Preface to ABC for You & Me

By Peter Y. Chou

The M Showed Me (6-4-1992): Read this poem in Dick Maxwell's Poetry Workshopat Foothill College Middlefield Campus. Classmate Jackie Marderosian asked "Do you have any more alphabet poems"? I said this is my first one. She tells me "Write some more. I have a good title
for your book— "ABCs for Ph.Ds".

The Y in My Name (7-2-1996): Can't find a hard copy of this poem with image of "Pythagorean
Y-Path" from a book. Don't have this poem on my web site.

Empty as the Letter O (7-8-2006): Written at Poetry Workshop with Ingrid Wendt's "Poetry Models as Prompts" at the 30th Annual Foothill Writers' Conference. It was a 30-minutes writing exercise. My second alphabet poem in 14 years.

Alphabet Poem (7-16-2006): Michael C. Ford's Exercise "Alphabet Poem using Preposition" at the 30th Annual Foothill Writers' Conference, gave rise to this poem. From the date of this file
(7-19-2006), revised poem three days later.

X Marks the Spot (8-8-2006): The writing exercises at Foothill's Writing Conference on "Alphabet Poems" insipred this poem a month later. Surprised wrote the ten stanzas in rhyming couplets.

ABC Book for the New Year (1-1-2009): This poem was inspired on New Year's Day 2009, during a hike at Los Alamitos Creek Trail in San Jose near Almaden Lake Park. I heard a father with his young daughter in a stroller behind me say "She loves her ABC Book— it's amazing how fast she's learning the alphabet and reading A is for Apple." (Notes).

The Letter B: Beautiful Blessings (3-9-2011): For Stephen Dobyns' Stanford Poetry Workshop class (English 192V), wrote this poem containing 60 "B"s. He liked it better than any of my poems submitted that semester. (Notes).

Why Everything Begins with M? (3-8-2013): Erika Yamashiro's fantasy painting of "Green Tea" (2005), showing a rabbit in a teapot, and Alice at a Mad Tea Party, inspired this poem. The title is from Chapter VII of Alice in Wonderland— "everything that begins with an M". (Notes).

The Letter S: Sufi Spins (10-25-2014): Finding a Snapple bottle cap at Rengstorff Park, Mountain View, while having satsang with a friend inspired this poem with 108 "S" words.

The Letter A: Attention! (10-27-2014): This poem was written just two days after "Letter S" poem. It has 84 "A" words with powerful invocation at the end.

The Letter W: Wisdom & Wonder (10-26-2015): Exactly a year passed after the "A" poem and this "W" poem. There are 105 "W' words in this poem. (Notes)

The Letter C: Short Autobiography (1-1-2016): During my hour walk on New Year's Day 2016 around my neighborhood, this poem was born. There are 126 "C" words in this poem. Was not aware that my life is connected to so many words beginning with the letter "C".

The Letter Z: Zero in on Zeus (1-14-2016): This poem popped up on my 45-minutes walk to ballroom dancing on January 9, 2016. 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. (Notes).

The Letter E: Experience Enlightenment (4-4-2016): The bookmark "Escape the Ordinary" at Los Altos Library triggered this poem with 81 "E" words.

Letter F: Fire! Fire! Fire! (9-7-2020): More than four years elapsed between "Letter E" poem and "Letter F" poem. There are 88 "F" words in this poem. Verified that Enrico Fermi and Richard Feynman were among the 11 present at the Trinity atomic blast on July 16, 1945.

Letter D: Dawn to Dusk Drumming (9-7-2020): This poem was written on the same day as
"Letter F" poem. There are 91 "D" words in this poem.

The Y in My Name (9-9-2020): Because my original "Letter Y" poem (7-2-1996) was lost, rewrote this as replacement. There are 46 "Y' words in this poem.

Letter G: Gifts of Grace (9-11-2020): There are 72 "G" words in this poem. 30 people mentioned but forgot the "G" logo of the Freemasons.

Letter H: Hoot! Hoot! Hoot! (9-12-2020): Four birds and 30 people included. in this poem
along with 92 "H" words.

Letter I: Imagination, Inspiraton, Illumination (9-13-2020): Cast in this poem include two gods, two sages, two playwrights, three painters, and a saint. There are 81 "I" words in this poem.

Letter J: Jacob, Joshua, Jonah (9-14-2020): Three Biblical characters starred in this poem. Six people with double "J"s in their names called by Judge Judy for jury duty. Dante invites me to Rome's Jubilee brings me joy. There are 70 "J" words in this poem.

Letter K: Kaline, Kiner, Killebrew (9-15-2020): Three baseball home run sluggers (1341 career homers) starred in this poem. Others in the cast are 3 artists, 3 musicians, 3 poets, 2 philosophers, and 5 scientists trying to crack Zen koans and "Katz" shouts of Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn.
There are 68 "K' words in this poem."

Letter L: Leonardo at the Louvre (9-16-2020): Leonardo and his paintings in the Louvre are the star attractions in this poem. 7 people with double "L"s in their names. There are 82 "L" words in this poem ending with "May your love be luminous and lofty, lifting to the lodestar light."

Letter N: Neti Neti to Nirvana (9-17-2020): 14 geographical places cited in this poem containing 60 "N" words. Poem ends with "Nagarjuna and Naropa guide us chanting ninety-nine mantras before November's New Moon so we ascend to the North Star."

Letter P: Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus (9-18-2020): In this poem, I honor the sages Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus who guided me in my spiritual quest. Then Paul Brunton in person on peace, piety, and perseverance. There are 88 "P" words in this poem.

Letter Q: Don Quixote's Quest (9-24-2020): Don Quixote's quest is the star in this poem. There are 46 "Q" words in this poem, ending with "A quadrillion stars in the universe— quantum leap to awaken your mind. No quick answers— ask more questions. Rumi's Quatrains will take you home."

Letter R: Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir (9-27-2020): My favorite three painters are honored in this poem. There are 92 "R" words in this poem, ending with "Relax at the Russian Ridge retreat— Roar like a lion, soar like redwoods, renounce the rat-race for rustic life, relish the sprinkles of summer rain."

Letter T: Trip to Tannu Tuva (9-28-2020): Lots of fun finding the Tannu Tuva postage stamps for Richard Feynman's To-Do List of trip to Outer Mongolia. There are 114 "T" words in this poem.

Letter U: Roll Up the Universe (9-29-2020): "Roll up the universe— put it under your arms Upanishads rishis declared for us to do." is the theme of this poem. There are 36 "U" words in this poem, ending with "Ursa Minor to Pole Star— Unbound Prometheus guides us upward to Unmoved Mover with wisdom & understanding."

Letter V: Veronica's Veil (10-1-2020): This is the last poem to complete 26 letters of the English alphabet. I'm glad it's ending with the sacred image of Veronica's Veil. There are 55 "V" words in this poem, with the theme "Be a valiant vessel of virtue, visit the valley visionaries, venerate the vesica piscis, venture into vortex of the Void."

Note: This project began on June 4, 1992 with "Letter M" and it took 24 years to write 10 "Alphabet Poems" with "Letter E" done on April 4, 2016. However, the last 16 "Alphabet Poems"— "Letter D" (9-7-2020) to "Letter V" (10-1-2020) were written in 23 days. I feel like Michelangelo who painted the first 5 panels of the Sistine Ceiling in 4 years, but only 6 months to complete the last 4 panels.

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (12-21-2020)