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(brief review of different types of palindromes)
(discussion of palindrome sentence "pivots")
(an essay regarding palindrome sentences) 
("multiple middles" )
("perfect" palindromes)
Commentaries-VI   (on crafting and creating palindrome sentences)



        I think the distinction between the palindromic phrase (Yreka Bakery), sentence (Mail one rotten net to Reno, Liam.), prose (two or more sentences: Olive, do not die.  I'd to no devil, O!),  and poem (Never odd//Or even "mod"//Less seldom//Never odd or even.) may be fairly clear, but many have not considered the distinction between a LETTER UNIT palindromic piece and a WORD UNIT palindrome. (e.g. Soldiers foot the bill, so bill the foot soldiers. (200))  

Following are some sites for more examples:

check out Steven Fraser's palindrome poems at  or Patience Agbabi's video of her palindromic poem
Or try this site:    

For the 'Line Palindrome' check out .or
and this poetry:

I was asleep while you were dying.
It’s as if you slipped through some rift, a hollow
I make between my slumber and my waking,
the Erebus I keep you in, still trying
not to let go. You’ll be dead again tomorrow,
but in dreams you live. So I try taking
you back into morning. Sleep-heavy, turning,
my eyes open, I find you do not follow.
Again and again, this constant forsaking.
 Again and again, this constant forsaking:
my eyes open, I find you do not follow.
You back into morning, sleep-heavy, turning.
But in dreams you live. So I try taking,
not to let go. You’ll be dead again tomorrow.
The Erebus I keep you in—still, trying—
I make between my slumber and my waking.
It’s as if you slipped through some rift, a hollow.
I was asleep while you were dying.
Natasha Trethewey,
“Myth” from Native Guard. Copyright © 2007 by Natasha Trethewey. Reprinted by permission of Natasha Trethewey.

================================================================================== is dedicated, exclusively, to (sensible!) single sentence, letter unit palindromes.     




    Two reasons to create a palindromic sentence are because you can and besides it's fun! Sometimes that motivation is enough. Other times I like the extra challenge of palindromizing a particular word ["Sit," I say, "rot a gun, nun--nugatory as it is."] or name(s) [Al, Liz dogs Godzilla!] But I have to admit, my most cherished challenge is the pivot.

    All letter-unit palindromic sentences pivot--most (90+%) about a single letter (alone, or paired), the rest about (some series of) repeated letters. Thus you can create a triple pivot, quadruple pivot and quintuple pivot (examples are from Timi Imit, except where attributed):

"Do orbits all last?" I brood. (Michael Donner)
Last egg gets Al. (Jon Agee)
Zones sell, lessen Oz.

Ma, I am all llama, I am.
Flee zoo ooze, elf! (Wayne Baisley)
Pupils on, Lee, flee eel--feel no slip-up!
Now a mall llama won. (David Morice)

Flee zoo, O ooze elf! (Chad Gagnon)
Dissed Art Lee, 'e eel trades, Sid.
Bad, evil gull'll lug live dab.
Dee's boll'll lob seed!
Bud did a AAA ad I'd dub.

    These "pure" pivots are great to discover, but there aren't many frontiers left--except with the triple pivots.  So, I've expanded the concept-challenge with 2nd and 3rd degree higher order pivots. These are pivot runs that are interrupted--but only by a single letter (which, itself, may have varying degrees of repetition...!)

    Let's start with the 2nd degree quadruple and sextuple pivots. They may have the patterns XXOXX, XXOOXX, XXXOXXX or XXXOOXXX:

Stop, Syrian, I see bees in airy spots! (Dmitri Borkmann)
Emil, asleep, peels a lime. (Stephen Chism and/or Eugene Lesser)
Do good, do O God!
Al, y'all lull Layla.
Ma, I'll lull Liam. (Eric Harshberger)
Deem foe: wan, I so bid, "I'll loll libidos in awe of me, Ed!"
Otto made "Eel Lee Ed" a motto.

    Whereas the 2nd degree triple and quintuple pivots include these possibilities, XOXOX, XOXXXOX, XXOXOXX:

Amuse Potosi's isotopes, Uma. (Nora Baron)
Evil on a martini--I (in it) ram an olive!
Do geese see God? (Victor Lemonte Wooten)
Sore Eros' Sis is sore, Eros? (unknown)

    Now I'll give you the third degree with these repeat patterns, XOXXOX, XOXOXOX, XOXXOXXOX, XXOXOOXOXX and XOXOXXXOXOX:

Naw, order M&M--M&M red, Rowan.
Ya, wag a gag a way.
"Last regrets" is, Sis, sister Gert's Al.
I wash Tom, Mama--a mammoth saw I! (Nora Baron)
"Did ewe--wee ewe we did!" (Harry Baron)

    Since a 'quadrupled pair pivot' can be XOXOOXOX or XOOXXOOX, it only stands to reason that a 'sextupled pair pivot' can be XOOXOXXOXOOX and the 3rd degree decatuple pair pivot would be XOOXOXYXOOXXOOXYXOXOOX:

Draw no noon onward!
Sir, a jalapeno on no one pal ajar is.
Toot, Otto, toot! (Jon Agee)
Must love Reno on one noon no one--no, no one!--revolts, um?

    To lighten up a bit, there's the "ah ha," "O Yo-Yo" and "SOS" pivots:

Odd...I know "ah ha!" won, kiddo.
"Daryl, I'd dig Ukiah haiku giddily--rad!"
Wonder if I made no Yo-Yo, Ned--am I fired now?
Even ail I, viceroy o' yore, civilian Eve.
Ay, not too hot to hoot tons o' snot; too hot to hoot Tonya. (Nora Baron)
Strap red nude, red rump--also slap murdered underparts! (J.A. Lindon)
Eva can ignite virtuosos out riveting in a cave. (author unknown)
A berry tastes O so 'set', satyr Reba.



Joaquin Kuhn (English Department at St. Michael's College, Toronto and author--with his wife-- of  the book of palindromes, "RATS LIVE ON NO EVIL STAR") wrote the following piece to Michael Donner regarding PALINDROMIC SENTENCES:

I have a very strong preference for palindrome sentences, whole ideas that incorporate a subject and a predicate, however wacky the complete utterance may be.  One of my reasons for this is that in human language, it is the sentence, the communication of a whole idea, that everything else exists for.  Not words in themselves, but words put together in meaningful patterns.  A palindrome that contains the grammatical pattern of a sentence but somehow floats free of ordinary logical sense is to me a special form of nonsense creation.  It invites closer and closer scrutiny, in hope of its yielding some sense, like a charm or oracular utterance in need of solution.  A palindrome sentence is created following two rigorous laws: it has basic grammatical structure, and the sequence of letters reverses in the middle (no exceptions!)  When such a rigorously composed group of words makes sense of any kind, it carries a kind of mystic appeal, as though when character sequences were turned back on themselves, they revealed extraordinary truths like Jungian shadows or subconscious doubles--mirror images of language of hermetic significance.  A palindromically uttered truth (bizarre though its content may be) seems doubly true.

                                                                       (from Michael Donner's I Love Me, Vol.I) 

From Dr. Kuhn's prose to Edward Hirsch's poetry:

    "Whenever we enter the original waters of existence through the properties of language, when words deliver up the sensation of our own radical strangeness, then we have entered the realm of poetry and the sacred." 



     An interesting aspect of palindromic sentences is the special case of "multiple middles."  The easiest series to help one understand this is the A NASA  group that appears on Jim Kalb's website (366) and is in

     A Santa spat taps at NASA; A Santa spits tips at NASA; A Santa taps Pat at NASA, etc.

