Stopping by my Brain, One Evening

With respects to Robert Frost.

Whose brain this is I think I know.
His mind is often elsewhere though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his psyche ebb and flow.

My little id must think it queer
To stop without an ego near
Between a dream and wide awake,
The starkest visions of the year.

I give my nervous cells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of nimble thought and steady ache

My brain is lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

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.
Raw.
No mere memory, Rome.

Did I lose Sol?
I did.
Live on, no evil star.
No star, or even noon.
Never!
O rats on rats.

Patience

The window on the second floor
Glows gently deep into the night.
The icy wind outside the door
Cannot extinguish candle’s light.

The river, freezing, creaks and cracks,
The swirling snow falls crystalline.
The midnight sky in blues and blacks
Appears whene’er the clouds align.

The window on the second floor
Keeps watch forever and a day.
Whoever it is waiting for,
Has yet to come this way.

Choices

The icy river far below.
The winter wind that warns of snow.
The angry iron stormclouds glow.
The bridge goes everywhere.

The city skyline sparks and burns.
The hungry heart escaping yearns.
A vulture makes its lazy turns.
The bridge goes everywhere.

The shattered pillars shriek and groan.
The marching dead reclaim their own.
A million prayers cannot atone.
The bridge goes everywhere.

They say the bridge goes everywhere,
And takes each soul a separate path.
But I have found the same despair
In every choice; the aftermath
Of chasing futures o’er the span
And never looking back to see
The desolation I outran.
The bridge goes just one place for me.

An Evening on the Moon

A lonely star, beside a pale moon.
A midnight sky, that’s gone away too soon.
The city lights are shining brightly below,
But to that star is where my heart wants to go.

A birdcage bridge, against the open air.
A subtle breeze, like fingers running through your hair.
The sound of thunder passing constantly by,
And still that star hangs on in the sky.

A forest, deep, against a riverbank.
A gentle kiss, that tastes of wine we drank.
A firefly, that also wanders alone;
Another star to light your long journey home.

But now the clouds have covered up the midnight sky.
The pale moon has bid the night a sorrowful goodbye.
The city sleeps, and dreams itself another day.
To reach that lonely star, I choose to walk away.