Preface: Selected Poems 2013

Sharpless 2-106 Nebula, Hubble Space Telescope (December 6, 2011)

    The cover photo "Sharpless 2-106 Nebula" was taken by Hubble Space Telescope on December 6, 2011. It inspired the first poem "Celestial Snow Angel", the title for this year's selected poems.

    After moving to my new apartment on January 1, 2012, I noticed Pamela Drive, Phyllis Avenue, Camille Court during my walk to catch the bus daily, as well as Barbara Avenue when shopping. This triggered the poem "Feminine Street Names" (1-8-2013) that connects with my favorite poets Dante and Goethe in their love for the "Eternal Feminine". The third poem "The Meaning of Life" (1-30-2013) was inspired by Brian Crane's Pickles comics (8-16-2012).

    "Road To Rifted Rock" (2-7-2013) was born from synchronicity and serendipity. A friend's photo "Road to Rifted Rock" towards Phoenix on Interstate 10 conjured up images of the vanishing point, Platonic Lambda, and Gustave Doré's engraving of Dante's Purgatorio 4.31-33"We made our upward way through rifted rock; / along each side the edges pressed on us; / the ground beneath required feet and hands."

    "Hands Holding the Void" (2-20-2013) was inspired by my friend Steve Gould emailing me a photo from his iPhone— Alberto Giacometti's 1934 bronze sculpture at New York's MOMA Invisible Object (Hands Holding the Void). Afterwards, I began pondering on what is the object she's holding? This poem is the result of that contemplation. (Notes)

    "The Balance Tree" (3-4-2013) was written while waiting for Bus #22 at Phyllis Avenue & El Camino Real, Mountain View. The symmetric tree across the street seemed so calm and peaceful that it taught me lessons on mindfulness and yin & yang.

    "Why Everything Begins with M?" (3-8-2013) was inspired by Erika Yamashiro's "Green Tea" painting. The cute white rabbit in the teapot stirred up the childlike wonder within me. I reread Chapter 7 "A Mad Tea Party" in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, and wrote this haiku "Baby's first word is Ma— / Universe is born with Music— / Everything begins with Mind." I'm also including an earlier poem "The M Showed Me" (6-4-1992).

    "Attachment to Compassion" (3-9-2013) was written after Telo Tulku Rinpoche's talk on "The Power of Compassion" at Stanford Old Union (February 28, 2013).

    "Angel Cloud" (3-18-2013) was triggered by "Angel Seen in Florida Sky After Pope is Named" and Homero Aridjis's poetry book A Time of Angels.

    "Empty and Full" (3-20-2013) was a meditation on Bare Ginkgo Tree and Blossoming Almond Tree at the corner of Phyllis Ave & Camille Court, reminding me of Buddha and Lao Tzu's teachings on emptiness and the Hindu sages invocation on fullness.

    "I Love to Waltz" (3-31-2013) was written on Easter Sunday while walking up Palm Drive in Palo Alto. It was a response to Donna Frankel's Dance 04 Final Exam (3-22-2013) when she asked "What is your favorite dance? and Why?" I'm honoring Martha Graham, Fred & Ginger, Rumi's whirling dervishes, child circling on the merry-go-round horse, and proton bonding with the electron to create hydrogen, sunshine, and life.

    "Earth Day 2013" (4-22-2013) came from Bill Morrison's Earth Day 4/22 email linking to Ed MacKerrow's beautiful bird photos that inspired this poem. "Girl with a Pearl Earring" (6-14-2013) was inspired by Vermeer's 1665 painting which I missed seeing in San Francisco. "Sufi Spin" (7-7-2013) honors Rumi's whirling dervish dance which I do during ballroom dancing each week.

    Worriers Versus Warriors (8-15-2013) was inspired by the NY Times article "Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?" (2-10-2013). The COMT gene explains why one child is worrier and another is unflappable. After sharing this info with a friend, she tells me that she's a worrier but her sister is a warrior type, never having headaches. I began pondering on the differences between worriers and warriors and have listed them in this poem.

    During Foothill College Day Hike Class (October 4, 2013) at Shoreline Park, I saw two snowy egrets at opposite ends of Baylands pond. This reminded me of that marriage montage scene in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and inspired "Deja Vu at Shoreline Park" (10-10-2013).

    "Asymmetric Elm Tree" (10-22-2013) came upon seeing two branches of an elm tree growing parallel to each other at corner of Middlefield Road & San Antonio Road in Palo Alto. The space created between the branches resembled nabla ∇ like an Eguptian harp was a total surprise.

    "Hand Cloud Across the Sky" (10-23-2013) was from the sunset clouds seen on El Camino Real & Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, from Stanford SE Bus on Sunday, October 6, 2013, 6:58 pm

    "Bending Bay Tree" (10-30-2013) honors the tree at corner of Middlefield Road and Keats Court as well as John Keats who love trees. The last poem "Beauty" (12-12-2013) tells how beauty changes our lives.

                                                              Peter Y. Chou
                                                              Mountain View, December 12, 2013

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (12-12-2013)