Friday, February 22, 2008

A word puzzle for Blogmanac readers

I know we've done this before in this place, but I always like seeing who can solve this puzzle that I wrote in 1983. (I like to think it's as valid today as it was 25 years ago.)

It's based on those Victorian word riddles. Prize: Free subscription to Wilson's Almanac ezine.

If "My first is in hunger which grows by the hour, and also in bread, but never in flour", then the first secret letter is 'E', because it is in the words 'hunger' and 'bread', but not in the word 'flour'. Now the rest is up to you:

Who Am I?

My first is in hunger which grows by the hour
and also in bread, but never in flour.
Hunger and thirst are the recipe which
ensures that the poor will serve meals to the rich.
The poor, always with us, help balance my sums.
Ah, out of each hardship some good always comes!

My second's in stocks, but it's not found in bonds,
in yachts and in oceans, but never in ponds.
Czar, Caesar and chairman cavort on the sea
in cabins of craft, by courtesy of me.
In countries and continents, and in every city
you care for your captains, they do look so pretty.

My third is in woman but not found in man.
In liberation, too, this letter you'll scan.
Once barefoot and pregnant I kept them, of course,
until I discovered their new market force.
With reluctance I gave in, but, oh, happily found
fresh factory fodder and new cheque accounts.

My fourth's in your son, in your hands, on your knee –
what a bright little soldier he'll turn out to be.
In science and schooling you'll discover this letter,
in pain and in prison and in national vendetta,
in minds strong and nimble, full of freedom and doubt –
bequeath them to me for a straightening out.

My fifth is in food in containers in stores
but not found in gardens around you because
I plant the allotments with tar, not fruit trees.
Come, hungry servants, come work for your meals!
In this nation of plenty, with its vast machines,
you pay for your supper; the price is your dreams.

My sixth in employment and motor you'll mark,
for motor you'll need to make the miles to the marts
and the mines and the malls and wherever you're maimed
and manipulated for monopoly management's gain.
For I made my mark on the making of maps,
and if you sleep near your job, it's monotony perhaps.

My seventh's in building, demolition, and you'll find
it in nickels and dimes and their equivalent, time.
I pulled down a home and erected a Hilton,
pulled it down and erected a Burgermaster building;
I replaced that with a home (and this is phenomenal!)
I ripped down the home and put up a McDonald's.

My eighth's as capricious as any before; it's in Case,
Caterpillar and McCulloch chainsaw.
It's in chop, crash and crush, it's callous, and of course,
it's nearly the end of "non renewable resource".
I control countries' coffers, but I'll eat my hat
if I'd ever run a corner grocer's like that.

My ninth and my last begins separation –
that's my strategy for staying in complete domination.
Subtly sequestered in separate stations,
my servants are settled in superb alienation.
Separate shacks and sets of supplies,
it's here that my sway on the State really lies!

From my first to my last I'm as hidden from mind
as a black man at night in a shady coal mine.
Like fire and water, which can bring disaster
when not held in check, I'm an arrogant master.
Though you blame politicians, and politicians blame you,
all beings are my subjects; now, can you guess who?


Blogger identity crisis said...


4:54 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...


7:43 PM  

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