Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

A Tribute to Fats Waller

(Fats Waller, from Getty Images)

When the Broadway musical, Ain’t Misbehavin’, came to the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco in 1980, my then-jazz pianist husband and I had to see it. Today, the name Fats Waller is rarely heard. But in 1980, San Francisco boasted a number of hopping improvisational jazz clubs where the musical styles of greats like Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, and Fats Waller were very much alive and well.

Waller (1904-1943) studied piano with James P. Johnson, who developed the Harlem stride school of jazz piano. This style employed a wider range of scale in the left hand, smoother dynamics, and left more room for improvisation than its forerunner, ragtime. Fats Waller became a master of stride jazz and his sense of comedy and playfulness secured his legacy as a popular comedic entertainer. His radio program showcased his comedic talents throughout the 1930s. Later, he went to Hollywood and played in the 1943 film, Stormy Weather, with co-star Lena Horne. In the same year, he became the first African-American to compose the music for a Broadway musical, Early to Bed.

Two well-known jazz standards composed by Waller are “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” He reportedly copyrighted over 400 songs, but he often sold songs to other performers and allowed them to take full credit.

Mobster Al Capone was so taken by Fats Waller that four of his hoods kidnapped the well-known pianist in 1926 and forced him to perform at Capone’s birthday party.

One of my favorite Waller songs is “Your Feet’s Too Big” because it’s funny and set to a catchy tune. It truly captures the pianist/composer’s delightful sense of humor.

(Your Feet’s Too Big by Fats Waller)

Dawn Pisturino

June 7, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


My World

(Photo and haiku by Dawn Pisturino. Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.)

Thanks for visiting my world!

Dawn Pisturino

June 5, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.



I want to thank Manuela Timofte for publishing my story, “Bigfoot!” today on Gobblers & Masticadores. Please visit Gobblers and show them your support. Thanks!

Gobblers & Masticadores

by Dawn Pisturino

Crack! The bullet zings past my ear, hitting an old oak tree.

I drop the salmon wiggling in my hands and run along the bank of the Mokelumne River, propelling my long, hairy arms for speed. Behind me, the hunters move carefully through the dense underbrush, tracking my movements.

Sharp green thorns snag on my hair and tear at my flesh as I struggle through blackberry briars and wild grapevines. I hike deeper into the wilderness on two strong legs, climbing skillfully around granite boulders barring my way. In the distance, the jagged outline of Deadwood Peak rises above the trees. If I can only get there, I will be safe.

Rounding a bend I see her, tearing meat from a rabbit carcass with big, sharp teeth. Mama! Her shaggy brown head turns in my direction. With a low growl, she opens her long, hairy arms as…

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Free Bird

I’m a Gemini, a freethinker, fiercely independent, self-sufficient, and self-reliant. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a song that resonates with me, especially the line, “And this bird you cannot change.” My freedom means far more to me than great wealth and success, which usually corrupt people and tie them down.

Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see

But, if I stay here with you, girl
Things just couldn’t be the same
‘Cause, I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you cannot change, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

And the bird you cannot change
And this bird you cannot change
Lord knows I can’t change

Bye-bye, baby, it’s been a sweet love, yeah, yeah
Though this feeling I can’t change
But, please, don’t take it so badly
‘Cause Lord knows I’m to blame

But, if I stay here with you, girl
Things just couldn’t be the same
‘Cause, I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you’ll never change, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

And the bird you cannot change
And this bird you cannot change
Lord knows I can’t change
Lord, help me, I can’t change

Lord, I can’t change
Won’t you fly high, free bird, yeah

Songwriters: Allen Collins, Ron Van Zant. For non-commercial use only.

from Musixmatch.

[Please note that I will mainly be posting on Mondays and Wednesdays through the summer.]

Have a blessed day!


Dawn Pisturino

May 31, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.



(Internet photo)

When the old man down the road lost his wife and moved away to live with his nephew, he left behind all of his belongings in the house and garage. It wasn’t long before I saw a bright yellow Corvette occasionally parked in the driveway. I knew where the owner of that car lived and didn’t think too much about it at the time, although I thought the woman who owned it was mighty strange.

