Issue 10

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Table of Contents

Image by Katherine Niu

Introduction

I recently saw a photo in a restaurant that elegantly captures this issue’s Moment/Memento theme. It showed a full view of a roller coaster…in the ocean. 


When I saw it, I instantly knew where and when: Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, October, 2012. The roller coaster was a casualty of Hurricane Sandy, a superstorm that put a lot of the Jersey Shore under water. It was also a roller coaster I’d seen more times than I can remember. 


I grew up visiting my grandparents’ beach bungalow--a little place that could probably fit inside a 2-car garage. Funtown Pier (also wiped out by Sandy) was a little closer to the bungalow, in Seaside Park. There, the bumper cars were as big as it got. Casino Pier was where the big kids went. 


The roller coaster has since been removed from the ocean, but it once stood on the very corner of a portion of boardwalk that jutted out into the ocean. It’s a corner of boardwalk also shown in 2 photos featured in this month’s issue. My dad, Charles, took those photos somewhere around 1986, and for me they embody the motion and emotion of a night at Casino Pier, then and now. 


It is electric.  


The photos are mementos that perfectly capture a multiplicity of moments. They make me smell the tar on the boardwalk on a hot night, feel the whoosh of the swing ride as it whirls above me, and hear—as clear as day—the "Does anyone want to go faster?"  announcement of the teenager running the high-speed Himalaya ride. 


I hope you’ll enjoy this issue, which features stories, poems, and photos that serve as mementos of captured moments. Looking ahead, I hope you’ll get yourself in the mood for the upcoming spooky season by thinking on the theme for our October issue: Mystery and Magic. We’ll be accepting submissions through the end of September. Check out our submissions page for details. 

-Cheryl Scheir

Co-editor, Next Page Ink

Poetry
 

Revelations

By: Imani Cauthen-Robinson
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Homeward Bound

By: Furryarbiterangel

I was headed homeward bound on a bright and sunny day

The trees were glowing, the birds were singing, and all seemed perfectly right

And then I ran into a kitten sitting just so on the path

This kitten looked at me and then it spoke

“No you may not pass”

“For there is no home to go to, no journey to end”

“You may not pass until at last you have become your own friend”

The sky grew dark as clouds swarmed in and the sun disappeared

It’s as if this kitten's words awoke all of my fears

And I realized I had no home to go to, no none at all

For what was home if your home held a heart that was overgrown?

So I went home anyway and no it indeed turned out to not be home at all

But I did the work and I did the time and I made it through the fall

Then winter struck and my barren house shuttered in the cold

For though the outside was frigid so indeed was the inside of my own soul

I kept the fires burning working hard to feed

Its greedy flames and its every whim and need

Through winter I journeyed through spring I survived 'til at last summer came round again

And indeed one day awakening I saw my dear old friend

The kitten had grown and so had I and we eyed each other slowly

Before it could speak I fell to my knees oh please oh please

“Just let me return home”

“I’ve done my time and learned my soul and my heart is trimmed and true”

“I’ve learned to heal and cleaned up house and wish to rest at last”

But so indeed the cat looked at me and with a smile on its face

“Alas I must tell you your journey ends for there is still no home to go”

“You are already there and you bring it with you”

“It travels where ever you go”

“For home is where you make it and where your soul can grow old”

As yes and yes for so it was true here I was at last

I had gone no where yet went so far and now I could see

I was home

Spider

By: Barbara Stanton

My fierce friend
Dangerous hunter
That fly better look around the bend
Or he’ll be torn asunder.

When The World Was Quiet

By: Nolo Segundo

When the world was quiet
and life moved with grace,
time measured by seasons
and years instead of minutes,
and people saw the world as
close by, with foreign lands
far away, another universe,
not quite real, not quite true,
then the mind could rest,
enjoy the ‘simple’ pleasures
of family and friends and old
neighbors to share old tales.


Life was taken slowly then,
no faster than a carriage ride,
and evil belonged mainly in
crusty books of ancient times.
There was no rancor, no bile
stirred by relentlessly biting
news that chews at the soul
like the devil’s own pitchfork.
There was no magic screen
to capture you slave-like and
bound for barren lands filled
with children starving, babes
dying before they walked, and
War and Disease and Death all
coming through an open door.


Once we trod the earth unshod
and breathed the virgin air and
sang love songs to God in heaven
and saw others as brothers, some
lost, others newly found, all to be
welcome, all to be heard and seen.
Now we see the other as less than,
as missing our noble sweetness,
sure we have found the truth, and
those who do not march alongside
must march against us—we need
no god to be on our side to know
what must be done for justice....


