Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn to Winter

by Dawn Pisturino

The old year is fading

and Autumn blows

the misty clouds

of Winter our way.

(A runaway grizzly bear meets Jack Frost and Old Man Winter in this vintage cartoon from 1934. My father loved these old cartoons.)
(My favorite Thanksgiving hymn – “We Gather Together”)
(George Winston playing his beautiful and inspiring piece, “Thanksgiving.” My mother adored George Winston.)

My parents always came for Thanksgiving. Now that they are gone, I always think of them at this time of year.

PSALM 95:1-5 (NKJV)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.

PLEASE NOTE: I WILL NOT BE POSTING ANYTHING UNTIL SOME TIME NEXT WEEK.

Have a joyful and blessed Thanksgiving!

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 23, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

58 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Kym Gordon Moore and Patricia Furstenberg

(Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash)

We are Poetry: Lessons I Didn’t Learn in a Textbook by Kym Gordon Moore (2022).

       Available on Amazon.com.

I’ve known Kym for about a year now and regularly follow her blog on WordPress. Although we don’t always agree, I’ve always found her to be intelligent, funny, well-educated, and articulate. And, she’s fierce! Whatever causes she embraces, she puts her whole heart and soul into them.

In her latest book, Kym provides a general overview of poetry and her vision for the future of poetry as an art form, a therapeutic tool, and an educational medium. She views poetry as a living, breathing thing that can transform the poet, the community, the country, and even the world. Poetry should be as rich, colorful, and diverse as life itself.

Her book is almost a textbook on creating poetry and would be a useful tool in the classroom. She introduces the concept of ArchiPoetry, which employs architectural ideas to design and perfect poetic creations. As she writes: “By combining the use of language, imagery, metaphors, and specific patterns, the design elements in ArchiPoetry have different disciplines and poetic variations.”

While journaling has been an accepted therapeutic tool for a while in mental health, Kym developed the concept of TheraPoetry, a process through which people can find emotional relief by expressing themselves with poetry. Kym speaks from experience. After the death of her mother, it was poetry – and writing poetry – which helped her through the grieving process.

Illiteracy is an issue about which Kym is very passionate; and she wants to use poetry as a medium to teach our children how to read and improve their reading comprehension skills. We all remember rhymes that we learned as children. Those rhymes stick in our heads as rhythmical pieces of our childhood, bring back fond memories, and encourage us to pass them on to the next generation.

Poetry is creativity, mental gymnastics, lyrical composition, and inner fantasy. Poetry is emotional release, mental growth, and spiritual expression. This is why Kym championed the cause of poetry in 2014 when she persuaded mayors all across North Carolina to submit proclamations officially recognizing April as National Poetry Month. Kym also endorses and supports the Academy of American Poets as a valuable resource for educators and poets everywhere. As she says, “Poetry is a revival and reminder of our aspirations, possibilities, and achievements for all people.”

Finally, I close with Kym’s own summation of poetry:

“Poetry paints emotion

art is imagination and passion

poetry inspires art

expressionism through creativity is art and poetry

-transformation-

poetry and art is creativity through expressionism

art inspires poetry

passion and imagination is art

emotion paints poetry.”

Website: From Behind the Pen

Christmas Haiku by Patricia Furstenberg (2018). Available on Amazon.com.

Patricia is a Romanian poet living in South Africa. Her poetry appears regularly on MasticadoresRomania, Spillwords Press, and other poetry sites and literary magazines. With Christmas right around the corner, I was drawn to read her book of Christmas haiku. Charmed by the simplicity of her verses and photos, I sincerely recommend this little chapbook as the perfect way to get into the candy-gingerbread-tinsel-lights holiday mood! Patricia has written numerous books for adults and children, which are all available on Amazon. So, grab a steaming cup of hot chocolate and enjoy!

“Christmas, snow, giggles,

Young and old around the tree.

Scent of fresh cookies.”

Website: Patricia Furstenberg, Author

34 Comments »

Ode to Joy – Schiller ~ Beethoven

November is the month when we count our blessings and express gratitude and joy here in the United States.

~

Ode to Joy (“An die Freude”)

by Friedrich Schiller (Published 1786)

Part of this poem was used as the choral finale

(4th movement) in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (1824),

which Beethoven composed when he was completely deaf.

Listen to the choral section here (in German):

(This short but inspiring video is fantastic! – a rousing way to start your day.)

~

Ode to Joy (Schiller) – English translation, with notes


Joy, beautiful sparkle of god,

Daughter of Elysium,

We enter, fire-drunk,

Heavenly, your holy sanctuary.