     Nora Baron has created many shorter "multiple middle" series, many of which I have condensed for using slashes and brackets.  For example:  No, 'tis [Iris, sir/Ida Lee, lad], I sit on.  Following the 'Eva, can a cave?' list are some of Nora's larger multiple middle series.

     Some of the mid-20th century great palindromists published (in various places) these three variations on the  Eva, can a cave?  "multiple middles" series:
        Eva, can I pose as Aesop in a cave?      Eva can, I see, bone no bees in a cave.
        Eva, can I stab live, evil bats in a cave?
        (Eva can ignite virtuosos out riveting in a cave?  was reported on the Net by John Jensen)

     There are currently three creative, prolific palindromists who have taken a special interest in this Eva can I...? series, so I'd like to showcase their (open, on-going, to-be-updated-periodically) collection here.  They are Bill A. O'Connor (254), Martin Clear (260) and Nora Baron (71).

Eva, can I
               , a red lacy lion, assess an oily caldera in a  (260)
, a Miss, I kiss (as fool aloof’s ass I kiss) Ima,  (1)
              , Aida, nail Ed, Ron or Delia-Nadia  (71)
              , airy, snide, will away a man on a Maya wall I wed in Syria  (254)
              (Amen!) enamel Clem an enema  (71)
              and Elia [b/f/h/m/t]ail Edna  (71)
              ape Pa  (254)
              "...ask Sade not to deliver a rare, vile dot to Ned?" asks 'A'  (260)
              bar an ass, or career across a pass, or career across an Arab  (260)
              , Barclay, order red, royal crab  (71)
              , Baron, put up Nora B.  (1)
              be foe of Eb  (1)
              , Bo, ban Sagan, a gas nabob  (254)
              , burdened, rub  (1)
              bury my rub  (71)
              call Ida "Caleb", Atabel a Cadillac, (254) 
              call Ida Cass a Cadillac  (71)
              crap up a nit in a pup-arc  (71)
              damn a fan, a fan mad, (254)
              debag a wag, abed  (71)
              debase Wes, abed (71) 
              debox Obed   (71) 
              decide, Sir, is Ed iced  (71)
              defy obese boy fed  (260)
              , Delia, trot a timid Ivan-avid imitator, tailed  (254)
              deny Ned  (71)
              , Di, hide dirt in a nitride Di hid (254)
              , Di, hit a vat I hid  (254)
              dib art--rabid-- (1)
              , Dinah, saw Ron or wash an ID  (71)
              dish Tom's moth Sid  (71)
              disk Sam, rob Ed, pull up Deb, or mask Sid  (71)
              do Gary, trample his ass, or canonise resin on a cross as I help martyr a god  (260)
              do Ogden, Roy or Ned good  (71)
              doctor Rod or rot cod  (71)
              dog a sleepy cat Stacy peels (a God!) (254)
              dog an idol, probe Dad a deb, or plod in a god  (254)
              , Don (too far afoot!), nod  (1)
              dose Moses, run Ron, or nurse some sod (71)
              drag Eric in a panic I regard  (260)
drag Sam or free drab Rog or flee sad Ida's eel-frog or bar deer from Asgard  (254)
              draw an award  (71)
              draw DeAnna Edward  (71)
              draw Deb Edward  (71)
              draw Debra Brogan's nag, or barb Edward  (71)
              draw eels leeward (71)
              draw Nina (panic in a Titan on a Titanic in a pan!) inward  (254)
              draw nine men inward  (71)
              draw no gnu dung onward  (71)
              draw now a red robe-border, raw, onward (71)
              draw now a saw onward (71)
              draw pudenda brooms--I gag, a gismo!--or bad Ned upward  (254)
              draw pudendum, mud, Ned, upward (71)
              draw puny Llewellyn upward  (254)
              drowse on a clay orator, trot a royal canoe sword  (254)
              dub Matt "A.M. bud"  (1)
              duck a yam or file Eli from a yak-cud  (254)
              dump mud  (71)
              , Ed in step, race on a canoe carpet, snide  (254)
              , Elbert, sing at Agnis treble  (254)
              , Eli pile (254)
              , Eli, re-upset, puerile, (254)
              , Emil, see slime  (71)
              emote no one tome  (1)
              eradicate Goths, as a DNA level and a sash to get acid are  (260)
              erase babes ...  oh, whose babes are  (260)
              erase, baby, mere hosts or frost, so here my babes are:  (260)

