Three brains – poem for dVerse

We three-brained creatures
think we are so clever,
with our higher mathematics
and our complex formulas
and our iambic pentameters

but deep down curls
the lizard, sniffing the air
with its forked tongue –
smell is memory,
memory is smell,
the poetry of the olfactory,
and the greed for food,
the need for sex, the need
for food, the greed for sex,
and the urgency of it all
and the fight to get it

and somewhere in the canopy
the young mammal plays,
leaping from branch to branch
from mother to father
from friend to lover
weaving the relational web,
navigating the map
of us and them and we
and me and you and this
and that and here and now
and all those threads that bind us
that milk that warms us

and the third brain,
measuring, observing,
calculating – the Holmes,
the Enigma, the Newton,
the brain that takes
the information and
turns it into theory
and tests the theory,
and hammers it,
beats into something
nearer to the truth

we three-brained creatures
seeking to synthesise
ourselves, the world,
to come a little closer
to that distant truth.

Merril is hosting at dVerse tonight, and asks us to write about theories. I was at a talk a few months ago, and the speaker reminded us that we have three brains, lodged inside one another like Russian dolls. You can read more about that theory here:


18 thoughts on “Three brains – poem for dVerse

  1. Very well-written, Sarah. I just watched a very interesting/funny mini series on netflix called Russian Doll, which I think is connected to the three-brain theory or at the very least quantum theory of multi-verses.


  2. Oh, this was so good Sarah! Excellent write, intriguing to read. Lately I am wondering if we might actually be ruled by our ID and our EGO is trying to rationalize this reality. I think the human race may well be inherenty flawed, and those of us hoping for goodness are aberrantly afflicted – I, being thus afflicted, hope not…


  3. For me, Yuan is “weaving the relational web”. Interestingly the side character is thread. I really enjoyed this — gutsy about the obvious but nurturing meaning.


  4. A psychiatric theory that I embrace, Sarah, and which you have presented so poetically. I love the deep-down curling lizard and the poetry of the olfactory (a fabulous rhyme!). The greed / need repetition is very effective. I also like the imagery of the relational web and ‘navigating the map
    of us and them and we…’ The hammering and beating of the third brain is spot on.


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