Your magics bind again

What custom has strictly parted.


(1785 version: What custom’s sword has parted.)

All men become brothers


(1785 version: Beggars become princes’ brothers.)

Where your tender wing lingers.

Chorus

Be embraced, millions!

This kiss to the entire world!

Brothers, above the starry canopy

Must a loving Father reside.

Who has succeeded in the great attempt

To be a friend’s friend;

Whoever has won a lovely woman

Add in his jubilation!

Yes, who calls even one soul

His own on the earth’s sphere!

And whoever never could achieve this,

Let him steal away crying from this gathering!

Chorus

Those who occupy the great circle,

Pay homage to sympathy!

It leads to the stars

Where the unknown one reigns. 

All creatures drink joy

At the breasts of nature,

All good, all evil

Follow her trail of roses.

Kisses she gave us, and the vine,

A friend, proven in death.

Pleasure was given to the worm,

And the cherub stands before God. 

Chorus

Do you fall down, you millions?

Do you sense the creator, world?

Seek him above the starry canopy,

Above the stars he must live

Joy is the name of the strong spring

In eternal nature.

Joy, joy drives the wheels

In the great clock of worlds.

She lures flowers from the buds,

Suns out of the firmament,

She rolls spheres in the spaces

That the seer’s telescope does not know. 

Chorus

Happy, as his suns fly

Across Heaven’s splendid map,

Run, brothers, along your path

Joyfully, as a hero to victory. 

From the fiery mirror of truth

She smiles upon the researcher,

Towards virtue’s steep hill

She guides the endurer’s path.

Upon faith’s sunlit mountain

One sees her banners in the wind,

Through the opening of burst coffins

One sees them standing in the chorus of angels. 

Chorus

Endure courageously, millions!

Endure for the better world!

There above the starry canopy

A great God will reward

Gods one cannot repay

Beautiful it is, to be like them.

Grief and poverty, acquaint yourselves

With the joyful ones rejoice.

Anger and revenge be forgotten,

Our deadly enemy be forgiven,

No tears shall he shed

No remorse shall gnaw at him 

Chorus

Our debt registers be abolished

Reconcile the entire world!

Brothers, over the starry canopy

God judges, as we judged. 

Joy bubbles in the cup,

In the grape’s golden blood

Cannibals drink gentleness

The fearful, courage —

Brothers, fly from your perches,

When the full cup is passed,

Let the foam spray to the heavens

This glass to the good spirit 

Chorus

He whom the spirals of stars praise,

He whom the seraphim’s hymn glorifies,

This glass to the good spirit

Above the starry canopy

Courage firm in great suffering,

Help there, where innocence weeps,

Eternally sworn oaths,

Truth towards friend and foe,

Men’s pride before kings’ thrones —

Brothers, even if it costs property and blood, —

The crowns to those who earn them,

Defeat to the lying brood! 

Chorus

Close the holy circle tighter,

Swear by this golden vine:

Remain true to the vows,

Swear by the judge above the stars!

(The 1803 version ends here; the 1785 version continues with the following.)


Escape the tyrants’ chains,

Generosity also to the villain,

Hope upon the deathbeds,

Mercy from the high court!

The dead, too, shall live!

Brothers, drink and chime in,

All sinners shall be forgiven,

And hell shall be no more.

Chorus

A serene departing hour!

Sweet sleep in the shroud!

Brothers—a mild sentence

From the final judge!

(Other translations may differ)

Beethoven Choral (English translation)

(Baritone)

Oh, friends, not these tones!
Let us raise our voices in more
Pleasing and more joyful sounds!

(Baritone, Quarter, and Chorus)

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter fire imbibed,
Heavenly, thy sanctuary.

The magic reunites those
Whom stern custom has parted;
All men will become brothers
Under thy gentle wing.

May he who has had the fortune
To gain a true friend
And he who has won a noble wife
Join in our jubilation!

Yes, even if he calls but one soul
His own in all the world.
But he who has failed in this
Must steal away alone and in tears.

All the world’s creatures
Draw joy from nature’s breast;
Both the good and the evil
Follow her rose-strewn path.

She gave us kisses and wine
And a friend loyal unto death;
She gave lust for life to the lowliest,
And the Cherub stands before God.

(Tenor Solo and Chorus)

Joyously, as his suns speed
Through Heaven’s glorious order,
Hasten, Brothers, on your way,
Exulting as a knight in victory.

(Chorus)

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
daughter of Elysium,
We enter fire imbibed,
Heavenly, thy sanctuary.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.

(The verses repeat here until . . .)

