These epigrams were homemade by Randall A. Wells. Many seem literal and practical, like the entries in Life’s Little Instruction Book: Suggestions, Observations, and Reminders on How to Live a Happy and Rewarding Life (H. Jackson Brown, Jr., 2000). For example, Brown’s #1009: “Carry three business cards in your wallet.” Yet some of Brown’s are true proverbs, such as the metaphorical #1020, “When there’s a piano to be moved, don’t reach for the stool.” Still others invite extension to the metaphorical, like #1458, “Never go up a ladder with just one nail.” There are ladders that never held a foot, nails that never poked a hand.

The epigrams below range from the literal to the literal-metaphorical and the metaphorical; from the solemn to the whimsical; from the worldly-wise to the idealistic.

WWho rides a bike must wear a short scarf.

The best traction on ice is no confidence.

“Y’all come back,” the chiropractor’s motto.

Yield to the banged-up car,

The far-right will blast your ass, the far-left just burn your limo.

Don’t cut anything orange with an electric mower. (Randel Clark.)

It’s very important to try things that don’t work. (Dennis W. Ross)

Don’t screw the olive lid onto the artichoke jar.

Don’t chew gum and popcorn, too.

Don’t whistle to polyphony.

Gretel’s mettle ‘scapes the kettle.

Tomorrow: procrastinator’s enemy, healer’s friend.

Blessed is he who keeps one bad thing from causing another.

Blasted are the peacemakers.

In the dance of love, Heart leads and Time follows.

Soak before scrub.

Garage before Cadillac.

Must fust.

There’s no T in I’m.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the pathetic.

Who carries torch of truth may scorch own pants.

Be glad for one who makes you look good.

The first duty of an institution is to perpetuate itself.

It’s more complicated than that.

Fool me once, fool me twice, fool me three times, that’s not nice.

Best friends don’t lick you or drink from the toilet.

Family members aren’t furry.

A crow would bark.

Barker dog makes owner deaf.

When one door closes, watch your fingers.

God never sends a greater burden than others can bear.

May he who expects seventy-two virgins get seventy-six trombones.

Astrology: intellect in retrograde.

One stick, two kids, three eyes.

Leave more in the tip-jar than you take out.

Bad breath can blow an oboe.

Guns don’t kill, bullets do.

Speed through fog, sing Que sera.

Know which side your butt is breadered on.

Many hands make light work, said the Devil.

If there’s a fork in the road, don’t pick it up.

Nobody starves for lack of a fork.

Lick the knife of life.

Two-things-at-a-time’s a crime.

First, toss garbage.

Don’t let your How forget your Why.

Don’t go sailing, hold the railing.

Don’t step backwards on a roof.

If you’re going to fall on stairs, fall up.

Only a fool makes the same mistake twice twice.

If you don’t like shavings, be a shoemaker. (By permission, carpenter, name lost, Williamsburg, VA.)

Don’t trip on your tools.

Don’t die of yourself.

Don’t know through life.

Don’t bind your feet or bonsai your brain.

It’s not the most wonderful time of the year if chipmunks sing.

The tenderest skin’s on a wallet.

May you see your grandchild’s first gray hair.

The older the oucher.

No one who hopes for life after death will be disappointed.

Friends don’t see friends’ Depends.

If you hang your undies on a doorknob, make sure they’re clean.

‘Tis a was-woodchuck digs by the road.

Takes two legs to limp.

Don’t shake champagne.

Don’t pour wine to take a pill.

Gimme gluten!

Give a rip, don’t make one.

Hide cards in hand, bills in fold, food in mouth.

Nobody needs to know everything.

Oust Jews, pay dues.

To leave this world is not all bad.

Think in bed, eyes of red.

Don’t moon anyone from a church bus.

The lion that lies down with the lamb starves.

Silence is Kuklapolitan.

Neither thunder or sunshine ever filled a cistern.

The engineer doesn’t have to know a minor triad with flatted seventh to blow the horn.

It’s a true nature lover who doesn’t take yellow-jacket stings personally.

Dessert for hunger, beer for thirst, prayer for cold hands.

Don’t pray while God’s putting.

Treat money like water and water like money.

Better no cane than the bejeweled shillelagh of St. Paul’s.