alien buddha press

City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) by Diane Sahms

city shadow amazon

City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) by Diane Sahms has just been released by Alien Buddha Press. You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BMSZ8NV8/ref=sr_1_2?qid=1668816380&refinements=p_27%3ADiane+Sahms&s=books&sr=1-2&text=Diane+Sahms 

What Others Say About  City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia)

In Diane Sahms’s ambitious City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) there are classical elements, the prominence of the elegiac as well as the lyrical and an oracular power that echoes back to Greece, yet remains rooted in Philadelphia.  The language soars—blooms, although with a dark undertone, illuminating the shadow and shading the light.  The meticulous pairing of the shadow and light allows the reader to explore the connective tissue between the seemingly unalike. Sahms’ syntax alone imparts a musicality and a dissonance to her work. Readers are jarred into a heightened realm of acuity.  Heroin’s inner arm of a clawing dragon/he never slew and Blue Heron’s Blue-gray architecture wades slowly, deliberately/leads slavish eyes knee-deep into still waters. They are yoked together like duets.  In her “Suite for Iris” the poet’s persona explores the world from the perspective of Iris who exists in the liminal zone of part human-part flora, a fertile intersection of the primeval and the reasoned. Iris, tall stalk before shears, /rhizome’s roots as heart’s arteries. Sahms’ often heretical visions push brilliantly into an unseen darkness.

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

Wade into the mirror with Diane Sahms as she unveils and unravels identities—probing for meaning and finding connections. Different life forms fuse into a “universal soul” in these “heart shuttling” sojourns that sonically imagine the magic of “spirits united.” Morality and mortality yield their secrets in exhilarating lyric passages in which emptiness is purified via resolute perception and consequent insight. —Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

In City of Shadow and Light (Philadelphia), Diane Sahms looks upward to the cosmic, then comes back to the personal, in poems that are full of natural imagery and (often) mystery. The focal point is the “first city,” Philadelphia, and its inhabitants, particularly those connected to the poet. We meet ones who create and others who struggle. What brings them together is the poet’s care for each and every one. Through these poems, you will gain a new appreciation for a place and some of its ordinary (and extraordinary) people. This is an eye-opening, heart-tugging collection. —Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Tricks of Light

Diane Sahms’s City of Shadow & Light opens with the loss of two sons and continues to hearken more challenges as the book unfolds. But as she quotes from Jung in one epigraph, dark shadows only heighten the brightness of light. Thus, the book’s ending of “light” is hard-earned, and the fortitude is as inspiring as the “brave Raven, who stole light / from total darkness // for everyone.” The reader is left gladdened that this poet managed to retain her voice and that, despite everything, that “voice, still sings.”—Eileen R. Tabios

 

City of Shadow & Light (Philadelphia) by Diane Sahms – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BMSZ8NV8/ref=sr_1_2?qid=1668816380&refinements=p_27%3ADiane+Sahms&s=books&sr=1-2&text=Diane+Sahms 

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Most Read Reviews @ North of Oxford 2022

Just in time for holiday shopping! Most read reviews as determined by the readership of North of Oxford

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selected stories 1990-2022

selected stories cover

http://amazon.com/dp/B0B7PZB4TY

Selected Stories: 1990-2022 by g emil reutter is now available. Check out the link below where you can read one of the stories from the collection.

http://alienbuddhapress.wordpress.com/2022/08/03/spotlight-selected-stories-1990-2022-by-g-emil-reutter/

What Others Have Said About g emil reutter’s Stories

“These stories are amazing for their highly focused power and are full of surprises and twists. Some of the best stories I have seen in years.”           – Trevor Reeves, Editor, Southern Ocean Review– New Zealand

“Reading these short, muscular stories by g emil reutter is like walking into the lives of good people who experience bad things. When trouble comes, these people do the best they can, but often it isn’t enough. Violence and heartbreak are just around the corner and most of these stories end with a twist—perhaps a twist of a knife. As you keep reading, though, you find the humanity, community and even love in each difficult situation.”          –  Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Haywire and Roughhouse

“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.