My husband and I took a lot of walks together then, and as we walked, we began to notice peculiar things going on at that old man’s house. Sometimes, the garage door was left open. Other times, the side door was left open. We began to call the sheriff’s office whenever things didn’t look right, and a deputy would come out, check the property, close the doors, and contact the old man’s nephew.

This went on for a while, and then I happened to mention that I had seen a yellow Corvette parked in the drive. Things came to a head, and the sheriff’s office finally figured out what was going on. The deputy told me that the woman in the yellow Corvette had been robbing the old man blind. She claimed to be a friend of the family who was keeping an eye on the property. She sure was! The nephew thanked me for contacting the sheriff’s office. Not long after, a U-Haul showed up to move the old man’s belongings.

I don’t know what happened to the woman. I never saw her or her bright yellow Corvette again. The old man died, and his house was sold. I just know one thing:

If you’re going to rob your neighbor blind, don’t do it in a bright yellow Corvette in a neighborhood where everybody knows where you live!


[Please note: I will not be posting anything until sometime after Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy your holiday!]

Dawn Pisturino

May 26, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


A Creepy Halloween Scare

Right before Halloween in 2021, I decided to watch the entire Nightmare on Elm Street franchise on DVD. I had finished the last movie and decided to take the dog for a walk down in the wash while the sun was still high.

Walking along with my dog, I suddenly heard a branch crack behind us. Already freaked out from the movie, I turned around and saw a big, fat guy with wild curly hair and a murderous expression on his face, following us. He looked like a crazed horror movie axe murderer.

My first reaction was, “OMG! The movie’s coming true!”

Then I recognized him as the grandson and nephew of the real estate brokers who lived around the corner. He had yelled at me from the road twice before when I was walking in the wash. In a shrill voice, he called, “Lady! Lady! Yoohoo! Lady!” — and rambled on about his grandmother. He had gained at least 100 lbs. since I last saw him in person. This time, however, he didn’t say anything and followed us into the wash.

I quickly sized up the situation:

  1. I had a wooden walking stick; the guy was using a piece of metal rebar as a walking stick.
  2. I had a dog, but if I unleased him, the guy would beat him with the metal rebar.
  3. The guy was having trouble walking on the craggy ground because a flash flood had carried all the topsoil away.
  4. I had the advantage because I knew the topography of the wash.
  5. The guy obviously had bad knees from his excess weight; I was in better shape and more nimble.
  6. There was sufficient distance between us to have a good head start.
  7. I knew the guy had mental deficiencies, a fixed idea about his grandmother’s safety, and probably could not be reasoned with.
  8. I knew he didn’t like people walking and driving ATVs through the wash since it curved behind his grandmother’s house — and he really didn’t like me!

I decided that if the guy did magically catch up with us and try to hurt me or my dog, I was going to stand my ground and beat the crap out of him with my wooden walking stick. I pulled on the leash, and the dog and I hurried through the wash until we reached the road. That guy never did catch up. In fact, he probably turned around and went home.

The next time I saw that guy at his grandmother’s house, he had lost weight and cut his hair, but he still glared at me with that loathsome stare. He and his grandmother have since moved away.

But what a creepy Halloween scare!

Dawn Pisturino

May 24, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


I Carry a Gun Now

(Photo by BW Square on Unsplash)

I’ve been riding a roller coaster of emotions for the last month because a crazy guy formed a connection with me. I have PTSD from things that happened to me in the past, and his unwanted attention kicked it into maximum overdrive. Writing, focusing, and functioning have been difficult, although I’ve been trying to maintain a regular routine.

This guy has been driving by my house with his dog for over a year. I could always hear him coming down the road because he would go slow and let his dog yap through the open window. He has an adorable dog, and I enjoyed hearing that dog bark when he drove by, as crazy as that sounds, because it made me smile. He came by about the same time every evening, and it was always just him and his dog. I could never get a good look at the guy because he always sat hunched down in the seat, but he was a white guy with a beard and wore a hat or bandanna on his head. I thought he was weird. It was creepy how he drove around like that every evening, even when gas was $5.00 a gallon. I figured he worked all day and then hung out with his dog after work. But he seemed like the loneliest guy in the world.

