The Palindromicon

A couple of days ago I rediscovered Weird Al’s Bob Dylan parody, Bob, whose lyrics are nothing but palindromes. This put my brain onto a rather palindromic track, and after playing around a bit I came up with a solid original: “All ETs demand a lad named Stella“.

The story would end there, except that on the internet I found somebody who had turned the classic “A man, a plan, a canal – Panama!” into the sublimely absurd “A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal – Pamana!”. My sister suggested that it would be fun to write a fake history of the Panama canal incorporating all of these objects. I went in a slightly different direction: what about writing a coherent story made up of nothing but palindromes?

I spent a few minutes on this and quickly realized that using only palindromes of complete words (e.g. “race car”) was effectively impossible; there was no way to make a coherent and interesting story. However, when I allowed the palindromes to start or end with incomplete words (e.g. “n I talk Latin”) then more became possible. For example, a valid line of dialogue could be “Eh, when I talk Latin”, which consists of two consecutive but incomplete palindromes (“Eh, whe” and “n I talk Latin”). The only limit I put on this was that every palindrome had to have at least three letters (e.g. “did”), as a “one-letter palindrome” is definitely cheating, and even two-letter palindromes seemed too easy.

It turns out this was still incredibly hard. Even so, I present to you The Palindromicon, a short poem consisting of 25 consecutive palindromic fragments. It’s the story of Ron the Roman, who’s having a very bad day. His secret society has collapsed, and then he gets into a fight with his girlfriend, Eva…

(edit: to be clear, the palindromic fragments do not line up with the lines of the poem; I’ve bolded each “pivot” letter to make the palindromes more obvious)

Start one morn, ill, after Cesspool Loop’s secret fall in Rome.
Not rats, nor I, Ron, nor Omar, awe me.
My meme war… a moron, I was.
Evil lives. Evil lives!
A winner, I am not.

On Mairenn Ave. Eva sees me embrace a boy.
O bae! Carbon, not love!
Revolt not I beg!
Age bit, once cares erased desire.
Ride *me*, demon!
Deliver a reviled “No”!

Me, never even onward.
No mere memory, Rome.

Did I lose Sol?
I did.
Live on, no evil star.
No star, or even noon.
O rats on rats.

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