carl kaucher

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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A Great Time at Chase’s Hop Shop

Thanks to all the poets and those in attendance for our celebration – North of Oxford Presents – National Poetry Month at Chase’s Hop Shop. Thanks to Frank and the staff for all their assistance. Photos from the event appear below of Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, Charles Rammelkamp, , Ezra Solway, Jane Rebecca Cannarella, Paul Ilechko, Cleveland Wall,  Carl Kaucher, and Michael Griffith.

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North of Oxford Presents – National Poetry Month @ Chase’s Hop Shop – 4-30-22

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North of Oxford Presents

Live

National Poetry Month @ Chase’s Hop Shop

7235 Rising Sun Ave

Philadelphia, PA 19111

April 30th – 2pm to 5pm

Poets Reading 

diane hsDiane Sahms-Guarnieri, a native Philadelphia poet living in Lawndale since 1986, is author of four full-length poetry collections and most recently a chapbook, COVID-19 2020 A Poetic Journal (Moonstone Press, 2021). Published in North American Review, Sequestrum Journal of Literature & Arts and Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal, among others, she is poetry editor at North of Oxford’s online literary journal and teleworks full-time for the government.  www.dianesahmsguarnieri.com .

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charlesCharles 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.

Sawyer Lovett is a writer, bookseller, and professor. He is a pretty good person, but he is always trying to be better.

ezra Ezra Solway is a jack of some trades. A poet, fiction writer, reporter living in Philadelphia, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Temple University. He has  taught English in Akko, Israel; sold electricity door-to-door; and waited tables at a Japanese karaoke lounge, among other eclectic posts. Currently, he is the Assistant Editor of the Jewish Community Voice, a local newspaper covering Southern New Jersey. https://www.ezrasolway.com/

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janieJane-Rebecca Cannarella (she/her) is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. She is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit, and a former genre editor at Lunch Ticket. She’s the author of Better Bones and Marrow, both published by Thirty West Publishing House, The Guessing Game published by BA Press, and Thirst and Frost forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. https://www.instagram.com/anotherintro/?hl=en

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Canal BWPaul Ilechko is the author of three chapbooks, most recently “Pain Sections” (Alien Buddha Press). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Rogue Agent, January Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Book of Matches and Pithead Chapel. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.

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Cl head 1Cleveland Wall is a poet, teaching artist, and maker of things out of other things. She performs with interactive poetry troupe No River Twice and with musical combo The Starry Eyes. Her first full-length poetry collection, Let X=X , was published by Kelsay Books in the fall of 2019. She is also the sole librarian at Books on the Hill, a mighty twig of the Bethlehem Area Public Library. https://www.clevelandwall.com/

carlCarl Kaucher is a poet, photographer, and urban explorer who lives in Temple, Pa. He is the author of two chap books, “Sideways Blues ( Irish mountain and beyond )”, “Postpoemed” and most recently “Peripheral Debris.” His work has appeared in numerous publications and on line. The writing explores his experiences wandering urban spaces near his home and throughout Pennsylvania. Using his photography and writing, Carl has been exploring the overlooked places and documenting the chance occurrences that happen to him and by doing so gives us the opportunity to reflect upon those similar events happening in our lives also. More info can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CarlKaucher/  and on instagram @Carlkaucher.

Dave-Worrell-238x300Dave Worrell is the author of  We Who Were Bound and Close to Home featuring paintings by Catherine Kuzma. Dave’s poems have appeared in Slant, Canary, Heroin Chic, Shot Glass Journal, Referential Magazine, Wild River Review, and elsewhere. He has performed his music-backed poems at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia and The Cornelia Street Café in New York. He began writing poetry toward the end of his 30-plus year law career, has taught writing at area community colleges and business law to undergraduates at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.

Griffith PhotoMichael Griffith is a story-teller at heart, a teacher, problem-solver, and helper at heart. He has been freelance writing and editing on-and-off on the professional level for over 25 years. Michael has taught courses in communication, public speaking, mass media, film studies, logic, developmental English, and creative writing. He currently teaches for-credit classes at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, NJ and Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, NJ. https://michaelgriffithwordpress.wordpress.com/

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North of Oxford Presents – National Poetry Month @ Chase’s Hop Shop – 4-30-22

 

232

North of Oxford Presents

Live

National Poetry Month @ Chase’s Hop Shop

7235 Rising Sun Ave

Philadelphia, PA 19111

April 30th – 2pm to 5pm

Poets Reading 

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, Charles Rammelkamp, Sawyer Lovett, Ezra Solway, Jane Rebecca Cannarella, Paul Ilechko, Cleveland WallCarl Kaucher, Dave Worrell, Michael Griffith,