                 erase mongrel bats' detail if far-off or affiliated stabler gnomes are  (260)
              erase, "Sore roses are  (71)
              erupt on snot or troll or roll or trot on snot, pure  (254)
              , Eton, laud a dual note  (1)
              evade Dave  (71)
              fill a ball if  (71)
              fill a hall if  (254)
              fire Sal's laser if  (71)
              fist Sir Omar often, no sonnet for amorists, if   (254)
              fit a cat on snot--a cat!--if  (254)
              fix a sax if  (71)
              fizz--if  (1)
              flay Alf (394)
              flap at Rod or tap Alf  (71)
              flay Ruby or let Elroy bury Alf  (71)
              gnaw some emo's wang  (260)
              gnaw ('tis a tool I loot) as I twang (71)
              gnaw ('tis a wet stew!) as I twang (71)
              gnaw tit I twang (254)
              go date Pisano's son as I pet a dog  (254)
              'go dog' (1)
              go hail Eli a hog  (254)
              go hasten Mel's anal plan, as Lem nets a hog  (71)
              go hasten Noel's ass as Leon nets a hog  (71)
              gor not lisp, "Silt on Rog!" (71)
              gulp a plug  (1)
              gulp a rod or a plug  (71)
              , Hanna Vase, be Savannah  (237)
              harp on Oprah  (71)
              I-Max Ami  (1)
              keel a leek  (1)
              labor (rob Al!)  (1)
              , Lana bleed a mad eel banal  (254)
              lap a pal  (1)
              lay Al  (1)
              , Lee, have Eva heel  (254)
              , Lee, peel  (260)
              live droll (I am Riah, sir, a garish airmail Lord, evil) (254)
              live now on evil  (71)
              loop Amadis as I dam a pool  (254)
              loot Sam or fly Reba a beryl from a stool  (254)
              lop a pol  (1)
              , mad, assess Adam  (1)
              mail a pal lettergrams (telegrams) so boss Marge lets Margret tell a pal I am  (260)
              "..., Mal, canoe Nordic?"  I drone on a clam  (254)
              mark Cal's slack ram  (71)
              mask, corrode Ned, or rock Sam  (71)
              mask--nah, thank!--Sam  (1)
              massage, gas, Sam  (1)
              melt Lem  (71)
              , Mia, aim  (1)
              nag Rosy's organ  (71)
              nail a tin Italian  (71)
              nail a tired net-tender Italian  (71)
              nail a tide-red Italian  (71)
              nail a tied underbred nude Italian  (71)
              , Nat, assess a tan  (1)
                Nate tan  (394)
              , Naomi, maimed in snide Miami, moan  (254)
              , Nella, flow God-pallid off a daffodil lapdog, wolf Allen  (254)
              , Nella, pull a frog a gag, or fall up Allen  (254)
              ,Netta, fatten (254)
              nip eels as I, Lisa, sleep in,  (254)
              nip sisal as I spin  (254)
              Nita, snip, roll, or pin satin  (71)
              nod, egged on  (254)
              noose Lyle soon  (71)
              not lob Bolton  (71)
              not rap Parton  (71)
              not sew Weston  (71)
              not sue Euston  (71)
              now swallow AWOL laws won  (71)
              nurse mad Sam, as dames run  (71)
              oil Igor, Rod, or Rogilio  (71)
              part a nine pin I pen in a trap  (254)
              pass [Bob's] sap  (71)
              patrol, or tap,  (1)
              pay a Yap  (71)
              pee deep  (260, 254)
              peel "bleep"  (71)
              peel, sad, asleep  (1)
              peel Sal, asleep,  (71)
              peel Sam, asleep,  (71)
              peel Sis a (pup/nun/tit/tundra-hard nut) as I sleep  (71)
              peel Sis as I sleep  (71)
              peel Soto to sleep (254)
              poop  (252)
              pose [as] Aesop  (1,[5or10])
              puke burbot on ya, Sis, as I say no to Brubek up (71) 
              puke Elsa Long Agnola's leek, up  (254)
              puke Elsa's leek up  (71)             
              pull a cat at a call-up  (254)
              pull a frog I pat, or trot a pig, or fall, up  (254)
              pull a pall up  (254)
              pull a trap apart, all up  (260)
              pule 'error', or reel up  (254)
              pull or roll up (254)
              pull-up  (1)
              pun, rub Rollo red after Ruth, saw Sam a swash turret, fade, roll, or burn up  (254)
              purify Leno, lap or prop a lonely fir up,  (254)
              purify my fir up (71)
              Pus Ron (no cobra etc.), tear B. O'Connors up  (254)
              push Tab's baths up  (71)
              push tapes or pull up rose paths, up  (254)
              push Tim's loot (a rose, soda doses) or a toolsmith's, up  (71)
              push Tom's moths up  (71)
              push Turtle Tom's "motel truths" up  (71)
              put a bat up  (260)
              put a cap up Rona, flap on an opal fan, or pup a cat, up (254)
              put a clap on a palisade, if I revise noble macros or camel bones I verified as I lap an opal cat up(260)
              put a Manet (torn, rotten, a mat) up  (71)
              put a sill away, a wall I sat, up  (254)
              put Imit up  (1)
              put on star cots irate jet aristocrats, not up  (260)
              put panic in a pot to panic inapt up  (254)
    `         put reborn Robert up  (71)
              put Sam's mast up  (71)
              put Seth's art-trash-test up  (71)
              put Sid (a sadist!) up  (71)
              put Simon O'Cena (an economist) up  (71)
              put Sudsy Susy's dust up  (71)
              put Tums and Edna's mutt up  (71)
              raft a cat far  (254)
              rate tar  (71)
              , Red, ice cider  (1)
              re-do cats, or frost a coder  (71)
              reel [in a limo, annoy a gay on Naomi, Lani], leer (254)
              ref footy?" Lima family to offer (260)
              , Reg, nab a banger  (71)
              remit Peel's ale (Baltic, illicit label) a sleep-timer  (254)
              repaper a rare paper  (71)
              re-peel sadistic, illicit Sid, a sleeper  (71)
              report Roper  (1)
              resole Tim's mite-loser  (71)
              retool a looter  (71)
              revolt a b/fat lover  (71)
              reward an idiot - a retromastoid idiot, Sam, or teratoid, in a drawer  (71)
             , Rogilio, foil Igor  (71)
              rotatively snap at a pansy levitator  (254)
              sail Hadrian on air dahlias  (254)
              see Bev reserve bees  (254)
              see Bro. Bob or bees  (71)
              see brooms, igloo-tar, a tool-gismo, or bees (71)
              see feeble eel-bee fees  (71)
              see [frost or]fees  (71)
              see referees  (260)

              see Tao goatees  (254)
              see tees  (71)
              set a tornado so Dan rotates  (254)
              set One-Vat Coral up, opening nine popular octave notes  (260)
              set up side disputes  (260)
              sex-image my trapeze party mega-mixes  (260)
              , Sharon, fog a bag of Norahs (254)

              sip Mac's scampis  (71)
              , Sir Ron, tatoo Troy or toot at Norris  (71)
              sit on Otis (71)
              ski Tabari Leno's one-lira batiks  (254)
              slam in a net roses, or ten animals,  (71)
              slap noses on pals  (71)
              slap on opals  (1)
              slap opals  (71)
              slap Sara's pals  (71)
              slay or damn mad royals  (71)
              slay or slime Emil's royals  (71)
              slay or strap Art's royals  (71)
              sleep as Asa peels  (71)
              slip a Pils  (1)
              slip up now on pupils (71)
              slip upon no pupils  (71)
              slop pols  (1)
              smell a yolk (loyal Lem's)  (71)
              smite Tims  (1)
              snag Roy's sassy organs  (71)
              snap at saps or rub a burro's pasta-pans  (71)
              snap pup-pans  (71)
              snap swell Lew's pans  (71)
              sneer, "Pete preens!"  (71)
              sniff Uma's USA muffins  (71)
              snip satin as Anita spins  (254)
              snort among no matrons  (71)
              snort celery, tramp Milton's snot limp, martyr electrons  (254)
              so dodge Peg, dodos,  (1)
              sorbet a snack no mafioso drops," I lisp, "or do so if a monk can sate bros  (260)
              spasm raw, warm saps  (1)
              speed evil to hot, live deeps  (254)
              spit Q-tips  (6-1)
              spit tit tips  (1)
              snort at ebony--no, betatrons!-- (254)
              sport lacy caltrops
              stab bats  (90)
              stab live, evil bats  (16)
              stack Rod's sad-ass dork cats  (71)
              stamp Milton's snot-limp mats  (71)ron a can in a can or  (71)
              ron a cat I pan in a pit, a can, or  (71)
              stab royals I slay, or bats (394)
              startle Bro. Bob or belt rats  (71)
              , Steve, divide vets  (260)
              stir grits  (71)
              strap or rub burro-parts  (71)
              strap, swap, tap?" I say, as I pat Paw's parts  (71)
              sun a pup-anus  (71)
              swap paws  (1)
              tell a bat (a snob) "Big Macs scam gibbons at a ballet"  (260)

              tell if we nab a new fillet  (260)  
              tape open a Dane, Poe, pat  (254)
              tie it  (1)
              tin up a lap unit  (237)
              tip spit  (71)
              too fail Eli, afoot (254)
              , too hot, signal, "Lang is to hoot!" (254)
              , too, rail Eli a root  (254)
              , too, snore "[Paper/No boner/No toner] on soot!"  (71)
              top Emil's slime-pot  (71)
              top Tipsy's sassy spit-pot  (71)
              track cans, a nose, babes on a snack-cart  (71)
              track Curt's truck-cart  (71)
              trade Ed's deed-art  (71)
              trade if I re-verified art  (260)
              trade nut-tuned art  (71)

              trade Pat's taped art  (71)
              trade Tad's dated art  (71)
              , Trader, cast sacred art  (257)
              trap op-art  (71)
              twang Isador's rod," I say, "as I gnaw't  (71)
              warm (I'm raw...)  (1)
              warn, 'in raw',  (1)
              wash Supt. Sol's lost push-saw  (71)
              wash Tip's pith-saw  (71)
              wash turkeys (yek!) Ruth saw  (71)
              weld Lew  (71)
              wet snot?" sobs tiny Lyn "--it's Boston stew  (71)
              wet some memo-stew  (71)
              yaw as drays drag sad Asgards yards away  (254)
              yaw as Edi hides away  (254)
              yawn octagon nog at Conway  (254)
              yell, "Ah, no goddesses (so pert!) repossessed Dogon Halley!"  (254)
              yell or tap at a trolley  (71)
              yell over ads, "do gods dare volley  (260)