Joy, Daughter of Elysium,
Thy magic reunites those
Whom stern custom has parted;
All men will become brothers
Under thy gentle wing.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Joy, beautiful spark of Gods!,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of Gods!

(Other translations may differ)

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 7, 2022





28 Comments »

Louis Armstrong Halloween

(photo from vialma.com)

Jazz musicians are no strangers to Halloween. Even the great Louis Armstrong recorded a couple of fun Halloween songs that were quite popular in his day. When Armstrong appeared in his first major motion picture, Pennies from Heaven (1936), he performed The Skeleton in the Closet with Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra.

The Skeleton in the Closet Lyrics

Boy, don’t you go in there
Come outa there, boy
Don’t you know that house is haunted

There’s an old deserted mansion
On an old forgotten road
Where the better ghosts and goblins
Always hang out.
One night they threw a party
In a manner à la mode
And they cordially invited
All the gang out
At a dark bewitchin’ hour
When the fun was loud and hearty
A notorious wall flower
Became the life of the party
Mmm! The spooks were havin’ their midnight fling
The merry makin’ was in full swing
They shrieked themselves into a cheerful trance
When the skeleton in the closet started to dance
Now a goblin giggled with fiendish glee
A shout rang out from a big banshee
Amazement was in every ghostly glance
When the skeleton in the closet started to dance
All the witches were in stitches
While his steps made rhythmic thumps
And they nearly dropped their broomsticks
When he tried to do the bumps
You never heard such unearthly laughter
Such hilarious groans
When the skeleton in the closet rattled his bones

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Johnny Burke / Arthur Johnson

The Skeleton In The Closet lyrics © Chappell & Co., Inc.

~

In 1954, Armstrong recorded the song Spooks with Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra.

Spooks Lyrics

The other night, about twelve o’clock
I thought I’d go downstairs just to check the lock
When I heard something in the house
I don’t mean a mouse

I swear they were spooks, spooks, spooks
I know they were spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks
I couldn’t move, just stood and stared
I never was so scared

The first spook spoke and I heard him speak
He said, “What say I go make the back door squeak?”
Oh he would tease the cat and hound the pup
And raise our spirits up

Oh lordy, them spooks, spooks, spooks
Those scary old spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks
You don’t have to take my word
But I heard what I heard


The next spook spoke, he said, “Suppose we make
The faucets drip and make the shutters shake
You let me know just what you want
This is my favourite haunt

Beware of them spooks, spooks, spooks
Them mischievous spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks
I ain’t spoofing, man I mean
That I seen what I seen


A big spook spoke, he said, “Spike, my son,” he said
“I’ll show you how to scare up some fun
But next time when you wail, see here
You make it loud and clear”

Watch out for them spooks, spooks, spooks
Oh them nasty old spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks
Maybe you don’t think it’s so
But I knew what I knew

The last spook turned to his spouse and frowned
Said, “I thought I’d told you to wait in the ground
But you look awful cute tonight
In fact, you look a fright”


He’s talking ’bout spooks, spooks, spooks
Real genuine spooks, spooks, spooks, spooks

Oh, you stop putting up your dukes
You just can’t fight with them spooks

I’m getting outta here, man
I don’t dig this jive, no


Wait for us, wait for us, wait for us, wait for us

by Matt Dubey and Harold Carr

~

Other Halloween jazz songs:

I Put a Spell on You

That Old Black Magic

Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead

Witchcraft

Old Devil Moon

~

Halloween is coming soon!

Dawn Pisturino

October 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

14 Comments »

Bach and Halloween

How did Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565 become a staple among Halloween favorites? After all, Bach lived 300 years ago and wrote high brow classical music during the high Baroque Period — not exactly popular music for pranksters and merry-makers. And yet, this organ masterpiece has become associated with Halloween as surely as dark, haunted mansions and creepy carved pumpkins.

Bach wrote it in two parts. The first part, the Toccata (from the Italian toccare, meaning “to touch”), was meant to show off the performer’s skill as a virtuoso organist, so it is characterized by many arpeggios (broken chords) and light-fingered gymnastics up and down the keyboard. The second part, the Fugue, uses repetition in various keys (“voices”) to highlight a central musical theme. A minor scale was used to give the piece a dark, ominous, foreboding, and dramatic tone. Organs have a deep, rich, and powerful quality, so writing such a magnificent piece for the organ (especially a large, full-bodied organ with pipes) was sheer genius.

