Archive for August, 2012

Birth of H.P. Lovecraft Party 08/20/12

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2012 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Last night I participated in the Birth of H.P. Lovecraft Party, thrown by my good buddies the Cult of the Yellow Sign and hosted by the Trunk Space (http://www.thetrunkspace.com/). The guest list was similar to last year’s event (H.P. Lovecraft Exhumed, Roasted) but with the addition of a few newbies. Performing at the show were poets Richard Bledsoe, whose story “Blind Mugwump Johnson” about an old blues singer who sang songs extolling the virtues of Cthulhu was eerily reminiscent of the master; slam poetry veteran The Klute who read two very amusing culinary-themed pieces which built up to a punchline about the “Gastronomicon”; Neil Gearns, who read a love poem (????) with the refrain “Cthulhu Baby” which segued into a magic trick that called for an audience member who seemed to be in on the joke.

Poet/artist Richard Bledsoe reading his weird tale, “Blind Mugwump Johnson”.

Poet Neil Gearns reads “Cthulhu Baby”.

The Klute telling tales of recipes that cause madness.

The Arcana Collective was represented this time by a hooded Ernesto Moncada doing a solo ritual involving candles, a bucket of water and a red tome he claimed was the dreaded Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred. Mister Moncada kept his audience entertained with his clever banter as he fumbled with the lighter and the candles which gave him a little trouble but he handled it well. Declaiming nonsensical invocations from his book he eventually pulled an actual pint-sized octopus from his bucket, which garnered cheers of approval from the audience. Wrapping up his set, he walked of the stage singing an amended version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to say I Love You” that bore an altered lyric referencing the “Call of Cthulhu”.

Ernesto reveals the cephalopod of doom!

Musicians featured were Hug of War who seemed oddly out of place with his light-hearted inspirational raps and Christian Michael Filardo, whose atmospheric noise music was oddly beautiful and appropriate for the occasion. Since he performed offstage I couldn’t get a good look at his set up, but I heard some sort of synthesizer sounds and reverb-laced vocalizations that sounded much like Gregorian Chants from Hell. I also caught a glimpse of a basketball net hoop which was scraped and banged on the hard floor, filtered through reverb that caused it to sound like a tolling knell. My long-time friend Y-Mike who was sitting next to me at the show commented that I should get young master Filardo to accompany me in my recitals to add atmosphere to my readings. I concur.

Hug of War spreads his inspirational vibe as the Cult bust some dance moves.

Christian Michael Filardo works his dark sound-scapes.

The Cult expanded their ranks this time by adding two new members: Cultist #415, who ran the concession table and is apparently deft (or would the appropriate term in this instance be “def”?) at dropping doomsday rhymes, which he did very skillfully near the end of the show, and Cultist #113, the first female Cultist to have graced the stage with the Cult and whom was also present at their chapbook release party a few weeks prior where her participation in the “sexual harassment seminar” skit was a highlight of the show. Her presence has added a new dynamic to the fold and also has saved them from being a total “sausage party”.

Cultist #415 drops some eldritch rhymes.

Cultists #’s 138, 808 & 113 (note the celebratory diadem on #138’s head as well as the tiny dinosaur at the foot of the stage).

Speaking of comestibles, there was punch, cupcakes and bite-sized chocolate chip cookies all of which came free with the price of admission ($6) as well as free “goodie bags” which were lovingly decorated with esoteric scribbling, insignia, and illustrations drawn by Cultist #808. Inside said goodie bags were a name tag with some clever quip or another, a noisemaker and a sinister mixed CD.

Goodie bags…or baddie bags?

Cookies, cupcakes and Cult recruitment pamphlets.

There were decorations on the walls like “Pin the Tail on the Shuggoth”, which has made event appearances twice already but has yet to be photographed by anyone that I am aware of, as well as two very accomplished paintings featuring dark scenes incorporating Lovecraftian creatures by Richard Bledsoe (a/k/a Deus Ex Machina).

Cultist #138 draws cacodemonic intonations from the piano.