              yell up a pupil, "Slip up a pulley!"  (254)
              Ian aid Diana  (71)
              Ida be bad  (71)
              Ida boss so bad (254)
              Ida paw a pad  (71)
              Ida wag a wad (71)
              idle Willi weld (71)
              Igor [pop/level/pull up/put up/pat Rod or tap] Rog  (71)
              Ima's gang nag Sam  (1)
              Ina map a man (254)
              in a maxi, fix a man  (71)
              in Amana, fan a man  (71)
              Ina can a call, or roll a crow or call or roll a can a can  (254)
              Ina mail Eli a man  (254)
              Ina map a man  (254)
              Ina maul Lu, a man  (254)
              inexorable Tom, a nitrate-tart in a motel, bar oxen (71)
              Inez nod or O.D. on Zen  (71)
              Inez (odd!) do Zen (71)
              ire gnaw a rotten net to raw anger  (260)
rene drag a gardener  (307)
              Inis sin  (71)
              Ira call [up Rob or pull] a car  (71)
              Ira, can Inis, sin in a car (71)
              Ira, can Otis, sit on a car (71)
              Ira (eh?) hear (71)
              Ira gag a gar (71)
              Ira, Jane, Pop, Anson, Edna and Eno snap open a jar (71)
              Ira sta[b/ll] a Tsar  (71)
              Ira tag a tar  (71)
              Ira track car tar (71)
              Ira trot on snot or tar (71)
              irises oppose, Sir,  (71)
              iron a can in a can or  (71)
              iron a cat I pan in a pit, a can, or  (71)
              isolate metal 'O's  (260)

                                                                                                                          in a cave?

Except those attributed, the following 'multiple middles' are the work of Nora Baron:

"Ed, I hide
           , cane me!" Lyle menaced, "
              , divided
I list Ev's vests - I lied,
              , I rub Deb's bed, buried,
              , I rub nuts, rub burst, unburied--
              ," I say aside, " 
               it--nude, red, untied,            
              ," Kramer remarked, "
              ," Ledo yodeled, "
              ," Lia wailed, "
              Naomi," I moan, "
net safety-bag," I gag, "a gigabyte, fastened--
              ," Peewee weeped, "
              ," Pru burped,"
              red rum; Bob murdered,              
              ," Ron snored, "
              --so here, hosed, 
                                                                                I hide." 

"Ed," I hiss
        , "a giblet's ape's net=roll or tense pastel big ass
        , "a pit I pass-- 
        , "a slip-up, a pupil's ass (254)
        , "a Taft fat ass
        , "alas, Bob's a lass--
        (an aside: Ed is an ass!), 
        an ass
        , "as I sass,"
        , "as pal Smith (Tim) slaps ass,
        , "Astor rapes a base parrot's ass-- (254)
        , "at a fast, it's a fat ass
        , "Elfless, selfless,
        , Em, as I, is a mess--
        , "end a [bad/Dad-]ness (1)
        , "end a [m/s]adness,
        , "--er, Dan is in a dress-- 
        , "I heard Rae hiss-- (254)
        , " 
        , I hid a cad," I hiss,
        , "I hike - er - I reek," I hiss, "
        , "I hired nags, pits, Tip's gander," I hiss, "
        , "I hired now a stiff--it's a wonder," I hiss, "
        , "I hiss - a pisser, a caress I pass--
        , "I hiss as I peel, sad, asleep--I sass," I hiss,"
        , "I hiss as I peel Sam; I, hot nurses run to him,
                 asleep-I sass," I hiss, "
        , "I hiss, 'Ugh, Guss!'" I hiss, "
        , "I kiss - a [lass/bass] I kiss--
        , "I map a rill, I rap a Miss, (254)
        , "I met ten urbane men, a brunette miss--
        , "I'm Sid--ewes, a case we dismiss--
        , "I'm Sid--it's a [can in a cast/cast/fast/last/man on a mast/man or a tar on a mast/mast/past] I dismiss--
        , "I'm Sid--it's E.T.'s test I dismiss--

                                                                                                                        I hide[!]"

(")Reg ordered no
              pallets, Stella," p
              Panamanian aid, Diana, in Amana," p
              panels, Lena," p
              parody, Dora," p
              patina, Anita," p
              pear - did Rae?" p
              pedals - did Slade?" p
              pedigreed deer; Gide p
              peels, Lee," p
              peewee," p
              penile pipeline,"  p
              people to Hotel Poe,"p
              peso, Jose," p
              peso, no naval lava, no nose," p
              peso, no nose," p
              peso, no note-veto, no nose," p
              pews as we p
              pew-tubs, but we p
              Pez, a map or prop, a maze," p
              Pez nor bronze," p
              Pez, Odie; I doze," p
              Pez or fig I froze!" p
              Pez or fire; no boner I froze!" p
              Pez or fish--Tab's baths I froze!" p
              Pez or fizz; I froze!" p
              pheasant at NASA, eh" p
              pianist at Sinai?" p
              pie I p
              pig I p
              pill I p
              pin I p
              pine-posts open; I p
              pinot noir on Orion, Toni" p
              pistol plots; I p
              pit I p
              plaid dial," p
              Polish silo?"
              poo-poo," p
              prawn-war," p
              pre-dawn wader," p
              Prego Roger," p
              Prell or a roller?" p
              Prell or an ore-leveler on a roller?" p
              Prell or wet-stew roller," p
              prepaper ore-paper," p
              prepaper," p
              prepared ode raper," p  (1)
              prison-gag--no, Sir!" p
              prod-odor," p
              protagonist (it's I!), no gator," p
              waiter-cult, Lucretia?" w
              wall, Ella?" w (260)
              wapiti, Pa?" w
              waves, Eva?" w
              weed, Dee?" w (260)
              wee-wee?" w
              wet agate?" w
              wet ape-pate?" w
              wheat ad data, eh?" w (260)
              whore paper ... oh!" w (260)
              wrens Asner?" w
              wren-bag, Abner?" w
                                                              ondered(,) Roger.

["]Reg ordered rum
              and Edna
              as Asa
              as I, Lisa,
              as Ilya, Rod, Lana, Dan, Aldo Ray, Lisa
              as Silas
                    eyed a jade; yes,
                    eyed a mop, a rod or a pomade; yes,
                    puts a mast up;
                    tops Bob's pot;
                                                            , Alissa
              , balsa, noses [or roses/ rots or frost or roses] on a slab
              but a [nice lad, Alec, in/nit in/niece in] a tub
              , but an [imam/irate tar] in a tub
              , but Stub
              ; Dennis sinned,
              ; I
              - I saw [Al's slaw/Art's straw] as I
              , " I say, "as I
              "--I say no to Tony as I
              -limes as Emil
              --oh, who
              --pits as Tip
                  , Ron, a man on a manor,

              , Sir," I sass, "as Iris
              , Sir," I say, "as Iris
              , Sir--Iris
              , so mad Amos
              , so Ned, Enos
              , so Nero or Enos
              -tubs," Lia wails, "but
                                                                          murdered Roger.["] (71)