As I became more aware of him, he became more aware of me. I had a strange feeling that he and I would eventually come face to face.

The dirt road behind our property crosses a dry wash. I often walk through our back lot and along that dirt road into the wash. The wash curves behind our neighbors’ properties and onto another road. As I came from the wash one evening, who did I run into in his truck? The weird guy. He leered at me and smiled. We recognized each other, locked eyes, and something passed between us. I immediately felt uncomfortable, vulnerable, easy prey, and targeted. But like a stupid fool, I waved at him without thinking, and we both went our separate ways.

A few days later, he saw me walking down the road and stopped his truck to talk to me. He had his dog with him and started talking to me as best friends. I immediately felt a strong creep vibe and SEXUAL PREDATOR kept flashing in my head. Although he looked like a fully mature adult, he was much younger than me and came off as childish with an intellectual disability. We had a short conversation about rattlesnakes and dog bites. Although he was friendly and very polite, he kept trying to play on my sympathies and reel me in, but I cut it off, wished him a good evening, and headed home. I walked away feeling a strong connection between us and kept saying to myself: “I don’t want to have a connection with this guy.”

I have fifteen years of experience working with inpatient psychiatric patients and made a quick mental health assessment in my head as we were talking. I concluded the following based on his body language, speech, presentation, and interaction:

  • Delayed thought processes (mentally slow)
  • Unable to keep up the conversation (inarticulate)
  • poor education
  • Sexually and emotionally deprived
  • Socially awkward and sexually inept
  • Looking for attention, intimacy, and a mother to nurture and take care of him
  • Very needy
  • Mommy issues – either living with his mother or no mother in the picture
  • Probable history of psychiatric care and medication
  • Use of pornography and possible sexual molestation of children (based on his childish nature)
  • Possible criminal history

Once again, I felt uncomfortable, vulnerable, easy prey, and targeted, but at least I knew something about the guy. I told my husband about the incident and figured things would go on as usual. Instead, the guy’s behavior changed, and he began to drive by at odd hours, with and without his dog. I got a couple of weird phone calls. You know, the ones where nobody says anything but you can hear that someone is on the other end of the line. Two dogs went missing from the neighborhood. Dead snakes were showing up in odd places. I figured he felt rejected and was punishing me in some way. I looked through the county sex offender registry but didn’t find anyone who looked like him.

Things calmed down, then we passed each other on the road when I was going to town and he recognized me. That set off a whole new chain of events. A few days ago, he started honking his horn in front of my house. My husband was in the yard, though, and when the guy saw him, he took off. At 4:30 the next afternoon, I had just climbed into a nice hot bubble bath when I heard a big commotion outside. My dog was barking, and I heard the guy racing up and down the road in front of my house with his dog barking. I was pissed. I climbed out of the tub, wrapped myself in a towel, and ran to the window. He took off. He drove by around the same time the next day but seemed calmer and just looked at the house and kept driving.

I talked to my husband about the whole thing. I told him: “If something happens to me, you’ll be the first suspect, and the guy honking his horn will be the second. Remember that!” I told him I would ignore these childish antics and start carrying my .38 special when walking or working in the yard. He said, “If you have to shoot someone, make sure you finish the job.”

Since things have calmed down again, I hope the guy got it out of his system and will leave me alone. I don’t know his name, where he lives, or anything about him, and he hasn’t broken any laws. There’s nothing to give the sheriff’s office. But he knows where I live, my car, the truck my husband drives, and presumably, my phone number. My biggest fear is that he will harm my dog or my husband or start doing property damage. The BIG UNKNOWN makes me anxious, afraid, hypervigilant, angry, and depressed.

