Happy Returns

I’m a dog −

Trade sin on a contraflow or

rarer ebb.

A yogi,

Not one yen I possessed.

Dog sore was I.

Nose? Yes.

Leg? Nada.


A fine sir…

A silly ram

Alive on tubes.

A vagabond, ‘n’ all a-bony.

No ball and no bag,

A vase, but no ‘evil amaryllis’ arisen.

I fade.


I had angel’s eye.

Son, I saw Eros – Goddesses!

So pine ye not.

On I go.



Ol’ fart –

No canonised art-god am I.


Notes and comments

The voice of this poem is a knackered old tramp, missing various bits of his anatomy, speaking on his hospital deathbed (alive on tubes) to his son.

Why bother with the palindrome form at all, other than as an intellectual challenge? I am intrigued by the possibility of a text containing its opposite, or turning on itself so that the second half somehow defies or contradicts the first, even though the actual letters are the same. I think this poem achieves this with the change of mood in the penultimate stanza (Yet…/ I had angel’s eyes). Despite his decreptitude he does not regret his life; he has seen remarkable things, slept with beautiful women…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: