Tag Archives: poetry writing

“I Too, Would Like to Weep”

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My Painting of Meher Baba

A Grudging Little Miracle

In Guatemala the water stops a lot
So it was foolishness baking bread
With no water to wash off my sticky fingers

So there I was with my hands
Fresh from the masa
Looking at the water faucet

Fully open but 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 trickle
Barely sufficient to clean my hands
And then it stopped again

It was a grudging little miracle
But instructive: We 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,
(A rewrite reprise from 2013)

I will call you that, perhaps because (apart from apropos) Gentle Reader was the name of the (now defunct) magazine in England where my first published poem appeared. (See above)

Today I saw on You Tube a very short video of Kurt Vonnegutt’s advice to writers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmVcIhnvSx8). 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:

(http://www.umbrellajournal.com/fall2009/science/LikePicassoWhoNeverHadtoP.html)

Eric Halliwell has spent many years as student, carpenter, flunked-out nursing student (thereby hangs a tale) 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 (http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/10-most-sacred-spots-on-earth.html?page=9) 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, 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 and stories) of his. Indeed I start each new post with both his invocation, and suggested daily mantra (see above)

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.

So 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 best known by the writings of Sufi ecstatic poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Saadi, Farīd ud-Dīn Attar, Ibn Arabi, and Omar Khayyam (he of the Rubaiyat) .

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. It 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 pouring out from my heart, 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 these small miracles keep coming regularly, like the lanchas on lake Atitlan.

Indeed the first poem I got published, (see above) dealt with such “small” miracles. (FYI that really happened)

In future/upcoming blog posts, I will muse (as it were) about metaphysical themes, about poetry writing, particularly proselytizing the art form, 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.

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

Eric Halliwell

PS—In the original version of this post I was speaking of weeping, and though I seem to have edited that out, still this is worth mentioning: I am reminded of something from Jean Adriel’s memoir of Meher Baba **(Avatar). When she told her friend Princess Norina Matchabelli (yes of the perfume prince) that there was a holy man in the vicinity, and upon meeting him people would invariably weep. And Ms Matchabelli memorably replied, “I too, would like to weep.”

*Full disclosure: Ralph Waldo Emerson reference (“Hitch your wagon to a star”)
** Meher Baba, the silent Mystic, was co-founder (along with Hazrat Inayat Khan) of my erst Sufi order in Walnut Creek, CA (Sufism Reoriented) for a summary of the life of Meher Baba see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meher_Baba. For Hazrat Inayat Khan see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inayat_Khan

The Only Vacation

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Thomas Wolfe

 

New Start–30

Attend to Falling Water

“A voice, sleep-strange and loud,
forever far-near, spoke.”
–Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel)

Do you ever hear voices?
It has a bad reputation but what if
It’s an angel whispering in your ear?

This I suspect because I hear
Voices who say things like this:
Stop and listen

Watch for what glistens
Attend to falling water from
The deep well of the stars

Haul up those dippers
Put on some Cinderella slippers
Shield your eyes to see from afar

~.~.~

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.”

~.~.~

“There are many ideas which intoxicate man, many feelings there are which act upon the soul as wine, but there is no stronger wine than the wine of selflessness. It is a might and it is a pride that no worldly rank can give. To become something is a limitation, whatever one may become. Even if a person were to be called the king of the world, he would still not be emperor of the universe. If he were the master of earth, he would still be the slave of Heaven. It is the person who is no one, who is no one and yet all. The Sufi, therefore, takes the path of being nothing instead of being something. It is this feeling of nothingness which turns the human heart into an empty cup into which the wine of immortality is poured. It is this state of bliss which every truth-seeking soul yearns to attain.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan (The Privilege of Being Human)

Gentle Readers,
I apologize for the delayed post. I have been much under pressure all of January due to a complicated move. I still have boxes everywhere but my conscience is calling and so here we go:

This is a Sufi blog, and so it’s about love. Which is by definition a lovely theme. And there being various kinds of love, (as you may have noticed) I am pursuing various sub-themes. And it is a poetry blog, featuring my poems, (and those poems offered by readers in any comments) since that is both my meditation, and what I know about. If I know anything. Of course, this “knowing” is (I refer now to poetry) not to be disconnected from my audience. At least I hope not. Not if it’s successful, because good art doesn’t just lie in the heart of the artist. Good art is half in the audience. Just as electricity is a flow, an interaction between positive and negative poles. I mean I believe good art is good because the audience takes the ball tossed out by in this case the poet, and runs with it. Makes something of it in their own heart. I mean then, that if it’s good my audience turns artist and my poem is just the prompt, the jumping off place. And my personal belief is if it’s good, if it came from the heart, that is, it really came from outside oneself. Or outside one’s ego. It’s as if someone is whispering words in one’s ear and one is just writing them down, almost in a trance. And as soon as we think we’ve personally done it, something gets strained, damaged, and that voice is less likely to come again. Which is why I presume to call it a meditation, as who could call something not steeped in humility a meditation?

