Archive for December, 2017

In My Time of Dying

Posted in black humor, exequies, In My Time of Dying, Reflective Essay with tags , , , on December 30, 2017 by Manuel Paul Arenas

In my job as a communications assistant for the hard of hearing, I hear, and dictate, a lot of calls where people talk about death and exequies. Either a kinsman is calling to relay a notice of a relative’s passing, or two biddies are gossiping about who showed up at Minnie Teetotaler’s funeral. Many times the conversation turns to the handling of the remains of the decedent, and how they themselves would be handled when it was their turn to go the way of all flesh. Surprisingly, 9 out of every 10 people say they want to be cremated. I say “surprisingly” because most callers profess to be Christians and my understanding has always been that Christians believed in a physical resurrection on the Day of Judgment. Once your body has been reduced to cremains and scattered to the four winds or upon the briny sea, there will be nothing to resurrect. I know most Christian denominations accepted the practice of cremation by the mid 20th century, though some, like the Catholics, still discourage it and others, like the Methodists and some other orthodox branches, still see it as a denial of bodily resurrection and forbid it most strenuously. Although not a Christian myself, I do not relish the thought of my mortal shell being roasted like a carne asado, which is what I have been told cadavers smell like when broiling in a crematory oven. What’s more, I have always felt (as I understand celebrated astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson does) that when it is my turn to go I would prefer to be put into a simple coffin and lowered into the ground so, through the process of decomposition, I can return all of my personal energy and nutrients to Mother Earth, which would otherwise be vaporized or dispersed into the ether during the cremation process.

Come to think of it, just to dispel any doubts about my final wishes, let me lay out here for all to see how I’d like for my final journey to play out: first off, unless there’s a question of foul play I’d rather not be autopsied or embalmed. Just so, there should be a wake as soon as they clean me up and run a comb through my hair, because without the preservative embalming process I would be getting pretty ripe before too long. At my wake, my friends and family should converge in a great hall where my venerable carcass would be wrapped in a sable colored shroud, tucked under a complimentary mortcloth, like a sleepy moppet for a never-ending nap, then placed upon a catafalque surrounded by candles, at the center of the room. There they can eat, drink, and recount their memories with me as they contemplate my mortal remains. Party favors shall include a piece of mourning jewelry incorporating a lock of my lustrous mane.  A contemporary daguerreotypist (they do exist you know) should be on hand to take a portrait of me lying in repose, which may later be scanned and distributed to those who couldn’t make it, or given as a keepsake to those who did. Guests will be offered the opportunity for a final daguerro-selfie as well, for a price, which they may negotiate with the anachronistic shutterbug. While they’re at it, they might as well bring in a sin eater too, to quaff a cruet of claret, crunch on a crumbly crostini, and absorb, and thus absolve, my ideological transgressions.

Depiction of a sin eater I got from the Internet. It is accredited to the Oriel Washington Gallery.

Once everyone has had their fill of well booze and tall tales they’ll slip me into a pine overcoat and transport me to a mort house where my body will be lain on a limestone slab, safe from paparazzi, resurrectionists, and necrophiles, while a spotter monitors my cadaver for signs of corruption. Perhaps I should qualify that. By corruption I mean decomposition; for my morality, that is between myself and my maker, whom I expect will have more pressing things on his mind to worry about since (as I have heard many a client affirm in my quotidian captioning) we are indeed living in the End Times.

Coffin portrait of Stefan Radomicki by Anonymous from Poland, 1690s, Muzeum Archidiecezji Gnieźnieńskiej (note the coffin-shaped frame)

For comparison, I shall commission a coffin portrait to be painted and installed in the vault so the spotter can see what I am supposed to look like as opposed to how Death’s pernicious touch may have rendered me. Once the dissolution of my mortal coil has been ascertained then it’s off to the cemetery with me.  For transport I will require a horse-drawn hearse and tailing my cortege should be a litter carrying a ghetto blaster blaring thanatotic rock songs of doom and death; I want an electric, not jazz, funeral, thank you.

Electric Funeral [B-side of Iron Man single] Black Sabbath (1971, Warner Bros)

Like a scene from Dark Shadows, the funeral attendees will gather outside the door to the mort house in the pouring rain clutching their umbrellas and muttering oaths under their steaming breath. As they bear my body beneath the memento mori on the transom and from the somber chamber, a flank of wailing moirologists (professional mourners) will throw their lithe, crêpe-swathed bosoms across the lid to my coffin as the pallbearers struggle to keep me aloft on the slippery rain-soaked lich path. Did I say rain-soaked? At the rate those crocodile keeners charge, it had better be tear-soaked.


