palindrome poem

Glenn Ligon, Give us a Poem (Palindrome #2), 2007

“Glenn Ligon made this neon piece […] in 2007, and I saw it a little while back on the wall of the Studio Museum in Harlem, where it’s part of the permanent collection. The work is built around an incident that occurred at Harvard in 1975, when Muhammad Ali had just finished a speech and a student in the audience asked him to improvise a poem: ‘Me/We’ was the pithy verse Ali offered. Even then, at the height of the Black Power movement, it was an intriguingly opaque statement that could have been read as a gesture of solidarity between the black boxer and his white audience, or as an underlining of their difference. In Ligon’s work, the two words become a visual palindrome, of sorts – symmetrical top and bottom – and alternate being lit (white) and unlit (black), which just increases the tension inherent in them. In 2014, in a museum in Harlem, it strikes me that the tension is between the artist and the audience he addresses – with the issue of race still there, but now wrapped up in larger issues of aesthetic communities and the class, and color, they imply." Blake Gopnik, The Daily Pic

Once upon a time
I was once lovely
And somebody loved me
And there was once a boy in my bed

I was once lovely
And he was lovely too
And there was once a boy in my bed
His heart beating in time with mine

And he was lovely too
With our matching blue eyes
His heart beating in time with mine
We kissed like lovers do

With our matching blue eyes
We stared out at the world
We kissed like lovers do
Unafraid of what daylight brings

We stared out at the world
And the world stared back
Unafraid of what daylight brings
His fingers gripping mine

And the world stared back
All eyes were on me
His finger gripping mine
My insecurities

All eyes were on me
This girl not good enough
My insecurities
Found their way into our bed

This girl not good enough
And another
Found their way into our bed
When I was not there

And another
Paths crossed
When I was not there
Was an opportunity for you

I was once lovely

—  c.d. - When He Loved Me
"Dammit I’m Mad" (a palindrome poem) by Demetri Martin

Dammit I’m mad.
Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
 In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash.
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.N
ame not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.

2

Boy’s Ceremonial kimono.  Meiji period (1868-1910), Japan.  The Kimono Gallery. A boy’s silk antique kimono originally worn for a Shinto coming-of-age ceremony. This garment features a ‘takarabune’ ('treasure ship’) created with the yuzen technique with embroidery highlights.  All the items on the ship are treasures associated with the seven gods of good fortune, including the key to the gods’ storehouse, the god Daikoku’s hammer, bails of hay, sacred jewels on the sail, an inexhaustible money bag, and a hat that makes the wearer invisible. According to legend, the takarabune sails into port on New Years Eve to dispense gifts of happiness and luck to believers. Children receive red envelopes emblazoned with the takarabune and containing money on New Year’s Eve and many people sleep with a depiction of the seven Gods and the takarabune under their pillow at New Year in order to ensure prosperity and good dreams for the coming months. If the bearer has nightmares, the picture should be set adrift in the river or sea to neutralize the bad luck. The ship is always depicted at full sail, laden with food and treasures, and prints of it usually include an auspicious palindromic poem: “During the endless night, half sleeping, half waking, I hear sounds of a ship sailing over the wave crests –Oh, I know it is bringing good fortune!”

Revised palindrome poem (Split)

Existence split in me, reason and feeling in order; in chaos.

Lust in control, minds bearing discord. Sense overtakes thought.

When bodies bind to mind, chaos ensues;

Colorful so, Art breathes forth. I create.

Mutiny for head of state: the fearing one.

Anxieties leave fingerprints. Violence cycles on.

Bodies willing souls, ensconced. Love to function.

Hell collapses Heaven inward.

Perception of mind incites reality- this unchosen world.

Autonomy in question, cast inhibition, now freely live.

Vivacity unto death, rebellion in existence.

Reason lies here, emotion intact.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tact in emotion, here lies reason.

Existence in rebellion, death unto vivacity.

Live freely now, inhibition cast, question in autonomy.

World unchosen- this reality incites mind of perception.

Inward Heaven collapses Hell.

Function to love. Ensconced souls willing bodies.

On cycles violence. Fingerprints leave anxieties.

One fearing the state of head for mutiny.

Create I- Forth breathes Art- so colorful.

Ensues chaos.

Mind to bind bodies when thought overtakes sense.

Discord bearing minds, control in lust.

Chaos in order in feeling and reason. Me, in split existence.

before I go
I had to tell you this
I love you
more than
I’d love anything else
I’m leaving because
I can’t take it anymore
because
I’m never with you
and it’s driving me crazy
you’re always around
when I’m not
you say you’re in love with me
and I’m sorry
it has to end this way

Now read it backwards!

“Dammit I’m Mad”

Dammit I’m mad.
Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash,
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.
Name not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.

—  Demetri Martin’s 224-word palindrome poem (the entire poem reads the same backwards and forwards)
now, read it backwards.

“Dammit I’m Mad”

Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
 In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash.
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.N
ame not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.

the truth
is the power

i am bounded by words,
flipped pages,
notes scribbled,
letters rearranged,
rendered feelings
& home-stays

my creativity cannot be tamed
i'm clawing
at the four walls of the box
this slow painful escape
i reach for
will one day be mine

& home-stays
rendered feelings,
letters rearranged,
notes scribbled,
flipped pages,
i am bounded by words

is the power
the truth

2

A fine silk “miyamairi” kimono, one utilized to drape over a one-month old baby boy during rite of passage at a Shinto Shrine. Mid to late Meiji (1880-1911), Japan.  The Kimono Gallery.  This example has very exacting yuzen-dye work on the many auspicious symbols, with many embroidery highlights on the ‘Kaendaiko’ (flame), 'tsuzumi’ (Japanese hand drum), 'shou’ (Japanese flute), and phoenix head. All the items on the ship are treasures associated with the seven gods of good fortune. According to legend, the takarabune sails into port on New Years Eve to dispense gifts of happiness and luck to believers. Children receive red envelopes emblazoned with the takarabune and containing money on New Year’s Eve and many people sleep with a depiction of the seven Gods and the takarabune under their pillow at New Year in order to ensure prosperity and good dreams for the coming months. If the bearer has nightmares, the picture should be set adrift in the river or sea to neutralize the bad luck. The ship is always depicted at full sail, laden with food and treasures, and prints of it usually include an auspicious palindromic poem: “During the endless night, half sleeping, half waking, I hear sounds of a ship sailing over the wave crests –Oh, I know it is bringing good fortune!”