Category Archives: Metaphysics

Elizabeth’s Punk Piece Party


Elizabeth Herron


I’d Been Invited by the Queen

“I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
he said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
she cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”
–Leonard Cohen (Bird on a Wire)

Some guys like me
We talk big about no fear
Of death I tend to say
If my time were drawing near

(My theory goes)
I would wax wise and declare
It was like a dinner party:
I’d been invited by the queen

And then inevitably I’d had to go home
And yet there’s complaint anent which
A case could be made for it’s just ungrateful greed
Considering all the wonders I’ve seen

All the free dinners and theater tickets
To ask for more
Although these things are far from unarbitrary
(It’s a subjective soul thing)

And maybe it’s more like the Leonard Cohen thing
Above and even
(Lots of times)
There’s Oliver Twists to this


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:

“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”


Gentle Readers,

In my youth my favorite TV show was Science Fiction Theater.

Every episode started out with the host saying, “Let me show you something interesting.”

And he would walk over to a sort of display which featured a scientific principle. Like how a phonograph works or radio signals or such. And then he would say something about how that tied in to the extrapolation which could be derived, allowing future scientists to do some amazing thing, but along the same lines.

I often try to do that with my poems, when I start off with a quote (to show you something interesting.)

Like the Leonard Cohen quote atop the above poem. And then I extrapolate from there. How amazing that is I do not claim except to say I tried, and to quote Emerson: “Hitch your wagon to a star.”

What got me started on this post, is a couple of quotes from a book I just finished reading. They are from Larry McMurtry’s Magnum opus, Lonesome Dove, which got him the Pulitzer Prize and whose screenplays of it (any other of his works) got him Emmys. And muchos Oscars.*

Apparently (by my standards) he is a metaphysically oriented kind of guy. Witness these (interesting) quotes from Lonesome Dove:

“ ‘When was you the happiest, Call?’ Augustus asked.
‘Happiest about what?’ Call asked.
‘Just about being a live human being, free on the earth,’ Augustus said.”


“He had known several men who blew their heads off, and he had pondered it much. It seemed to him it was probably because they could not take enough happiness just from the sky and the moon to carry them over the low feelings that came to all men.”

I hadn’t heard about him until many years ago when I got fortunate to have a writing teacher (Elizabeth Herron).**

Elizabeth (the professor at Sonoma State University) liked to tell us who her favorite writers were and high on her list was Larry McMurtry. This was before Lonesome Dove was written. I remember she especially recommended Somebody’s Darling, and All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers.

I had a crush on her. And even though she was married, a guy could dream, couldn’t he? But the upside of that was I was motivated to impress her and so I tried my damnedest. And I wrote a poetry collection for my final project. (She said ONE good poem would have sufficed but I wanted to show off, and even dedicated it to her; I titled it, Elizabeth’s Punk Piece Party and Other Poems.)

And guess what? Two of those sixtyish poems have been published (and one republished). Which gives me an excuse to put them in this blog post (which after all is also–apart from my concept of Sufism and mysticism in general–about poetry and poetry writing. And of course often some biographical stuff)

And so here they are:

(These journals below are now defunct, except for Tipton Poetry Journal)

Published in Word Catalyst and then republished in Tipton Poetry Review:

I Was a Prince

I was a prince who found you in a pond
Secure beneath a lily pad to hide
Your creamy body from the sun and me but
You squirmed out of my grasp and dived so deep
I dared not follow so I placed a net
Which looked quite like a lily pad and I
Disguised myself and sat on top a frog
As any fool could see–when you came up
I quickly kissed your lips and magic things
Occurred like in the fairy tales to wit
I did become a frog and it turned out
You really fancied frogs’ legs but I squirmed
Out of your grasp and dived down deeper than
You dared to follow so you placed a net
Which looked quite like a lily pad and when
I came back up again to sit on it
You kissed me back into a prince once more
And it turned out you fancied princes too
So you apologizing for the frogs’
Legs dinner episode said “Still it was
A lot of fun” And so we lived and dived
Quite happy ever after til one day
You were especially hungry and you knew
That when I was a frog you were supposed
To kiss me but you ate me and you said
“It was a boring game after a while”

Published in Umbrella Journal:

Einstein, God, and Picasso

Einstein thought things
Were pretty mysterious
And that made him “religious”

You can’t handle coal
Without getting your hands black
So I guess he couldn’t handle the universe
Without getting awestruck
It’s a pretty big place

If it isn’t distance it’s time so
Think about the Jurassic if you will
I mean actually seeing dinosaurs
Whose digestive juices and genes
Were just like ours

Only in a different pattern:
The style of the Artist
Is instantly recognizable

God I think is like Picasso
Who never had to pay for anything
He would just write a check
Which, of course, never got cashed
It was far more valuable as a collector’s item

And this has not been published but it was her favorite in the book of poems I wrote:

