alien buddha press

The Upright Dog by Carl Fuerst

upright

By Charles Rammelkamp

Structured around the twelve labors of Heracles, Carl Fuerst’s whimsical, Vonnegut-esque novel follows Henry Streator on the “quest” he has been assigned by his employer, Atlas Systems, but The Upright Dog also purports to be Doctor Emily Stebbins’ attempt to set the record straight on the mythological Greek hero. Indeed, after the twelve entertaining episodes in which we follow Henry’s travels and trials, the last quarter of the book consists of the scholar’s clarifying endnotes.

The twelve labors of Heracles were his punishment for killing his family, which he was tricked into doing by Hera, the queen of the Gods, Zeus’s wife. Heracles had gone to the Oracle at Delphi for guidance on how to atone for his sin. There, he prayed to the god Apollo for guidance. Heracles was told to serve Eurystheus, king of Mycenae, for ten years. During this time, he was sent to perform a series of difficult feats, or “labors.”

Henry’s own “labors” come in the form of assignments from Atlas Systems. They feel like mysterious scavenger-hunt clues. “My employer doesn’t care what hours I work,” he tells Dixon, the exterminator (“God, in his wisdom, gave us the fly, but then he forgot to tell us why,” Dixon cryptically recites, part of this novel’s wisdom.) in “The Third Labor: Heracles and the Stag of Ceryneia,” “As long as I complete the tasks they give me.”

Each chapter begins with a precis of the labor that is often a metaphor for that particular episode.   In “The Fourth Labor: Heracles and the Pig,” for instance, Henry’s cellphone buzzes with a text message from Atlas Systems, “Drv Nxh,” which he interprets to mean “Drive North.” Heracles’ fourth labor was to slay the Erymanthian Boar.  When Henry skids into a snowbank and calls it quits for the night, the hotel where he randomly lodges has already received payment from Atlas, as if fated. Henry befriends a pug named Mrs. Biscuits, who mysteriously has a tag around her neck that reads “Property of Henry Streator.” (Another tag around Mrs. Biscuits’ neck reads: “We know this is nonsense, but trust us – when this is all over you’ll see the point.”)

Atlas Systems arranges and pays for a ride to which Henry is summoned by the hotel clerk. He nods off in the cab only to hear an anxious voice on the taxi’s radio announce that she is “Dr. Emily Stebbins of the University of Wisconsin-Algona Astronomy Department” – the scholar behind the scholarly record that forms part of The Upright Dog! Only Henry wakes up, alone in the cab. Mrs. Biscuits is gone. He’s sad, of course, having become attached to Mrs. Biscuits, and a mysterious woman (could this be Dr. Stebbins?), reassures him: “at no point was that actually your dog.” On to the Augean Stables! A tad confused? The footnote is even more mystifying, a quotation from Euripides’ Alcestis. But trust Fuerst – you’ll see the point when the story’s over…or will you?

Not the least of the pleasures of this work, by the way, are these arcane tidbits in the scholarly notes, such as the etymological origin  of the word “karaoke” (“empty orchestra”), complete with Japanese ideograms. The endnotes are full of “Alternate Translations,” from Plutarch and Homer, Aeschylus, Pindar and Hesiod. Indeed, the epigraph to the entire book is from Hesiod’s Theogeny: “We know how to speak many false things, as though they were true, but we know, when we will, to utter true things.”

Do we ultimately see the point? The twelve labors of Heracles are usually cited as the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering which leads to fame and, in Heracles’ case, immortality. The labors themselves are often interpreted allegorically. By clearing out the Augean Stables, for instance, clearing out the mass of dung, he is said to clearing out the foulness that disfigures humanity.

By the eleventh labor – “Heracles and the Apples” – Henry has received a “certificate of achievement,” the kind of honorific “award” (in lieu of money) that organizations universally bestow on employees: “In recognition of outstanding effort at Atlas Systems.” Attaboy! He seems to be on the right road – metaphorically and literally.

In the endnotes, Dr. Stebbins explains to Henry that the Ancients’ concept of work was entirely different from modern views. This lesson is repeated for emphasis in the Epilogue

The “upright dog,” of course, is “man,” you and me and her and him; them and us. Henry is always on the road, driving, his “quest” a never-ending journey, which may be the ultimate metaphor, because “that’s what makes us human, and that’s what makes us gods, and that’s what makes us god-damned dogs.”

