Notes to Poem:
The Letter Z:
Zero in on Zeus

Peter Y. Chou

Preface: It was fun writing the poem "The Letter C: Short Autobiograhy" while walking around my neighborhood for 50 minutes on
New Year Day, January 1, 2016. Another alphabet poem "The Letter Z" popped up during my 45-minutes walk to ballroom dancing on
Saturday, January 9. Insight from Robert M. Hoffstein's A Mystical Key to the English Language (1992)— Z is derived from Hebrew
Zayin (arrow), so the onomatopoetic sound of weapon cleaving the air— zap, zing, zip, zoom. There are 68 "z words" in this poem.
Original Notes written 1-28-2016 were lost in USB (8-28-2016). These Notes were reconstructed (Oct. 24-Nov. 6, 2020) from a hard copy of five pages. Luckily, of the original 64 images, 58 were found in Google Images, with replacements for the six missing photos.

Commentary on Poem "The Letter Z":

Z— the last letter of the alphabet
but Zeus is the foremost King of the gods
while Zephyr the West Wind gathers zinnia
on the Zinfandel Trail for his bride Flora.

Letter Z
16th century

Mac OSX Keyboard
with letter Z-key in left corner

"Zeus with Eagle & Lightning
Bolt" (circa 460 BC), Louvre
The letter Z is the 26th and last letter of the modern English alphabet. On typewriters and computer keyboards, the letter Z key is
relegated at bottom left corner for the pinky finger to type due to its infrequent use. However Zeus, ancient Greek sky & thunder
god, ruled on Mount Olympus as King of the gods. Its Roman equivalent is Jupiter in which our largest planet is named. The
Temple of Zeus (5th century BC) was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Phidias sculpted a 43-feet tall Statue of
Zeus at Olympia
(435 BC) with tiny Nike, goddess of victory in his right hand. (Zeus's dominance in poem "Pluto's Heart Image").

Photo Sources: Letter Z (; Mac OSX Keyboard (; Zeus (;

Zephyr the West Wind gathers zinnia
on Zinfandel Trail for his bride Flora,
Dr. Zhivago is studying zymurgy on,
fermentation— last word in the dictionary.

Zephyr & Chloris who changes
to Flora in Botticelli's Primavera

zinnia elegans

Zinfandel Trail
Picchetti Ranch

Flora in

Boris Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago (1957)
made into David Lean's film (1965)
In Sandro Botticelli's painting Primavera (1482), Zephyr, the West Wind at the right, abducts the nymph Chloris, who
changes into his bride Flora, goddess of Spring. Zinfandel Trail is at Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve, Cupertino,
California. Hiked the 4-mile trail from Picchetti Winery to Stevens Creek County Park on October 25, 2013 (Photos).
For sake of this "Letter Z" poem, I imagined Zephyr gathering Zinnia for his bride Flora. Noticed zymurgy (chemistry
of fermentation) as last word in Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1963), I had Dr. Zhivago studying
zymurgy, though he never did so in Boris Pasternak's novel or in David Lean's film. Image Sources: Zephyr & Chloris (; Zinnia (; Zinfandel Trail (; Flora (; Dr. Zhivago (

Z derived from Hebrew Zayin (arrow)
the sound of weapon cleaving the air—
onomatopoeia zap, zing, zip, zoom,
as Karas plays zither in The Third Man.

Hebrew Zayin means
"arrow" or "sword"

Arrow flying in the air
Italy C17 airmail stamp (3-12-1930)

Alpine Zither
with 42 strings

Anton Karas plays zither theme in
Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949)
Took awhile to find Robert M. Hoffstein's A Mystical Key to the English Language (1992)— Z is derived from Hebrew
Zayin (arrow), so the onomatopoetic sound of weapons cleaving the air— zap, zing, zip, zoom. Zithers are played by
strumming or plucking the strings. The Alpine zither has 42 strings, and differs from the concert zither primarily in
requiring the addition of an extension to the body of the instrument to support both the longer additional contrabass
strings and their tuners. Anton Karas wrote and performed the score for Carol Reed's 1949 film noir >The Third Man which used only the zither. Its haunting "The Third Man Theme ("Harry Lime Theme" starring Orson Welles) topped
international music charts in 1950. Reed met Karas in a Vienna café playing the zither & asked him to write the film
Image Sources: Zayin (; Italy C17 (; Alpine Zither (; Anton Karas plays zither (

Mr. ZIP sings "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" to use
ZIP codes, Crazy Wizard warns of hazard—
dazzling falling frozen lizards in blizzards,
amazing drizzle wakes up Sleepy & Sneezy.

