The Bell Curve

The other day Don asked me, “Have you ever noticed this about language, everything comes in threes?” He was talking about jokes, fables, lists in speech (e.g. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).

I thought about it and said that maybe it’s a common speech device because we need three items to be able to recognize a pattern.

And then I thought about this concept again. I’m always seeing it lately. I wrote it right after I wrote the cycles poem because I didn’t feel like I’d adequately conveyed the concept, and they tie together. One bell curve is half of a circle… if you blur your eyes when you plot it out.

Anyway, because it’s always in my brain, here it is:


Writers are taught to see

The bell curve of a plot.

Rising action, climax, falling action.


Sex has a climax. It fits the bell curve perfectly.


The life of a mayfly.

Birth, hours of development, a climax of mating, death.


Every little segment of time

No matter how small

Has a climax.


Inhale, hold, exhale.


Cut it smaller.

Just inhale.

The breath climaxes near the end, when you can’t take in any more and must stop.


A hummingbird beats its wings.

Lift, hold, fall.

The hummingbird darts to the next flower.

He arrives, partakes, departs. 

The hummingbird takes a meal.

He hungers, sips nectar, stops when he is full.

The hummingbird is caught by a predator.

Fear, struggle, acceptance.


We live in bell curves.

They all link together

To form the line of our lives:

A golden spiral.

One long corkscrew from the past to the future.

A double helix of plot curves

A never ending cycle

Of birth, death, birth, death.


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