The evening began with the crackle of tiny Chinese poppers discharging as they were tossed onto the floor by Cultists #’s 808 and 113, after which 113 took her seat by the front of the stage and 808 began to vocalize and manipulate some effect on his microphone which was accompanied by the ominous tones of Cultist #138 on the in-house piano. Just when the novelty began to wear thin Cultist #138 rushed to the stage from the back of the room (where the piano is situated) and told his cohort to cut it out.

The Cult is confronted by a do-gooder.

After the initial introductions and mordant jokes (which were briefly interrupted by a do-gooder in a white cassock who attempted to sabotage the proceedings but his good vibes were no match for the supreme evil that is the Cult of the Yellow Sign and his light was soon snuffed out), the Cult began with the over-arching story for the evening: in an attempt to resurrect old Howard Philips for the evening’s festivities they accidentally summoned up the spirit of fellow Weird Tales alumnus Robert E Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian). What’s more, Robert E Howard appears as a hand puppet and Lovecraft appears as a puppet of a raven. The joke being that when they summoned “Howard”, as in Howard Philips Lovecraft, they also got Robert E Howard.

Meeting of the Howards.

In between the skits sending up the opposing life styles of the former colleagues the Cult bought time by introducing the guest acts; after everyone had their moment on the stage, the resurrection issue was resolved with the returning of the Howards to their respective resting places after which the audience was then asked to take out their noisemakers to clear the atmosphere of the black vibes and sinister residue left by the evening’s activities. Cultist #808 then reminded the audience to visit the merchandise table and buy their newly made t-shirts and chapbooks to help fund their pilgrimage to Providence, RI (birthplace and final resting place of H.P. Lovecraft) for next year’s celebrations. The house lights were then turned on and the shadowy presence of the Cult of the Yellow Sign was dispersed until the next time it raises its eldritch head(s).

Cultists #’s 808, 113, 415 & 138 wrap up the show.

I had a wonderful time this year and enjoyed my fellow poets much more this time than last year. Part of this may be due to the fact that I have had a year of reading my work at Space 55 to recover my stage chops which were very rusty when I performed at last year’s event and caused me to spend much of my time fretting rather than enjoying the show. Unlike last year, when I stuck around to hang with the Cultists and friends after the show, I bailed as soon as it was over since I had dinner plans with my own friend who was in town for only a couple of days. I did however receive a nice bouquet of Sunflowers from my friend Kelly, and there were many kind comments about my performance on Facebook from various attendees.

My young cousin Justin, me and my friend Kelly after the show.

My reading list for the night was an old chestnut from the 90’s called “Luvian’s Pelt”, which is a sequel to “The Bed”, and my latest poem, the “satanic sonnet” “Dimas Akelarre”. I call it my satanic sonnet because each line breaks down to 3 parts of 6 syllables which work out to every line equaling 666, syllabically speaking.

Me reading my new satanic sonnet, “Dimas Akelarre”

And last but not least, I apologize to the Phoenix New Times and anyone else whose photos I may have appropriated for the purposes of illustrating this blog entry.

And now, without further ado, the poems (editorial note; “Luvian” has one made-up word, “ululame” which I created to fit the rhyme. It is a combination of “ululation” and “lamentation”. The Latin phrases in “Dimas” translate roughly to “shameful kiss”, which refers to the practice of kissing Satan’s arse as a sign of obeisance, “flaming road” in reference to the road to Hell, and a “gaita” is a Spanish bagpipe):

Luvian’s Pelt: https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/luvians-pelt/

Dimas Akelarre

Dimas Akelarre is a swart-hearted man, who plies his craft by night

Worshipping the Black Goat, tributary salute: osculum infame

Piping on his gaita a lusty sarabande a-wash in pale moonlight

Misdirecting tyros down a doom-laden route, itinere flammae

Like blissful dervishes they whirl across the veil to atramentous realms

Tenanted by creatures: sightless, wan, and grasping, coveting the quick souls

Careening through Hell-fire, on a tour through Sheol, with Dimas at the helm

Laughing as they wither, screaming when not gasping, upon a track of coals

Willfully satanic, he walks the Left-Hand Path in fiendish company

Tricksters and despoilers inveigling mankind to renounce the daylight

Lucifuge Rofocale and Nyarlathotep round out his coterie

Misanthropic monsters intent to undermine and to the world benight

His evil upas trills throughout the centuries tainting whither it flows

How far its tendrils reach to spread their hellish blight only the Darkness knows