Trying to Write Something in the Air

Just come from visiting you
I wipe my eye
I wave good-bye

My hand lingers in the air
My finger pointing
Not to blame anyone

It is wet cool on one side
A secret moisture tells me
Which way the wind is blowing

My finger sways drunkenly
Trying to write something
In the air

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Larry McMurtry is an amazing guy who wrote lots of wonderful books and spin-off screenplays, many of which won Oscars and Emmys. For an interesting short bit about him and these, see:

**For more about her see:

God Had a Wee Problem

Lud Dimpfl's Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

I am the one in the top row to Lud’s left (the one eclipsing the door jamb)


The Down Beats of Hegel’s Philosophy

“Of course it was folly,” he said, “but it was a folly
in which there was something fine.”
–W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage)

My gut tells me beauty
Is playing hide and seek

But why this world?

Why this ridiculous world?
Is it a game
Is it enough

Where the prosaic implies the pretty?
Which then fades like waves
One after another

Even on this pristine shore
The waves are old and odd
How they add drumstruck charm:

Slow thunder under each phosphorescent-sandy
Angry candy boxed blue moon

But why this world?

Could it be the same on another planet
Perhaps not so far away
Since anyway distance and direction

Are only timely constructs
Measured in the now or new beats
The down beats of Hegel’s philosophy

The point that counters that compass point:
The heart is beauty’s drum

The ocean is the baton


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:

“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”


Gentle Readers,
This is another re-instated blog post from those which mysteriously and suddenly went missing. There were over a hundred posts in all dating from April Fool’s Day, 2013, and as I have occasionally mentioned, the vast bulk of them were wiped out by some apparently malicious entity who got access to the inner workings of my website. And as I have promised, I am gradually (and laboriously) reintroducing them, from back-up files. This is one in a series of those. Also, I should add, this whole debacle explains the gaps you will see in the Archives section.) I generally choose which to put back, by those which a new blog post makes reference to. (In this case the one for December something, 2016)
But back to the original:

Gentle Readers,
This is continued from last week.

In case you missed it, last week I was talking about Lord of the Rings parallels. Specifically Bilbo, the hobbit who had discovered the ring (the one who later on passed it to his nephew, the famous Frodo)

And I got to the point in my meditations when I realized that it wasn’t just a parallel (between Old Bilbo and myself) in that we both had taken up poetry as a retirement hobby. It went further than that. It was also a parallel between Bilbo and me in a more important matter. I had always in reading the trilogy been struck by the deference Gandalf the wizard had paid to the simple old hobbit, (long after his adventures) Bilbo, helping him with his novice lines of poetry.

I know I’ve not deserved it, not certainly in the sense of paying my dues first, like Bilbo had, and in spades. But you see, I had my own Gandalf, who showed me a similar deference. It was my old Sufi preceptor, Lud Dimpfl.* Lud was an important and busy “Senior research Chemist” (specialty in asphalt) for Chevron. But when I would call him at work, he would always enthusiastically reply, “Yes, Eric!” in such a way as to be indescribably sweet, as if nothing in the world could interest him more than an Eric interaction. In fact, I wrote a poem about it. Those interested will find it below**

All this is based on my time in the seventies as a Sufi in San Francisco.

We Sufis in this San Francisco ashram all believed the rumors that Lud was the reincarnation of the philosopher Hegel. Hegel, in case you’re not hip to that, was saying exactly what the mystics say. That you can know a thing only by it’s opposite. (More on this next week, when we get into dichotomies) Which the mystic Meher Baba says was the reason behind creation. It goes like this:

God had a wee problem. Inherent in God was a desire for introspection, which is to say wanted to know Himself. And as Hegel ably proved you can’t know a thing except by contrasting it with what it’s not. It’s the same concept with “negative space” you heard about in drawing class. (“Draw the line where the non-chair begins, and you’ve drawn the chair.”)

So what was God not?

God was not finite.

God was not fraught with problems.

So what did God do? (How should mere I know? So please indulge me as I tell you about what I’ve learned from vastly more learned mystics) But I should use the present tense. God writes a dramatic story in which there are valiant struggles to realize the heart is none but God, as God subdivided Himself, so as to know Himself.

It’s all in Buddhism 101.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Lud Dimpfl was my beloved Sufi Preceptor (assistant Murshid) from 1972 to 1979. For lots more about Lud and my relationship with him see every blog post between these dates (inclusive):
and bracketed by this:
Yup. It’s a lot. (about 22 posts) But I loved Lud a lot. He died of bone cancer about 1985.

