Archive for October, 2014

Manqueller Manqué

Posted in Bluebeard, death penalty, execution, executioners, Gothic Poetry, Henri Landru, Jack the Ripper, serial killers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2014 by Manuel Paul Arenas

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)

“Forgotten English”, by Jeffrey Kacirk (1997).

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).

Mannequin made to look like the actual eye witness description of Jack the Ripper

Mannequin made to look like the actual eye witness description of Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper from the Police Gazette, 1888.

Jack the Ripper from the Police Gazette, 1888.

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.

Bluebeard, as depicted by Harry Clarke (1922).

Bluebeard, as depicted by Harry Clarke (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.

Henri Landru.

Henri Landru.

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.

Charles Whitman, the Tower Sniper.

Charles Whitman, the Tower Sniper.

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?

Ye Olde School Executioner

Ye Olde School Executioner


Women Wielding Words in the Alley (10-07-14)

Posted in female poets, Gothic Poetry, poetry recital, Shot of Java, Words in the Alley with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2014 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Last night, I had a personal wish fulfilled when my friend, who for privacy reasons I shall simply refer to as Hydroxia, read “The Bed” and “Luvian’s Pelt” (a sequel to “The Bed”) from my “Greenwood Manse” poetry cycle at the “Women Wielding Words” event at A Shot of Java in Glendale. I wrote these narrative poems in first person as if a young woman, who is never named, is relating family lore to you, the reader. The stories take place in a roughly Victorian setting and vampires, werewolves and witchcraft abound throughout; the female characters do shine, albeit with a dark light, despite the repressive society and time period they live in and there is much dark humor and myriad references to classic horror tropes.

I wrote these poems in the early 1990’s and have always wanted to hear them being read by a woman, as I always feel awkward as a middle-aged man saying lines like “…For I am a smart young lass; virginal, pious, and pure as the snow white dove.”  Hydroxia finally scratched that itch.

She did a great job reading the poems, as well as two Hallowe’en themed haikus of her own creation, and even dressed for the occasion in appropriately spooky glamor with an elegant dress that would befit a vampiric countess, spider earrings and a choker (to hide her tell-tale puncture wounds?). If I ever finish the third installment in the series, I shall definitely ask her to debut it for me as well.

If you haven’t read it already, here is a link to a previous post which features the actual poem “Luvian’s Pelt”:

Hydroxia reads

Hydroxia reads “The Bed” and “Luvian’s Pelt” from my “Greenwood Manse” poetry cycle.