Féretrina [Coffin-Belly Mary]

Posted in coyotes, Gothic Horror, La Santa Muerte, Mictecacihuatl, Mictlan, Southwestern Horror with tags , , , , , , , on August 10, 2012 by Manuel Paul Arenas

There is a young woman whom the güeros call Coffin-Belly Mary, but that is not her name. Orphaned at an early age, she grew up on the streets of a Mexican border town where she survived partly by her wits but wasn’t hurt by the fact that she was both markedly pretty and possessed of a sweet disposition, which made her a favorite of the locals who freely gave her shelter and alms as they could afford.

Seemingly favored by Fate, she was blessed with the good fortune of finding true love at an early age. He was a small-time hood who had a reputation for being tough, but he was always gentle and loving when it came to her. When she became pregnant, they were both overjoyed with the prospect of bringing a living symbol of their love into the world and decided that the child would have whatever it needed to enjoy a better life than they themselves had lived.

So they cleaned up their lives and for the next few months they scrimped and saved but in a last-ditch attempt at making some big money so they could move across the border into the States, her young man ran into someone who was tougher than he was and so he never came home again. Devastated by her loss but determined to give their unborn baby everything she could, she sold all of their remaining non-essential possessions, took what money they had already saved, and paid some coyotes to take her across the border in Nogales.

The trip, though perilous and exhausting, was relatively uneventful, until they reached the other side. Immediately upon their arrival in Arizona, the young woman was sequestered in a shed in the rear of a secluded ranch house where they pressured her for more money. When she explained that she had no more to give and no one left in Mexico to get money from, they raped her and beat her savagely and told her that they were going to get someone who would cut the baby out of her, after which they would send her to a local maquiladora factory owned by the brother of one of the coyotes, where she would work until she paid off the rest of the money that they felt she owed them.

As she lay there broken and bloody, alternately drifting in and out of consciousness and weeping in the sweltering heat on the dusty floor of the shed, she cried out to La Huesuda for vengeance on these men and pleaded with this patron saint of the disenfranchised to save her unborn child. She swore that if granted this boon, she would devote the rest of her life to serving La Santa Muerte.

Shortly thereafter, in sharp contrast to the scorching temperature outside, the room grew unnaturally cold as the light was sucked out of her surroundings leaving her in an impenetrable darkness. Yet, in spite of the lightlessness she suddenly saw a vision of the Lady of the Shadows: La Huesuda,  La Catrina, La Santa Muerte. She stood there, in her dark robes and her bony mien and spoke to the young woman…not with her tongue, which was non-existent, but rather with her mind.

La Santa Muerte

“I am Mictecaciuatl, Queen of Mictlan,” she said “and I accept your offer, but the child I cannot save for he is already here with me, your husband, and my lord, Mictlantecuhtli. I can however give you vengeance upon the men who perpetrated this great treachery against you. I shall see that they suffer greatly and their souls will be enthralled to you, effectuating your bidding throughout eternity. They shall wear the skins of their namesakes, herald your arrival with their howls and protect you from your enemies.

“You shall remain indefinitely as you are today, young and fair, although a child-woman you shall no longer be, for you shall be an emissary of the Queen of Mictlan, and no one shall dare cut the unborn child from your belly, and it shall become a conduit through which I may communicate with my people in the world of the living. The tiny bones in your belly shall become a portal key through which your unborn son’s soul shall periodically enter to relay to you messages and directives from me in the Underworld. You shall find a black blade buried in the brow of the butcher who would have cut your son from you, retrieve it and cut a bone from him and it shall become a powerful talisman, which shall be a warning to those who would do you harm. Take the hides of the coyotes as well and wear them, for they shall give you power over their subservient souls and strike fear into the heart of your enemies. ”

“But where can I go that people will not become suspicious of a foreigner who does not speak their language, doesn’t age and carries a child that never comes to term?” the young woman asked.