** Here’s the poem:
Wondering Now About Divine Communication
(To Lud)
“The one whom I have called God, whose personality I have
recognized, and whose pleasure or displeasure I have sought, has
been seeing His life through my eyes, has been hearing through
my ears. It was His breath that came through my breathing . . . “
–Hazrat Inayat Khan (The Personality of God)

When I was a Sufi and I needed
To call my preceptor for advice
Even though he was at his work
He would sound like an excited child
At the prospect of an Eric interaction

One wonders about if God hears prayers
The same way as Lud (rhymes with blood)
Did my need for advice
And as for the advice
(Wondering now about divine communication)

It didn’t come in words
Even with Lud
His attitude was all I needed
And God Lud said is all about attitude:
The beatitude of love

Sufism, the Science of Happiness

Kurt Vonnegutt

Kurt Vonnegutt

(Published in Gentle Reader)

A Grudgingly Budging Little Miracle

“con las manos en la masa: red-handed”
A Grudgingly Budging Little Miracle

In Guatemala the water stops a lot
So it was foolish baking bread
With no water to fix my sticky fingers
So there was I with my hands

Fresh from the masa
My eyes with a burning yearning for water
Looking at the water faucet
Fully open yet nary a drip

I had a choice of whine or risa:
I just laughed and an instant later the water
Started again but only a fickle trickle of wet
Barely sufficient to clean my gooey hands

And then it stopped again
It was a grudgingly budging little miracle
But instructive: We do get what we need
(With the right attitude)


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:

“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”


Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”


Gentle Reader,
The post below is my modest beginning of the large problem of restoring two years of blog posts which mysteriously disappeared from the archives. It was over a 100 lost posts. Fortunately the vast majority were backed up and so I am starting on the backlog. My text is backed up but if you have your own website you know you have to use the right codes for the right effects. So each one of these restorations can take up to an hour. Potentially then a 100 hour project.
Deseame suerte!

First up is the first post from way back on April Fool’s Day, 2013

Gentle Reader,
I will call you that. It’s honorific, yes, and I do honor you and, as it happens, Gentle Reader was the name of the (now defunct) magazine in England where my first published poem appeared. There is a (very) little story behind that, so I will include the poem at the end.

Today I saw on You Tube a very short video of Kurt Vonnegutt’s advice to writers ( A key suggestion/point was to get to the reader as much information as soon as possible. So I start the blog rolling with this short bio that appeared in Umbrella, alongside my poem:


Eric Halliwell has spent many years as student, carpenter, flunked-out nursing student, and then a first grade school teacher. Through a tragic romantic misadventure he ended up in Guatemala where he lives on Lake Atitlan, writing poetry. It keeps him off the streets, or, rather, since there are no streets where he lives, off a dirt trail above the lake.

So that’s how I got to Guatemala, on Lake Atitlan, and the peace here seems to have facilitated a late blooming life-of-the-poet trip. In fact, I was just online and found an article
including Lake Atitlan on a list of ten most sacred spots on the planet. (I like that they use “sacred” as if it were objective fact. Because it is)

As you now see, my view is skewed toward the “sacred.” And as you might expect, my poetry is from a metaphysical, para precisar, Sufi perspective. Yes, because I was in a Sufi order in Walnut Creek California for seven years. This order was founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan, who died circa 1927. I will no doubt regularly regale you, my readers, with some favorite inspirations (quotes) of his. I trust you will enjoy as much as I have, his lucid common sense and inspired ecumenical focus on what is, after all, the science of happiness.

For this, it’s no surprise that my poems have a Sufi (read very broad-based) theme. I’m not sure how familiar my readers may be with Sufism, which is most famously known by the writings of Sufi ecstatic poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Saadi, Attar, Ibn Arabi, and Omar Khayyam.

So I started out in Guatemala, hitching my wagon* to art (drawing, painting). But within a year, having read a book of poetry, Love Letters from God, by Daniel Ladinsky, I was inspired to try my hand at my own “ecstatic” poetry. I was ecstatic for sure in one sense: my intense happiness and gratitude to be given this sudden gift of a compulsion to listen to sweet stuff with its heart imprimatur, and write it down and even presume to call it poetry. My touchstone for that is if it touches the heart. And we know that by the metaphor that we find in our salty tears, small miracles which are a microcosm of the ocean. We know by these small miracles when we’ve written a poem from the heart. And blessedly now, for me, these small miracles keep coming regularly, like the lanchas on Lake Atitlan.

Indeed the first poem I got published, dealt with such “small” miracles.
(It’s shown at the top)
In upcoming blog posts, I will muse (as it were) about metaphysical themes, about poetry writing, particularly my own, (yours too, reader willing) art in general, favorite heart stuff. The wonderful thing about Sufism is it has relevance to every interest. You know it doesn’t matter what pebbles you install in your kaleidoscope. So they be of translucent colors and you see to a light source.
I promise to reply to any comments.

As my Grandma Dorothy used to say at bed time, “See you anonymous!”
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

PS–I believe “good-bye” is a contraction for God be with you. It’s a shame to have lost that.

*Full disclosure: Ralph Waldo Emerson reference: “Hitch your wagon to a star.”