A poet like Emily could write in
peace though a terrible slaughter
raged far away, its madness slow

to reach her ears, giving her time
to let it sweep her untamed soul.
But she could not breathe today,
her spirit smothered by the loss
of distance and time and mercy.


When the world was quiet
and life moved with grace,
we had a sense of ourselves,
our footing in this world,
our dreams of the next....

Barbie Girls

By: Barbara Stanton

 

(to be said with bongo drum and beret, a la Awkwafina)

retro barbie likes bobby socks
techno barbie likes bonds and stocks
retro barbie likes fancy cars
techno barbie likes men in bars
retro barbie beehive hairdos
techno barbie likes inked tattoos
retro barbie is peroxide blonde
techno barbie is mohawk fond
retro barbie wears high heels
techno barbie wears Keds she steals
retro barbie learns to type
techno barbie will only Skype
retro barbie grabs a husband quick
techno barbie likes to take her pick
retro barbie has loads of kids
techno barbie on Bitcom bids
retro barbie is in a box
techno barbie is a fox.

Pit Pit Patter Pour

By: Barbara Stanton

pit pit patter pour
rain rain galore
may it rain some more
petals metals betals
tee tee whoosh
pit pit patter pour
rain slows
sun shows
cloud goes
crystal air tik tik
sweet scent sniff
tulips closed
shush at dusk
sea sky
with a blush
whaa hoo hoo
dove calls
quiet clouds
nnnnnnnnnn
train announces

Sundays

By: Imani Cauthen-Robinson

I.

are bathed in toasted clove
& sweet vanilla. flickered
smoke climbs walls already
warm from windows left
forgotten––outside soaking
through. hands spare flesh
for extraneous things.

II.

last nights regard still
sticks to bare threads of
Damask rose & white musk.
strip then replace what’s
left though never ridding
completely.

III.

to-do lists of things still
undone. tones honeyed
& hushed in the morning;
brimming & bold by dusk.
the hours in between are
laundered, kneaded, &
languorous.

IV.

tiny bare feet chase
shadows down laminate
halls. disappearing around
corners. too quiet. distracted by
Hanif’s words now resting on
velvet cushions waiting
patiently.

V.

it’s still & child sleeps. few
hours afforded for silent
prayer & syrah poured
copiously. Earthgang rides
out the speakers; Lauryn
killing me softly. eyes heavy
but unwilling to close, until
they do.

The Silent Garden,
29th Street and 6th Ave.,
NYC

By: Barbara Stanton

The wheel
and Death
happen.
Garbage searcher,
and beauty
in long braids.


Isolation.
Each person
separate
facing
carefully away
from
each
other
in this tiny
NY oasis
of granite benches
shallow pool
and a few
elm trees.


Each person
scrolling
devices
and Death
reads a newspaper
while Jesus
gathers
empty cans.

My Haphazard Defense

By: Barbara Stanton

my haphazard defense
eschews reason
reaching naked forgiveness
your merciless attempt
my impending humiliation
your huddled pretense
my reach extends
your rules
like a spiderweb
summon
no ground

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Amusements

By: Charles T. Osiecki
 
Short Stories

The Scene Inside Louie Bossi's

By: Emma Colby

When I look down at my feet, I see a fabulous pair of shoes. I picked out this particular pair of Gianni Bini wedges at the Dillards in Scottsdale, Arizona while shopping with my mom and aunt - we really only tagged along on that Arizona business trip because the shopping was just too good to turn down. I liked Gianni Bini; they always looked nice, and you could tell the person wearing them had taste, and they were right in that sweet spot of not cheap but also not something you really have to think too hard about buying. These were cool ones; the wedges were made of wood with white fabric on top of them and had bright colored embroidery on them of rainbows, flowers, and other happy things. They had a cutesy vibe to them that you wouldn’t expect from me. But that’s what I liked about them, I loved finding girlish sweet pieces to pair with my spunky style.

 

When I look past my fabulous pair of shoes, I see a sidewalk that is begging to be repaved. It looks more skid-mark-black than cement-white and you can tell that when it was wet, a bunch of punk kids scraped their nails in it to add those lines in it that ruined the smoothness that someone clearly worked so hard to nail perfectly. A couple who I’m sure was very blissfully in love carved their initials into it when it was wet as well--“BD + EF” was carefully placed in a heart right next to the curb. 

Bob Duncan and Emily Fisher were clearly very in love. Or maybe their names were Betsy Dunn and Ethan Finn. 

Or maybe I should stop guessing only heterosexual partner names and be a little more woke and put some same sex couple name guesses in there. Except for the fact that this sidewalk was clearly paved so long ago that people would be appalled at a gay couple carving their initials into a place that’s just so public. Or maybe Bob Duncan and Ethan Finn were in a secret romance no one would ever accept and one night, in a romantic haze, they carved their initials into that wet cement because it was there and they could. It was how they could prove their love to each other. 

