Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Children (The Inner Ocean #10)

 By Dean Solon

a serpentine sand city
with one young girl
making adjustments and additions
to a creation that must have required
many hours and many workers.
she tending to the improvements
with focus and intention.

all around us
are mighty excavations
and marvelous achievements.

is a witnessing
of a second outpouring
of passionate digging
by the ocean’s edge.

undoubtedly many have contributed
to the building of these new sites, 
but today all we see are young ones,
the children, seriously intent on doing 
something new,
something different.

there are deep holes,
basins, canyons,
continents and worlds
hollowed out
where it might be imagined
maybe millions,
could be living.

would i want to take a chance 
and live in one of them,
with everything to leave behind
and nothing to lose?

would you want to come with me
with a song in your heart
and a bounce to your step?

sting wrote:
when the world is running down
make the best of what’s still around.

how much time do we have left
to be composing, to be singing,
to be whirling ecstatically
as daring dervishes?

all the time
in the world...

all these stray thoughts going nowhere,
all these ancient travelers coming home.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Name Thief

by Caitlin McGinley


Maybe Jenkins was a very vain seventh-grade girl. She loved her beautiful face, her perfect smile, and her gorgeous hair. She filled her cell phone’s camera roll with selfies daily. But there was one thing Maybe did not love. Her name. Maybe complained about her name almost as often as she took selfies.

One chilly Autumn morning, while carving pumpkins with her mother, Maybe dug in, “Mother, why did you give me such a ridiculous name?”

Maybe’s mother glopped a handful of pumpkin innards onto the table and sighed, “Maybe, if you hate it so much just change it! Go to the cemetery across the street and pick one from there. When you find one you like, stop, make a wish, and chant the name three times.”

Maybe decided her mother was nuts.


First thing Monday morning, Maybe told her friend Tina about her mom’s crazy idea. Quiet, humble, and shy, Tina didn’t understand why Maybe cared so much about a name. But she stayed supportive, “Just try your mother’s idea. When it doesn’t work, you can throw it in her face.”

At dismissal time, Maybe headed to the cemetery. She wove through the maze of graves until a unique headstone caught her eye.

Set in the stone was a glass oval containing a black and white photo of a beautiful girl. Beneath the picture was the name Daisy Crane.

Enchanted, Maybe chanted, “Daisy Crane. I wish my name was Daisy Crane. Daisy Crane. Daisy Crane!”

Maybe waited. Nothing happened. Cold, but vindicated, she trudged home.


The next day, Maybe got ready for school. She glanced up. Mounted to the wall above her headboard the big squishy block letters once spelling out M-A-Y-B-E now spelled D-a-i-s-y. Maybe crashed into the kitchen, “Mother! I think I’m hallucinating!”

Mother set down her mug of pumpkin-spice coffee, “Tell me what you saw, Daisy Dear.”

Maybe-Daisy’s jaw dropped.

“Close your mouth, Daisy. You don’t want to trap any flies. You’re fine. Now get to school!”


At school, Maybe-Daisy’s teachers and classmates called her by the stolen name.

A distraught Maybe-Daisy told Tina everything at lunch time.

Tina sighed, “Isn’t this what you wanted, Daisy?”

Maybe-Daisy knew Tina had a point. And by the end of the day, was back to taking selfies.


By Halloween, Maybe-Daisy had fully adopted her new name. She got into her cat costume, picked up her phone, held it at just the right angle, and snapped a selfie. Yuck! The image was all blurry!! Maybe-Daisy clomped down to the parlor, where her mother waited.

Maybe-Daisy’s Mother screamed, “Daisy! You have two faces!!”

Maybe-Daisy scurried to the nearest mirror. She shrieked in terror, streaked out of the house, and across the street to the cemetery.

She flung herself at Daisy Crane’s headstone. Her toe snagged on something, and she plummeted down to the ground. Dizzy, she tried to get up. Thunk! And hit her forehead against something hard.

She blinked. A layer of glass stood between her and the old cemetery.

The real Daisy Crane’s face floated into view.

Maybe pounded the window, “Let me out!!”

The girl snickered, “Hope you enjoy my name. Be careful what you wish for, Maybe!”

Daisy left the cemetery, leaving Maybe in her grave, where she can still be found to this



Caitlin McGinley is a writer and mother. She has participated in the Philadelphia Writers Workshop since 2019. She lives in Chalfont with her family.


Layers of Fall

by Michael Shapiro


Summer has ended and fall is now here

Holidays and joy coming ever so near

The layers of autumn charming with hues

Inviting to all who relish her views


Orange sunsets of a sleepy fall sky

Cool Crisp days prior to winter’s cry

The trees magnificent colors abound

Bringing beauty to everything around


Halloween magic of costumes and fun

Parading through town as all creatures come

Collecting their candy with all of their friends

Eating their treasures once festivities end


Thanksgiving soon follows family joy for all

Relatives at the table, how fantastic is fall

Turkey and trimmings such fabulous treats

Stories galore of their tales and their feats


While the days might get shorter a little each day

The colors of fall in our memories stay

A season so grand, so majestic is she

Wishing this is the way it always will be


Michael Shapiro, a writer in the Tuesday Night Writers Workshop, lives with his three dogs Bailey, Bell, and Karma. He began writing again after his wife died last December. He loves writing because, in his words, "I feel close to her when I write. I know we write together. (One Pen Two Hands One Mind One Heart). If my poems can bring a smile to someone or touch them in some positive way, I know I am honoring her and making a difference, which she would approve of. She is my inspiration. My goal is to share some joy."

By Invitation Only

This story is a “round-robin story,” meaning it was created collaboratively by writers in the Tuesday Night Writing Workshop. Each person wrote a few sentences and then emailed it to the next person who added their part until the story reached the last person who wrote the ending.


Matilda had always hated Halloween. She couldn't understand why anyone liked wearing silly costumes, eating gobs of candy, and trying to scare each other. She tolerated neither trick nor treat.

But all of that was about to change.

One crisp Saturday morning in October, Matilda was in her room watching an old episode of Girl Meets World when her mom appeared in the doorway.

“This came in the mail for you,” she said, thrusting a black envelope toward her.

Matilda had been waiting for this particular piece of mail for months. She thanked her mom and quickly closed the door. She hopped up on her bed with the letter, closed her eyes, and whispered three times, “Oranum…Cabtabum…Jasanum…” before ripping open the envelope.

“Drat!” she whispered when she realized this wasn’t the letter she’d been waiting for. Instead, it was another invitation to a Halloween party that was being thrown by a girl named Duende, who lived across the street.

Matilda did not tolerate Duende particularly well and could not understand why she had invited Matilda. After all, Duende didn’t even take the bus.

Matilda had hoped the letter was the one she had been waiting for. The letter that would help her escape, perhaps into another realm, or at the very least let her forget about all this Halloween nonsense she so dreaded.

But then she read the small print at the bottom of the invitation —"wizards only" — Could it be? The girl across the street? Did she also know about the magical school that Matilda had so wanted an invitation from? Was she also the decedent of Merlin and Maleficent and all the other greats? She turned to the back and used her magic marker to see if the true wizard emblem was there — that would prove the party was for real wizards, not just kids in costumes.

Lo and behold, the emblem burned with electric purple flame upon the paper! Matilda squealed with delight as she watched the flame reach its height before it fizzled out. Finally, the confirmation that she, too, was of powerful and ancient wizard stock and not just the ordinary and average. She rushed over to her bedroom window and peeked through her blinds, spying on the house across the street where the gathering would be held, where she hoped her life would change.

She looked down and saw that she was hovering three feet off the ground. She could levitate! So, with her newfound power, she floated to the window. Still floating, she willed it open, and out it flung, so she sailed into the night.

Across the street rose a cyclone around Duende’s house and lawn. As Matilda approached, the cyclone pulled her. She watched in wonder as other children in full wizard regalia flew around the cyclone catching candy in their mouths. Now, this she could tolerate. So, so she joined in and soon found she had captured a multi-colored candy that took her on a flavor escapade—first blackberry, then chocolate, then lemon, and just as the next flavor teased her tastebuds, she felt a gentle push on her shoulder and heard a playful cackle. She found herself spinning in the air. She could see Duende laughing, her pinwheel curls spinning out from beneath her wizard’s hat. On her next twirl, Matilda caught the hem of Duende’s robe, and down they whirled, rolling and laughing through the cyclone and onto the lawn.

The great bacchanalia ensued into the night. Most of the ways in which Matilda’s life changed forever cannot be divulged to the ordinary and average, but no one ever saw her take the bus to school again.


The following writers in the Tuesday Night Writing Workshop each contributed a few lines to this story: Jonathan Bell, Paula Behrens, Courtney DuChene, Rachel Kobin, Jonathan Leeds, Caitlin McGinley, Grue Shackelford, Michael Shapiro, and Katrina Starr.

First Frost

by Conrad Person


In the spring of 1961, Dad bought a postage stamp farm in Western Pennsylvania’s hill country. We were the only Black family in the area, and my parents worried that we wouldn’t be welcome. In truth, the reaction was mixed, but our closest neighbors were farmers and happy to see the long fallow land back under the plow. Their children didn’t comprehend the intricacies of prejudice, so we were accepted and, in turn, accepting. There were six of us, four boys and two girls, and more kids meant that every game was suddenly more fun to play.

By Hallowe’en the bulk of the harvesting was done, and Mrs. Samson, who lived a quarter mile down the road, invited all the neighborhood kids to celebrate at her house. Tall and round with her hair worn in curlers every day but Sunday, she knew a thousand games, and all of them seemed to require an apple. We bobbed for apples. We carved faces into apples to dry into heads for rag dolls. We put on blindfolds to bite at apples hanging from a string. The winners of the games were rewarded with first choice from a tray of apples on sticks coated with jaw-breaking, bright red candy.

As a special treat, she boiled cane sugar and corn syrup to make hard tack candy. As the mixture reached “hard crack” stage, Mrs. Samson poured in a spoonful of peppermint oil, creating a cloud of mint so strong that we children poured screaming from the house into the cold night air as if we were escaping tear gas.

“Come on, kids, and grab your spoons!” Mrs. Samson called. She drizzled the hot candy onto sheet pans then showed us how to butter two spoons and use their backs to work the puddles into snakes as the candy cooled and hardened. She sent us all home with pillowcases of homemade candy, oatmeal cookies, popcorn balls, and fudge. What a feeling of excitement to be laden with treats, then turned out of a bright house into the autumn darkness. It was a deliciously spooky walk home down the narrow dirt road by the light of a nearly full moon.

Along the way, my oldest brother Greg scared us with talk of ghosts and maniacs, but as our shepherd, he also hurried us off the road when he saw the approaching headlights of a car traveling too fast for dirt and gravel. We waited in the roadside weeds and endured the slurs and beer cans the passengers hurled at us as they passed.


Currently a member of the Manuscript Workshop, Conrad Person lives in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia and draws from his personal experiences to craft fiction and memoir. Hailing from a family tradition of farming and steelworking, his perspective on American life comes through the lens of African-Americans who are children of the great migration from the rural South to the industrial North.


Autumn Days

by Nick Pipitone


red & gold leaves, crisp air tell me

autumn is here – they crunch under my feet

smoky smell of a firepit wafts through

the neighborhood, pumpkins on porches,

hot coffee in cold hands — walking in

golden sunlight, slight shiver when

the north wind blows, a football is thrown

high in the air — jump! snatch it!

snatch onto autumn days

they don’t last long


Nick Pipitone is an alumnus of the Philadelphia Writers Workshop, and he’s lived in the Philly area for most of his life. His favorite season is autumn because there’s football, beautiful foliage, and cooler weather. He originally posted “Autumn Days,” on his blog, Fiction and Ideas [https://fictionandideas.blog] where you can enjoy more of his writing.