The Upright Dog is an ingenious puzzle, enchantingly Nabokovian in its construction (think: Pale Fire), but with a dark humor that, yes, does make one think of Kurt Vonnegut.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Upright-Dog-Carl-Fuerst/dp/B09R3HDX1S

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. His most recent releases are Sparring Partners from Mooonstone Press, Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books and Catastroika from Apprentice House.

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Anvilhead by Rustin Larson

anvil

By Lynette G Esposito 

anvilhead by Rustin Larson is fifty-seven pages of fictionalized poetry written from the viewpoint of an alien child left on the doorstep of unsuspecting humans in the middle of freezing weather.  It is speculative fiction written from the alien’s viewpoint with the fresh insight of some creature seeing things for the first time and finding them strange, beautiful and perhaps untruthful. The whole tome reads as if it were a long poem with many extended metaphors.

Larson has created a world where the reader feels he, too, is an Anvilhead and yet normal whatever normal means.  Larson uses a narrative voice that is both sympathetic and realistic. The book begins by skillfully introducing the narrator after giving an ants metaphor to set up the tone of the book.

         I was an alien baby left on my human parent’s
        front porch in a vented aluminum pet transport box
        on January 1st, 1960.  It was cold, but I was not frozen.
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The reader has a specific time and a specific place and a specific situation…an abandoned baby in need.  When the alien baby cries in its strange, no, as Lardon says, eerie cry, his soon-to-be human mother hollers at her husband, Orville, what the hell was that?  The humans, of course, bring the baby inside and raise it as their own even though as the little one grows, his alien features become more prominent.  The most obvious alien feature is that he has an Anvilhead. This begins the rather irreverent narrative of baby Anvilhead as he matures. The tone is set in both a realistic and fantastical mood where the reader can easily adjust to the suspension of disbelief technique.  This odd foreign baby is real.  Larson illustrates this by using people coming over to be social and seeing the baby.  When people come to visit, their reaction was obvious.
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          By the time I was four, my head had grown to the
          shape and size of a blacksmith’s anvil.  When my
          father brought employees over from his dealership
          for a drink, their conversations shushed at the sight
           of me.
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How many times has a regular human looked at another human’s baby and thought Not so cute –. or worse?   The situation here rings too true and too judgmental.
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In another instance, Larson presents another realistic scenario with the alien baby.
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           What’s your name, honey? Thelma the secretary
           asked me.  She was a kind woman with a strong
           stomach.  Her son, Babby, who was about my age,
           had cerebral palsy.
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It is an interesting mix of common situation and commentary that can make a reader feel a little uncomfortable.  This mixture of common human situations where Anvilhead observes and reacts helps the reader to see reality in many different lights.
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I found the book a little hard to follow in some places, but it creates an interesting approach on how the world is viewed from a different perspective while illustrating clearly the human psyche, and condition, Anvilhead is a volume a reader might like to look at more than once to receive its full impact. It is interesting, creative and a bit different.
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You can find the book here: ANVILHEAD   
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.

From The Editors

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

covid 19 2020

https://moonstone-arts-center.square.site/product/sahms-guarnieri-diane-covid-19-2020-a-poetic-journal/294?cs=true&cst=custom

 g emil reutter

thunder cover

 https://www.amazon.com/Thunder-Lightning-Urban-Cowboys-reutter/dp/B09HFXSD2F

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Slap by Rustin Larson

slap

By Lynette G. Esposito

Rustin Larson’s poetry volume Slap offers a wide variety of poetry lengths, forms and images. Published by Alien Buddha Press, it is ninety-two pages of insightful messages in poetic form.