I started watching a documentary series about psychopaths on Discovery+ and Googled the characteristics of stalkers. This guy fits the profile of a Private Stranger Stalker, Intimacy Seeking Stalker, and Incompetent Suitor Stalker. He may even be a Predatory Stalker. According to the articles, most stalkers are obsessive, narcissistic, socially awkward and inept, controlling, manipulative, attention-seeking, and feel no empathy for their victims. They want the victim to constantly think about them and react to their actions. They want to possess and control the victim to feel powerful, dominant, and adequate. It’s been estimated that 50% of stalkers suffer from some form of mental illness, including schizophrenia, psychosis, and personality disorders. Women are the most likely victims, and men the most likely stalkers, but anyone can be a victim or a stalker. The most dangerous stalkers have been involved in domestic violence and broken relationships.

Why did it happen to me? I was there. I was visible and presumably available. I was fair game, vulnerable, and an easy mark. All the time that guy was driving by my house, he watched me work in the yard, feed the dog, perform routine chores, paint the front deck and front door, read books, and work on the driveway. He saw me walking in the desert alone. Whatever fantasy or need he was feeding, I fit the bill.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this post because it’s so intensely personal, but I thought it would be therapeutic, increase public awareness, and help others.

Thanks for listening! Stay safe!

Dawn Pisturino

May 22, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


“Evening at the Mosque” by Dawn Pisturino

I want to thank Barbara Harris Leonhard for publishing my poem, “Evening at the Mosque,” today on Masticadores USA. Please visit Masticadores USA and show them your support. Thanks!

MasticadoresUsa // Editor: Barbara Leonhard

I dressed in fine silk To meet you in the garden After evening prayer. My smile burst through my gauzy veils, My eyes burned as brightly as the stars Kissing the minaret, My happiness flooded the mosque With the holiest of incense when we met in the crowd. Our eyes united in mutual longing, Our hands entwined in love’s embrace As we stole away to the palm-sheltered garden Laid out in exquisite mosaic Behind the moonlit house of Allah. Old women watched us from the shadows, Monitoring our every move, Remembering their own fragile youth And the promise of love’s passion, Lost so many years ago, if ever found at all, Their husbands, fat old men with white heads, Muttering in their beards. We sipped the precious nectar of youth Flowing from the splashing fountain. My silken robes fluttered with the desert breeze That rustled the curious palms And carried…

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“He Loved His Dogs” by Dawn Pisturino

I want to thank Nolcha Fox, Terveen Gill, and J. RE Crivello for publishing my poem, “He Loved His Dogs,” today on Masticadores India. The poem is loosely based on a true crime story I watched and a gentleman who has been annoying me lately. Please visit Masticadores India and show them your support. Thank you!

Chewers & Masticadores // Editora: Nolcha Fox

Photo by Bruce Warrington

His whiny, high-pitched Southern drawl

Made her skin crawl.

He never seemed to shave,

Reeked of cigarettes and weed,

And flashed his yellow teeth

With childish grins and empty words,

Seeking babyish attention.

He wore his baseball cap backward,

Pulled low on his head,

And cruised the backroads of Alabama

In a clunky white pickup truck,

Looking for God knows what,

And God knows who,

Letting his dogs hang out the window

And yap at the passing world.

But he loved those dogs;

And that’s not half bad, right?


When his mama died one lonely night,

He howled at the moon

Like a wounded animal,

And then forgot her.

And when another woman’s body

Was recovered from a ditch,

Broken like a China doll,

He hid in the basement,

Clinging to his dogs.

They licked his sweaty face,

Leaned in close for soft caresses


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“Drunken Poet” on Spillwords Press

Drunken Poet

by Dawn Pisturino

I’m a drunken poet,

Whirling around

In the ecstasy of Divine Love.

My heart pounds wildly in my chest,

Beating a staccato drum roll.

My head explodes with divine revelations,

Driving the stars from the heavens.

The sun dances in the sky,

Revolving with bright colors

That blind me. . .

Please go here to read the rest.

Thank you so much!

Dawn Pisturino

May 20, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


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