Mr. Zip
Tab on U.S. stamp

Disney's Song of the South

Use Zip Code
USPS Poster (May 1963)

Chief Crazy Horse
Zip codes came in use by the USPS in 1963. ZIP is acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, chosen
to suggest that mail travels more efficiently, and therefore more quickly (zipping along), when
senders use the code 95 digits) in the postal address. Mr. Zip, informally "Zippy", is a cartoon
character used by USPS to encourage use of ZIP code in all mailings. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" is a
song from the Disney 1946 movie Song of the South sang by James Baskett (Uncle Remus). Ethel
Merman sang a ZIP Code promotional jingle to the tune of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah around 1963 in a
TV commercial (audio clip). A bizarre weather event is a sudden downpour of frogs. Pliny
recorded this frog rain in 77 AD. Due to reports of raining animals, I made up Chief Crazy Horse
("Crazy Wizard") warning of "frozen lizards in blizzards" that wake up Sleepy and Sneezy..

29-inches Snow Blizzard
Washington D.C. (Feb. 9-10, 2010)

Two-feet Hail Storm
Denver, Colorado (June 5, 2015)

Disney's Snow White

Disney's Snow White
Image Sources: Mr. Zip (; "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" (; Use Zip Code (; Chief Crazy Horse (;
Frozen Lizard (; Snow Blizzard (; Hail Storm (; Sleepy (; Sneezy (

Double zeroes on Jim Otto, Robert Parrish,
Zest soap bars, Zing sweeteners, Ziploc bags.
Zebras in zoos zipping by plains of Zaire,
Zepplins flying over Zermatt and Zurich.

Jim Otto

Robert Parrish

Zest Soap Bar

Zing Sweetners

Ziploc Bags
In Best by Number: Who wore what with distinction (Ron Smith, Sporting News Books, 2006), the best athletes who wore
uniforms with "0" & "00" were selected. Jim Otto was a 255-pound palinfrome: and proud of it. He also could spell his name
with double zeros (0tt0). He wore "00" his Oakland Raiders uniform for 14 years (1961-1974) as their center. Started all 210
of his team's regular-season games, all 13 post-season contests, and 12 all-star games/Pro Bowls over 15 seasons. He helped
Raiders win the 1967 AFL championship. He was elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980. With all due respect to NBA
great Robert Parrish, 00 belongs to Otto. He's the one, who made something out of nothing (page 16). Robert Parrish (00):
From Golden State to Boston to Charlotte to Chicago, Parrish was remarkably consistent in a 00-worthy career covering an
NBA-record 21 seasons & 1611 games. "The Chief" played for 4 championship teams— three with Celtics & one with Bulls
(p. 18). Zest soap, Zing sweetners, and Ziploc bags came to mind when rounding up commercial products for this "Z" poem". Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa becoming independent in 1964 (formerly British proctectorate Northern
. While there are lots of zebras in Zambia, the herd of zebras photo is from Botswana, Zambia's southern neighbor.
Zermatt & Zurich are Swiss cities. Found Zepplin image to paste into photos of these cities using Photoshop after scaling.

Herd of zebras zipping by in Botswana

Zeppplin flying over Zermatt

Zeppplin flying over Zurich
Image Sources: Jim Otto (; Robert Parrish ( Zest Soap (; Zing Sweetners (; Ziploc Bags (;
Zebras in Botswana (; Zepplin (; Using Adobe Photoshop, a Zepplin image was scaled and rotated
for pasting into images of Zermatt ( and over Zurich (

Zeno's paradox— can't outrun the tortoise,
Gray's Zarathustra wins Ascot Gold Cup.
Zubin Mehta conducts the Ziegfeld Follies,
Zobra the Greek dances at Zabriskie Point.

