In the early oughts, when I lived in New Jersey with my good friend Y-Mike, I was browsing his reference bookshelf when I came across a book entitled “Forgotten English: A Merry Guide to Antiquated Words…(etc).” Well, it seemed to be right up my alley and as I perused it’s pages I saw a section called “The Final Curtain”, which dealt with the darker side of “Olde English”. One word in particular caught my eye, “manqueller”, which it defines as “A companion word to Shakespeare’s “womanqueller” for a murderer and later a town executioner,…” (Kacirk, Jeffrey Forgotten English New York Quill 1997 p. 220)
I knew I had to use it in a poem, so I quickly came up with this idea of a wannabe killer who compares himself to the infamous “manquellers” or yore; and, with my penchant for alliteration and light verse, I came up with a perfect example of what I call my “Black Light Verse”: “Manqueller Manqué”
I could’ve been a lady-killer, just like Spring Heel’d Jack / decollating prostitutes, supine on their backs
Eviscerate them cleverly, split up to their necks / displace all their vital bits, then desecrate their sex
Or perhaps a Bluebeard bridegroom: handsome, suave and fell / loving husband till the wifey breached my private Hell
Henri Landru killed his spouses only for the cash / I would do it for the blood-lust, then char them to ash
Don’t think me a woman hater, I’d kill men-folk too / Just give me a sniper gun and I’d know what to do
Ensconced up in a bell tower within the hub of town / the cops would have to take me out before they took me down
Maybe I’d just go legit, tho’ still indulge my spree / killing killers on Death Row whilst other people see
When I’m done I’d get a cheque and Uncle Sam’s glad hand / only in America could slaying be so grand!
Some of the folks mentioned either directly or alluded to:
Spring Heel’d Jack: in this instance I am referring not to the leaping Victorian masher of ladies, but rather I am alluding to Jack the Ripper. I am aware that the two are different entities entirely, but the name is sometimes used in reference to the serial killer, most often in popular culture. Unlike his popular image in a top hat and cape, the real Ripper, according to eye witness accounts, looked more like our idea of Sherlock Holmes (which is also erroneous).
Bluebeard: of the famous fairy tale. He told his young bride she could go anywhere in his house except for one locked room. She of course went into the room and found out what happened to his previous wives. The rendition here is by Harry Clarke from his illustrations for the “Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault,” 1922.
Henri Désiré Landru: the modern day Bluebeard, who would marry wealthy widows then kill them and burn their bodies after he got access to their money. He was eventually caught because of his personal record keeping, as the bodies were never found.
Charles Whitman: the Tower Sniper, ” who killed 16 and wounded 32 people in a shooting spree from the tower at the University of Texas in Austin back in 1966. The cops had to take him out before they took him down.
An Executioner: Although they don’t dress like this anymore, nor do they usually wield axes (though there are still ones who wield scimitars) executioners are still on Uncle Sam’s payroll in some states. We’re not the only ones who do it, but we should know better. Then again, what would you have them do with the likes of John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy if they killed your loved ones?