SPOTLIGHT: Peripheral Debris by Carl Kaucher

Pond Scum

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,
the details remain fuzzy
although my soul, my heart and my mind
feel pretty good about it.

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.

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.

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
in my grandfather’s attic and I got lost in it
although if I keep rubbing words together
eventually I will spark a fire
and burn.

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?


The celestial astral body
dreamt like a soft sensual womb
birthing suns, planets, gaseous
Oort clouds amidst nebula
palpitating dark matter
orgasms of erotic energy
streaming into an interstellar wind
upon radiant gamma waves
wanking the space-time continuum
thrusting and throbbing
curving in upon itself
in multidimensional lusts
of gravitational attraction

Hydrogen and Helium
fusing in an old cocoon of time
relatively expanding like space
pleasuring and metamorphosing
the matrix since the initial
fertile singular mystery
banged a hot metal magnetic
field of cosmical creation
creamy like a heavenly wet dream
rhythmically pulsing gravitons
into the galactic ovarian walls
of the fallopian void

far out uterus zones of astrological dust
mingling at the edge of time
in a distant embryonic wow
weaving the fetal web of galaxies
into an interstellar heartbeat
born into the breath
of the absolute one
expanding Earthbound in mythical
frozen crystals falling
on this long winter’s night
of my 59th year

Snakes and cats

Bitten by two brown snakes in a dream
at the corner of 11th and Robeson streets
while sitting on chipped concrete steps.
I remember the teeth marks.
I remember the bitter burn.
The snake was really a highway,
headlights and taillights pulsing
systolic, diastolic towards the horizon
like blood through a vein
or poison to my brain.

There was a thin strip of grass
wedged between a factory
and a fence bordering a field of corn.
The sun’s orb, a brilliantly wild burning gold.
Someone stripped the land down to dirt
and as the area was prone to flood
it became saturated with my blood
fertilizing a furrow of creativity,
a blessing of art,
as obelisks arose and then flowers.

Two black snakes entwined
around a rope of DNA,
the words describing it
awoke the light of day
and when I found them scattered
I fit them together in a genetic way.
The writing was like a procession of monks
in white robes with red borders.
Horns and tambourines sounded
as the factory became a spacious meadow
where everyone was freed.

The scene was analogous to another dream
where two golden snakes caressed
on rotted wooden steps near a forest.
The songs of a bird cooed a venomous praise
for which there is no known antidote.
Better wise to symbolize my awakening
as the image of the sun setting in a pool of blood
moments before the cat jumped on the bed
and bit me in the leg.
I can still see the teeth marks.
I can still feel the burn.


I take note,
for this is the last prose poem
to ever reach my pen
sitting at the corner
of West Market and Penn
waiting for the attack.
But, the enemy never arrives
and my words are merely symbolic
of what I could not say
about the Dutch Kitchen
or the ambulance arriving
or the parcel of last night’s dream
still lingering.

I can’t get locked into the form
for the details of the intersection
are constantly changing
from green to red
and back again.
The intersection is not really here
but could be anywhere
in any town you might hang around.
You gotta make time
and clear the mind
to ponder magnificent fire escapes
and dried mangled leaves.

I made a pit stop for a beer
and that’s when this sentence went off the page
and ran up the side of old words
along the edge of my tattered mind,
there was limited space within.
Sitting by the window I thought
I had a vision of a naked Angel
running through a cemetery
but was really just some
old dude mowing grass.
So, I ordered another beer.


Oak Haven Road,
I can hear a chorus of caws
from a murder of crows
sitting in a large tree by a barn
as a misty haze of oxygen hovers
above the corn fields and soybeans
illuminated by the morning sun.

In the distance, a small farm
and a bicyclist
making his way along Short Lane
past the one room schoolhouse
at the top of the hill
where there is still seesaws and rope swings,
nothing plastic and no jungle gyms.

A small creek ripples it’s way
past a women hanging clothes to dry
later she will weed the garden
and pick fresh beans for dinner.
Two horses wait by the fence
observing a cow munching grass.
Just up from the fence row,
a tractor and a backhoe,
two tanks of fertilizer and a silo of corn.

A dog running circles round the greenhouse.
A little stand by the side of the road
selling dried flowers and strawberries.
Three young girls are running through the yard
as an old woman leans on a broom.
A wide valley behind the house
stretches open fields into eternity.

A high voltage power line
strung out on tall lattice towers
of galvanized steel align
into a colonnade fading off
towards a distant vanishing point.
A still serene scene of silence,
though sometimes a picnic
or a softball game on the old ball field.

Sometimes a line of buggies and bicyclists
heading down Park Road to the church
on Sunday morning around 10:00.
The men and boys in black suits.
The women and girls in long cloth dresses
in muted colors patterned simply.
The church, a plain white shack
with no steeple surrounded by stables
littered with piles of manure.
A small cemetery behind a hedge row.

After the service,
much gathering for conversation in the yard.
Women exchange gossip and plan for dinner.
The youth gather at the edges
to horse around Mennonite style.
Plans for a new pole building are discussed
for the young couple at the farm up the road,
everyone will help.

Young lovers stroll through the meadow
and hold hands
as I make my way around a truck
trying to make a left hand turn
into a steady stream of traffic
that has just emerged from the battery factory
letting out at shift change.
I am running late as usual.


I left my right boot print
in a patch of mud
out front of 1301 8th Ave
in Altoona Pennsylvania
near Saint Luke’s church
built in 1915
where they have had Friday night
youth nights since 2007.
If you happen to find it,
please return it to me.

I was on the wrong side
of the tracks
by dismal rail yard factories
when some homeless guy
with a blue mask and a red WaWa bag
started shouting at me
asking for the time from the steps
of the Investment Savings Bank.
To which I replied, No thanks man,
I left it at home
and went on walking.

I was getting in too deep.
I was beginning to philosophize
about the gravel and crumbling brick
of homes on 4th street
so I crossed the tracks again
and went downtown
to forget all my troubles,
forget all my cares
but the whole town was beat
into a dirty sock
mashed into the sidewalk
and even that was limp.

An overweight metal head couple
shuffling along with Dollar Store bags
seemed like a fitting metaphor
for Pennsylvania
and all the hip hop thrashing
from cars passing by
is not the reason why
I was sitting on the steps
of the “Champion Life” church
wondering who calls a church that

So let me just say
that the pile of rubble and dirt
by the 19th Street tracks
and the 918M series
Caterpillar Wheel Loader
speaks to me of humanity
as I wait for the curious woman
in neon green sneakers to pass.
She seems suspicious of me
sitting on this concrete slab
writing about the horse fly
buzzing my head.
She does not know my words
are merely symbolic constructs
of what I cannot think of
to say.

After a while,
I was only as I am
and again on my way


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