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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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):
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