Or maybe Emily Fisher and Betsy Dunn carved their initials into that sidewalk as a way of saying they would be together forever, since when this sidewalk was paved they clearly weren’t able to legally sign papers saying they would be together forever. God, that would be romantic wouldn’t it? It’s probably not true though. I’ve been told I over-romanticize life before. It makes life more fun. 

When I look up, I see a fancy sign that says Louie Bossi’s in shiny letters that somehow manages to still look a little old-school Italian. Fabulous. These are the kinds of places I loved - places filled with interesting people. I could learn so much just from watching a person - tragedies they’ve endured, the kind of socks they prefer, the kind of people they love, the kind of relationship they have with their parents, what their favorite lunch box looked like as a kid. I could piece it all together. 

I like to observe. Not in the way a detective likes to observe, but in a way that allows me to see the world in the way I want to see it. Here’s the way I observed the scene inside Louie Bossi’s the night I wore my fabulous Gianni Binis.

Earl Loves Tammy

By: Cheryl Scheir

“Earl loves Tammy” was how it began, stamped on a bright silver license plate frame affixed to Earl’s
rusty old Mustang.


“Earl wants out” was how it evolved--four quick turns removed the screws anchoring that albatross in
place.


“Tammy loves Tammy” was her new personal slogan; no word art required, just a new hairdo and a
week-long yoga retreat. She drank two smoothies a day, but they weren’t nearly strong enough.


“Earl hates life” was almost the end, but for that cast-off sparkle of plate frame silver on a grubby garage
shelf.


“Tammy…it’s Earl” was how it began again.

 
Essays

Luxury

By: Terri Kiral

I invite my chair closer to the window and breathe in the promise of verdant air. Through the window screen, I watch a plump robin bobbing on the lawn and notice the swaying branches of the weeping cherry tree dancing in a rare summer breeze. I want to settle into the moment and saturate my lungs with this deliciousness, but a friend needs me to drive her to the hair stylist. She can’t walk or stand for long, because her lungs plead for breath in between souvenirs of gasps and coughs from over thirty years of smoking. She tells me she doesn’t like the way her new oxygen tank pulses intermittently instead of releasing a steady stream like the first tank she had. This one makes it cumbersome for her to breathe. But the tank with the steady stream of oxygen emptied too quickly, and it was expensive to keep refilling it. She can’t afford it, this luxury of comfortable breath.


After getting her situated in the front passenger seat, I put her walker and an extra
oxygen tank in the back. Always anticipating a struggle for breath, she has me carry the
extra tank in and out of every place we go.


“’Cause you never know,” her fear warns her.


I think of the days when I was a smoker. A cool, hip teenager. Years ago. The corners of my mouth droop down when I think about how I polluted my temple body. With a shiver of my spine, I imagine the consequences of my past unwise choices rattling through my chest. Breath that could have been labored had I not quit now effortlessly sates my lungs. During yoga, meditation, sleep, and in every living moment. I am grateful for this precious gift of breath.


I sit in the waiting area at the hair salon, inhaling toxic chemical fumes from permanent solutions, and wonder if my past days of lung abuse will eventually show up for revenge? Will I have to carry around a tank full of pulses of air everywhere I go? Have I sold my lungs for a fleeting moment of delusional, youthful cool?


I hear my friend tell her stylist the story about her new oxygen tank that ‘pulses.’


The stylist says, “Oh, that’s not good.”


My friend says, “No, it’s not. Cough. Cough. I always carry an extra tank with me, ‘cause you never know.”

They talk enthusiastically about eucharistic ministers and choir members from a
church they both attend. They are excited about some new music they will hear during
the service this Sunday. My friend says she misses singing. She says she “longs to feel
the music in her throat," but her “lungs get all locked up” when she tries.
 
I hear the abrasive scrape of her walker on the hard tiled floor as she rolls up to the reception desk. And I hear the choppy pulse of her oxygen tank hissing, like the
constant, raspy threat of a hospital ventilator. Her haircut looks good. She appears lighter. I’d even say refreshed if it wasn’t for the loose cough escaping as she pays the
receptionist.


We arrive back at her home, and she rests into her chair just in time for Wheel of
Fortune. The oxygen tank continues to pulse but seems more subdued now and in rhythm with the clicks of the contestant spinning the wheel. We say a quick goodbye until next time.