Movie audiences were introduced to Bach’s piece in the opening scenes of the 1940 animated Disney classic, Fantasia. Instead of using the organ, however, conductor Leopold Stokowski arranged the piece into an orchestral number. But the music became associated with horror films when it was used in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), Gremlins 2 (1990), and The Babadook (2014). And, truthfully, if you ask music lovers what images come into their minds while listening to Bach’s organ piece, many will tell you that they envision ghostly encounters in haunted houses, mist-covered cemeteries, scary pumpkins, mad organists in Gothic churches, and vampires and other creatures of the night.

But experience it for yourself!

(Organ version performed by Hannes Kastner)

(Orchestral version from the 1940 animated film, Fantasia, arranged and conducted by Leopold Stokowski)

Have a spooky day!

Dawn Pisturino

October 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

22 Comments »

Labor Day Storms

(Photo from Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sept. 4, 2022, Colorado River)

Labor Day weekend wasn’t quite what I expected this year. On Friday evening, a terrible storm blew through which brought high winds and rain that knocked down a cellphone tower. Some people lost both their electrical power and Internet service. Some people still do not have their Internet service restored.

After five weeks of monsoon rains, we got more rain. The desert is in bloom again, with greenery and yellow wildflowers everywhere. The wash behind our property has been inundated with flash floods over and over again, something I haven’t seen in years. Along with the plants came an invasion of green and yellow caterpillars. I have no idea where they came from, but they will metamorphose into white-lined sphinx moths. They are busy munching on the green plants. There are so many of them, you have to be careful where you walk. Thankfully, they are starting to disappear. Every time you move one of them, they squirt out a nasty green liquid. I haven’t seen an increase in moths, though, so I don’t know where they’re going.

[A variety of colors and patterns can be found on white-lined sphinx caterpillars. They range from bright yellows and greens to completely black. (Photo by Sierra Alvarez/ Cronkite News)]

Otherwise, the weather was hot and muggy, normal for Labor Day weekend. Sunday was no exception. The sky was sunny and blue with just a few fluffy white clouds. It was a perfect day, in fact. But later in the afternoon, storm clouds gathered over the mountains in the east, and you could see a curtain of rain falling on the eastern side of the valley. The wind came up suddenly, and that curtain quickly crossed the valley and hit our house.

I can’t remember ever seeing so much rain, thunder, and lightning in my life (and we’ve been hit with bad storms before). Lightning flashed all around the house — so close, I was afraid it would come through the windows. The rain ferociously pounded the ground, flooding the yard. The wind blew everything off the porch that wasn’t anchored down. Later, we found that the wind had damaged one of the posts on our covered front porch (deck) and bent metal piping on our dog’s kennel.

The power kept flickering on and off, so I finally just turned everything off. Appliances that weren’t even turned on flickered on and off, which really freaked me out. After everything had calmed down, I opened the windows and let the cool, moist air inside. Since it was near sunset, the air turned wonderful shades of yellow and pink, which were incredible.

Our power came back on right away, but down on the Colorado River, it was a different story. The storm started out with a huge sandstorm, with the wind blowing 65 mph and gusts up to 85 mph. Nearly 40,000 residents in the region lost their electrical power when 50 power poles were split in two. Then the rains came. People boating, jet skiing, and camping in the campground were hit hard. Thankfully, I haven’t heard of any fatalities.

On Monday, my husband spent a lot of time on his cellphone contacting co-workers and friends to make sure they were okay. The temperature hit 114 degrees F, the power was out, and people had no air conditioning. People were checking into motels and hotels on the other side of the river, where the power was still intact. Cooling stations were set up to help people stay cool. And, of course, people were swimming in the Colorado River, whose waters are always cold.

Electrical power was predicted to be out for 24 to 36 hours, but the power companies in the region all pooled their resources and got a lot of things up and running again within 24 hours. Some residences and businesses are still without power as I write this, however. My husband’s doctor’s office was closed on Tuesday because their power was still out. He’s having knee surgery next Monday, so he was freaking out about it.

I’m grateful for the rain, despite the damage. Maybe the drought will finally end. Of course, too much rain can be even worse!

Dawn Pisturino

September 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

21 Comments »

Cheap Wine, Dried Salame, and YOU

 My husband was one of those “bad boys” that girls fall in love with and parents deplore. With his black jacket and black leather cap, he looked like a Sicilian gangster out on a hit.

His pent-up anger spilled out of him in dangerous ways. For example, he mapped out a plan whereby every bank in the city of San Francisco could be robbed on the same day.

His dark nature captivated me, and soon, I was hooked for life.