Zeno's Paradox
Achilles can't outrun the tortoise

Terence Gray (1895-1986)
aka Wei Wu Wei

Ascot Gold Cup
won by Zarusthustra (June 20, 1957)
Zeno's paradoxes are a set of philosophical problems devised by the Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea (490-430 BC). In the
paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise, Achilles is in a footrace with the tortoise. Achilles allows the tortoise a head start.
Because there are an infinite number of points, Achilles must reach where the tortoise has already been, he can never
overtake the tortoise. Terence Gray, aka Wei Wu Wei (1895-1986) was an Irish sage who eroe eight Buddhist/Taoist
on spiritual enlightenment. I recount my experience reading his books at the Cornell Library (1968) and Stanford
Library (2008). His horse Zarathustra won the Ascot Gold Cup (June 20, 1957). Ascot Gold Cup is a Group 1 flat horse
race in Great Britain open to horses aged four years or older. It is run at Ascot over a distance of 2 miles and 4 furlongs
(4023 meters), and is scheduled to take place each year in June. A scene from Ascot race appeared in My Fair Lady
(1964) with Audrey Hepburn shouting. Zubin Mehta is an Indian conductor of Western music. He was conductor
of New York Philharmonic (1978-1991) and music director of Israelic Philharmonic Orchestra (1981-2019). Ziegfeld
were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931. The
MGM film Ziegfeld Follies (1946) starred Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse. Zobra the Greek (1946)
is a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, made into a successful 1964 film starring Anthony Quinn. At the end of the film, Zobra
(Quinn) teaches Basil (Alan Bates) to dance the Sirtaki, a Greek line dance on the Cretan shore. Zabriskie Point is located
in Death Valley National Park in California, noted for its erosional landscape. It is composed of sediments from Furnace
Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago. Zabriskie Point is also a 1970 film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
about the 1960s American counterculture. For the sake of this "Z poem", I imagined Zubin Mehta conducting Ziegfeld
and Zobra dancing at Zabriskie Point.

Zubin Mehta
Time, Jan.19, 1968

Ziegfeld Follies
1912 Promotional artwork

Zobra the Greek
1964 film starring Anthony Quinn

Zabriskie Point
Death Valley, California
Image Sources: Zeno's Paradox (; Wei Wu Wei (; Ascot Gold Cup (; Zubin Mehta (; Zigfield Follies (; Zobra the Greek (; Zabriskie Point (

Zen breeze: working with zeal in the zone.
David Bowie always on the razor's edge—
playing Ziggy Stardust and Lazarus,
a star-gazer singing blazing music.

Zen Meditation
is being in the zone

David Bowie singing
Starman (1972)

David Bowie as
Ziggy Stardust (1972)

David Bowie as
Lazarus Levitating
"Zen breeze" may refer "to being in the flow or zone"— a mental state whereby a person is fully immersed in an activity
with energized focus, full involvement, and total joy. It was coined by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi (1975) who interviewed painters who were so immersed in their work that they disregard their need for food, water and even sleep. Many
described their "flow" experiences using the metaphor of a water current carrying them along. In Wired Magazine (Sept.
1, 1996
). Czikszentmihalyi described flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls
away. Time flies. Every action, movement, thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your
whole being is involved, you're using your skills to the utmost." I recall sports moments of athletes in the zone such
as Sandy Koufax pitching his 4th no-hitter, a perfect game in Chicago (Sept. 9, 1965) winning 1-0. Another is Carli
's three goals to win 2015 Women's World Cup Final (July 5, 2015). A third is Jean-Claude Killy winning three
Olympic Gold in downhill skiing (Feb. 17, 1968). It just occurred to me "Zen breeze" connects to "Mumonkan #29:"
Neither the Wind or the Flag". Zenkei Shibayama's Zen Comments on the Mumonkan (1974): "The wind was flappping a
temple flag. Two monks were arguing about it. One said the flag was waving, other said the wind was waving. The 6th
Patriarch Hui-Neng said, "It is neither the wind nor the flag that is waving. It is your mind that is waving." Two monks
were struck with awe." A musician who performed with awe was David Bowie who died recently (Jan. 10, 2016). Nile
Rodgers called David Bowie "Picasso of Rock & Roll" (USA Today, 1-19-2016)— "I've been in the presence of artistic
greats all my life, and David is in that rarefied league worthy of being called super-genius." Bowie's performance of
"Heroes" on June 6, 1987 at the German Reichstag in West Berlin was considered a catalyst to the eventual fall of the
Berlin Wall (Live Performance, Berlin, 2002). David Bowie was always on the razor's edge because he was innovative
in his fashion and music, much like a zen breeze, forever fresh (Katha Upanishad 3.14: "Rise, awake! The path to
Enlightenment is difficult to traverse like a razor's edge.") Bowie wrote "Heroes" and Berlin Trilogy in 1977-1979 with
Brian Eno. It's interesting Hui-Neng's Japanese name is Daikan Eno (638-713 AD), the 6th Zen Patriarch who told the
monks "It's your mind that's waving." Ziggy Stardust is a 1972 David Bowie song as well as the persona he played as an
unearthy android in the 1970s. Lazarus was a Biblical character that Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:43-44). David
Bowie's song "Lazarus" was released on January 7, 2016 with the lyrics "Look up here, I'm in heaven, I've got scars that
can't be seen" with a frail Bowie floating above a hospital bed. It was in his album Blackstar released on his 69th
birthday January 8, two days before his death. "Star-gazer singing blazing music" refers to Bowie singing "Starman"
Photo Sources: Zen Breeze (; David Bowie singing Starman (; David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust (; David Bowie as Lazarus (

