in my aspirations" -- we all have to hang onto that light.

  12. Mary Lee, your poem touched me. Not taking the bait of "good enough" is a gut punch. I want to get far away from the "that's just the way it is" attitude. So much work to do. Thanks for keeping me thinking.

  13. Mary Lee, your poem and comments hit home. I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. I think most of us have been doing this. Your poem is an inspiration!

  14. Mary Lee...I just updated that post to include a link to this one. Many thanks!

  15. What a fabulous and beautiful example of this form, Mary Lee. Love it!


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