Tag Archives: Virgin Mary

Rachmaninoff’s Huge Hands*

Mystery Lady

Mystery Lady



Night Skies Finish Last

“The heavenly bodies, in their courses,
have it in their power to move human
minds to unknown heights of delight.”
–Isak Dinesen (Out of Africa)

E. E. Cummings wrote:
“Thy fingers make early flowers of all things”
I know this because the phrase has stalked me
All these years you see

I read him a lot in high school where I needed help
And I am a romantic
But I guess that’s what poetry means
It sticks with you in the teeth of forgetfulness

And yes literally
God knows why
Robert Frost said poetry is at its best
With a tantalizing ambiguity

And I still dream of “early” flowers
Though I know not what they may be
It clearly predates the sunset
Hence the stars are not yet out

Yet it does make me dream
And I guess as poet Jesus said
By their fruits shall ye know them
And this is a fruit

That has left stains on my lips
All these years
I guess then there is hope
Always hope

For a sudden romance that personifies the stars
Because I still have faith somehow
In the night sky
Even if it does finish last


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 post I think, though a segue from the romantic theme of last time yet is of the same silk ilk (pardon my romantic bias).

I have pushed poetry production on this blog. Here are three of the previous posts to prove that:


And in an ancillary fashion, this, my first post (from April Fool’s Day, 2013):


This post, once again, is of the romantic ilk mostly for the psychological reparations. Because to me what romantic merely means is it appeals to the heart. And sometimes I generalize to the opinion that a good way to repair the heart is to express the heart through art. Because then the heart feels listened to.

But two things: first, these days my art form is poetry, though I have dabbled in drawing. And even there was one painting. For an example, see above. Can you guess whom it’s meant to represent? (Bonus points if you can guess. But I bet you didn’t know she was quite popular with the Anatolian Sufis! The answer will be in the next post) If so, my art may have succeeded, at least for starters.

And so I emphasize what I am best at, and I hope I am not off on some ego trip when I say I think it may help budding poets if I sometimes talk about how I do it or since I am not quite sure myself about that, at least, how I got the inspiration (My muse was knocking at my door, and I was profoundly amused). And second, I have a broad definition of “art.” I hope not as Cummings satirized (”O world, o art!). I mean one shouldn’t feel intimidated, and say for instance, “But I can’t paint . . . I can’t dance . . .”

But poetry is feeling. As Cummings said to the students:

“Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself–in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.”

Which reminds me of the wonderful line from Lily Tomlin’s Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe:

“I always had wanted to be someone. But now I realize I should have been more specific.”

What a simple key (Cummings’ heart business) to pick the lock of originality!

So it seems one surefire poetry trick is to write lines that make you cry. Or dance.
Or laugh. All the things then that good art (art from the heart) does is at your fingertips and then you have mastered the piano and in that, you even have Rachmaninoff’s huge hands.*

But I digress.

But first, before we leave Cummings, I suggest you check out on youtube, Cummings himself reading what to me is the greatest living love poem, “somewhere I have never traveled”:

Yes indeedy. Cummings was a romantic.

But back to therapy. Para precisar, (I love that useful Spanish phrase, which means “in order to explain exactly”) I do believe life itself is performance art. And conversation is an art as well, especially if you use it to express your heart.

And so once again, dear ones, my gentle readers, I will do a post a bit about poetry.

The poem above is an example (I wrote it three days ago, para precisar).

But first, I should elaborate on the background. In a recent series of posts (can two be a series?) I talked of the spiritual dimensions of romance.

Of course, if you look up the word romance in the dictionary, the love affair aspect is given but seventh shrift. (although we “romantics” may call that akin to the famous seventh heaven.”**) The other six definitions deal with derring-do tales, etc. And interestingly the French word for novel is “roman.” So you see that tradition comes from way back.

But as the poem says, in high school, I was lonely and sought refuge in the poetry of E. E. Cummings.

