Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Poetry Book Reviews: Fritzinie Lavoile and Khaya Ronkainen

(Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash)

Ruminative Words by Fritzinie Lavoile (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

Fritzinie is a young Haitian poet whose poetry reflects wisdom beyond her years. Her verses are tender, insightful, beautiful, and filled with hope. Though young in years, she freely shares her thoughts, emotions, and experiences on various topics: love, heartache, disappointment, betrayal, survival, racism, and the deep and abiding love and support found within her own family and faith. Her poetry is a vehicle for helping others find their “safe space” and become their own “safety net.”

From the very first poem in the collection, I was hooked:

“May our love be like the branches on a tree . . .

which not even the strongest of winds could break.

May our love rise above obstacles . . .

that block its path towards the light.

May our love stretch its every inch

as it reaches for life.”

Surviving an earthquake, she writes:

“Sometimes I feel like I am still that six-year-old girl in

Haiti.

In the middle of an earthquake.

Stuck under that brick wall.

Everyone tramping on top of me

yearning to survive,

deafened to my cries.”

In spite of difficulties and pain, she perseveres:

“I press my eyes

begging for tomorrow to come.

The night insists on being a little longer

teaching me the importance of longing.

Of being patient.”

Although I do not know Fritzinie personally, I feel a connection to her after reading her lovely collection of poems. Her strength and resilience shine through her words, giving me hope that even the darkest days will still produce young poets with the energy to shine through the clouds and write to inspire and uplift those around them.

Website: http://www.ruminativewords.com

The Sheltering by Khaya Ronkainen (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

Khaya is a South African poet living in Finland. Her impressive collection of poems is written with thoughtful consideration, deep emotion, and keen observation of the world around her.  Written during the COVID-19 pandemic, she addresses issues like depression, isolation, grief, friendship, and family. Her experience with the pandemic and lockdown reflects the experience of so many other people who suddenly found themselves suffering in silence and alienation: Why did this happen? Are we doing the right thing? Will it ever end? Will life return to normal? What is the end result of such a dystopian event? Finally, leaving the shelter of home prompted new concerns: Is the world a better place? Are we better people now? Did we learn anything new? Will it happen again?

The world is already divided

No sooner have we all agreed

that this pandemic knows no colour

than we witness reality

Life is cheap for those who can afford

The common enemy encircles

gathering strength, widening the gap

between the haves and have-nots

Inertia and action, fraternal twins

whose distinction seems unimportant

yet change hangs in the balance”

Expressing herself through poetry helped Khaya get through the pandemic. Yet, while humans sheltered at home, nature continued its orderly routine. Flowers still bloomed. Birds still warbled. The earth still turned. And when that final autumn came before the restrictions were lifted, leaves still burned with color and hope:

“Nothing depicts autumn like October’s blazing

sun before it dips beneath the horizon. While

I toast marshmallows in the evenings and

drink apple cider sangria deep into the night, I

acknowledge you are a multifaceted season of

the soul. A season to dance with things I

cannot control and reclaim freedom. I’ll

indulge and celebrate on your good days.

Because I cannot stop leaves from falling.”

We could not stop the pandemic, but we endured. What we choose to do with that is up to us. The world is still a beautiful place:

“A blue tit puffed up with boldness

reminds of its presence

and calm outlasts

the storm.”

Website: http://www.khayaronkainen.fi

~

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today!

~

Dawn Pisturino

January 16, 2023

Copyright 2022-2023 Fritzinie Lavoile. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022-2023 Khaya Ronkainen. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The Pagan Origins of Easter

The Spring Equinox marks the festival of Eostre – also known as Ostara – a Germanic goddess worshiped by the Anglo-Saxons. If “Eostre” looks familiar, it’s because the word eventually morphed into “Easter.”


The pagan symbols of Easter include rabbits, hares, and eggs. Rabbits and hares represent fertility, while eggs symbolize fertile purity. Easter egg hunts can be viewed as a re-enactment of rebirth and renewal rituals practiced by ancient people. Lighting a bonfire at dawn on Easter morning hearkens back to the days when Germanic believers lit bonfires at dawn on the morning of the Spring Equinox. Decorating eggs and wearing new clothes symbolize the end of winter, the coming of Spring, and the birth of new life.