“Tight. Real. This is how g emil reutter solves the style of melodrama…—with a huge dose of insight for those who fall through life and those who barely escape.              –Sandra Fluck, editor The Write Launch Literary Magazine- bookscover2cover, LLC

http://amazon.com/dp/B0B7PZB4TY

BOOKS 

Peripheral Debris by Carl Kaucher

perph
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By Charles Rammelkamp
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Channeling the mystical meandering jazz bebop philosophical musings of Jack Kerouac, Carl Kaucher’s new collection focuses on the gritty and ponders the eternal questions of existence.  At the end of the first poem, “Pond Scum,” he asks:
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If life is God’s music
will the chorus end with a round of applause
for a song well sung
or will there just be silence?
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Meanwhile, in his elegy for a dead friend, “Steve,” he asks, “How many bites to eat a Big Mac?” Kaucher isn’t always so serious!
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Peripheral Debris is divided into two parts, “Peripheral” and “Debris.” While both evince Kaucher’s distinctive style, the poems in the first part mainly seem to develop his outlook while the poems in the “Debris“ section are a kind of travelogue through small town Pennsylvania, from the perspective of the self-described “Hobo Poet” whose attitude the reader has since come to understand.
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Indeed, the poem, “Kerouac,” from the first section, honors his inspirations.
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Beating loud
the bongos of suffering
so that
we might feel the rhythm
and vibrations at a distance
not going near
but knowing still
all dimensions
of the deep discordant drum
drubbing of desolation
the shamanic inflection
angelic resurrection
and insight
of the human predicament
on the down and out
with dissonant choruses
to wallow in
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The poem “November,” referring to “an interstellar literature / written within the lunar wind,” concludes with an homage to Patti Smith, from her iconic 1975 album Horses, “weeping for somebody’s sins / but not mine.” The poem, “The Deep State,” honors William Blake.
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The cleverly titled poem, “Postpoemed,” summarizes Kaucher’s approach. It begins:
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Take a few scattered words,
assemble them into a thought
which can be woven
into the finest threads.
Weave the thread into a tempo and flow
that creates a vision,
an intricate web of idea
to paint a portrait of conditions
and circumstance.
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For four more stanzas he describes the recipe – “Introduce the characters”; “Get lost within the flow / and feel the fuzzy vibration of energy”; “Whisper the words down the alley / so they twist and distort / like an effluent prophecy.” The poem, he hopes, will “provide warmth / to all who have gathered / throughout the long night.”
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While Kaucher sets the poem, “Snakes and cats” from the “Peripheral” section in Reading, Pennsylvania (“at the corner of 11th and Robeson streets”), it’s mainly in the “Debris” section that he takes us through the Pennsylvania countryside, in poems like “Johnstown,” “Shillington” (birthplace of the novelist John Updike),  “Shamokin,” “Sunbury,” “Tamaqua,” “Wilkes-Barre,” “Carlisle,” “York,” “Manayunk,” “West Scranton,” “Reading,” and “Altoona” – not to mention poems like “Road Ruminations” (“Towns like Tipton and Tyrone, / Bald Eagle and Port Matilda”) and “Perspectives of Butch” (Schuykill County).  It’s a peripatetic life, the observations and experiences of a holy mendicant wandering from town to town. In the poem, “In,” in West Chester, having returned east from Pittsburgh, he meets a young man in a bar.
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            I tell him about the Beats and Kerouac
            and how inspiration and appreciation of the beauty
            factors into achievement,
            also commitment and WOW!
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He’s like the wandering Zen master enlightening the populace. In the poem “Hobo Poet” he writes:
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            Sleeping on the street corner
            doesn’t seem to get you closer to God.
            Although, cold wet asphalt
            and a curb to rest my head
            may be the start of this poem.
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Back in the first section, in the poem, “First light,” we find him waking up on one of those obscure street corners:
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            Ascend to obscurity blessed
            till the blackness rolls golden gardens
            of dawn born in detachment
            and the essence of the void
            rolls out divinity on Christ tongues
            and enlightened Buddha drugs
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            I forever am revelation
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Indeed, the narrator seems to embody an enlightenment that he doesn’t necessarily always share as he makes his way from town to town.
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Peripheral Debris is full of Kaucher’s somber photographs – bridges, graveyards, kitchens, a bleak apartment, a lone seagull, downtown squares, a young woman’s tattooed back, abandoned houses, coin-op laundromats, an angel statue in silhouette. These atmospheric graphics enhance the sense of solitude that’s at the heart of these poems.
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The second section – and the book itself – ends in Altoona, a town in the middle of the state that was founded by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1849, from its very beginning a stopover on the way to elsewhere.  As always, the poet is observing, experiencing his environment. On the wrong side of the tracks, a homeless guy starts shouting at him, asking for the time. The narrator moves on. With a sly reference to Petula Clark’s 1965 hit song, he goes “downtown / to forget all my troubles, forget all my cares.” He encounters another anonymous citizen of the town, a suspicious woman in neon green slippers, as he scribbles “about the horse fly / bussing my head.”
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            After a while,
            I was only as I am
            and again on my way
            home.
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Wherever that is. Whatever “home” signifies, a place, a state of mind.
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You can find the book here: Peripheral Debris
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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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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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