Alchemist Zosimos taught zazen & Zohar
ascending the Z-axis to transcendence
like Franny & Zooey in constant prayer or
Zurbaran's paintings of monks in ecstasy.

Zosimos of Panopolis

Zazen Zen Meditation

Zohar (13th century)

Z-axis (vertical to X-axis & Y-axis)
Zosimos of Panopolis (circa 300 AD) was a Greek alchemist and Gnostic mystic. Zosimos drew upon the Hermetic
image of the krater or mixing bowl, a symbol of the divine mind in which the Hermetic initiate was "baptized" and purified in the course of a visionary ascent through the heavens and into the transcendental realms. Zazen is sitting meditation in Zen Buddhism. Zazen is the heart of Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist practice. The aim of zazen is just sitting— suspending all judgmental thinking, letting words, ideas, images, and thoughts pass by without getting involved in them. Zohar is the foundational work of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It first appeared in the 13th century Spain published by Moses de León (1240-1305). Franny & Zooey was written by J.D. Salinger
(1961), whose interest in Zen Buddhism & Hindu Advaita Vedanta are evident throughout the book. Franny is reading The Way of the Pilgrim and tells the story of how a Russian wanderer learns the power of "praying without ceasing" by citing the Jesus Prayer continuously like a mantra. Zooey offers Franny brotherly love & sagely advice that leads to her illumination. Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) was a Spanish painter who is known for his religious paintings of monks and nuns and still-lifes.:Praying without ceasing" is from I. Thessalonians 5:16-18— "Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in every thing give thanks." Zosimos appears to be an Adept who can teach prayers, zazen & Zohar to bring students to enlightenment.

"Levitation" by Ian Norman
Dante's Ascension

Raphael's Transfiguration (1520)
Matthew 17:1-9

Franny & Zooey
by J.D. Salinger

"pray without ceasing"
St. Francis in prayer

Francisco de Zurbaran
Saint Francis (1632)

Image Sources: Zosimos (; Zazen (; Zohar (; Z-axis (;
Levitation (; Raphael's Tranfiguration (; Franny & Zooey (; Zurbaran's St. Francis in Prayer (; Zurbaran's St. Francis (;

Chaldean immortal Zanoni knew secrets
of the Rosicrucians, after falling in love,
he became mortal & died at the guillotine—
his soul zig-zagged the Zodiac as a comet.

Zanoni (1842)
by Bulwer-Lytton

Zanoni's knowledge
of the Rosicrucians

Zanoni in love
with Viola Pisani

Sydney Carton at Guillotine
Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities

as symbol of universe
Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1842 novel Zanoni was recommended to me by Paul Brunton
when I first met him in Switzerland (8-30-1972). The timeless Rosicrucian brother,
Zanoni, cannot fall in love without losing his power of immotality; but he fell in love
with Viola Pisani, a young opera singer from Naples. He marries her and they have a
child. As Zanoni experiences an increase in humanity, he begins to lose his gift of
immortality. He finally dies in the guillotine during the French Revolution. Zanoni's
ultimate sacrifice gave Bulwer-Lytton's friend Charles Dickens an idea on how to end