We all look forward to the coming of spring and all the beautiful treasures it brings: fresh green grass, colorful and fragrant flowers, birds singing in the trees, blue skies and sunshine, and warm breezes wafting through our open windows. Spring is the time when we feel energetic and renewed. We want to stretch out our muscles and get outdoors in the sunshine. We feel suddenly motivated to clean out our closets and send belongings we no longer need to the local thrift shop. We shop for new clothes, try a new hairstyle, revel in nature and the world at large. After the oppression of winter, Spring sets us FREE.


Happy Easter! Happy Spring!


Dawn Pisturino
April 11, 2020; April 12, 2022
Copyright 2020-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Navajo Blessing Way

In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

Traditional Navajo Blessing

Dawn Pisturino

November 19, 2021

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Bigfoot!

bigfootCrack! 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 the 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 if to embrace me.

And then she smells it, the distinct odor of musky sweat. The hunters are near!

We run, ignoring the stones piercing our feet, causing us to stumble. Behind us, the humans call back and forth, “Bigfoot!”

Together, we melt into the shade of a thick stand of pines, hoping to slow down and catch our breath. But our feet become tangled in nets concealed by pine needles, and suddenly, we are swinging up, up into the air, and dangling from the limbs of a sturdy pine tree.

Mama struggles inside her net, growling with rage. I struggle, too, yelping helplessly as the net swings back and forth above the hard ground.

“We’ve got them now,” says a bearded hunter to his companions. “Bigfoot! That TV show, Monster Search, will pay us big bucks for these babies.”

“We’ll be famous,” cries a husky hunter with red hair. “Scientists won’t laugh at us anymore. Finally! Proof that Bigfoot exists!”

“How are we going to get them back to San Francisco?” asks an old man with spectacles. “I mean, we weren’t really expecting to find anything.”

The bearded hunter pulls out his camera. “I’m taking plenty of pictures, just in case something goes wrong. They can’t call it a hoax this time!”

While the camera clicks and the three men argue over the best way to get us back to the city, I turn my head from view and gnaw on the net’s thick webbing with my teeth. Pretty soon I’ve made a small opening, large enough to stick my fingers through. I wiggle them at Mama, and she understands what to do.

The red-haired hunter chuckles as he pokes me in the back with a long stick. I give him a warning growl, but he keeps it up. My powerful jaws chew faster on the netting.

“We need some of that fur,” says the old man with spectacles. “We can send it to a lab for analysis.”

“Good idea!” says the red-haired hunter. “Then, if they get away, we’ll still have proof.”

The three men stand under the nets, looking up at our shaggy brown bodies hanging in the air. Suddenly the nets give way, and Mama and I find ourselves lying on top of the three men on the ground.

We howl victory cries and scramble to our feet. The men, tangled in the nets, shout curses at us as we run away.

The Miwok Indians tell stories about us — great hairy beasts roaming these desolate mountains. They fear us and protect our sacred habitat on Deadwood Peak. We are going there now, secure in the knowledge that we cannot be followed. Men from the city will continue to hunt us. But, with help from the Miwoks, they will never find us. And we will never let them capture us alive.

Dawn Pisturino

©2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

BIO: Dawn Pisturino’s poems, limericks, short stories, and articles have appeared in/on Danse Macabre du Jour, Brooklyn Voice, Underneath the Juniper Tree, Working Writer, and several newspapers and anthologies. She currently resides in Arizona.

Please visit my website: http://www.dawnpisturino.org

Thanks!

 

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OUR GREAT EMU ADVENTURE

Steve Pisturino tries to capture a lost emu wandering down Chinle Road in Golden Valley, Arizona.

Our great EMU adventure began when the neighbor’s dogs started barking at something in the field across the road.  We figured it was the coyote that comes to drink water in our front yard. Boy, were we wrong!

