From who do we get permission to fail.
From whom. Who permits these missteps.
These abandonments. Can they be lessonless,

my failures, please. The moral of the story is
missing, what do you think would happen
to the scores of children waiting for the just end,

the guilty one, banished. What has failed
in failure. What beyond expectation, beside
expectation, I mean. A falling short, shy

of. In action, then. There is the failing. The part
most often misunderstood: how acceptable
the dropped stitch is. The missed step, instep

plunging with what feels like ease, am I
right. It is easy to fall, to fail, and pleasing
and needed. Not because of anything ever after,

not in hopes of being better prepared.
You did it wrong, Failure says, and may
you falter again. Fall, turn, and now,

what to do. Feel it. You are hereby given
permission to fail. Let us be led together,
all fall, hands swallowing each other’s hands.

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HANNAH STEPHENSON is a poet, editor, instructor, and singer-songwriter living in Columbus, Ohio. Hannah earned her M.A. in English from The Ohio State University in 2006, and her poems and songs have appeared in Huffington Post, Contrary, MAYDAY,, and qarrtsiluni. Her collection, In the Kettle, the Shriek, is available from Gold Wake Press (August 2013). She is the founder of Paging Columbus!, a literary arts monthly event series. You can visit her daily poetry site, The Storialist.

2 responses to “Permission to Fail”

  1. Kyle says:

    Always happy for a new Hannah Stephenson poem.

  2. […] (or is forthcoming) in various online and print publications, including the Huffington Post, The Nervous Breakdown, MAYDAY, Stymie, and Escape into Life. For more of her work, visit her daily poetry site, The […]

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