Also true is that I have had that line from his poetry floating through my head all these years,*** and when it came to mind I decided to use it as a springboard to the above poem. (As I do with any spontaneous charged line which comes to me. It’s one of the miracles that keep my happiness afloat that I can almost invariably assume that if I start a poem like that, the rest of the poem will ensue. And since I am a grateful sort, and perhaps solely on that account, a believer in God (but that’s another story probably at least a thrice-told tale in my series of blog posts), I consider it my sacred obligation, even my prayer practice, to stop everything when such a line appears. I do believe that faithfulness is a partial explanation for the fact that my muses rarely let me down, so I show fealty to that sacred impulse.

Of course, too, I often start a poem with a quote to start the ball rolling. But this time for some reason I decided to incorporate it into the poem proper. Which turned out a good thing when the Isak Dinesen quote turned up.

But again, I digress (hopefully not to any crabgrass degree). I had better hurry up and get to the point or this post will have to be a two parter.

So, yes, as you can surmise from the poem, I’d be in danger of being a lonely boy (for lack of an inspiring girlfriend) if it weren’t for having the stars at my back.

There. I think I have gotten to the point. I have the stars at my back.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Yes Rachmaninoff had veritably huge hands which drove the pianists nuts with his music having chords that only a person of his huge fingerspan could easily manage. Indeed an amusing comedy sketch based on that is hereby included:

** According to wikipedia.com, seventh heaven is “the abode of immortal beings, or the visible sky.” Which of course fits right in with my introductory poem, does it not?

***As well as the even better known ending. Here’s the whole poem:

Thy Fingers Make Early Flowers
–By E. E. Cummings

Thy fingers make early flowers
of all things.
thy hair mostly the hours love:
a smoothness which
(though love be a day)
do not fear,we will go amaying.

thy whitest feet crisply are straying.
thy moist eyes are at kisses playing,
whose strangeness much
(though love be a day)
for which girl art thou flowers bringing?

To be thy lips is a sweet thing
and small.
Death,thee i call rich beyond wishing
if this thou catch,
else missing.
(though love be a day
and life be nothing,it shall not stop kissing).

And for those who also like to hear the poem:

(Read by Christina Chu)

A Refreshing Kick in the Butt

My drawing of the Virgin Mary

My drawing of the Virgin Mary

New PR–214
God Is Studying Art
(to Daniel)

I wonder if you could do a talking poem blues
The same perhaps
Without the guitar
But what I’ve got in mind
Should definitely be called the blues but art

You see I was lying in bed
In the middle of the night and
Some muse woke me up to an idea
That this is all just like writing a story:
Every day is an overlay

Every home is a poem
But the next “word” is a sun rise
Because you saw that yesterday
Just like a poet has seen a rose before
And so when the new sun arose

Basically you painted it
And every day on top of every day
It’s like oil painting:
One touch over another with darker contrasts
(Hence the blues)

To make it seem more real more
Three dimensional, as is de rigueur
In this painting of the world
But Dani my art restorer friend
Tells me that he traces underneath the previous

Versions of God
Knows what the artist or us
(In this case)
Was trying to say but every day is subtly new
Something you wrote out of yesterday

And the rest of your back story’s foreshadowings
But this is God’s story too because
(Didn’t you know?)
God is studying art:
We are his poem and He is painting our music

And it wasn’t really our sunrise
It belonged to a wiser owl than thou
And if
(Up to now)
We’ve been fooled

It’s because God’s got one heaven
Of an imagination
And all this is His bedtime story
And He’s sticking to it until you wise (and wake) up:
That’s what education means


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 reinstallation of a lost post (for apparently an act of vandalism) from 2013, the current series of which is biographical, detailing how I ended up living in Guatemala, and devoting myself to metaphysical poetry.*

Okay, so we’ll continue from the last post with my art teacher friend, Daniel, or Dani, depende de tu capricho (as per your whim). The opening poem from the last post was dedicated to him. As was today’s.

Dani is a sweetheart. Charismatic for the sweetness of his smile, but none the less a refreshing kick in the butt for a budding would-be artist. Dani needed money and I like being a patron of the arts. Not to mention my giant lead-up to this moment in which I was ripe for an art experiment. So I hired Dani, the expert artist, to give me art lessons.

