A three-line stanza or a three-line poem. There are many contemporary examples of poems written entirely in tercets.

Parable of the Eagle

An eagle egg fell into a farmer’s chicken shed

and when it hatched the farmer gave it chicken feed

even though he was the king of birds. The farmer


clipped the eaglet’s princely beak and raised him

as a chicken. When he grew large, wildlife control

called on the farm. “It has the heart of an eagle,”


said the public servant. “It will fly.” And the farmer

asked, “What if he likes it here with all the chickens?”

As they spoke, the birds crept off to don disguises.



Oliver Sacks is going to die,

He tells us blithely in the New York Times.

He’s 81. His liver’s shot.


He’s blind in one eye

Though when both worked fine

He could still get lost in a parking lot.


He’s extremely famous and terribly shy.

He’s lost his leg but it's still attached.

He’s been practicing dying, Oliver Sacks.


He will do it well,

Politely evading heaven and hell.

Doctor Oliver Sacks, farewell.

from Exhibits from the American Water Museum


From an original rock painting in Topock, Arizona, now digitized on a

wall-mounted monitor:


Before this city, the Creator pressed his staff

into the earth, and the earth opened—


it wasn’t a wound, it was joy—joy!—!

Out of this opening leaped earth’s most radical bloom: our people—


we blossoms from the original body: water,

flowering and flowing until it became itself, and we, us:

                                              River. Body.



We could read your words from anywhere

but you felt like the only soul sitting

in your swivel chair listening to your parents


dream-breathing down the hall while you typed

to boys from Kelowna and Trinidad about

your boredom and body. You blogged


about the three-legged moose you saw

on the highway to Terrace, the lonely red

radio light on top of a mountain. A boy


from Michigan called you on the phone.

His voice reminded you of a TV show.


Coin Exhibit, British Museum.

Their misshapenness strikes the table in tiny splashes,

like still-cooling splatters of silver. Stater and shekel,

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.


In my body flows the blood of Gallic

Bastille stormers and the soft, gentle

ways of Salish/Cree womanhood.

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