"An Almanac of Words at Play" was written by Willard Espy, he's been called a wordmonger, a light versifier and creator of linguistic whimsies. Whatever you call him he was one of the great influences of my poetic beginnings. His Almanacs remain some of the funniest and most interesting collections of wordplay, word information, and light verse I've ever seen.
Espy wrote the poetry column in Writer's Digest. I remember how happy I was every month when the magazine came in the mail. I loved Espy's style and the challenges he put before me as a writer.
I kept "An Almanac of Words at Play" on my desk at the Japanese company where I worked thirteen hours a day, six days a week. I could pick it up anytime and take a break from (You got it . . .) "working in a Japanese company thirteen hours a day, six days a week". All of our meetings were in Japanese, the customers spoke Japanese, I was doing the sales pitch in Japanese! I'm not Japanese. There were 20 people in the room, they're all Japanese and I have no one to talk to for thirteen hours a day, six days a week. And THERE was Espy taking away the pain with an Almanac of Jokes, poems, puns, puzzles, palindromes, and pangrams. A daily dose of wordplay.
I'll commit two of his poems here from memory since I can't find them on-line and the book is in a box.
Poor Paralyze Can't Lift a Finger
by Willard Espy
An eyeless beggar at my door inquired what realize are for,
And swore he would not let me by till I had twelve times answered why.
Why summarize are decked with leaf? Why winterize are bare?
Why legalize prepare a brief? Why tranquilize don't care?
Why Malthus dreaded fertilize? Why sterilize won't sprout?
Why there's no pa for bastardize? Why vocalize speak out?
Why idolize don't answer prayer? Why catalyze are dumb?
Why fossilize give stony stare and vulcanize chew gum?
I Wish I was a Corsican
by Willard Espy
I Wish I was a Corsican, a horsey, coursey Corsican.
and do the things a Corsican. Or even those his horsican can.
When weary grows the Corsican of wedded intercoursican,
Arrange a quick divorcican and trot off on his horsican.
With oaths and curses coarsican take courtesans by forcican.
And if his throat grows hoarsican, tap out his oaths in morsican.
The Corsican, the Corsican take any course that Corsican.
Of Corsican of Corsican, of course, of course, of Corsican.
I wish I was a Corsican.
If you like palindromes and pangrams check out "The Quantum Poetizer" at quantumpoetizer.com it has screens the help build palindromes and pangrams.
When I left Japan, I gave the book to a friend thinking that I'd just pop into a bookstore and pick one up. No chance. It took seven years - checking bookstores from Seattle to Sarasota and finally the invention of Amazon.com for me to get a replacement copy.