There are two parallel tracks here (as befits a trainload of fate). The first is my friendship with Dani, which was as I mentioned last time, slow to develop, since we didn’t speak the same language. But I have always prided myself on my ability to learn languages.** Not to mention it was driving me nuts not being able to communicate.

For instance, I got invited to a party but it was an all Spanish thing. It was so frustrating to see one after another of the party people telling apparently hilarious stories with everyone taking turns laughing on the floor.

And of course Dani is Guatemala’s answer to Jean-Louis Barrault (the nonpareil actor, director, and mime)***And so even if you don’t quite get the punch line, Dani still has you on the floor. But what with all this pressure, pretty soon Dani and I could communicate to the point of meaningful conversation. Of course that was more important later when we were talking about my poetry. But here we are still in my art phase of exploration.

But the second fate track is my “self-actualization”**** process, first with art, though soon segueing to poetry.

But Dani got me started in the art part.

Even before, during my much earlier adventures stateside with the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain book,***** I had been mostly fascinated by faces, especially women’s. Most especially, for some reason, the Virgin Mary (See above for the drawing I did of her after Dani’s art lessons. (I sold it for $150 dollars–I guess that makes me a professional artist!)******

So of course that was one of my art projects. In Antigua was a wonderful little library that allowed gringos to check out books, including art books. And when I found a reproduction of a 400 year old painting of Mary by Alonso Cano, well I just had to draw it.

And speaking of drawing, I fear reader overload and so I’ll be drawing to a close here and we’ll get next time into the painting part of my road.
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*As in these posts:

**For instance, when I was 17, I wrote this poem in French for my girlfriend on the occasion of giving her flowers:
Ce sont de moi quelques fleurs
Qui expriment pour toi mon amour.
Les fleurs, elles sont mortes dans des heures
Mais ton memoire vit joujours
Dans mon Coeur.

Rough translation:

Here’s some flowers from me
That express my love for you.
The flowers die within hours but
Your memory lives always
In my heart

*** For info about this incredible artist of the theater, see http://www.biography.com/people/jean-louis-barrault-9199946#theatrical-and-film-career
I have a DVD of his classic Les Enfants du Paradis, (children of Paradise) practically my favorite film.

****See Maslow from last post, and this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-actualization

*****Which I highly recommend to any who would love to do drawing but who feel hopelessly incompetent. It worked for me (and all her students. You should see the before and afters in her book which is an easy to follow set of art lessons, from basic to more advanced, with great kick in the pants explanations which inspire you to believe in her method, soon reinforced by wonderful results. You can order it from amazon (I’ve mixed feelings about amazon but they are so damned convenient!):

******This is a Sufi blog, and so I will mention a Sufi-oriented aside. I have heard that the Sufis particularly in Anatolia (Turkey), have always had a pronounced interest in Jesus’ mother, as an object of reverence. People often forget that to the Muslims, Jesus too was a prophet and as such, coequal with Mohammed.

Because the Mind Is Powerful

My drawing of the Virgin Mary

My drawing of the Virgin Mary


A Helpful Thing, Which Takes the Sting Out of Fear

Stuff is lurking and lying in wait there’s
No doubt about that
Or perhaps it’s just God’s end of a plan
And to execute a plan

I have often seen
(With the keen eyesight of the heart)
That one does need a kick in the butt
And so when stuff leaps out at you

(Even in the dark
Especially in the dark because there the contrast
With light is more stark and so God knows
That shadows have their place in your face)

It’s best to have a sense of humor–I hear
God likes it when you laugh for having seen through
His or Her ruses to the roses behind or
Is it angels God delegates the sense of humor to?

Even this speculation makes the whole thing more
Amusing which is a helpful thing
Which takes the sting out of fear
Takes the bite out of night


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. (Which I use as an excuse to reprise that post). And this (lately) series is mentioned in my upcoming (soon) new blog post (watch this space). I have kept with this particular series also because these latest from 2013 are a series of biographical stories about how I came to be a poet in Guatemala. Which I of course mention, not for some egofied notion that you all are interested necessarily in my life story, but (honest!) because I feel all this illustrates if not Sufi principles, at least it exemplifies my conception of them. And frankly that’s what this whole blog and website is for: to express how I feel about the broad category I call Sufism. Hence the title rumi-nations.com, which derives from Rumi, the best known Sufi in this part of the known universe.

