I owe my mentor and former teacher a debt of gratitude for this lesson. Michael Dennis Browne cautions, “Beware the disease of threes!” Oh, but we poets and writers love, love love threesomes! It’s just the best, best, best and it all feels so balanced and perfect, especially in a poem.

Well, to borrow another of Michael’s phrases, “we sometimes must slay our little darlings.” Yes, that fabulous line that woke you up in the middle of the night — especially the one with the three repeating words — you just might need to slay it at some point. Yes, slash and burn. Painful but necessary.

Sometimes that fabulous line serves us well. It can bring us into a place of deeper discovery. Think of it that way. You’ve sacrificed something for something better.

Go ahead and slay those threes. Make them twos or fives. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever use three of the same words. Just don’t get stuck in that tantalizing quicksand.