We fought like cats and dogs, but oh, the fun we had! We went treasure hunting in crazy, out-of-the-way places, finding cold hard cash lying in the sand in a cave. We drove up and down the Pacific Coast Highway in his green Fiat X-19, enjoying the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair. We hiked through the redwoods on Mt. Tamalpais and watched the ocean tides under a full moon at Ocean Beach.

One day, singing at the top of his lungs, my husband suddenly stripped down and drove naked with the top of his car open along the 92 over to Half Moon Bay. Thrilled and excited, I watched for the cops, laughing all the way.

On cool, foggy nights, we slipped away into the darkness and made love on sandy beaches. On warm afternoons, we packed a picnic snack: a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco and a link of dried salame. Sun, warmth, ocean air, sand, green grass, and a hazy glow of love and darkness and friendship between us.

After our daughter was born, we included her in our crazy life. Archery at the range on King’s Mountain, afternoon tea at Agatha’s, strolling the malls, tramping through the sand at Half Moon Bay, riding the carousel at the San Francisco Zoo, flying kites down on the Marina.

Those days are over now. Our daughter is grown, and we’re not as skinny as we used to be. We live in the desert in Arizona, work, walk the dog, watch TV, and complain about the heat, wind, and dust. But whenever I go back to California, I relive those glory days of sunshine and salt air. Whenever I spot a bottle of Riunite or a link of dried salame at the grocery store, I remember foggy nights and making love in the sand.

So let me fill my plastic cup with cheap red wine, arrange slices of salame and cheese on a paper plate, and offer this toast to the man I love:

I LOVE YOU, DEAR HEART, MY LOVER, MY BEST FRIEND, MY MENTOR, MY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, MY DARK KNIGHT — AND I ALWAYS WILL.

Happy Father’s Day!

(Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2022 in the USA)

Dawn Pisturino

June 16, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

33 Comments »

1,000 Followers

Yesterday, I hit 1,000 followers. Thank you, everyone, for your support!

Dawn Pisturino

June 14, 2022

67 Comments »

Christ’s Sorrow – A Sonnet

Christ’s Sorrow – A Sonnet

by Dawn Pisturino

I was not born for pleasure but for pain;

For blood and thorns and thirst beneath the sun;

And ev’ry man who doubts I am the One

Has lost the only treasure he could gain.

Blasted with hate, betrayed, and marked like Caine,

My fate was sealed; nor was there place to run.

Standing trial and defended by none,

The case was clear; acquittal was in vain.

You hung me high; you nailed me to the cross;

On either side, the outcasts hung with me.

O enemies mine, I died on that hill

With bitterest gall; but mourn not my loss:

You have helped fulfill my great destiny.

My pain is this: — You do not love me still.

September 16, 1986; April 14, 2022

Published in Great Poems of Today Anthology, 1987.

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 1986-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

HAPPY EASTER!

27 Comments »

Easter Poems by Various Poets

How Easter Eggs Get Their Colors


At Halloween we had more treats
than we had trick-or-treaters
and at least one of us
living in this house
is not much of a candy eater
We had some red and green
M&Ms left over after
this Christmas season
there is some ribbon candy
left here as well for that
very same reason
Those Valentine hearts
I wrote about
Pink, Yellow, Orange
and other assorted pastel
will likely get leftover
past their prime as well
Though Spring is not
quite yet here
in the mornings we
have noticed
A Bunny lurking near
He seems rather hungry
seeking yummies for his tummy
and though you may think it funny
we have decided leftover candy
when ground up might be dandy
to feed to that very hungry bunny
That way he will have
exactly what he needs to make
each colored Easter egg.
Do you think for a minute
I am the kind of person
who would pull your leg?
~Mary Havran~


On Easter Day


The silver trumpets rang across the Dome:
The people knelt upon the ground with awe:
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
In splendor and in light the Pope passed home.
My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea,
And sought in vain for any place to rest:
“Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise My feet, and drink wine salt with tears.”
~Oscar Wilde~


The Easter Flower


Far from this foreign Easter damp and chilly
My soul steals to a pear-shaped plot of ground,
Where gleamed the lilac-tinted Easter lily
Soft-scented in the air for yards around;
Alone, without a hint of guardian leaf!
Just like a fragile bell of silver rime,
It burst the tomb for freedom sweet and brief
In the young pregnant year at Eastertime;
And many thought it was a sacred sign,
And some called it the resurrection flower;
And I, a pagan, worshiped at its shrine,
Yielding my heart unto its perfumed power.
~Claude McKay~


HAVE A HAPPY AND BLESSED EASTER!

Dawn Pisturino

April 13, 2022

8 Comments »

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