'Rule of Three': A Poem by Jane Murray Bird



Oh the irony of calling this a dis,

seals the other letters with a kiss,

details that none of us would ever miss.

Only those prone to chanting an obsession

see the same stress here as in compulsion,

delineating life by repetition.

Overoverover every time,

seasoning the reason with the rhyme,

deciding where it’s safe to end the line.



Feel down and round each wrist for the thrum

of blood, fretting, bored of what’s to come –

the victory of fear over the drum.

Watch now as with the power of the mind

you make the dot bounce back up to the line

unscheduled, for a third arresting time.

Hear how tired lungs thump their defeat,

no room left in a small chest to compete

with the heart’s extrasystolic beat.



Three threes are nine which is even better,

the more so if you add each individual letter,

multiply the nine and add twelve to get a

square number factoring in both threes and fours –

four being seasons, elements, limbs, doors

on the car, points of the cross, thermodynamic laws.

But then there’s five fingers and ten coded toes –

digital and decimal, zeroes and ones in rows –

the binary synapsing that never, ever slows.


Jane Murray Bird lives on the edge of Edinburgh and performs poetry to plants in return for food. Her work has appeared in magazines including Magma, Mslexia, Under the Radar, Freak Circus, Poets Republic, WIFIE, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Not Very Quiet.

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