Host – g emil reutter 

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/ 

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Chase’s Hop Shop

https://www.facebook.com/Chases-Hop-Shop-319982001828515/

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Two Poems by Carl Kaucher

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Pond Scum
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Henry David Thoreau made pencils.
I don’t know who made telephone poles.
I feel like an endangered species
looking for a habitat to survive in.
I was once born again on a dead end
but the details remain fuzzy
though my soul, my heart and my mind
feel pretty good about it.
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I’ve been sermonizing my salvation
with each step I take.
The sidewalks are like scripture to me
each block unfolding like a new chapter
and the promise of a new beginning
is always at the next intersection
where I might muse about macadam
ponder the potholes
and contemplate the beauty
of concrete curbs and crosswalks.
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I’m not interested
in the middle of nowhere,
I’m more fond of the edge.
I am hoping this train of thought
leads me down the tracks
to the stream of consciousness
where I might step in twice,
but very lightly
for there are slippery rocks.
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I was wondering of the place
where form existed before the idea
but it was just a thought
I found in an old book of Greek philosophy
and I got lost in it
although if I keep rubbing words together
eventually I will spark a fire
and burn.
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Eventually, even the most beautiful
flower will wilt and fall asleep
and if I find it lying mangled in the street
I might use it as a line in this poem.
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?
Joy
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An ocean of silence
permeates a dream
in perspectives of wave
like a spastic swell erupting
from a bubbling cauldron
caressed by silvery moonlight
reflective upon the dark waters
of wisdom
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I am floating within the waves
amidst one sea of many currents
that whips turbulent furies
of white foam upon gales spray
so that I can’t even speak
of sometimes ascending to crest
or brutally plunging to a crash
smashed upon a rocky shore
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Then arising
in consciousness once more
amidst swarms of jellyfish
sea birds punctuate my phrases
with a deep dive
God help me, I’m alive
but breaking up again
yet, it is only then
that I become free
free to be – just a sea
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Though my tidal drift
awakens slow
my current spirals
whirlpools to far below
into the inky darkness
among antediluvian caves
where all the lost waves
eventually go
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Heidi-o
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sage of the late night college radio
haunting midnight vespers static free
all wise on high fidelity at 91.3
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you made morning dew for the suffering
stones who stumbled about the lost years
guided only by the faintest melody
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as yesterdays children danced
in the blue, blue light of midnight
the sacred rituals, rights of passage
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the words you spoke, songs you played
the writing on the wall in the hall
a sweet litany of wildness
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beyond the path beaten to your door
where we always found the answer
to be spontaneous, tribal and free
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for each one of us manifested a shaman
bopping in subliminal drunken dance
to the primal beat and rhythm
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so sad though, I never really knew you
in the dust and the poem of time
I only used you for this verse
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for these modern rags I wear
I filled whole notebooks of nothing
just trying to be something more than I took
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I was a young euphemism of rebellion
looking for a metaphor of God
in a bong load of dependency but not friendship
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we were just free verse passersby
intersecting in an eternal high
years after they used to call you Heidi-O
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I only remember you as Elaine
as a gold dolphin and a rolling rock
I don’t remember your major at school
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or your philosophy on album covers
close to the edge at terrapin station
the metaphysics cut from the rock of truth
enlightening the semantics of our youth
for you were the lost flower who blazed the path
and I thank you for the generosity
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I thank you for putting up with me
for disposing the flames of conformity
for inspiring the miracles
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so necessary for my emancipation
that was only then beginning to arrive
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Carl Kaucher is a poet, photographer, and urban explorer who lives in Temple, Pa. He is the author of two chap books, “Sideways Blues ( Irish mountain and beyond )”and most recently “Postpoemed” His work has appeared in numerous publications and on line. The writing explores his experiences wandering urban spaces near his home and throughout Pennsylvania. Using his photography and writing, Carl has been exploring the overlooked places and documenting the chance occurrences that happen to him and by doing so gives us the opportunity to reflect upon those similar events happening in our lives also. More info can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CarlKaucher/  and on instagram @Carlkaucher.

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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Poetry Videos to Get You Through the Weekend

We searched YouTube for some of the poets we have published and our staff over the years to provide you with some live readings to enjoy during these turbulent times. We hope you enjoy!

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