Aphorisms by Christopher Phelps

Christopher Phelps describes himself as “a fledgling poet,” but in these aphorisms he is certainly in full flight. These sayings, which Phelps calls epigrams, play off stock phrases as they slyly subvert and elevate contemporary bumper sticker mentality. “Occasionally in my work I notice that an epigram says more than a longer, more landscaped poem would,” he writes—and he’s right. Enough said.

Is necessity a single mom, or does invention have a dad?

Tides aside, it is also the tears of the boaters that raise their boats.

A poem is, if divinely inspired, humanly proportioned. A poem is spirit and letter sitting together in talks. A poem is graven imagination. A poem is sacrilegible.

In a world of paraphrase—a slope that slips from one end to its opposite—a poem is what remains of the exact quotation.

Outside the box there is a glut of slain dragon, pushing down the price of dragon meat for the rest of us.

“Don’t believe everything you think” is a paraphrase of Aristotle. Bumper stickers: check and source yourselves.

To paraphrase Simone Weil, we all partake of the same hell, but hell pretends we suffer separately. That’s hell’s lie.

To the soul? I don’t know. But our eyes are windows. For the glass to glow, you have to wash the words out.