Driving home I think of my friend in her chair, calling out a vowel, struggling for breath and coughing. I wish I could fix it for her. I roll down my window and am aware of the privileged swell in my chest as I inhale and fill my lungs with air. Turning on the radio, I make sure to notice how I too, can feel the music in my throat as I unlock my lungs and sing out loud.


‘Cause you never know.

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Summer in Motion

By: Charles T. Osiecki
 
Podcast
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Seaside Sunset

By: Charles T. Osiecki

 

Contributors

ArtValves Medical student looking to discuss the premed journey, the importance of creative outlets, and holistic well being. Check it out here!

 

Imani Cauthen-Robinson is a Baltimore based writer and poet. Her work has appeared in Royal Rose Magazine. When she's not writing, Imani enjoys yoga, true crime documentaries, and a superb bottle of red wine.

Emma Colby For as long as she can remember, English has always been her favorite class in school. It started with a fascination of engaging with characters that authors brought to life (one of her favorite characters being Holden Caufield!) and grew into a love of writing - creating her own characters and stories. As her senior year at Sanford School is coming to an end, she plans to major in English and become a journalist (or maybe she will write the next great American novel, who knows!).

Furryarbiterangel

Bio forthcoming

Terri Kiral is the author of "The Understudy," a short story published in Beach Life (Cat & Mouse Press). Her flash non-fiction piece "Cowboy Boots" appeared in The Writer Magazine, and her essay, "Humbled," made the shortlist in a creative non-fiction contest with Hippocampus Magazine. She has also appeared as a guest blogger. In addition to writing, Terri is a certified yoga instructor and mindfulness meditation teacher, artist, tree hugger, dharma student, and Jill of all trades, in no particular order. She is currently learning how to paint with watercolors and acrylic paint pens. Terri calls eastern Pennsylvania home.

 

Charles T. Osiecki passed away in May of 2021 at age 77. Over his lifetime, he had many, varied interests and hobbies. He attended Stevens Institute of Technology (Class of 1965) and was a DJ at the campus radio station; his show featured movie theme songs. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was an avid follower of professional basketball. He had an enduring interest in cars; for a long time, he did most of his own car repairs and, in his 20s, he participated in road rallies with his wife Linda and owned a Corvette that he eventually sold to “buy a family car.” In the 1970’s, his interest in photography led him to set up a darkroom in his home, where he and his daughters (including Next Page Ink editor, Cheryl Scheir) spent hours together creating prints of Charles’ photos.

Nolo Segundo, pen name of L.J. Carber, became a published poet in his mid-70's in over 90 online/print literary journals in 7 countries and 2 trade book collections: The Enormity of Existence [2020] and Of Ether and Earth [2021]. Both titles and much of his work reflect the awareness he's had for 51 years since having a near-death experience whilst almost drowning in a Vermont river: that he has, well, is a consciousness that predates birth and survives death--a soul. (And no, the NDE was not of the 'white light' sort, but then his near drowning was not accidental.) He's a retired teacher (America, Japan, Taiwan, and Cambodia, pre-Killing Fields) who's been married 42 years to a smart and beautiful Taiwanese woman.

Barbara Stanton writes poetry and short stories. She also indulges in creating ceramics, paintings, and cartoons. A creative writing student at Towson University, she lives in Baltimore City with her husband and Neko the Cat. You can read and see more of her work at  GaiaMouse.com and ElectricChihuahua.com

 

Recommendations

Cheryl

For All Mankind
Streaming series

This fictionalized version of the history of NASA suggests an alternate timeline of events in the space race and explores the lives of the men and women inside the iconic suit. Suspenseful and stylized, authentic and adult, it brings a progressive sensibility to the storyline we all know. 

Available on Apple TV+

Kings of the Wyld 
By: Nicholas Eames

Eames brings a fun, rock star aesthetic to the fantasy action genre by casting his band of heroic adventurers as washed up celebrities clinging to their past glory as they embark on one final fantasy quest to save their leader’s daughter from a dark sorcerer. Full of funny, lovable characters and a sense of nostalgia to go along with its action packed and silly adventure, Eames creates an easily accessible and wildly creative take on the classic fantasy adventure. 

Available at Your Local Bookstore

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Will

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Dakota

The Good Place
Series series created by Michael Schur

I started rewatching this the other day and immediately thought of our theme. This show is on my very short list of perfect shows and for a good reason. The Good Place really is one of the most hearfelt shows I have ever watched and proves why every moment in life should be cherished (even in the afterlife). 

Available on Netflix

The Lo-Fis
By: Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy makes chill R&B music and always pushes the limits of his voice and his music. Sometimes he falsettos, sometimes he sings really low. His use of guitar and bass makes his songs super groovy. 

Available on your favorite music service

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Sean