Preface: Selected Poems 2014

One Plum Blossom
Ortega Ave (2-5-2014)

    Two wonderful poets died in 2014— Galway Kinnell on October 28 at 87, and Mark Strand on November 29 at 80. I learned much from Galway at his Squaw Valley Poetry Workshop (July 1989 & July 1990). We had to write a fresh new poem each day. The first poem written there was "Seven Pines at Woeber House". Galway liked my image of him as the Ace of Pentacles in the Tarot. But even more, he was surprised that Blake stopped praising the muses when he learned that they were the daughters of Memory. At Dick Maxwell's Poetry Workshop (Foothill College), he recommended the class to read Mark Strand's list poems such as "Giving Myself Up Analysis". Later, I composed a web page Mark Strand: "Moon" & "Black Sea" from Man and Camel (2006).

    My first poem this year came on Mozart's 258th birthday and Macintosh's 30th anniversary "Catching a Poem" (1-27-2014). I missed my bus and noticed a double-eagle emblem on a pine tree reminding me of Austria's coat-of-arms and Mozart. Two days later, Tom Thaves' Frank & Ernest inspired a metaphysical poem, "What Happens When You Fall Asleep, Descartes?" (1-29). Seeing a cloud shaped like the Chinese ideogram for "day", inspired the poem "Carpe Diem" (2-6).

    The poem "One Plum Blossom" (2-11) was used as the title for "Selected Poems 2014". This is when I learned that "Nature waits for no one— / the plum blossom is not alone, / as hundreds more had bloomed." "Blood Moon Eclipse 2014" was written after seeing the eclipse at night and viewing eclipse photos from around the world.(4-16). "The Mountains Are Calling" (5-19) was inspired by Patrick McDonnell's comics Mutts (4-25-2014) quoting John Muir "The mountains are calling and I must go." Poets and sages are attracted to mountains because its shape resembles Λ, that Plato calls "Soul of the Universe". "He-Man Battling Princess Leia" (5-20) was inspired by the photo at San Jose's Big Wow Comics Festival (5-18-2014). 5-year old Hannah Paquiz is not afraid of He-Man's Power Sword, because her eyes are focused while wearing her Princess Leia dress.

    After moving from Pamela Drive to Sierra Vista Ave in Mountain View (3-30-2014), it would take me two months to notice four beautiful trees on Montebello Ave (Photos) that inspired the poem "Four Friends on Montebello Ave" (7-13). A week later on the block "A Pepper Tree Stops Me Cold" (7-20), because its sharply bent branch formed Λ which Plato called "Soul of the Universe". Ten days later, while walking up Ortega Ave in Mountain View, "Bamboos for Blessings" flowed out (7-30). It was surprising to write three tree poems in the month of July.

    "Robert Wise Honors Marni Nixon in The Sound of Music " was written (8-6) when I realized that Robert Wise selected Marni Nixon to play Sister Sophia in The Sound of Music, as sophia means "wisdom" embodied by Wise. "Morning Prayers" was written on Goethe's 265th birthday (8-28-2014) as I composed eight haikus on prayers to greet the day upon awakening.

    "Autumn Leaves" was written (10-16) inspired by two comic strips— Patrick McDonnell's Mutts (9-22-2014) and Charles Schulz's Peanuts (10-16-2014) celebrating the Autumn Equinox. While writing this poem, an epiphany came when I noticed Snoopy dancing and Earl sitting still— "Action & Non-action"— pseudonym of Wei Wu Wei, an Irish sage who taught me much about enlightenment and spiritual awakening.

    "The Letter S" (10-25) was triggered by a "S" bottle cap from Snapple found near a small sparrow and squirrel under Sequoia sempervirens as my friend & I had satsang in Rengstorff Park. When so many "s" words came together, why not write a poem on the letter "s"? "The Letter A" (10-27) was composed during my 45-minutes walk on several Saturday nights going ballroom dancing (8:30-9:15 pm), as late buses were not running from my apartment to Palo Alto.

    "Waiting for the Great Pumpkin" was written on Halloween (10-31) inspired by Charles Schulz's comics Peanuts (October 30, 1960 & October 27, 29, 31, 2014). I was touched when Linus said that the Great Pumpkin prefers sincere pumpkin patches. This poem honors the virtue of patience and how sincerity brings wonders and blessings to one's life.

    "The Soul Must Remain Hidden" was written (11-11) after spotting a Platonic Lambda Λ ("World Soul") in the sheared-off branch of a Pepper Tree, that later became covered by growing leaflets. The Platonic Lambda Λ in the CREΛTIVE Labs logo struck me like lightning out of the blue during my Coyote Creek hike on Christmas Day (December 25, 2013). However 323 days would pass before the poem "Why Creation Begins at the Centre?" flowed out spontaneously in one day (11-12) without consulting any books or the Internet.

    "A Baby Elephant's Tale" was written (11-13) after watching the video "Baby elephant fends off 14 attacking lions in Zambia" (, 11-11-2014). After seeing the photo of four hands forming a house, I had to write "Home Is The Centre" (11-15), since at the center of the word "HOME" is "OM"— Brahman the Creator God who gave everything their birth.

    The last poem "Ho'oponopono" was inspired by Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, a shaman elder, who healed an entire ward of criminally insane patients at Hawaii State Hospital in four years without seeing a single patient. He looked at their files and cleansed himself using Ho'oponopono. This poem (12-4) suggests that as we improve ourself, we improve our world. Such is the teaching of Confucius in The Great Learning (500 BC).

                                                              Peter Y. Chou
                                                              Mountain View, December 16, 2014
                                                              Beethoven's 244th birthday (12-16-1770)

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (12-16-2014)