In a canoe,
                         ladle Zelda,
                         lap up a pupa,
                        Lee, see
                        legalise silage,
                        Lem, I [m/t]ime
                        Lena, cane
                        Leo[,/had a] hoe
                        Les, run!" I say as I nurse
                        let a Lulu ululate,
                        let a timid [Edna and] Ed imitate
                        let a timid, raw Deb, Edward imitate
                        let Ada date 
                        let Ada nose [babes/dudes/lame males/mimes/Pa's apes/pipes/popes/sore roses] on a date,
                        let Adam, Ron and Edna, Norma date,
                        let Adela, pale, date
                        let Al pass an ass a plate,
                        let Alf, Ed, and Edna deflate
                        let Amy (not Tony) mate,
                        let animals laminate,
                        let Art rate
                        let Art's ace castrate
                        let Otto panic in a pot, tote
                        let Ovid, Nan, and I vote,
                        let saps paste,
                        let up Sid, " I say, as I dispute                      
                        let's elect Celeste,
                        Levi, a wig I waive -
                        Levi faxed Nina's 'Amy Mason' index a 'five',
                        Levi lasts, alive;
                        Levi, lose no one's olive,
                        Levi, lose Pa's apes' olive,
                        Levi, lose sordid Rose's olive,
                        Levi loses O'Hara, hoses Olive,
                        Levi loses Olive,
                        Levi loses Oona, nooses Olive,
                        Levi loses, runs, nurses Olive,
                        Levi loses, sasses Olive,
                        Levi loses some mosses, olive -
                        Levi lost a car or a cat's olive,
                        Levi lost a rat's olive -
                        Levi sired a derisive
                        Levi, tan a native,
                        Levi tanned an Aden native -
                        Levi, Vera revive -
                        Levi's iced sign," I sing, "is decisive,
                        , Lew, owe
                        Lotta, feel fit - I flee fat - to
                        Lotta, flee pies - I rise, peel fat - to
                                                                                                     Leona,[--] can I?  (71)

No, Ev - I list
bed debts
                            Sam's masts
                            Ron's snorts
                            rat tarts
                            lame malts
                            old lots
                            Lem's smelts
                            Lem's melts
                            rat tarts
                            rat starts
                            cafe facts
                            last salts
                            nit tints
                            rope ports
                            sop posts              
                            sill lists
                            silo lists
                            silt lists
                            sack casts
                            seven-on-one vests
                            tube butts
                            tuna nuts
                            cape pacts
                            cud ducts
                            eel fleets
                            sock costs
                            Ev's vests
                            sub busts
                            lamb malts
                            lamp malts
                            lit stilts
                            car tracts
                            cart tracts
                            rack carts
                            ace cats
                            suds dusts
                            surd rusts
                            ore rots
                            odd dots
                            old lots
                            cider edicts
                            fir rifts
                            far rafts
                            fart rafts
                            farm rafts
                            fir drifts
                            ram marts
                            ramp marts
                            net tents
                            nap pants
                            narc rants
                            tuba butts
                            ape pats
                            set tests sent nests
                            Ab's bats
                            Ace's one-nose cats
                            aft fats
                            farce crafts
                            firm rifts
                            fed efts
                            fee efts
                            felt lefts
                            fez efts
                            file lifts
                            fill lifts
                            fat afts
                            folded lofts
                            few efts
                            no fonts
                            orb rots
                            Eb's bets
                            inn nits
                            nurd runts
                            Fargo grafts
                            fat Tafts 

--I live on.  (71)



    In his book Language On Vacation (1965) Dimitri Borgmann referred to the "perfect palindrome" (sentence) as one consisting only of words which are themselves palindromes.  Perhaps inspired by this concept, the Kuhns used such a "perfect palindrome" sentence as the title of their book of palindrome puzzles titled, Rats Live On No Evil Star (1981).  I believe Borgmann referred to 'Able was I ere I saw Elba' as one example.  Notice that the "perfect"   sentence must consist of 'palindromic pairs' (e.g. rats/star, saw/was, able/Elba, evil/live, etc.--there are fewer than 600 in the English language) and/or palindromic words (I, did, rotor, etc.--there are fewer than 300 of these.)  Borgmann's definition elicits two questions from me: "What's so perfect about limiting oneself so severely in trying to create a palindromic sentence?"*  And, "So, is a 'perfectly perfect palindrome' one consisting only of words which are palindromes of themselves?"
    I'll start with the second question first.  Because it is rhetorical and because I've only found a few examples (therefore, e-mail me here if you come up with more!):
        Dad, I did civic deed--a deed, civic, did I, Dad. (Nora Baron)
        Bob, solos did mum gig--mum did solos bob.  (Timi Imit)
        Madam solos mum, sees mum solos, Madam. (Timi Imit)
        I did level Seve's level, did I? (Martin Clear)
        Bob sees redder Sara's tit: Sara's redder; sees Bob. (Martin Clear)
        'Radar Pop' did pop radar. (Timi Imit)
        Eve sees Elle ere Elle sees Eve. (Martin Clear)
        Nun sees kook sees nun.  (Timi Imit)
        I did, did I?  (many)
        'E did, did 'e?  (Michael Donner)
        Peep, Bob, peep.  (Nora Baron)  {Toot, tot, toot! (etc.)}
        Otto sees Otto. (Dona Smith) {Bob sees Bob. (etc.)}

    *This first question begs my answer perfectly: boring, formulaic, simple--therefore, sometimes fun!  I'd like to present five sets of examples of some fun different palindromists have had:
A    --Borgmann and his contemporaries' creations
B    --Andrew Belsey's unique contributions
C    --variations on ...was I ere I saw...
D   --a sampling of some other longer, unique and/or witty 'perfect' palindromes.
E    --Timi Imit's contributions

  Eros saw Aviva was sore. (16)
  Arden saw I was Nedra. (16)
  No evil Shahs live on. (16)
  Reviled did I live, evil I did deliver. (16)
  Stinker reknits. (16)
  Warder, redraw! (16)
  Zeus was deified, saw Suez. (16)
  Deliver no evil avid diva--live on reviled! (5)
  Dog deifier reified God. (5)
  Leon sees Noel. (5)
  Live on, Time--emit no evil! (5)
  Repel evil, live leper! (5-1)
  Snug Satraps eye Sparta's guns. (5or10)
  Lager--si!-is regal. (11-1)
  Rail O liar! (11)
  Strap parts. (11)
  Now dine, Enid won. (10-1)
  Rats live on no evil star. (10?)
  Bed a Deb. (201)
  Emit lager on pils tub, but slip no Regal Time. (201)
  Llew did well. (201)
  Pots emit lager--a Regal time-stop! (201-1)
  Rats abut tuba star. (201)
  "Sirrah Dias!" said Harris. (201)
  Sloop "Lager" on spool rotator loops no regal pools. (201)
  Sloop spool loops pools. (201)
  Smart trams derotored smart trams. (201)
  Snips laid, a dial spins. (201-1)
  Time I did live, evil did I emit. (201)

  Sire, was I ere I saw Eris? (16)
  Snug & raw was I ere I saw War & Guns. (130+/or14)
  Snug, raw was I ere I saw war guns. (113)
  Sore was I ere I saw Eros. (16)
  Stressed was I ere I saw desserts. (16)
  Regal was I ere I saw lager. (00-1929)
  Naive was I ere I saw Evian. (97)
  Live was I ere I saw evil. (16)
  A-Rod was I ere I saw Dora! (00)
  'A'-slut was I ere I saw Tulsa. (98-1)
  Amiced was I ere I saw Decima. (16)
  Anal was I ere I saw Lana. (98)
  Able was I ere I saw Elba. (112)