Comet as symbol of the soul
A Tale of Two Cities (1859). When Ramana Maharshi died on April 14, 1950, at 8:47 pm, a comet appeared at the same time over his hill Arunachala. The photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had witnessed the comet when Ramana died. Caesar's Comet (May 18, 44 BC) was linked to Julius Caesar's soul who was assassinated two months earlier (March 15, 44 BC).
Image Sources: Zanoni (; Zanoni & Rosicrucians (; Zanoni in Love (;
Sydney Carton at Guillotine (; Zodiac Signs (; Comet (

Zzz is the symbol for deep sleep
where we see zero images in the void.
When asked "What is your favorite activity?"
Dalai Lama replied "Sleep" to much laughter.

Zzz symbol for deep sleep
experiencing nothingness

Zero images in the void
Unmanifestation in sleep

Dalai Lama mimicking sleep
Stanford 10-14-2010 Lecture

Ramana Maharshi
A series of three Zs making a Zzz represents sleeping or snoring. Unmanifest is the Absolute, the pure and
formless ground of being from which creation and manifestation arise. After Big Bang, the universe is manifest (now 13.8 billion years old). Before the Big Bang, the universe was unmanifest. The Buddhist and Hindu cosmology postulate a cyclical universe similar to modern physics. What's wonderful is that we experience every day, manifestation when we wake, and unmanifestation when asleep. In Dalai Lama's Stanford Lecture on 10-14-2010, a student asked "What is your favorite time of the day?" Dalai Lama replied "Sleep!" to much laughter and applause. Dalai Lama saying "sleep is the best meditation" (Latin Trends, April 6, 2015) echoes the sage Ramana Maharshi— "Sleeping is prayer is a very sage remark." Sleeping or stilling the mind is real prayer. (March 5, 1946) in Day by Day with Bhagavan (Diary of A. Devaraja Mudaliar), 1968, page 178. "Sleep is not ignorance, it is your pure state. Wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep, t here is total ignorance in waking. Your real nature covers both, and extends beyond. Self is beyond knowledge and ignorance" (Jan. 2, 1937). "Deep sleep is nothing but the experience of pure being" (Jan. 28, 1939). —Talks with Ramana Maharshi (1968), pp. 274, 580. Image Sources: Zzz Deep Sleep (; Zero Images (; Dalai Lama Mimicking Sleeping (; Ramana Maharshi (

Each day Zen Master Zuigan called "Master"
and answered "Yes sir!" Then "Be wide awake!"
and "Yes!" Blake said "One must be master"
in Four Zoas"O light, spring up & shine."

Zuigan-ji Temple
Matsushima, Japan (828 AD)

or Gateless Gate

William Blake
by Thomas Phillips

The Four Zoas (1797)
by William Blake

Spring Cherry Tree
Blooming in Sunlight
Zuigan Calls "Master" is 12th koan in Mumonkan (13th century). We learn more about Zen Master Zuigan in Zenkei
Shibayama's Zen Comments on Mumonkan (Mentor Book, NY, 1974, pp. 93-100)— Master Zuigan Shigen was born
in Binetsu, ordained early in life, was successor of Master Ganto Zenkatsu (828-887). They all loved Master Zuigan
and respected him, and they invited him to Zuigan Monastery as the abbot. He was strict and precise in guiding the
monks and was much admired by everyone. Master Zuigan gave the name "Master" to this ever unnameable Reality.
Master Gutei stuck up one finger; Master Eno called it "Original Face"; Master Rinzai named it "True Man of no
title". All these different names that Masters are compelled to use try to point to one and the same Reality. The Four
refers to one of the uncompleted prophetic books by the English poet William Blake, begun in 1797. The titular
main characters of the book are the Four Zoas (Urthona, Urizen, Luvah and Tharmas), who were created by the fall
of Albion in Blake's mythology. The quotes "One must be master" and "O light, spring up and shine" is from The Portable Blake (Edited by Alfred Kazin, Viking Press, 1946, pp. 371, 391).
Image Sources: Zuigan-ji Temple (; Mumonkan (; William Blake (; The Four Zoas (;
Spring Cherry Tree (;

— Peter Y. Chou
    Mountain View, 1-28-2016
    Reconstructed 11-6-2020

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