Last week (from 2013) I left off with the decision to leave Oregon and go to Guatemala. (In 2001) And since Eve (Not her real name) soon had a new boyfriend, I thought about what to do next, since this clearly obviated the original plan which had been for me to return to her, after I had mastered Spanish enough to get a teaching job (e. g. first grade).

But the plan, as I mentioned last time, was a fairy tale. Then I soon discovered I was living in my own new fairy tale. And (knock on wood!) I will live happily ever after. And it’s been so for twelve years now and so why doubt it? Especially since according to Hazrat Inayat Khan, the Sufi murshid I have been following, (and who if you have been following this blog, you are vastly familiar with) such thoughts are poison.

Because the mind is powerful.

But as I think perhaps you (who have been following this saga of the last few posts) might have noticed, things have had a way of happening differently than what I had been wishing for, working for. I guess it’s like John Lennon’s point about life being what happens while you are making other plans, which sounds bad, as if things may be out of control. But as I have seen over and over again, things that looked grim turned out well. (e. g. my carpentry failure led to my nursing school failure which led to my teaching first grade which in itself was successful, with the interesting interference of romance. But romance–perhaps you’ve noticed–is a part of life. (And please, I can’t let this go by without quoting my Sufi murshida, Ivy Duce, when she said, “Failure never let anybody down.” ) And when the romance failed, I ended up in Guatemala. Me, the historically geographically unadventurous, who like a blind man who depends on his heightened sense of hearing etc, became adventurous, daring even, once romance got into the equation. Interestingly I just did the typo, “roamance.” Because that surely was what got me to roaming.

As I left off last week, the issue now was what was to be my occupation. Here I was, having (due to decisions made in a romantic context) sold my house, and so sitting on 50,000 dollars in profit, having quit carpentry to become a first grade teacher, hence drawing an early retirement pension of just over $500 a month, and having quit my teaching job to be with Eve in Oregon.

So I found myself without any need to return to the states, and enjoyed the prospect of living in Guatemala where stuff is cheap, for the rest of my life, unencumbered by work (at least once an early social security pension would kick in, after a mere eight years).

And Inayat Khan has stressed that poets at least, (and all art is suspect here), function best where there’s no stress; they need a tranquil life of contemplation.

Intuitively, I knew that some art form was my destiny. It’s true, left to my own devices I probably would have just gone straight for the poetry. I had been writing poems since I was 14. And one at age 17 was in French (to impress my girlfriend when I sent her flowers for her birthday):

Ce sont de moi quelques fleurs
Qui expriment pour toi mon amour
Les fleurs, elles sont mortes dans des heures
Mais ton memoir vit toujours
Dans mon Coeur

(In the perforce fractured English translation):

Here are some flowers from me
That express my love for you.
The flowers will die within hours
But your memory lives forever
In my heart

Of course it can’t hold a candle to E. E. Cummings’ first poem (and at age six!):

There was a little farder
Who pushed his mother harder

But fate intervened and stalled all that, for a time, so I could study drawing and painting. And for all I know this was essential training for the poetry I now am dedicated to. After all, the poet E. E. Cummings was also a painter.* And there are scuttlebutts to the effect that it informed his poetry in for instance the manner of his odd pictorial typography, reminiscent of Guillaume Apollinaire. There are also–incomprehensible to me–rumors that he employed jazz rhythms in his poetry as well.

The fate that intervened, led me to an art instructor, one Daniel Casimiro a Venezuelan living in Antigua, Guatemala. He was trying to make a living as an art teacher, as well as what he is doing now, in spades, art restoration. He is hired to renovate 500 year old paintings and sculptures. Though these days pretty much exclusively paintings. (He can adopt the style of the painter and repair a painting with giant holes and tears in it, to the point that it looks good as new.) But as I say he also made his living teaching. And so of course once we became friends, I hired him to teach me to draw and paint. (for an example, see above)

And it’s an interesting fate item how I met Dani, my art teacher and close friend. But thereby hangs next week’s tale.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

* If you’re curious, here are a few of Cummings’ paintings: