New poet works- hope you enjoy. It’s a little bit of inspiration for all of us.
Year of the Fire By Forrest Robert Stepnowski
I sit here wondering my self worth, gifts, and strength Fighting demons that once tried to tear me down Fighting my past failures Fighting my present doubts and mental fatigue So I may rise up in my future Am I beautiful? Am I sexy? Am I intelligent and compassionate? Am I a voice of reason, hope, logic, and power? Yes I am the reimagined flame that fuels change and opportunity I am all the colors of the rainbow, vibrant and filled with the auras of confidence and competence I am the written word that inspires many to greatness I am the Phoenix who has risen from ashes and dust, over and over again I am the guardian of the silent and vulnerable I am the year of the fire The fire that burns away sadness, darkness, and negativity The fire that destroys and defies the bullying voices of time wishes it could forget The fire that ignites within my body, mind and soul Yes Queen! I am THAT fire
Welcome to Coffee Chat with Forrest, as we talk to two wonderful authors from Fresh Ink Group, Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun!
Take it away Marcha and Pete!
The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!
“The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits”
by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun
“An exceptional novel complete with conspiracy, intrigue, and murder that will enthrall everyone who has an affinity for suspenseful thrillers with just a smidgen of the paranormal.” –Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review
Charlie Littlewolf knows there’s something suspicious about the accident that killed his best friend. Determined to solve the mystery, he must return to a way of life he’s shunned for decades. Will the Cheyenne grandfather spirits respond before a black ops team kills him, too?
In this scene Charlie conducts a sweat. Rocks the size of cantaloupes are heated for an hour and a half in a raging fire until they’re red-hot, then transported into the lodge and sprinkled with warm water to create steam. The ceremony’s purpose varies, but is always of a spiritual nature intended to cleanse both body and soul. Normally there are others to assist, but in this case he’s alone and must do everything himself.
Charlie stripped down, then wound the deerskin around him twice, covering him from waist to knees. He tied it in place, hung the eagle bone whistle around his neck by its sinew cord, then gathered up the badger hide and pipe bag from the kitchen table.
When he got to the sweat lodge he hesitated. A sweat represented returning to the womb, further emphasized by the shape of the lodge itself. In most cases sweats were community events when the tribe banded together to support one of its members in achieving a specific purpose.
As when he built it, once again he longed for home, surrounded by his Cheyenne brothers and sisters. He promised himself that as soon as whatever he was there to accomplish was complete, that he would return to the reservation.
He spread the badger hide on the roof over the door with the tobacco and pipe on top, bowl facing east. After securing the door open, he picked up the bucket by its wooden handle and set it inside, then went out again to start fetching the rocks.
Heat blasted his face as he carefully pushed aside the smoldering logs with the choke cherry branch. Rocks glowed among the embers like miniature suns. Sparks flew as he edged the branch’s fork under the initial stone, careful not to disturb the stack.
He lifted it slowly, flashbacks crackling as the fire. He turned and lowered it carefully to the ground where he rolled it in the dirt.
The first time he was fire keeper he’d forgotten, resulting in a cloud of ashes and debris riding the steam and irritating everyone’s eyes, himself included.
He never forgot again.
Or the soul-scorching look his mistake earned from Eaglefeathers.
When all the residue was removed, he took it inside and set it down on the east side of the pit. He repeated the process, moving clockwise until a red-hot stone resided in each of the cardinal directions, plus one in the center. By the time he knelt down, eyes closed, sweat already dribbled from his temples.
The rigors and memory-fraught emotional toll of setting everything up alone produced a dissonant hum that disturbed both mind and body. He breathed deeply, waiting, until stress yielded to the peace radiating from his grandfather’s stones.
He broke off a piece of sweet grass braid. Raised it high above his head in each of the cardinal directions. Lowered it in four steps, then placed it on the center stone. Blessed the others in similar fashion.
He smudged his body with the gathering smoke, directed it over the bucket, then throughout the lodge. Next, the eagle bone whistle and buffalo rattle each made four passes through the vapors. After a prayer of thanks to Maheo for the ways of his grandfather, he retrieved six more stones from the fire.
At last he closed the door and took his place to the left, sitting cross-legged on the man sage.
Where Eaglefeathers always sat.
A sultry red glow lit the lodge interior.
He closed his eyes to declare the sweat’s original purpose: To understand how he should avenge Bryan’s death.
The words refused to come.
Other thoughts flowed, their source outside himself.
All things, even tragedies, have a purpose. Maheo is the Creator, you are the created. His ways are not your ways. Maheo is truth. Walk with a prayer for patience, guidance, protection and wisdom. Your grandfather is a very strong medicine man with powerful prayers. Netsevoto, who you know as Eaglefeathers, was chosen by his grandfather as he has chosen you to have his medicine.
The words struck Charlie’s heart with the harsh sting of truth. No matter how much he tried to deny it, deep inside he always knew.
For the first time he not only understood, but felt how much his arrogance devastated the old man.
Did he die of a broken heart?
How much longer would he have lived if he’d been willing to listen?
To learn? Been more humble? Accepted the honor of being chosen?
Instead, he’d seen it as no more than a lot of trouble and bother, an intrusion on his life for something he wasn’t sure he believed in. Forced and trapped, his response was that of a cornered badger.
His heart ached as it split open and words flowed in Cheyenne.
“Maheo, I have forgotten who I am. I pray for your guidance to honor my grandfather’s spirit medicine. My heart is ready. Teach me. I stand before you, pleading for strength and courage to make it right with you.
“I present to you the purpose of this sweat: It is to purge my past and help me live as an honorable Tseteshestahese man, as my grandfather did.”
He dipped the buffalo horn cap in the bucket, then closed his eyes and prayed as he dribbled its contents over the rocks. Vapors issued forth, felt rather than seen, the pre-heated water producing softer steam that didn’t burn like the explosive effects of cold.
He lifted the eagle bone whistle to his lips and blew, inviting the grandfather spirits to join him, then picked up the rattle and sang the Grandfather Song in welcome. Four songs accompanied each round, chosen by the lodge keeper. The words sent moisture from the corners of his eyes, down his cheeks, and onto his chest.
After a time he exchanged the rattle for the man sage switch to coax the toxins from his mind and body, alternating between the two. He sang the Badger Song. Wolf Song. And Buffalo Song.
The rocks grew dark.
He got up to retrieve the next eleven, one by one. He banked the fire, got a drink, then went back inside and blessed the stones with sweet grass.
It took a few moments to get settled again. As the heavy cloak of seething humidity folded around him, he remembered savoring those breaks of fresh air and a drink when he was door keeper. This time he would have preferred his prayers to be uninterrupted.
Again he blew the whistle, repeated his purpose, then shook the rattle and began to sing.
MEET THE AUTHORS
Marcha Fox earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Utah State University in 1987, which facilitated a 20+ year career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Her interests expand far beyond the world of aerospace and hard science, however. The esoteric realm of metaphysics and all things weird and wonderful hold her interest as well.
When her attempt to debunk astrology backfired, she pursued knowledge in that field. She graduated from the International Academy of Astrology’s professional development program in 2012 and is the sole proprietor of ValkyrieAstrology.com. Much of the popular website’s content can be found in “Whobeda’s Guide to Basic Astrology.”
Her previous fiction work includes her epic Star Trails Tetralogy series, which has been highly acclaimed for its family-oriented plot as well as its palatable and STEM-friendly science content described in detail on http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com.
Born in Peekskill, New York, she has lived in California, Utah, and Texas in the course of raising her family of six children, now grown. Besides writing, she pampers her two cats, maintains an active astrology practice of international clients, and tries to keep up with her home, yard, friends, and family.
Pete Risingsun is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe who has served as a spirit helper to medicine men in ceremonial sweat lodges. He’s a proud fifth generation descendant of Chief Iron Shirt, who was a lodge keeper and powerful medicine man.
Born in 1950, he was raised on a small ranch east of Busby, Montana. He attended Montana State University, then worked for Exxon in Billings, Montana for a year before returning home to the reservation as adult education director for the Northern Cheyenne tribe where he also raised black angus cattle and bred championship Quarter horses. He has served as a Tribal Council member and was the first Northern Cheyenne elected to serve as a Rosebud County Commissioner.He’s the proud father of one daughter and grandfather to two. Pete is currently retired, but in addition to co-writing The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” he makes and sellssweet grass braids, a sacred plant used in various ceremonies.
A year ago to the date, an unfortunate event occurred in my life. One that would leave me with temporary ambulatory and balance issues due to a significant head injury, impaired ability to walk, exacerbated PTSD, and unfortunately, permanent hearing loss in my left ear. At the time, I did not know I would endure months of therapy, strengthening of both emotional and physical functioning. I had hoped for a quick recovery, but that was not in the cards. I have slowly recovered over time. In some ways, I am still recovering from the incident, as I am still receiving therapy and treatment. Those who saw me in November saw me with a cane and having to adapt to noise and large groups of people around me. I struggled greatly but was happy to see many of you. As of December, I was able to walk without the cane. In the beginning of January, I was able to resume full duty and return to work.
I am not writing this today for empathy, pity, or compassion. I hope that all who read this see this as a reclaiming ritual. Today, I find myself reflective over the past year. I have been focusing on healing, not only by the incident, but from past failed relationships, abuse, and history of self deprecation and doubt. I am in the process of finding my strength, joy, and inner peace again. I have come very far in this effort, but I still have a long way to go.
Over the past year, I have discovered who my real friends are, and also discovered who are not genuine. It never ceases to amaze me how a traumatic event can give a reality check. Whether we are aware of it or not, we often need reality checks to determine the difference between toxic relationships and positive ones. We become aware of other lunacies and manipulations, when we are at our most vulnerable. However, I digress. This is not an essay on the dysfunction of toxic relationships. This is my reclaiming ritual. A review or the progress and healing. To acknowledge that my broken pieces are still beautiful.
The hearing loss has taken sometime to adjust too, and at times can be quite frustrating. That being said, it could be quite worse. I acknowledge, I could have permanent issues with walking, and my activities of daily living. The hearing loss may be sad, however, it has not unmanageable. My story is not one of martyrdom; it is one of survival and strength.
We all have baggage we carry from our past, but when we focus on the present we are able to achieve great things. When we dwell on our past hurts and fixations, we fail to become successful. Today, I reclaim this moment with positive energy, and deny the scars of this incident to take control ever again.
Say their names Not because they are another news statistic Not because they are yet another young black man who was slain in the streets by mad men Mad men whose bias and ignorance have “justified” their psychosis and unrealistic fears Don’t let their deaths be another statistic lost in the headlines How sad it is that Martin Luther King, who created a “Dream,” is nothing more than another name we need to report Remind us of their humanity
Say their names George Floyd Ahmaud Arbery Breonna Taylor Michelle Cusseaux Gabrielle Nevarez Sandra Bland
Say their names Not because their gender identity was different than what society deemed fit Not because they were identified as another “deviant” whose life ended too short Too short because “hate” is taught more than prayers and the act of loving thy neighbor Don’t let their deaths be silenced any longer and remember who started Stonewall… thank you, Martha P. Johnson! To remind us, that “We the Different” still have a voice
Say their names Dana Martin Ashanti Carmen Claire Legato Jordan Cofer Muhlaysia Booker Bailey Reeves Nikki Kahnhauser Tony McDade
Say their names Not because our tearful cries are being ignored as we constantly sing a chorus of “we shall overcome” constantly… while it falls on deaf ears and muted tongues Not because our trail of tears resembles blood stained cracks on the floor of the murdered and oppressed Yes, murdered and oppressed, while the privileged dance a waltz of “innocence” to the tune of “I didn’t know what I was doing” And society embraces them and asks forgiveness when they, the surviving families, grieve the loss of another child
Say their names Trayvon Martin Michael Brown Alton Sterling Eric Garner Laquan McDonald Monica Diamond Dustin Parker Johanna Metzger And the list continues…
Say their names Not because we lost another brother and sister, cause of death…death by cop, death by hate Not because the media is asking us to protest against hate and bigotry Bigotry that has transpired over centuries because it was “carefully taught” by overly projected stereotypes, mistruths, and white nationalistic propaganda
Say their names because they are new guardian angels who will attempt to watch over all of us in an effort to keep us safe Safe from history constantly repeating itself, over and over again Like a never ending rollercoaster that has lost its breaks
WARNING: There is profanity used in some of these videos. But, can you blame them?
Why we’re all here today… “On Tuesday, #GeorgeFloyd was killed by police in an incident in Minneapolis, captured on video, where an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes as he lay on the ground, begging for his life. George’s family say they want the “four officers involved in his death to be charged with murder.” (I personally want them to suffer something much worse.)