“Do not worry child, you shall not have to bear the weight of a swollen belly for eternity, but when I must speak to you you shall feel your son’s bones rattle in your belly. If you have a query for me, touch your belly and think upon your son and his spirit will fly from Mictlan to the bones in your belly to hear his mother’s voice and come to her aid. Also, I have followers in many places who will gladly give you shelter and once they see your gift they will know that you speak for me. They shall call you Féretrina, after the Spanish word for coffin, because you shall carry the bones of your unborn son within you wherever you go. As for language barriers, there will be none. You shall understand all who speak to you and they shall understand you. Do you think that I speak the language of my people’s conquerors?  Nay, fear not, no foreign tongue shall keep you from communicating my messages to the ones whom would hear it.

“When you leave this small house of your heartbreak, go to the lair of your despoilers and you shall find them dead. Enter freely, and without fear, draw a bath to cleanse yourself of the dross from your suffering and what remains of your former life. Fortify yourself with food from their larder, then rest, for you soon shall embark on a quest in my name to come to the aid of my adherents and devotees in their own times of need.”

And so the young woman accepted the divine will of the Queen of Mictlan who returned to her shadowy realm as the light slowly returned to the room along with the heat. The young woman sat up and looked around to see that the blood that lately covered herself and the floor was gone, most likely taken by the goddess during her visit. Once she gathered her senses, she stood up and tried the door; finding it unlocked she staggered into the daylight.

Wincing from the harsh brightness, the first thing she focused on was a black walnut tree, a Nogal, the namesake of the twin border towns which bore the route of pain and sorrow that she had traveled to find her new life. She contemplated the great black-bark tree with its sprawling gnarled branches reaching out into the dust-heavy firmament, and marveled how its fleshy green fruit bore such a hard and blackened seed within its core, much like her own moribund treasure inside of her abdomen.

Now, accustomed to the glare of the unrelenting sun, she walked up to the ranch house and found the door open, so she passed across the threshold as she had been instructed to by Mictecacihuatl.  Upon entering the house she found the flayed bodies of the two men who had raped her and taken the life of her unborn son, as well as another man, whom she assumed must have been the doctor they spoke of retrieving. Their severed heads had been placed on wooden staves torn from an outdoor fence which were driven deep into their respective torsos; the sightless, lidless eyes of their twisted harrowed faces bulged in expressions of horror and pain, which brought a small smile to her lips.

Spying a darkly glittering object protruding from the forehead of the third man, she approached it to find that it was a ceremonial knife made from obsidian, a black volcanic glass used much by the ancient Aztec peoples in their jewelry, ceremonial implements and weapons. She took the knife from the dead man’s brow and proceeded to cut the tibia bone from his leg, which she placed in one of three earthen jars she found lined in a row in front of the gory remains. Setting the jar aside, she sought out the bathroom to wash the sweat and smuggler filth off of her body, after which she changed her clothes and then rifled through the cupboards in the kitchen for something to eat.

At nightfall she heard the howls of her coyotes keening outside the house. Opening the door she let them in to feast on the carcasses of their past wicked incarnations; then, leaving her worldly possessions behind, she picked up her gruesome trophy, stepped out the front door and into the night, walking northward toward her destiny. As Mictecacihuatl had promised, wherever she went she found shelter and succor with devotees of La Santa Muerte, who knew her by her coyote companions, her “golden cassock” fashioned from some curious hides, tanned and embroidered beautifully by an acolyte, and the ear spools she wore, hewn from the leg bone of the doctor who would have cut her child from her belly. The child she now called Nogalito, her little black walnut.

7 Minutes in Heaven 06-23-12

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 10, 2012 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I know I’m a little late in reviewing this, but I guess I got a little lazy after the show and kept putting off my usual postmortem review until now, when I have another show imminent.

What I recall from this show isn’t much, sadly. I recited some lyrics from my days as a front man, choosing one lyric from each band I was in. From the folk duo the Gloom Twins I read “A Little Darkness”, from Fire Pig I read “March of the Fire Pig”, for the Dark Young I chose “Tetragramophone”, the final verse of which I actually growled, much as I would have if I were “singing” it with the band behind me. Lastly, I chose “Ride My Grill” from 40 Grit/Rumpleforeskin, which I read but softly sang the chorus for effect. Unfortunately, as I was coming to the final drones of the chorus I was cut off by the emcee.

People seemed to dig it though, and I got a lot of nice comments from folks afterwards.