Racing through the desert was a prehistoric-looking creature with long legs and a long neck that looked tired, hungry, and thirsty. I don’t know how long or how far he had run, but the temperature was at least 110 degrees outside, the noontime sun burned with fierce intensity, and the only water available  came from human sources.

My husband grabbed some water and followed the animal in his truck while I got on the phone and called every agency I could find in the phone book. The standard response? “We don’t handle emus.” It didn’t matter that the creature was going to die without food, water, and shelter. Frustrated, I called the local newspaper and reported what was happening. Happily, one of the reporters also got on the phone and began calling people.

I finally got hold of a local animal rescue sanctuary, and the owners told me that if we could corral the emu, they would come and get him! Finally! Results!

By that time, my husband had returned home. He had offered him water, but Big Bird ignored it and ran off — luckily, into a residential neighborhood. We took off in the truck and scoured the neighborhood, hoping to find him, capture him, and send him off to the animal sanctuary.  We finally found him wandering down a dirt road, tired and worn out.

As you can see in the above photo, my husband tried to befriend him and lasso him with a soft nylon rope. But the animal wasn’t going for it and took off again into the desert. I ran after him, trying to herd him back to the road. Once or twice, I got close enough to touch him. He never tried to bite or kick me and seemed friendly enough. He was obviously accustomed to humans. But he was scared and didn’t know his way home.

I chased him to the edge of a wash. Big Bird realized that the sides of the wash were too steep, and he let me herd him along the edge and back to the road. Several times he looked back at me with a glint in his eye, like it was some sort of game, and I had high hopes that eventually he would stop and let me catch him.  That was an idealistic thought!

Back on the road a man in a red truck offered the bird water, but once again he ignored it and headed on down the road. My husband parked his truck and threw me the rope. Finally, I got close enough to the bird to throw my arms around him and hang on for dear life. I managed to loop the rope around his neck, but I was so scared of hurting him, I let it hang loose.

My husband asked me, “Okay, now we’ve got him, what are we going to do with him?” Good question! The man in the red truck had taken off, and we had nobody to help us. We decided to walk Big Bird back to the truck and somehow get him into the back.

When we got back to the truck I told my husband, “You get behind him and push.” He reluctantly grabbed the back end of the bird and tried to push him up into the truck.   

Big Bird bolted, gouged my left ankle with his huge toenail,  knocked me flat on my back, and ran off into the desert!

Hot, tired, and thirsty, I laid in the dirt with the sun in my eyes and waited for the stars to stop swirling around my head.

As my husband helped me up I said, “I’m done. I can’t do anymore.”  Beaten, bruised, scuffed, cut, dirty, sweaty, and stunned, we drove home in defeat.

To this day, we don’t know where the emu came from or where he ended up. We suspect that somebody who didn’t want him anymore let him loose in the desert. A cruel thing to do in the hot summer! At the very best, somebody found him and gave him a home. At the very worst, coyotes attacked and killed him. Even as I chased him through the desert, vultures circled overhead, waiting for a fresh kill.

Was it worth it? Even though he injured me, and we weren’t able to catch him, I feel happy that we at least tried to help this poor creature. I have the satisfaction of knowing that the newspaper reporter tried to track down the owner.

And I have a great story to tell my future grandkids.

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.

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Desert in Bloom

This is what the desert looks like in spring when we get adequate amounts of rain and snow in the winter: (click on photos to enlarge)

Prickly Pear Cactus in Bloom 2010

Prickly Pear Cactus in Bloom 2010

Prickly Pear cactus in Bloom 2010

Beaver Tail Cactus in Bloom 2010

We didn’t get as much rain and snow this winter, and it shows. The cactus blooms are sparse this spring. And it’s a shame, because they’re so pretty. I always look forward to seeing them when the weather warms up. The weather has been so nice, I don’t feel like writing! I just want to go outside and dig in the dirt. I’ve really had to force myself to sit down and concentrate on the novel I’m writing. I’m sure other writers feel the same way.

HAPPY SPRING!

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved. Photos by Dawn Pisturino.

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