May 3, 1998

This collection of poems represents different periods of my life. One group of poems was written during the mid-1980s. Many of these have been extracted from a journal I kept when I was living in Israel. They are philosophical, sometimes metaphysical, and free-flowing. The second group was written during this class. Most of these were topical homework assignments. A few were open topics of my choosing. It should be emphasized that the first group of poems were revised based upon knowledge and approaches that I have learned in this class (Eng 162, CSM). Still, the kernel of each poem is left in tact. The poems are presented roughly in chronological order.

  1. "The Limestone". This poem was written when I was attending U.C. Santa Barbara. I spent a lot of time on the beach and I must have taken a liking to the crustaceans I found! This is an example of the rhyming poetry that I experimented with during this period.
  2. "The Mind’s Eye". Also written about this time, this is one of my metaphysical poems. There was no attempt at creating any poetic rhythm; at it’s core, it is what I call "idea poetry". I was inspired by writers of consciousness (Ouspensky comes to mind) and the progressive rock group "Yes". It was intended to be a collection of mental images strung together by a theme of being an explorer.
  3. "Impressions in the Park". This was the first poem I wrote during my trip to Israel. It was written in Independence Park in Jerusalem. This park lies in the new part of the city and contains many interesting sites: beautiful trees, landscapes, archaeological points of interest, and a restaurant. I wrote this on a Friday evening when the Sabbath begins. This is an example of one of my more descriptive free-verse poems. I just let my pen move me, and away I flew!
  4. "Hassid in the Park". This also was written in Independence Park, except it was during the summer. There was this Hassid who walked through the park (Hassidism is a pious sect of Judaism that places emphasis upon spiritualism, mysticism, and emotionally charged praying called davening). He was in a hurry. Every few seconds, he turned around and looked at me. Sometimes, he smiled, other times, he gave me a ‘fishy look’. I was sitting on a lawn while I wrote the poem. Originally, I was going to write about other people in the park, but when this man walked by, I definitely knew that he was a good subject.
  5. "Psychophysics". In the early 1980s, I had read "The Tao of Physics" by Fritjof Kapra and "Dancing Wu Ling Masters" by Gary Zukov. These are the two best-selling NAP books (New Age Physics). I was into this at that time. During my stay in Israel, I toyed around with all types of NAP ideas: the intertwining of consciousness and the physical world, faster-than-light travel, and so forth. In this poem, I create simple images of light, a black hole, symmetry, and motion. All of these are presented from the perspective of a conscious being trying to discover his or her depths.
  6. "Psychobabble". This could have been entitled "Psychophysics II". It was intended to be a short satire of NAP.
  7. "Mom". I did not write too much during the late 1980s. This is one example from that period. I wrote this out of the blue and to this day, my mom displays it in her room.
  8. "What Happens to a Thought Censored". Based upon Langston Hughes’ "Dream Deferred", this was a poem we wrote in class. I really like his poem, and it opened me up to the Harlem Renaissance.
  9. "Sanguine Monet". Based upon the form of William Carlos Williams’ "The Young Housewife", this is one of my favorites. I took three of my favorite Monet paintings and described what he might have seen before (or while) painting the scenes. My mom introduced me to French Impressionism.
  10. "Free Falling Rain". This was the result of an assignment about rain. I was trying out rhyming (I also did a love sonnet). Each line has eight syllables and only the last word of each line has two syllables. Admittedly, it was a challenge to restrict myself to such form, but I hope I was still able to capture some images of what rain can do.
  11. "Sunday Night Blues". The assigned "Sunday evening" topic was difficult until I spent some time on a Sunday night thinking about the common experience of facing work on Monday morning. This was a difficult assignment for me because I could not easily describe how I felt. The phrase "non-alligned thinking" refers to freedom of doing what one wants to do during the weekend.
  12. "End of February". Based upon the "end of the month" assignment, this poem is about a special day that was missed this year (I won’t say what it is, but its initials are LY). I had a lot of fun with this one.
  13. "The Ape and the Man". I picked "subtle defiance" for the topic. This is a poem about evolution that shifts point of view from an ape to a man. I try touching upon the major ideas of evolutionary theory: natural selection, adaptation, the missing link, and acquired characteristics. The only idea I regret leaving out is variation of the species. I did not know how to work that idea into the poem. The subtle defiance shows how the man quietly takes a stand against the pecking order.
  14. The phrase "Lamarckian que" refers to the French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck. Like Darwin, he believed in adaptation, but he argued in favor of " the inheritance of acquired characteristics". The basic idea is that the species passes down physical and behavioral characteristics through adaptation. According to the theory, a good example of this explains why giraffes have developed long necks over the course of many generations: the giraffe has had to stretch its neck to obtain food in the tall trees.

  15. "You’re Out of Order". Based upon the "out of order" assignment, I was inspired by a quote from Stephen Hawking’s "A Brief History of Time": "Disorder increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which disorder increases." In this poem, I use every variation of ‘order’ that came to my mind. I tried to render a pleasing rhythm while at the same time touching upon such themes as chaos, order, and entropy. I definitely had fun with this one!
  16. "The New Golden Gate". In late April (1998), while waiting for a friend, I was at the Marina in San Francisco. I looked out at the Golden Gate and thought it might be fun to write about a ‘futuristic’ version of the famed bridge. It was intended to be a fun exercise, not social commentary! I thought about lightening it up a bit by letting the "dispossed soul" live, but I wanted to show the irony of how a solution to a problem can end up further aggravating the problem. The reference to "jack in" is a nod to William Gibson, the sci-fi author of "Neuromancer". In this book, he developed the idea of communicating and traveling in cyberspace and how people could "jack in" (get into cyberspace).

So there you have it! Fifteen poems that show a cross-section of my interests, directions and possibly development. This class has helped make me more aware of such attributes of poetry like rhythm, meter, form and verse. As a result, I have been able to organize my thoughts more readily into poems. I have also taken a closer look at poets. Most recently, I’ve been turned on to the Sufi poet Rumi. His metaphysical poetry is inspiring.