For example, the poem Four Steps on page twenty-four, creates in thirteen stanzas, a situation of how many steps lead away from home when at the train stop and what it represents. Larson turns this image into the constant life journey of taking steps to all the doors that lead to or away from home.
                  Four steps, please. Four steps
                  into the train’s platform
                  in the middle of the night.
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                 Four steps before you trip
                 and fall down the basement.
                Four steps into the bower
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               of wild roses.  Four steps in fever
               into your mother’s arms
              in the cool kitchen of your childhood.  Four steps
Larson has used the image of four steps and varied situations to portray how close so many things in life are and what a difference this makes.  His exquisite use of the F sound and his skillful use of repetition control the poem to the closing single-line stanza:
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              steps from all the doors you called home.
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In contrast to this lengthily poem, Larson presents a little humor in his one- stanza, five-line poem Discard on page thirty-two.
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                  Although I might be a discard,
                  like the man who believes
                  in extraterrestrials,
                  I say to myself
                 I am not alone.
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The brevity of the poem does not reduce its effectiveness.  It takes a twist on the concept of the populace of Earth seeking other intelligent beings in other galaxies and looks clear sightedly at those who are perceived as discards on this planet. I find this poem hilarious. 
When the Shark Bites, is a one stanza poem on page sixty-two that presents a moment-in- time when Larson remembers having burritos with his daughters at Taco Bell in Iowa City and when his one daughter was little, how he put her to sleep with an unusual song. He begins the poem with:
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                   Not to disagree with the song’s lyrics
                   but sharks don’t have
                   molars.  They rip and swallow
                   rather than grind and chew.  It’s
                   a fine point, but important I
                   think….
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It is interesting that he begins this poem with facts then throughout the poem remembers wonderful instances with his children.  He brings a time frame in, 1996 and calls it a premium year.  The poem suggests it is about one thing but when Larson calls his daughters my little sweethearts the reader can feel how full Larson’s heart is remembering this time with his daughters. It is a skillful poem with musical references that some of a certain age will appreciate.
 
Slap is an interesting tome with some poems being stronger than others.  The poems vary widely in subject matter and with interesting twists.  It is well worth a read while sitting in a comfortable chair.
You can find the book here: Slap
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
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Postpoemed, by Carl Kaucher

post
By Lynette G. Esposito
 
Postpoemed, by Carl Kaucher (Alien Buddha Press) is 80 pages of mostly free verse poems exploring the context of location, time and circumstance.  Throughout the volume, Kaucher titles various poems with actual places and places observations within the verse that empirically reveals connections between what can be seen and what cannot be seen. 
 
For example, in his poem, Philadelphia, on page thirteen, in the second stanza of six, the narrator defines where he is:
 
                         I am sitting on sitting on the sidewalk, silently
                         pondering chaotic cracks in the concrete
                          that form these fractal lines of prose
                          that go nowhere and have no flow
                          till someone throws me a dime
                          that I turn into a rhyme
                          and scribble it on a cardboard sign
                           that no one can read.
 
The picture of the city is there but subtle.  In later stanzas, he talks of not knowing where he is and of great philosophers as he ponders an empty storefront.  The last stanza pulls the reader across the boundaries of what one sees and how one sees it.
 
                            Martyr me vagrancy at the Trestle Inn
                             then bury me in a pothole
                             At 11th and Callowhill.  
 
 In this context, a person cannot sit on the cement step just to think and then to write without passers by judging the poor soul as a jobless nuisance.  Kaucher skillfully comments on societal reactions as well as the state of thinkers and poets.
 
In his poem, At 8 pm, on page 60, Kaucher intermixes time, place situation and distortion.  He sets the place at a concert with the lead musician attired in a dress but looking not like a woman and is juxtaposed to flashing lights and grandma hooping it up in the front row with the crowd possibly protesting the NRA. Seems like chaos but he makes it work in the last stanza when he pulls the reader from a possible high back to reality with simple receipts.
 
                                      Later,
                                      coffee, crumb buns, horn honks
                                      and rude gestures till 2 AM
                                      and the sleepless interlude
                                       I woke with a pocketful of receipts
                                       that all indicated
                                       it was Easter morning.
 
The poem makes the reader feel as if he has been on a trip but gone nowhere.  At 8 pm is a well- controlled poem with clear visuals that one needs to awaken from to be back in real time.
 
In his poem, Weed Freak, on page 73, the narrator makes a clear comment on what it is to be unique.
 
                                          Wet fallow field
                                          and vacant lots
                                          inspire dormant seed
                                          that grow into weeds.
 
                                          One time,
                                          I was called a weirdo freak
                                          while taking a picture
                                          of a rustic wooden fence
                                          with two
                                          beware of dog signs.
 
                                          Freaks can always spot a freak.
                                          Weeds can always be pulled.
 
