Aphorisms by Eric Nelson

Olivia Dresher alerts me to yet another wonderful aphorist from the pages of her excellent FragLit journal. Eric Nelson is a poet and professor of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in creative writing. His publications include The Interpretation of Waking Life (University of Arkansas Press, 1991) and Terrestrials (Texas Review Press, 2004). I’m not sure whether to describe Nelson’s work as aphoristic poems or poetic aphorisms. He writes in verse form, in any case; i.e. short lines arranged on the page as a poem, with the first letter of each new line capitalized. But many of the poems are not more than a sentence in length. They sketch haiku-like scenes in the mind—of melting snowmen, a butterfly resting on a turd—but also mix an aphoristic bluntness with a more traditionally ‘poetic’ poignancy. The selection in FragLit is called “The Devil’s Almanac”; an allusion to the decidedly unpoetic Ambrose Bierce, perhaps? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you call the sayings, of course. The important thing is to read them. You can do that below, and you can read more of Nelson’s aphorisms/poems here.

Only someone who still has it
Can say
Hope is a curse.

Happy memories
Are the saddest.

It’s not the going home
That’s hard.
It’s the wanting to.

It’s solitude if you like it.
Loneliness if you don’t.

Why oppose opposites?
A hammer pulls as well as drives.
Only what is buried grows.