Palindromes by Mr. Arm

           I’ve long been a fan of the palindrome. Most everyone has heard the vintage “Madam I’m Adam”, “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.”, and “Able was I ere I saw Elba.” A friend laid a doozy on me one day in the ‘80’s from an unknown source. “Sit on a potato pan Otis.” I’ve been obsessed with them since. I even started collecting U.S. paper currency with palindromic serial numbers. I also realized how quirky and imaginative they could be. Potato pan? Really? There’s no such thing, but it works perfectly in the context of a palindrome. I have even taken liberties with spelling to accommodate writing them. I figured if Theodor Geisel could invent words for his Dr. Seuss books then creative construction would work perfectly for me as well. Some may say that some of my words are misspelled. I contend that language is forever fluid. Witness the yearly additions to the Oxford English Dictionary. Twerk, selfie, jorts, etc.

        It never occurred to me to write my own until 1991 when a magazine had a contest. The premise was to use a well-known person as part of the palindrome. The winning entry was

“Lisa Bonet ate no basil.” Of course it was a subjectively judged contest, and of course I

believed several of mine were more worthy. Like, “Tarzan raised Desi Arnaz’ rat.” This had

two well-known people in it. Or “E. Borgnine drags dad’s gardening robe.” And let's not

overlook "To Idi Amin; I'm a idiot." and "I Rasputin knit up sari." Sadly, it wasn't to be.

I did win a T-shirt for my efforts, however. Since that time I have steadily compiled my own collection. I also have realized that two identical palindromes can be independently imagined.

“Do geese see God?” for instance. This realization caused me to never again look at any compilation of palindromes so as not to influence my original content. I now have created

over 2,000 of my own.

         I always strive to make them sound like real sentences. This is difficult to achieve.

Most are syntactically tortured and grammatically incorrect. They also may require a lot of punctuation to complete. The other fundamental property of palindromes is their need to

include the names of people or places. Because a name can be spelled virtually anyway

one desires this gives a great amount of latitude to the creator.

        I also have been working on the world’s longest palindrome. It currently has over 5,000 words and continues to grow. By its nature, it can expand forever. Every so often it will happen

that the current sentence will result in a pivot point and the palindrome can be terminated as a complete one. I save these as editions and then continue to plug away at lengthening it.

      At some point I had the thought to illustrate them. A single panel like the Gary Larson

Far Side comic strips. I figured it would make them more interesting.  The only problem was I

can't draw worth a lick. I decided to only use black and white. That seemed easiest. I hope that my drawing ability will get better with time. Until then, this is my first published effort. I hope they are enjoyable.

       Questions, comments, deep thoughts or non sequiturs can be sent to Mark at Or follow me on Twitter @mrarmimrarm