Of course, whatever “force” is doing the whispering, is privy to what I know, to my experience and just as in a kaleidoscope if you break it open there are only colored simple and translucent pebbles. But the light that passes through turns it beautiful. Gives it form and symmetry. But I and any poet, any artist, are just a set of tools for the use of this “voice,” this light. Which probably explains the refreshing response one has to making beautiful art. Hazrat Inayat Khan says in fact that all cure is a matter of getting outside oneself. It is the only vacation. And to get there requires a certain point of view. I called this the “romantic view” in a poem, which was one of my very first published poems (In 2007, in the Penwood Review):

The Romantic View

The romantic view
Is that if you give it your voice
It will speak

And also the romantic view
By definition

Reflects the heart
The way moonlight
Glints on glass

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

It’s Nice to Shed Those Tears Again

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Hazrat Inayat Khan, founder of my Sufi
order

In re Introductory Poem:
Since it turns out this post is poetry-themed, I start with a poem about being a poet or not. It is a sad poem for me because the Gail of the dedication is dead these three years. But though bittersweet, somehow it’s nice to shed those tears again.

New Start–188

The Artist Scared Me With Her Smile

–In memory of Gail

I was pursuing the artist grail
And my erst best friend Gail
The artist

Scared me with her smile
To be good she said
You really should bleed

Through hundreds and hundreds
Of drawings and when
You’ve got a style

There you go from then
But I think I’d rather be
A poet

All I need
Is God and a pen:
I already am a style

~.~.~

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,
While I do start each blog post with one of my poems hopefully illustrating some point in the prose blog post, I wish to make an announcement:

Any who would like to be reading my current day by day (usually Sufi-themed) poetry production, are invited to friend me on FB (Eric Halliwell, Panajachel, Guatemala).

Like just for example, this recent one:

The Miracle of Something to Do

“ one realizes that life is a continual phenomenon.
Then every moment of life becomes a miracle;
a searchlight is thrown upon human nature
and all things become so clear that one does not
ask for any greater phenomenon or miracle;
it is a miracle in and of itself.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

It’s ironic this notion one hears about
of having nothing to do
And then get depressed over that

(Bless me who is steering this ship?)

Because that there accidie ennui thing
That angst hanging over your head
Is by God something to look at

Like an alchemist does with gold

It’s something to examine
An object of interest
(like a heartbeat is to a doctor)

Unless of course you don’t value your life

Enough to care about the quality of it
And so mirabile dictu you have in your hands

The miracle of something to do

And while I am at it, on this theme of seeing example poems of mine, maybe I should devote this blog post to promoting the other sections (non-blog stuff).

And so why not start with the Poems section? It’s at the leader bar atop the main page for rumi-nations.com (YO!)

So if you click on the poems button it shows a list of possible themes .
Like perhaps, flowers, in which you might find this poem:

Where the Flowers Are

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer’s lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
–E. E. Cummings (One Times One)

Do you ever wish you were invited
To an educated cocktail party where
You could ask an entomologist
About insect instincts like

How a bee scout does a figure eight dance
In the air and bingo they all know
Where the flowers are or ask a zoologist
Why each tiger in the wild

Needs forty square miles of territory
And what would happen in the same space
If there were two tigers?
Is it that they are territorial and only

One would survive the wrestling mismatch
Or there just aren’t enough zebras
Per square mile to meet their zebra
Needs and so they’d starve?

Or maybe you want a party astronomer to ask
About job-killing black holes and that planet
That I hear is a giant uncut diamond
And of course a physicist who could say how

Things were before the big bang on the other
Side of that microscopic om point through which
The universe sprang like a genie from a bottle
(To grant us wishes)

And why it’s all radiating outwards
Like spokes in Ezekiel’s wheel or some real
Estate bubble that some dark day will burst
Like fireworks when the sky falls like Niagara?

Or if you are fond of animals and find spiritual connections in the bonds that can be formed with them, maybe click on the animals button and something like this will pop up:

When God Speaks Through the Eyes of Animals

It is so sweet
When God speaks
Through the eyes of animals

I saw a dog in the streets
Of Antigua, Guatemala:
Unbelievably skinny
Bones protruding

My heart was hurting;
So I gave him chicken
I’d had in my mochila

I looked back as I went on
And the dog for all his need
Found it more important than eating
To stare at me all my way out of sight

Maybe he was thinking
How sweet it is when God
Speaks through the kindness of strangers

You get the idea.

Maybe another time I will promote the STORIES section. (To the right of POEMS) Lots of (to me anyway) interesting anecdotes from the Sufi tradition. Usually serious but the MULLAH NASRUDIN section is pretty funny.

There is also a QUOTES button. I collect interesting and inspiring quotes. And there are a large array of them, divided into three sub-sections: THE WRITING LIFE (to inspire writers). Thirdly (and longest) consists of quotes from the founder of my Sufi order, HAZRAT INAYAT KHAN, and the third is simply classed as; THE REST, ALPHABETICALLY. This is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates in which you never know what you will get.

And of course I will here mention my featured quote on the frontispiece of the website:

“Things always look different from higher up.”
–Clint Eastwood (A Fistful of Dollars)

Which is a good one to end on.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell