Tag Archives: Ralph Waldo Emerson

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_McMurtry

**For more about her see: http://www.elizabethherron.net/

God (The Teacher Aspect of the Universe)

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan


An Amazing Feedback Loop

This world is art: it’s a free museum
People complain about the price of admission
For this or for that other thing

But we’re already in the theater
And even when your play lasts only briefly:
How long does a camera take?

One exposure is all the necessary . . .
Not an art fan? A Philistine perhaps?
Still it’s an amazing feedback loop

(You can only go so far with that)
Because such is a symptom of ego
And the cure for not loving art

Is to admire at least ones self
Look in the mirror!
Have you ever seen such a painting?

Especially when there’s backdrop lighting
And there always is
With saints I hear it gathers about the head

(The eyes are the wick for the heart’s candle)
The only trouble is:
Some people do not admire themselves


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. And this series is mentioned in my upcoming (soon) new blog post (watch this space).

Call me biased, but my personal experience is that art leads to happiness. Which is why there is so much emphasis on the arts in this blog, which was to have been called “Sufism the Science of Happiness.” Instead that became merely the title for my first blog post.

You can read (on the “About” page) about my history. I suspect it’s most people’s history, if they are acting wisely. I mean they with experience accumulate wisdom which then leads to happiness.* In the about section I quote Bob Dylan, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” And it is my firm philosophy that this “being born” is a guarantee of happiness. Which I deem basically to be the satisfaction of a job well done, a life well lived. And so each stage has its tag-along happiness. But as all wisdom comes from listening to the heart, and as art should be the product of the heart, so it is that the heart-practicing artist is a happy person. I suppose it may be more than just doing well the job of living, though I could argue there’s an art form right there. It may also be an extra happy kick in the pants to be learning to powerfully express your heart. I am sure we’ve all noticed how much better we feel after a good cry, on the shoulder of a friend. Just so, I think there is a magic in expressing the heart through art.

I do hope I am not like some of these Christians, etc. who are so moved by the feeling of Christ (Or whoever, or whatever) that they can’t shut up about it, can’t stop pushing it into others’ faces. And so I suppose I could play the prophet and declare a first commandment like “Thou shalt express your heart creatively.” (though actually, I think Emerson did give permission—even promoted that—See Self Reliance) On the other hand I suppose it’s fair to say that the opposite of a Philistine is not an art proselytizer. But let me say in my defense, with art the product is perforce individual. Art is like snowflakes, no two are alike. Or at least no two artists are. And so of course we art proselytizers can’t be accused of claiming we know any transferable truth. Unless of course it’s such a great poem etc. it leaves people in tears. But even then the reaction is an individual one, which only an idiot would try to universalize.

So in my blog posts there is often a propaganda push for art. In any case for the above reasons you will often read in my posts and poetry an emphasis on the production of art in some form. But please pardon me in that as is well known one should write about what one knows. And my art experience (Linked with any success) has been in either drawing and painting, and poetry.

And the story about that and its upshot is for next week.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*At least that’s my experience hence my hypothesis: that happiness is not an absolute state. It comes automatically when one is walking the road of progress, which is a relative thing. Because guess what? God (the teacher aspect of the universe) knows about Pavlov and the power of association. I guess you could say happiness is the carrot. (I won’t speak of the stick. It’s all too familiar already.)