The cover photo of "Mother Bird" was taken from my kitchen window on September 7, 2009.
I noticed a giant bird shaped from leaveless branches of an eucalyptus tree. The next day,
I was amazed to see a single "Bird Cloud" hovering over the tree where "Mother Bird"
had nestled. I took a photograph of this ethereal cloud soaring in the deep blue sky
that inspired the poem "Mother Bird in the Wild Branches".
Seventeen poems are included in Mother Bird in the Wild Branches: Selected Poems 2009.
The first poem "ABC Book for the New Year" was composed on New Year's Day, while hiking
on the Los Alamitos Creek Trail in San Jose near Almaden Lake Park. It brought awareness
that each letter of the alphabet is sacred if we pay close attention.
Winter semester was a great treat attending Mark Doty's Stanford Poetry Workshops.
After we read Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass (1st edition 1855),
he encouraged the class to write in Whitman's style of long sentences.
Four poems were written that were longer than my usual style. "What Is Belief?"
had a surprise ending which the Stanford students liked. "Song of the Self" was
a response poem to Whitman's, my first draft of four pages was reduced to two,
still my longest poem written. "Hymn to the Sun" was inspired by
that "the sun in the sky is metaphoric and secondary to the real sun".
This shock stirred me to contemplate more on the real nature of our sun, and
experience some eureka moments in praise of the Spiritual Sun.
"Paris Opera" resulted from realizing that the word opera contains three
Sun Gods Op, Per, Ra from Greece (Apollo), Slavic (Perun),
and Egypt (Ra). This poem contains 100 etymologic sun words and is dedicated to my
Dad when I realized our joyous time together in front of the Paris Opera House in 1979.
In the Notes to "Paris Opera", I mentioned Bach's Cantata: Sleepers Awake and "Wake up!"
It suddenly dawned upon me that Beethoven's opening four notes to his Fifth Symphony
was a wake up call to Cosmic Consciousness of Enlightenment. Hence the birth of
"Beethoven's Fifth Symphony" poem. A chance encounter at Safeway's checkout
lane with a brawny guy inspired "The Most Evil Man in the Universe". At Stanford's
Symposium "The Descent of Grace" (May 15, 2009), Professor Robert Bird showed
a clip of Tarkovsky's 1979 science fiction film Stalker. When I noticed
a piece of paper with "28" on it floating in the waters, "The Mystery Dream" poem was born.
"Summer Solstice on Father's Day" haikus were inspired by classical music heard on KDFC 102.1 FM
radio on Father's Day. "Platonic Lambda at High Peaks" was inspired by a mountain ridge
resembling the Platonic Lambda and a Cubic Rock while hiking at
Pinnacles National Monument
(June 14, 2009).
The 33rd Foothill College Writers' Conference (July 2009) provided poetry writing
exercises. Two poems from these workshops are included
"Betty Carter Blues" inspired by Avotcja reciting poetry & Modupue playing jazz music,
and "Entering the Dark Ark of the Moment" based on Scott Inguito's reading of
James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover. Merrill's poem from the
Ouija board inspired me to use these words from the dead to construct a new poem.
"An Augustinian Awakening Peter Milton's Interiors VI: Soundings"
was inspired by a visit to Stanford's Cantor Art Center. Studying the various
symbolism in this print, I had an epiphany similar to Saint Augustine's insights
into Biblical numerology. The artist Peter Milton was thrilled at my findings
that he placed my poem and Notes on his web site.
"All Is in the Prayer" is a response poem to Denise's "fall is in the air"
who responded to my email greetings of "Happy Moon of Falling Leaves" to
friends on October 4th Full Moon. "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Completion"
was inspired by Nancy Dean Mercury's email for your completion
instead of certainty, let us experience completion / certainty comes around to being uncertain /
completion comes around and around. The last poem "You Can't Catch Me" contains
84 book titles of Joyce Carol Oates, inspired after her Reading and Colloquium at Stanford.
Peter Y. Chou
Mountain View, December 23, 2009