The poem succeeds with its plain images and concept that wryly twists the observed and the observer into one.
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The poems in this book are interesting and well crafted. Kaucher sets the place, time and situation in the poems with deliberate precision.  It was a pleasure to read.
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
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Farmers, Queens, Trains and Clowns by g emil reutter

fqt

Please share with others who may have an interest 

Alien Buddha Press has just released g emil reutter’s poetry collection, Farmers, Queens, Trains and Clowns.

The collection is available on Amazon at this link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MN3GH95/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1604506678&refinements=p_27%3AG+Emil+Reutter&s=books&sr=1-1&text=G+Emil+Reutter 

What Others Say about Farmers, Queens, Trains and Clowns by g emil reutter

In g emil reutter’s Farmers, Queens, Trains, and Clowns we are treated to a panorama of a fractured Americana. The singer/seer/poet weaves the celebratory and the lament in his masterful “Philadelphia.” The ghost of a railway station is conjured along with the past majesty of derelict neighborhoods. Gut-wrenching abandonment abounds—turkey buzzards on rooftops, icy furnaces,  vacant-eyed buildings, carp that float sideways next to legless frogs. Laced through the graffiti-scarred souls who wander these poems, the moon’s splendor shines as does the richness of family and the poet’s compassion. reutter blesses us with a raw poetry of savage beauty like his bees encased in a silken coffin. His acute powers of observation witness the spider’s captive brown butterfly as well as what is ensnared in the vibrating strands of a divided America.  We are left with the haunting image of Orion frozen with his back to the earth as if an entire civilization has been discarded.

            —-Stephanie Dickinson, author of The Emily Fables and Big-Headed Anna Imagines Herself

Red, white, and blue-collar—g emil reutter champions the past glory of America, finding triumph in his avid, dead-on descriptions. Suicide, cancer, abandoned tracks, those down-at-the-heels and down on their luck—these are the subjects this poet describes with boundless compassion, flawless cadence, and drum-tight metaphors. Here is a distinctive, authentic, and powerful voice. And beautiful. He makes rust sing.

            -– Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, author of Party Everywhere 

You can get the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MN3GH95/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&qid=1604506678&refinements=p_27%3AG+Emil+Reutter&s=books&sr=1-1&text=G+Emil+Reutter

A reading from 2018

House on the Edge of Town and Other Stories Just Released by Alien Buddha Press

house cover amazon

Alien Buddha Press has just released, House on the Edge of Town and Other Stories by g emil reutter. This short story collection is his first release of fiction since 2014. The book is available at this link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1651393575/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1578180105&refinements=p_27%3AG+Emil+Reutter&s=books&sr=1-1&text=G+Emil+Reutter

 

What others have to say about House on the Edge of Town and Other Stories

“g emil reutter is the real deal. The authentic voice of weird and wild America. reutter’s stories are vivid and unforgettable. His prose is dazzling”

                                    – James Vincent, editor In Shades Magazine.

                                    – Marina Esmeraldo, creative director In Shades Magazine.

“Tight. Real. This is how g emil reutter solves the style of melodrama in House on the Edge of Town and Other Stories—with a huge dose of insight for those who fall through life and those who barely escape. Even if they are to blame in this world of blame, House on the Edge of Town and Other Stories will make you wonder how in one paragraph, or one page, or barely more than three, you are absorbed to the point of forgetting you are reading a story, the verisimilitude so real you might consider these characters could live on the next block over, that is, if you are observant enough to care. But you care about the women and men in these stories who barely scrape by, and you don’t forget them. g emil reutter tells it like it is. House on the Edge of Town and Other Stories is one of a kind.”

Sandra Fluck, editor The Write Launch Literary Magazine- bookscover2cover, LLC 

“Life jumps off the page and kicks you in the face. Its bitter taste blends with slight optimism, turning you into the right direction. reutter gives you life as it is, without makeup or glitter and leaves you to think over what is and what could be.”

Roxana Nastase Author of A Churchgoing Woman

Editor, Scarlet Leaf Review 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1651393575/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1578180105&refinements=p_27%3AG+Emil+Reutter&s=books&sr=1-1&text=G+Emil+Reutter

Big Headed Anna Imagines Herself by Stephanie E. Dickinson

big head

By g emil reutter

We are introduced to Big Headed Anna at birth. Her child mother, boy bodied suffers in child birth. Her baby’s head so big that Anna’s feet were roped to free her from the womb, upon looking at her the young mother fled. Anna took to a cow when left for dead, survived to go on. Or so it is imagined by Anna.