At the graveside, a Dickensian looking codger can play a Marche funèbre on a harmonium whilst an owl stares down at the unsettled funeral attendees with fulgent yellow eyes from his perch in a nearby yew tree and in sepulchral tones utters his enigmatic mantra of  “Who…?”, as in “Who’s next?” For my marker, I have always been partial to the weathered  headstones from the antiquated kirkyards I used to wander through back in my halcyon days in New England. Something with a winged death’s head, and an hour glass with the legend “Tempus Fugit” engraved beneath it, or a quote from an 18th Century Graveyard Poet about the transitory nature of life behind the veil of tears.

A vintage New England headstone with the customary imagery.

Since I claim no religious affiliation, in lieu of a service perhaps a dulcet-toned orator can recite the sepulchral hymn “Black Hymeneal”, by that gloomy unsung bard Immanuel Sands, ere they lower my paltry hull into the gaping maw in the ground, to be swallowed up by Mother Earth and her attendant creepy crawlies: just another mortal morsel for the Conqueror Worm.



Goodbye 2017

Posted in 2017, Black Hymeneal, Krampus, Nativity in Black, Uncategorized, Year End Review with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2017 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Well,  December is almost over and 2017 has already got one foot out of the door. Unfortunately, it will just be yet another in a sequence of shitty years for me. For starters nothing has changed since my last year end update. Black Hymeneal is still in limbo, waiting to be published. I have revamped the original manuscript, made some changes in the selection of poems, and rewritten the introductions then sent the manuscript to my friend Denisse Montoya who is supposed to help me with the cover art and layout, but I do not have an ETA on that at present.

My buddy Dick Kelly got sidetracked and wasn’t able to complete the Krampus illustrations for our proposed chapbook, but we recently talked and he said he was getting back on it. Again, I am hopeful, but there is no ETA at present.

I have been writing more these days and actually was able to write a prose piece I had conceived of last year then shelved. It is called Nativity in Black and I debuted it at the Space 55 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe on 12/15/17. I have recently requested a video of my performance which I may post on here once I receive it, if I can figure out how to do that. Perhaps Denisse can help me with that as well. I also have been working fairly regularly on two stories from my Helldorado series, however, what has kept me from completing them in a timely manner is that my tablet shit the bed back in April and I cannot afford to replace it so I have had to do my work at the library where my access is limited and there are multiple distractions and no privacy.

I am still at the caption job and still have yet to make a single friend. I hate some of the calls I have to dictate, most actually, but it pays the bill for now. I still long for the day when I can make my living off of my art.

Speaking of living, I may have to live somewhere else by the end of 2018. My landlords are raising the rent so I have renewed my lease for the last time then my roomie and I are parting ways. So now my future living situation is uncertain.

Without getting into the boring details, my personal life hasn’t changed either. I had hoped sometime in my 50th year things would look up for me in that department, but no such luck so far. Perhaps it’s just as well. If I should decide to leave Arizona at the end of 2018 I will only have to worry about myself and no one else.

If I had to live in AZ for the rest of my life, I had hoped to make a name for myself writing Southwestern Gothic Horror, with a Latin bent, but I would gladly give that up if I can leave the Southwest all together.  I am so unhappy here. I would love to return to my beloved New England, but I don’t think I can afford that. I also don’t relish being so far away from my family if anything happens. Perhaps the Northwest would work. I will have to weigh my options very soon.



The Grimoire of the Dark Young

Posted in Gothic Poetry, Gothic Prose, Nostalgia, Poetry, Prose Poetry, song lyrics, The Dark Young, Weird Poetry with tags , , , , , , on December 14, 2017 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Now that Black Hymeneal is on the verge of publication, I have begun work on my next release: The Grimoire of the Dark Young. This sinister sounding booklet will feature the words to the poems and lyrics featured in the music of the Dark Young in which I had a hand in writing.

It shall contain brief essays on the book and the band, scans of related artwork, and photos of the band from those halcyon days of yore. The table of contents will run as follows:

01. Tetragramophone

02. My Friend Boris

03. My Love and I

04. Gargoyle

05. Tasty Little Muffins

06. The Silent Sibling

07. Reflections in the Darkness

08. Flower of Evil

09. Thoughts of a Soulless Savior (The Golem of Prague)

10. Femme Fatale

11. The City Never Sleeps

12. Ring-a-Ding Dingy

13. XIII

I will keep you all posted on any updates as things develop.

The Grimorium Iuvenis Obscurum.