Next, a black woman in Michigan protesting the MURDER of George Floyd, is brutally assaulted by a white (POS) police officer, who wanted her to stop recording, what I’m sure was more of their…
Book Review “I am Soul” by the imcomparable Yecheilyah Ysrayl #RRBC #RWISA
FOREMOST, It has been a long time my friends but I hope you all have remained safe and healthy. This is a crazy time we are living in right now. I have fallen behind in reviewing some incredible books and collections due my work life as a Social Worker and Inpatient Program Manager. I wish to thank everyone who has reached out to me or sent warm wishes during this health scare that is surrounding us all. I do apologize if my silence has worried anyone or caused them concern.
My first review is a beautiful poetry and prose anthology by the beautiful Yecheilyah Ysrayl. I happened upon her through the wonder Rave Reviews Book Club #RRBC and #RWISA.
Before I go into my review, please read more about Yecheilyah Ysrayl and her collection “I am Soul”
About “I am Soul” (taken from Amazon):
I am Soul is Yecheilyah’s fourth collection of poetry and a 2019 Kindle Book Review Winner for Poetry in the 8th Annual Kindle Book Awards, 2019. The poems focus on Black History, Identity, Personal Development, and Spirituality. Readers describe this collection as touching, intelligent, personal and deeply soulful.
About Yecheilyah Ysrayl:
Yecheilyah (e-SEE-li-yah, affectionately nicknamed EC) grew up on the South Side of Chicago, IL. She is an award-winning Author, Blogger, and Poet. Yecheilyah studied Technical and Professional Writing at Chicago State University, and Psychology with a minor in Child and Adolescent Studies at Argosy University, Atlanta. She is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC), RWISA International Society of Authors, and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She writes Black Historical Fiction, Poetry, and Inspirational Non-Fiction. Ysrayl is the founder of Yecheilyah Books LLC, Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contests, Lit Mag Literary Magazine for Poets, and The PBS Blog, where she publishes the work of other writers, Book Reviews, and Writing Tips for Independent (Indie) Authors and Publishers. Yecheilyah lives in Dallas, Georgia with her husband where attends the University of West Alabama online while writing and publishing full-time. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
Truth is limitless
It needs no acknowledgment
and yet wears a crown.
Truth needs no confirmations,
and yet rules.
it’s accepted by the faithful
and resisted by those who are afraid.
Excerpt from the poem “Truth” by Yecheilyah Ysrayl from “I am Soul”
It is difficult to find the words to truly express my emotions regarding this exquisite collection of poetry and prose by Yecheilyah Ysrayl, other than I am truly speechless and in awe. Ms Israyl takes her readers on a journey of identity, struggle, and African-American history in a way that leaves the reader truly breathless and mesmerized. Every one of her poetic works causes the reader to picture the literary image she is painting through lyrical arts.
In a magical way, she reviews the works of novelist James Baldwin, all while sharing her own memoir. I loved every poetic work she created but I do have a few favorites, such as “Truth”, If My Books Shall Die”, “Her Song”, “Hope Like Water”, “To Lose a Friend”, “These Good People”, “Why I Read”, “Silent Heart Breaks”, “Eyes to See”, “I Wonder”, to name a few. I also enjoyed her “Love Letters to some of the Black Women Writers who inspired me” section, as well. Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou are two of my favorite writers, and if I might add, their influence is definitely infused throughout her work.
The poetic works “If My Books Shall Die” truly hit hard, as she describes an artist’s legacy. As author’s, we all hope to leave a piece of our soul, if not our entire soul, in our bodies of work. Not only does she leave her soul in this collection, but her body, blood, mind, and breath as well. She is my new “goddess of the lyrical”, as she reminded me why I also write in the poetic free verse form.
As a woman of color, she reminds us to never take our differences or history for granted, and to celebrate the scars we inherited in an effort to stop the cycle of racism, bigotry, and hatred. If our recent losses in the US have pointed out anything, we still have work to do. Children are shot for jogging in their neighborhood, and some of our police officers continue to profile the different. I pray for a world where we can hold hands and not have to worry about who wants to harm or kill me.
As you can see, Yecheilyah will take all of her readers on a journey of retrospection and education. She will remind you that we live in a world where some people wish things were still “black and white”, instead of celebrating it in full color. This being said, I humbly give “I am Soul” a FIVE-STAR rating, and truly everyone picks up this book today!
To learn more about this author and poet, please click the links below.