  Stressed--no tips; spit on desserts! (228)
  Live on tenet: no evil. (140)
  Evil yam strap parts may live. (160)  
  Dennis, Hannah sinned. (98)
  Diaper saw DNA stops spots and was repaid. (98-1)
  Did I live on no evil I did? (1)
  Dr. No was, I saw, on Rd. (88)
  Drab Bud I dub bard. (254)
  Raw sexes war. (00)
  Rub--deliver a reviled bur. (1)
  Lap Strohs on no shorts, pal. (173)
  Ward peed a deep draw. (98-1) 
  Viva, let no evil live on, Tel Aviv! (90-1)
  Dad was sore ere Eros saw Dad. (4)
  Emil peed deep lime! (70)
  Emit no gas, Otto; sag on time. (00-1)
  Man maps yam snot and DNA--tons may spam 'Nam! (116)
  Otto saw pup--pup WAS Otto! (00)
  Swen, on gnus, sung no news. (116)
  He repaid a mom a diaper, eh? (223)
  No devil deed lived on. (140-1)
  No, Dial saw I was laid on. (00)
  God, now Anna sees Otto sees Anna won, dog. (262)
  God deliver a reviled dog! (109)
  Stop--no, not a ton on pots! (4)
  No parts, Sis, strap on. (1)
  Pay on time, emit no yap.(119)
  Oh, oh, I "Ho Ho!" (30-1)

  Note was, "Sununus saw Eton."
  But no, Sununu's on tub!
  "Desserts I reviled--deliver!" I stressed.
  Di stops Bob, spots id.
  Wolf pal, lap flow.
  Dial saw I was laid.
  Dog sees God.
  Dog pal sees lap god!
  "Dog, sit--'tis God!"
  Top step: pup pets pot!
  Doom, deliver reviled mood.
  Sleek Bob did bob keels.
  Draw Eros, O sore Ward.                   
  Draw 'No!' on Ward.                          
  'Radar Pop' did pop radar.
  Draw snot--tons!--Ward!
  Draw redder, Ward.
  Emil's a slime!
  Tap Emil's eye slime, Pat.
  Wed no Anna on dew!
  Eros saw Sis was sore.
  Part Sara's trap.
  Now I saw sexes, was I won?
  L.A. peels sleep, Al.
  Lager, Em, did me--regal!
  Slop Strohs on no shorts, pols!
  Lana saw I was anal...
  No saw was on?



(this commentary has two essays re palindrome-making, the first by Martin Clear and the second by Michael Abrams--enjoy!)

"Interview With A Palindromer"
Q. So how do I go about writing a palindrome?

A. The most common method is to start with the middle of the palindrome.
This is sometimes called the "hinge", or just the "middle". It is
usually two or three words that reverse, with perhaps one to three
letters left over. I struggled along with "semantic illicit names", and
"gardenia cocaine drag" for a long time before I managed to make a
reasonable palindrome out of either of them. But it can be as simple as
"senile felines" as well.
    Notice that palindromes can have an even or odd "pivot": an odd pivot is
where there is a single letter at the centre of the palindrome such as
the F in "senile felines". Even pivots such as the LL in "semantic
illicit names" are rarer, and generally slightly harder to use.
    Another method is to start with a pair of "bookends": the beginning and
end of a palindrome. Some words lend themselves to this approach: if you
find a word pair with no letters hanging over at one end, it is a
candidate for being a bookend-pair.
    However the method I use is to start with a focus word that I can
reverse into one or more other words. I then work simultaneously on the
two separate phrases until I can find a way to join them together,
usually with an odd pivot. After that I worry about the bookends.

Q. What words should I use in my palindrome?

A. "I", "a", "to", "on", "no", "in", "or" and "as". As you can imagine,
this would create a fairly dull palindrome, so you should start with at
least ONE interesting long word.

Q. What interesting long word should I choose?

A. Well, if I had one, I'd use it myself: it's a cut-throat business,
this. However, experience (and Dmitri Borgmann) has shown that words
that pretty much alternate vowels and consonants tend to work especially
well. Other things to look for are words with the letter A figured
prominently, and S and T to a lesser extent. A tends to be most useful
because it is such a useable word in itself (I is OK, but limits you to
a first-person palindrome pretty quickly, so it is not as good as A).
The letters S and T are useful because they are easy to use next to a
lot of other consonants. Many two-consonant combinations in English are
common but not reversible: WH is common as dirt but HW is going to be a
tough combination to find a word for (yes, you in the corner with your
hand up, I know there are words like "watchword" which DO feature a HW
combination; they're just not very useful). Three consonants are even
worse: TCH is similarly common, but you can search long and hard for a
HCT combination in a dictionary. If you find one, let me know!

Q. Hey, I'm nearly finished my first ever palindrome! Um ... do you know
a word that ends in UQ?

A. Ahem ... no. Certain letters should be avoided when writing

Q. Which letters?

A. Q.

Q. Q?

A. Yes, Q. Its inseparability from the ugly duckling vowel U makes it a
nightmare. Many people have tried to come up with a decent Q palindrome,
but it invariably seems to end up being about Iraq - and using the Q in
the odd pivot position. Or it is about the Yemeni drug qat. Or similarly
obscure U-less Q-words. Genuine all-dictionary palindromes using Q
should only be attempted by professionals and then only with adequate
safety equipment.
Q. OK, no Qs. Anything else to avoid?

A. Yes, J is a dog of a letter too: it doesn't combine well with other
letters. The other letter that is surprisingly difficult is one that
appears commonly in English (8th-most common): H. It usually appears
only at the start of words, or in a hard-to-reverse pair such as CH, SH,
WH or TH. Z is poor as might be expected. Surprisingly, of the
high-Scrabble-value letters, X is not too bad. K's use is fairly
limited, and C is less useful than other letters of similar
English-usage levels like M and P.

Q. So what should my general palindrome-writing strategy be?

A. As much as possible, keep options open. When options present
themselves, take the one that gives you the most subsequent options,
rather than force your palindrome down a narrow road from which there
may be no turning back.

Q. What other Do's and Don'ts are there in good palindrome-writing?

A. The Don'ts:

1. Avoid proper nouns. A palindrome consisting entirely of words from
the dictionary is better than one that has to resort to the
encyclopaedia, or worse, the atlas, or, God forbid, the phone book. If
names must be used, the longer the better. A sentence with "Ed" or "Al"
in it can be lived with if the rest is creative; a sentence with "Ed"
AND "Al" starts to look contrived.

2. Avoid obviously contrived names: Mr. Astor is more acceptable than
Mr. Awpeek, no matter how useful Mr. Awpeek is. But even Mr. Awpeek is
better than "Det" or "Gella" or whatever other unrelated string of
letters you need to pass off as a first name to make the palindrome come
out right. And no, it isn't justified even if your wife's sister's
friend's babysitter is unfortunately saddled with the name "Gella" ...
your readers don't know your wife's sister's friend's babysitter.

3. Avoid abbreviations. If you do have abbreviations, make them as
common as possible. You can get away with "e.g.", "'em", "etc." or
"i.e." but I once overstepped the boundaries with Hire Purchase being
abbreviated to "H.P." (I might have got away with it if it had been a
"H.P. car" but I needed a "H.P. camel" for an Elle MacPherson reference
- it's a long story). Incidentally "'n'" (for "and") looks very
contrived unless it is with an obvious "pair": "Rock 'n' roll" and "Sid
'n' Nancy" are OK; "Go 'n' clean up" is less so.

4. Avoid exclamations. Again, if you must put them in, stick to those
most commonly used: "oh", "eh", "ha". Using random collections of
letters as an exclamation ("Oyu!") looks VERY contrived. Unavoidable
exclamations should at least be in a reasonable place in the sentence:
if the exclamation has a comma both before and after it, it is very
stilted. In general English usage, exclamations appear at either the
beginning or end of a sentence or phrase.

