My Favorite Poem by Portia Nelson

I read this poem several years ago and it has always been one I go back to. You may have heard the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” While I enjoy that saying, it suggests we learn from our mistakes after two failures. Portia Nelson’s poem below suggests we need more than twice for a lesson to sink in. I couldn’t agree more!

By Portia NelsonAutobiography in Five Short Chapters

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

Copyright (c) 1993, by Portia Nelson from the book There’s A Hole in My Sidewalk.

One thought on “My Favorite Poem by Portia Nelson

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  1. Oooh, I like that! I’ll have to check her out. My favorite poet is Billy Collins. You can see for yourself how crazy about him I am in my post ‘Aimless Love’. If you haven’t read him before, I can’t recommend him highly enough.

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