Lucy Vickery

Verse and reverse

In Competition No. 3098 you were invited to submit a poem that can be read forwards and backwards, i.e. from the top down and the bottom up.
I worried, as the entries trickled in, that I had set the bar too high, especially given the anguished comments that accompanied some of them. ‘This was one of your really tough assignments,’ wrote one old hand, ‘a combination of mathematics and poetics.’ ‘This challenge almost made me cry,’ wailed another.
But I needn’t have worried. Your submissions — some palindromic — combined technical adroitness with clever content. High fives to the winners below who are rewarded with £20 each.

This is a verse you can flip, you can flop.
The top is the bottom, the bottom the top.
It works up or down. It’s just like a stairwell.
Aloha. Shalom. It’s both greeting and farewell.
It doesn’t much matter. It’s fine either way.
Does day follow night, or does night follow day?
Was it the chicken or egg that came first?
Whichever you choose works as well when reversed.
So start from the bottom, or start from the top.
This is a verse you can flip, you can flop.
Robert Schechter
What can you show me, mirror on the wall?
A rendezvous with my own face? I’ll pass.
I never was the fairest of them all.
I try to keep my head before the glass.
The glass is always full and always not.
And this illusion is a quid pro quo.
Some sights have all the substance of a thought.
The mirror can reflect, but does not know.
Reflection tells a truth and tells a lie.
Thus blindness and insight make quite a pair.
A silver sheen conspires with the eye.
We see what’s here by what’s not really there.
Reflected images fill up no space.
Can emptiness dictate some protocol?
Will vision fail to argue its own case?
Shall I ignore the mirror on my wall?
Chris O’Carroll
Into the Louvre’s angled silhouette
I’m happy that I paid ten francs, was led
Through spacious rooms and scenes I can’t forget,
By marble statues, beautiful but dead,
I turn away, but as I pause awhile
I see that face, the mood the artist caught,
That knowing look, the enigmatic smile —
Her thoughts are not as virtuous as they seem,
A blatant invitation in those eyes!
I can’t ignore that bold, lascivious gleam,
To such a challenge any man would rise,
I sense an odour of unbridled lust,
Throbbing beneath that ill-concealed bust.

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