Aphorisms by Robert Priest

This just in from Jim Finnegan, proprietor of the always enlightening ursprache blog as well as the aphoristically amazing Tramp Freighter: “Many years ago, at the Bowery Poetry Club, I happened to hear Robert Priest give a performance. The ‘poetry reading’ was unusual in that he presented a group of aphorisms. Reading very short material, like haiku/epigrams/aphorisms, is always a difficult thing to carry off, much harder than reading poetry of standard length. Pace and how much silence to leave between pieces is difficult to manage. One needs to gives each piece space enough so that the short texts aren’t run together, becoming part of a longer unintended experience. But one doesn’t want to leave the audience hanging too long, in a pregnant pause, creating a sense of much ado being made over a bit of text, however well said.

And introducing an aphorism, when done at all, must be very delicate. One shouldn’t give a paragraph of intro to an aphorism of a line or two. The successful aphorism doesn’t require the context of an elaborate explanation, nor should it be undercut by amusing asides. I must have been impressed by Priest’s performance, because I bought his book Time Release Poems (Ekstatis Editions, 1997) and had him inscribe the book to me. I recently came upon the small book in my library. Here are some of Robert Priest’s witty and poetic aphorisms…”

No matter which way you turn there’s always something you’re not facing.

Whitewash comes in many colors.

Every little ruler wants a 13th inch.

There is no camouflage like a good philosophy.

The teacher is the lesson.

The edge comes from within.

Good lovers come in pairs.

The most dangerous people are the obedient.

The apology is never as loud as the insult.

Hurricanes at home move faraway sails.

People begin as dreams and end as memories.

You can’t forgive yourself without forgiving others.

Serious times breed comedians.