• Thomas A. Wilson

Homophones and Palindromes

A poem, in four verses:

Caged prey should pray, aloud if allowed, if a mountain lion escapes from its “cell.”

Zookeepers may love the dangerous beast because of the tickets they sell,

But doe-eyed ruminants don’t need “dough”—they’re not bred to care about “bread.”

Instead, they’re concerned, or so I have learned, with simply not ending up dead.

But humans, it seems, do so love cash, and long for a cache in the seams of their mattresses.

The dear deer are not so, if their story be told, they don’t care if the market collapses.

Instead, they know good grass will grow. So, it’s best to enjoy summer days,

And be like the bee, and graze busily—and not prowl in a blood-thirsty daze!

The chased view the chasers as serial killers who, un-chaste, make the little deer shudder.

Why can’t the beasts just fill up on cereal—there’d be no need to latch the door and shutter!

But the hungry lions won’t change. So, each morning, let’s hope there’s no mourning,

As the night turns to day with the nervous herd not havin’ heard any warnings.

So, whether in a zoo or the wild, pray for good weather to reseed and water the grass

That gives the fleet-footed nourishment to run, because in an inter-species clash,

Your last race is the one you hoped to have won! So, beware if you meet lion, or boa, or cheetah

Because, I’m not lyin’, if you do, it won’t be any of them that are dying to meat-cha’!

How many homophones can you find in the poem above? I count twenty pairs. Homophones are words that are pronounced alike but have different meanings. Do, for instance, is also dew and due. Doo-doo and hair-do further complicate the mix. That’s a lot of responsibility for a single syllable.

English is awesome. As an American writer and speaker, I’m in love with the language. But sometimes, something is lost in the translation. I once took some of my best material to a group in another city. Man, I bombed. (Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you—it’s just a part of life.) After I debriefed myself, I concluded that it was my job to figure out what the group needed. There’s no doubt my objective was righteous—I was speaking (gratis) to a group to persuade them toward their own best interest. But I didn’t know them well enough to tune the talk so they could hear my heart.

And isn’t that the thing? Don’t we want people to really understand our heart? Then, if they get mad or reject, they’d at least be rejecting the real you. Too often, though, people get sideways about something that is half true, or maybe not true at all. But they have their certainty!

While it isn’t healthy to own someone else’s flawed worldview, it is healthy to understand it—and to engage them in a redemptive way that leads to higher ground. So, people who initiate communication have a responsibility to use the power of words in a manner that promotes the best chance of blessing, not cursing, others—and themselves.

The moral of the story, therefore, is: work hard to pick the right words, the ones you say and the ones you think.

Words can also be palindromes. Nurses run is a palindrome, as is madam or radar. A palindrome is a sequence of letters or numbers that read the same forwards and backwards. For instance, today’s date is a palindrome: 9/17/19 or 91719. Another example: the palindromic square of 26 is 676. (Aren’t you glad you’re reading this blog?) A famous palindrome, penned by Leigh Mercer, became the title of a book: A Man, a Plan, a Canal—Panama.

What do homophones have to do with palindromes? Well, the latter informs the former. You see, words are like boomerangs. They eventually come right back to you. 123454321, if you understand what I’m trying to say. The principle of reciprocity is at work here. You reap what you sow. As you judge, so you'll be judged. As you give, it will be given unto you. get it?

People wear what comes out of their mouth, either a suit of fragrant blessing or a onesie of putrid curses. What goes out is what comes back in. Our words come back to hang on our countenance. Yep, we smell like what we say.

That’s why real men, real adults, learn to manage the power of words in a way that promotes mutual well-being. Considering the amount of negative personal self-talk and vicious public trolling, it’s time to promote the idea of at least trying to be careful with words.

Life’s too short for all this BS.


Everyone lives inside a conversation he/she is having with his/herself. That is, perceived reality is a result of personal narrative. Self-talk determines self-image (the “kanji” of narrative) which determines real performance.

Affirmation of the Week: I guard my tongue, and the thoughts that give it life.

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