5. Avoid lists. Although palindroming becomes much easier when you are
simply writing a list rather than having to obey the complex rules of
sentence structure that comprehensible English requires, it is
surprising how dull "long list" palindromes are. They are usually
followed by a flushed statement from the author like: "A 1,388 letter
palindrome! Brilliant!" despite the fact that it's pretty obvious that
they can be infinitely extended virtually at will. In my experience, few
people bother reading all of a long list palindrome. "A man, a plan, a
canal: Panama" is clever; "A man, a plan, a long list of utterly
unrelated items ending in a canal: Panama" is not.

6. Avoid excessive punctuation. If your palindrome needs an ellipsis,
quote marks, two sets of brackets, four commas and a semi-colon to be
comprehensible, then it ISN'T comprehensible.

7. Avoid using standard word-pairs. There is pretty much nothing left
that can be said about god/dog, live/evil, star/rats etc. And
unfortunately you are not the first to discover that "stressed" is
"desserts" spelt backwards.

8. Avoid dead-end words: ones which tend to only have one reversible
option. Sure as eggs, you will be proceeding down a well-trodden path.
Yes, "sign" is about the only legitimate way to get all those
"ing"-ending words in ... but you are not exactly alone in the field to
discover that. And to experienced palindrome readers, the appearance of
"Edna" or even worse "DNA" signifies the author has discovered the two
lame answers to what I call the Look Ma No Ands Problem. However, the
ampersand ("&") is NOT a valid solution to this problem. See if you can
use "or", or put a comma between the two words and add "or" and
something else after the second word, thus making the format "a, b or
c". There are other letter combinations that force one down a certain
path: for instance, "ted" is a very useful letter combination (usually
at the end of a word) but "det" nine times out of ten ends up as
"cadet". This results in lots of cadets appearing in palindromes.
And the Do's:

1. The Holy Grail of palindroming, in my opinion, is to create a
sentence where it is not at all apparent to the reader that the sentence
is a palindrome.

2. Write a sentence, not a collection of words. A sentence generally
contains a subject (the person or object performing an action), a verb
(the action) and a part of speech I refer to by the technical linguistic
term "The Other Bit". Sometimes the subject disappears if the subject is
"you": in English, what is called the Imperative Voice (i.e. ordering
people about) is done with an understood "you". For instance, we
generally say "Get ready! Get set! Go!" instead of  "You get ready! You
get set! You go!".

3. Use articles. Omitting "a" or "the" from in front of all your nouns
certainly makes the job of writing a palindrome easier, but it makes the
palindrome read like a cryptic crossword clue. If you can't use "a" or
"an" ("the" should be reserved for advanced users), try using a plural
form of the noun, or use "a" and then an adjective.

4. Make your palindrome unique throughout. Pre-packaged generic bookends
like "I did ... did I?", "Won't ... now?" and "Eva, can I ... in a
cave?" detract from the overall novelty of a palindrome, although they
do of course make it easier to write.

5. Be prepared for your own unwitting plagiarism. A lot of the good
ideas in palindroming have already been thought of. The following
palindromes have something in common:
Men, I'm Eminem!
So I dare to tote radios.
Sell a rebus uber alles.
A lug I lack, Caligula.
... they are ALL palindromes that I creatively wrote all by myself from
scratch. Only to discover that someone else had written the entire
palindrome word-for-word before me. Similarly, other previously existing
palindromes may be only trivially different from your latest
meisterwerk: I was rather proud of my composition "Set up side disputes"
until I discovered that someone had already written "He set up side
disputes, eh?".

6. Use a focus word: one word which is not a particularly common word,
which will create an interesting palindrome. This focus word can come in
handy when testing to see if you have unwittingly duplicated someone
else's work.

7. Interlock the word-break "seams" of your palindrome. A palindrome
where the words break at the same point reading in one direction as they
do in the other are less interesting (and more obvious) than palindromes
where each word when reversed appears as part of two other words. Note
that like many of these tips, this makes the palindrome HARDER to write,
but the effect is better. "Rats live on no evil star" is a pretty lame
palindrome, no matter how balanced a sentence it appears.

8. Make your palindrome have a point: witty, deep and meaningful, or
just plain silly. Having your audience read a purpose to your
palindromic sentence is a valuable goal.

9. Have a unified theme for the palindrome. If it's about cats at the
front, make it about cats in the middle, and cats at the end too. If
it's about the Nietzschean super-ego's struggle against the id at the
beginning make it about the Nietzschean super-ego's struggle against the
id in the middle and about the Nietzschean super-ego's struggle against
the id in the end (good luck!).

    Although you can make endless quantities of basically comprehensible
palindromes where the events described are bland (along the lines of
"Patsy or Des used Roy's tap"), they are never going to figure in
anyone's list of The Great Palindromes. The best palindromes are NOT
generic; for instance "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama" is great because
Panama happens to be the place where a canal is. It would lose impact if
it said "A man, a plan, a canal: Sacsayhuaman".
    And yes the particularly astute among you will have noticed that it also
ceases to be a palindrome with Sacsayhuaman - I just slipped it in so I
could use the Peruvian place name that is hilariously pronounced "sexy
woman". That's got nothing to do with palindromes, I just did it because
I have a dirty mind - and if you think THAT'S a disadvantage when
writing palindromes, boy, you haven't read many palindromes!
Q. So I should fill my palindromes with filth?

A. Yes. Everyone else does.

Q. So do other palindrome writers sometimes disagree with some of these
tips of yours?

A. Is the Pope Catholic?!?!

Q. Yes, I believe so. Why, does he write palindromes?

A. Ah ... no. I meant ... oh forget it. Let's just say that there is a
healthy level of disagreement about all my above tips, and no two
palindrome writers agree completely about what constitutes a good

Q. That's not very useful

A. Tough.

Q. OK, my newly-written palindrome obeys all these tips. What now?

A. It does??? Wow, none of mine ever have! Take a bow!

Q. Great! Can I make money out of my new-found palindrome-writing skill?

A. (Hollow laugh).
Martin Clear, 26-Oct-2002

The Ins and Outs of Back and Forth
By Michael Abrams

Like all great artists, the successful palindromist is besieged by the same few questions from friends, fans, critics and hangers-on. Where do you get your ideas? How do you make a palindrome? What are your influences? How did you get interested palindromes? Is that supposed to mean something? Why are you bothering me?

Laymen often assume that the palindromist chooses a topic and then suddenly an entire symmetrical phrase emerges from his subconscious, as spontaneous and complete as a Charlie Parker solo. Sadly, like so many seeming works of genius, the palindrome is the result of determination, sweat, hard work, lots of time, and an idiotic stubbornness. The grunt work of palindroming, the endless flopping of syllables, the grueling hours spent listing words ending in h, the drudgery of reading dictionaries backward, the real blood-and-guts, in-the-dirt-with-a-shovel-and-a-screen work is a lot more like archeology than art.

The fact is, palindromes are out there in the language, waiting to be dug up. Any wordsmith that starts playing around with the word snore during a sleepless night next to some roaring relative will eventually begin to wonder what words end with erons. It won't be long before herons comes to mind and voila! there's a palindrome: Snore herons.

It's true that there are other things that can be done with herons. Snore doesn't have to come first, but that means finding a word beginning with an h, whose remaining letters must spell something backward. Ham is such a word. And so we find ourselves with the exquisite "Ma, herons snore ham." Though more complex, this too is one of a finite number of herons palindromes. The number of h words that contain another word resting in their posteriors is few. The number of four-word palindromes with "herons snore" as their center could easily be listed on this page. If the palindromist is an artist at all, he's like Michelangelo chiseling at a block of stone to find the human body he already knows is inside.