I was requested recently to make a posting with colleagues of mine in a not for profit group I am involved in regarding COVID-19 and effective precautions you can take that can help you and your loved ones safe and healthy. ,I decided to share this information with you all this evening.
Many of us in healthcare receive updates regarding the virus daily, sometimes multiple times a day, so I wanted to share with you all some of the important facts and preventative measures you can all implement in your households. This post was created from information we received from the Washington State Department of Health and CDC.
Full disclosure, I am not an expert on this disease by any means, but we hope that the sharing of this information may help you understand the virus more and what precautions can be effective to protect yourselves and loved ones, as able. I hope this information finds you useful.
Things to pay attention too with COVID-19 aka the Corona Virus
FOREMOST- FACTS- What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a severe cold virus and is NOT related to Influenza. It is much more contagious then any influenza or common cold virus known to us currently.
“People may be sick with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
More rarely, the disease can be serious and even fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, autoimmune suppressed, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.”
People may experience:
1) Dry deep coughs
2) Fevers (greater than 100 F specifically)
4) Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath (severe cases); one will feel like they are gasping for air at times. (seek medical attention immediately)
5) Significant loss in teste or smell
6) Some cases- runny nose (outside of the norm of common allergies)
7) Chest pain or increased pressure in your lungs/chest region (seek medical attention emergently)
8) Changes in your complexion or color (seek medical attention emergently)
Some cases have been passed along from individuals who have not had symptoms at all!
Please be aware of who is around you and your potential risks of exposure.
Many essential healthcare workers, grocery store staff, first responders, long term care providers, etc., hold a higher risk for being exposed.
Things you can do to prevent the potential spread or exposure.
1) Wash your hands properly (20 seconds at a time; sing happy birthday twice if need be)
2) If leaving your home to obtain household necessities; Wash your hands before going to the store or after returning from the store.
3) Sanitize your hands (if able, before trips in your car, before entering the store, and after returning to your car or mode of public transportation.
4) COVER Coughs and sneezes in the crook of your elbow/arm always. This will decrease the spread of droplets from these episodes.
5) SOCIAL DISTANCING- this is key. Avoid areas where there may be large groups of people. Some grocery stores have implemented precautions and store capacity monitoring to prevent from too many people being in their stores all at once. When out and about- maintain 6-8 feet distance from others.
6) Wipe down all frequently touched surfaces, i.e. doorknobs, kitchen/bathroom counters, railings, etc., frequently with a germicidal cleanser, such as Lysol or Bleach.
7) Wipe down media devices with alcohol pads or wipes. Attempt not to share your devices.
8) COVER YOUR MOUTH, NOSE, AND EYES when out in public. Wearing masks, even of cloth type will decrease the spread of the virus significantly. Wearing a face shield, if able will decrease the risk of droplets from entering your eye spaces.
9) If able, wear gloves when out in public, especially grocery shopping. Grocery stores are not able to guarantee that their environments have been consistently sanitize or disinfected.
If there are basic necessities you are having difficulty locating, please let one of us know. We are all taking this journey together and no one will remain hungry or struggle without basic essentials. There are people who can help!
Here are some videos and links that may help you as well-
Hello, everyone! I hope you are all safe and healthy.
“There is no place like home.”
~L. Frank Baum
The best thing we could do right now to slow the spread of the coronavirus is to stay home. Of course, that’s not possible for everyone, but if you can work from home you should. Self isolation has worked well for other countries and in past pandemics. Practice social distancing even if you’re young and healthy because although your chances of dying from COVID– 19 is low you could still spread the disease to people that are vulnerable and could die from it.
I’d like to thank all the people in the medical field, including my brother Ralph, who’s at the front lines every day, and my cousins Lissette, Ray, Miguel, Leo, and Sonya. You’re putting yourselves at risk on a daily basis to help those in need. Thank you.
During our 4th Annual Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, I was scheduled to present a session on my “15 Pearls” of Literature on Marketing, Blogging, Community, and Support. As it has worked out in the past (but won’t be the case anymore), I wasn’t able to get this session up in time but did get it done eventually – just not published. Those who registered for that session will be getting 3 new sessions FREE during our upcomingWC&BE in August!
This session on my “PEARLS…” will be shared here for all our members, in hopes that it will help in our quest to become more successful and better at marketing our work as we make connections that will benefit us professionally as well as personally. These will be posted under our posting schedule of Mondays & Thursdays each week, in separate parts.