Ryokan at the Tea Ceremony

At one time, the Master attended a formal tea ceremony … picked a piece of dried snot from his nose, and, trying not to attract any attention, went to place it beside him on his right. The guest there pulled back his sleeve in disgust. So the Master tried to place it on his left; but the guest there also recoiled. Realizing that he was stuck, the Master simply placed the snot back in his nose. —Curious Accounts of Zen Master Ryokan

Aphorisms by Lance Larsen

Lance Larsen, poet laureate of Utah and a professor at BYU, is the author of four poetry collections: Genius Loci (2013), Backyard Alchemy (2009), In All Their Animal Brilliance (2005), and Erasable Walls (1998). Individual poems have appeared in Slate, New York Review of Books, Orion, Paris Review, Poetry, Georgia Review, Ploughshares, TLS, Best American Poetry 2009, and elsewhere.  His essays also appear widely, three of which have been listed as notables—in Best American Essays 2005, 2009, and 2013.

Pants down, garage door up: how alike the sensation of exposure.

In triumph or despair, pet a cat.

Theory is a leaky cup.

To climb a new mountain, wear old shoes.

Wonder is the yeast of the imagination.

Fraud or Freud: for seven drafts not even my spell check could tell the difference.

Confessions of A Metaphor Designer

Interesting piece by Michael Erard in Aeon on how to design a metaphor: “Designing metaphors makes you look around and realise how much of the language we use has been engineered to create its effects, in the same way that the resistance of an Oreo cookie’s cream against the tongue is no accident. To the metaphor designer, a really good, wild metaphor is a special find.”

Aphorisms by Kenneth Patchen

Another aphoristic addition to the site from James Finnegan, whose Aphorisms by James Finnegan are extremely rewarding…

I’ve had the Collected Poems by Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) for many years, almost as long as I’ve been a poet. Patchen had a wide range in his poetry, from the whimsical to the politically acerbic. Recently I was pulling his collected from the shelf looking for a suitable love poem to read at a wedding. Patchen wrote many beautiful love poems, often the subject of his love poem was his wife, Miriam. Flipping through the book this time, I noticed for the first time that the penultimate piece in the book is small collection of aphorisms under the title, “’Gentle & Giving’ and Other Sayings.” Here are a few…

Gentle and giving—the rest is nonsense and treason.

No man’s life is beautiful except in hurtless work.

The autumn leaf is emblazoned with spring’s belief.

Truth is always what they don’t say.

Take taking from those who give and nobody anywhere will need any more such gifts.

Law and order embrace on hate’s border.

An ear with a hippopotamus attached—what an amazingly unlikely way for the buzz of a tiny fly to get itself heard!

In the love of a man and a woman is the look of God looking.