The above scenario-a sleepless night next to bleating kin-is not a fiction. The event occured early in my palindroming career. I was so delighted with the "Snore herons" that I told everyone about it in the morning. But shortly thereafter I was reading Richard Lederer's Word Circus (in the conventional direction) when I happened upon "Snore herons" in a list of palindromic animals. The pearl of wisdom gleaned from this experience was well worth my disapointment. Palindromes belong to the world, not the individual, and they are continually rediscovered. Imagine my joy when I pried the complete sentence-a rarity among palindromes-"Nate bit a Tibetan" out of the language. Since then I've found it in two other palindrome books.
Sadly, even the best palindromes fail to excite some people. You can imagine that if "Nate bit a Tibetan" sometimes gets a blank stare, "Ma, herons snore ham" can inspire undisguised disgust. The innocent passerby, caught off-guard by an insistent, excited palindromist, can't be expected to understand or appreciate the beauty of such a phrase. The truth is, finding a palindrome is in most cases far more fun than being assaulted with one. If you've spent hours toying with the word "snore" you're bound to be more interested in what it could mean to "snore ham" than those who have spent their time following other pursuits. And so, instead of just perusing the palindromes I and others have excavated from the earth that is the English language, try to build your own. Like any true gourmand, you'll better apreciate the meal when you can recognize the ingredients.

The Elements of a Palindrome

Palindromes are usually built around the kernel of a promising word. Once this initial, inspirational word has been reversed, other words can be added either between the word and its reversal or to either end of the pair. Building on the outside is often the easiest way to proceed. Say we need a palindrome in which a dog is to be ordered around. We might start with "dog, go d. . ." Then we'll need to find a useful word that starts with d. If we use deeper, we're left with ". . . re pee dog, go deeper," which calls out for a good word ending with re. If we then choose fire the outcome is "Fire pee dog, go deeper if." This begs for more words but there are no longer any hanging letters. Now any pair of words that are complete reversals of one another can bracket the palindrome to finish it off. "Live fire! Pee dog, go deeper if evil" ends the affair, though perhaps not as elegantly as one would have hoped.

Other palindromes can grow from the inside. If we start with "Go dog" we can add to the center by finding an appropriate word that starts with a d. "Go do dog" could put an end to the process with the o in do acting as the center. If we want to further expand it we could add Dana and look for a word that ends with ana (though "Go, Dana Dog" is a complete palindrome). Man a gives us "Go, Dana, man a dog." With a tolerable m word we could expand the palindrome indefinitely.

Each word in a palindrome has a role: Beginning or ending the palindrome; linking words together; acting as or contributing to the center of the palindrome.

First there are palindromic words-words that are the same forward and backward: Noon, Kayak, Bob.

Then there are the semordnilaps-words that are a different word (or couple of words) backward: dog/god, rats/star, evian/naive.

Words with internal symmetry contain a symmetrical section at the beginning or end. This section is most likely to end up as the center of a palindrome: sordid ("Flee sordid rose, elf?"), peeped (Kay, a red nude, peeped under a yak), llama (the ll in "Ma, I am a llama, I am." Unfortunately, the ama isn't of much use unless you can think of another word that starts with two Ls.).

When the first or last letter of a word is the center of a palindrome this letter is called the pivotal letter.

Embedded symmetries, symmetrical sections surrounded by different letters on either side, are useless. Staccato might be made into a palindrome (only if A.C. can stand for air conditioning or TAC for Tactical Air Command) but the acca will never be the center.

Linking words are simply redivided on their way back. Their letters are parts of other words on the other half of the palindrome: plan in Lee Mercer's classic "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama"; Cerusite in "You bet I sure can omit Tim on a cerusite buoy."

Astragal words contain another word (or two) backward at one end but need to be attached to another word with their remaining letters. These words are particularly useful when trying to finish a palindrome built from the inside out. If you catch a palindromist mumbling "I need a word that ends with rt where the rest of the letters spell something backward" chances are he's looking for an astragal word: Panama contains "a man" at the end, but the ap needs to be attached to something new ("a plan" in the old chestnut, but ape could work as well: "A man ape: Panama"); Melon in "No lemons, no melon."

Many words have different functions in different situations, sometimes more than one function in a single situation. Madam, for instanace, is a palindrome all by itself. But in "Madam, in Eden I'm Adam," it opperates as an Astragal word.

Palindromes are either even or odd-a small but important distinction. In even palindromes every letter is used twice. The middle occurs between letters, often between words. "Reign at Tangier" (by Joaquin and Maura Kuhn) is a good example. Such a palindrome is essentially two long semordnilaps. Since they can be halved without splitting a word it's easy to extend them by adding to their middles. "Reign at Tangier" becomes "Reign at nine men in Tangier." Now it's an odd palindrome-with the m as the pivotal letter-and not as easily expandable. Palindromes with the center in the middle of a word, can also be built the inside but it's a bit harder. There's not much to add to the interior of "I'm a boob, am I?" (Well, I guess there's always "I'm a bonk knob, am I?")

A perfect palindrome is a palindrome made up entirely of semordnilaps: "Able was I ere I saw Elba."

The following puzzles are easier than they might first seem. In many ways they are like cartoon rebuses: Every word is somehow clued in the image. Try to isolate elements from the text (actions, things, sometimes words) to find words that will fit into the dashes. Every letter you figure out can be used on the opposite side as well (so be sure to first find the center of the palindrome). Then you can work back and forth between the two sides. A single right word will give the whole palindrome away.

Find the title of this poem:

___ ____ ______

We're cheated with just one nose on the face
We want more noses all over the place!
The one we've got, yeah sure, it smells a lot
But one on the forehead could smell out a thought
one on a knee for sniffing at dogs
one on a shin for wading through bogs
One on the rear for smelling our seat
One on a foot for smelling, well, feet
One in the hair for smelling shampoo
One in the cupboard for sniffing some glue
One in a pit for smelling B.O.
And one on the chest: That's just for show

I'd do more than smell dozens of roses
If I'd been equipped with nine extra noses

Bob was a couch potato. Every day he came home from the factory, plopped himself down on the sofa, turned on the TV and popped open a brew. There was nothing he enjoyed more than drinking his favorite Canadian beer while watching a football game. In fact, that's about all he did. Work, sleep, football and beer. Drinking was only thing that ever distracted him from the tube. When he did happen to miss an interception or 40-yard-dash due to such a sip, there was always the instant replay to fill him in.

Every year Bob's wife and son would have a terrible time trying to think of what to buy him for his birthday. They tried getting him expensive, micro-brewed beer, but that didn't interest him. They'd bought him a subscription to Sports Illustrated but he didn't want to take any time away from watching football to read it.

One year they had a brilliant idea. Why not buy him tickets to go see a real football game-live, at the stadium? So Bob's wife and son picked him up after work on his birthday and drove him to a game. Bob was happy when he first saw the stadium  and more than eager to settle into his seat. As the game wore on, however, Bob became more and more frustrated. The only beer they served at the stadium was Budweiser and every time he looked around, hoping to see a vendor selling his beer he missed a crowd-roaring play. By the end of the first quarter Bob was ready to leave. He stood up in a huff, ready to go.
"What's wrong, Bob?" asked his wife.

"__ ___-__, __ ______," complained Bob.

Michael M.  Abrams

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