Dickinson has crafted a series of flash fictions that chart the adventures of Big Headed Anna through time and space, of viewing the living and dead, of the life of an outcast from birth who encounters a wide array of characters. Imagined or real? For many who take the time to read this vivid collection, who have suffered from the cruelty of human kind there will be no doubt that the life of Anna could be real. Dickinson’s use of flash fiction to tell the story is simply brilliant as are the images and metaphor that populate this collection.

From Big-Headed Anna Believes Herself as a Strange, Beautiful Name:

“I am eleven years old today and hungry since I ran away from the other place. If I cut my eyelashes there would be no feeling. I would have to move my ear lobe between the grist’s flint or the tip of my nose to understand about touch. To show you how orchids thrive in snow and spongy soil, an earthworm loses its head and grows another. Tallow, bone flesh. My neck thinks of me as its lily. Wandering toward the French Quarter under talon of moon, I sing in a beautiful whisper. Hush little brittlestar who lives underewater. My big head hides under my bigger hat. I shiver listening to the river, the cotton barges.”

Big Headed Anna suffers the indignity and violence of rape, unable to see her attacker, a bag covering her head. And when she gives birth, her child stolen from her, carried away her only comfort is knowing the child has a normal head. Many of the flash describe her efforts to find her child.

From Big Headed Anna Listens to the Last Sound in the Grass:

“I am braised with malaria and yellow fever, and I sink deeper into the bittersweet. I am haul and lumber. An unmarked grave on Rampart Street where traveling workers make prayers has seen my child alive. A raven brings them bread and flesh. The lost Creole spirits sheltering them on houseboats tell me to lift the tablecloth where oysters are set down with comets.”

Dickenson has weaved these stories together as a master quilter, each strand interwoven, each resulting image full of color and metaphor. The stories take place between 1900 and 1933, a harsh time in America, a harsh time for those who appear a bit different from the majority, a harsh time for the poor during a time of exurbanite wealth and decline. Although dream like in its presentation the supporting characters are developed with words and images reflecting a beauty and realism to this work. Yet like a master quilter, Dickinson has created a body of work in this collection always with an underlying love for its central character.

You can find Big Headed Anna Imagines Herself here: https://www.amazon.com/Big-Headed-Imagines-Herself-Stephanie-Dickinson/dp/108723655X/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1572125064&refinements=p_27%3AStephanie+E+Dickinson&s=books&sr=1-1&text=Stephanie+E+Dickinson

g emil reutter can be found here: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

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Eating Raw Meat and Other Nuances of Life by g emil reutter

erm cover

Eating Raw Meat and Other Nuances of Life has just been released by Alien Buddha Press.

What Others Say About Eating Raw Meat and Other Nuances of Life 

“g emil reutter writes the poem the way I like it – sharp, detailed imagery, paintings in black ink carved into the page – the minutiae of life under the microscope. There’s clarity and depth here in this book but there’s power too – the power to move the mind and the soul. These words are fine words. My kind of poems. They should be yours too.” -Adrian Manning- Poet and Publisher at Concrete Meat Press

“Beneath dark shadows of maples, this watcher observes unnamed strangers and lovers beneath a generous moon, sympathetically and precisely with the eye of an oil painter.  The night turns to day, the seasons change, and the cycles renew.  A fine collection for any palate”. – Russell Streur –  Editor, The Plum Tree Tavern

In Eating Raw Meat, g emil reutter proclaims, “I stand on the rubble that is left / of the American dream”; looking out from that prospect, he tells us, “I think of the hard working class.”  Yet, even as these poems show us hard labor and trashed dreams, reutter affirms how close attention to those lives and to the natural world serves to redeem us on this “beautiful brutal blue planet.”  “I work the / garden the way I work a poem,” he tells us; and, centered among existences, “I … listen to what they say, watch what they do and write what I can.” This attention results in poems of integrity and of beauty: “rhythm / of rain, cadence of thunder, lyrical / hissing of wind.”

-Nathalie F. Anderson – Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English Literature and Director of the Program in Creative Writing – Swarthmore College

Check out the book here: Eating Raw Meat and Other Nuances of Life

https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

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