Archive for July, 2019

Update 07/24/2019: Kind words from friends…

Posted in Chelsea Arrington, Frank Coffman, Poetic Forms, Robert E. Howard, Scott J. Couturier, Updates with tags , , , , on July 28, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I have gotten some really nice responses from my fellow poets on my contributions to Spectral Realms #11.

FB photo from my aunt Zorina. Her post read “Very proud of my nephew Manny, who
has a story and a poem published in “Spectral Realms” Way to go Manny!!!”

Scott J. Couturier says “I was delighted to return to dire dreamings over Morbidezza’s black catafalque…I love this series of prose-poems, & am eager for a third installment next issue. & your Beldam is indeed Baleful!…always a pleasure to share pages.”

Chelsea Arrington says “I just finished your pieces. I LOVE them! I can’t wait to read more from you.”

Frank Coffman, a former English professor and master of the poetic form says “I like both of your pieces in the collection quite a bit. Your prose-poem offers the lusciousness of image and language choice as befits the piece seeking to go beyond mere prose. Your use of the heptameter in the sonnet couplets reminds me of what I’ve said about some of Robert E. Howard‘s long-line verses: namely, that it is also sort of a “ballad in disguise.” the 7-beat lines break, most often, with a caesura making the 7s more like 4-3s put together–also thus making the poem seem to be in couplets when actually the ABCB / 4343 of the ballad is preserved. Very nice.”

I didn’t realize that was what I was doing, but I did work very hard on it, so I am glad someone who knows the métier of metered verse is able to appreciate it.

Impressions of Spectral Realms #11

Posted in Abigail Wildes, Ashley Dioses, Chelsea Arrington, Clark Ashton Smith, Dan Sauer, David Barker, Donald Sidney-Fryer, Frank Coffman, H.P. Lovecraft, Hippocampus Press, K.A. Opperman, Manuel Perez-Campos, Marcos Legaria, Mary Sinclair, May Sinclair, Pluto (dwarf planet), Robert Nelson, S.T. Joshi, Scott J. Couturier, Spectral Realms, The Coven's Hornbook & Other Poems, The Coven's Hornbook and Other Poems, Wade German, Weird Poets Society, Weird Tales, Yuggoth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Spectral Realms #11 (Summer 2019) [2019, Hippocampus Press]

Tuesday night I received my contributor copy of Spectral Realms #11 and the cover art by Dan Sauer is even more gorgeous than it looks online; the colors really pop and catch the eye. I believe that is true of the last few issues, since Mr. Sauer has taken over the cover & art design anyway. This particular issue is dedicated to W.H. Pugmire, and opens with a very fine tribute to the late author by Wade German entitled The Tomb of Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire which references his works to great effect.

As soon as I got the journal I read all of the poetry in one sitting. I enjoyed most everything included in this issue, but there were some poems that thrilled me more than others. I of course gravitate towards the work of my friends, but there were some odd surprises. David Barker, who collaborated several times with Mr. Pugmire over the years wrote a great little prose piece called Altar of Yig, which seemed like an outtake from a vintage Weird Tales magazine. Liam Garrock‘s Doctor Fulci’s Fantastic Cure for Nightmares was creepy fun as well. Manuel Pérez-Campos contributes three prose poems, all of which are decadent and belletristic in their delineation, but I think my favorite is On Gustave Moreau’s Canvas The Apparition, for I am familiar with the painting he is referring to and he is right on point. Ann K Schwader‘s Solving for X is a clever poem about the connection between the dwarf planet Pluto and H.P. Lovecraft‘s Yuggoth [ retrieved 7/24/2019]

As for my favorite pieces by my friends and acquaintances Frank Coffman, the founder of the Weird Poets Society, offered a nice rondel about pagan celebrations called The Great Wheel. A.K. Opperman wrote a fun Halloween ditty called The Jack-o’-Lantern Hearted, and his ladylove, Ashley Dioses, contributed Plague’s Wake which is slated to appear in her upcoming collection, The Withering. Abigail Wildes wrote a sweet yet macabre little poem about a revenant avian called The Blackbird’s Ghost. Chelsea Arrington‘s femme fatale Witch of Hearts is gory fun. Adam Bolivar‘s Cruel Eleanora reads like a cross between the traditional ballad of The Cruel Sister and Classical Mythology. The Necromancer’s Charm by Scott J. Couturier was the one that impressed me the most, with its decadent dark fantasy themes of necromancy in the idiom of Clark Ashton Smith. There are a few lines in there that reminded me of my unfinished work, Helldoradomouth, although Mr. Couturier’s poem is infinitely more imaginative and sublime than my own necromantic foray. The classic reprints are entertaining, as usual. Notably, Fright, by May Sinclair is surprisingly modern sounding, despite it having been initially published in 1920, and has a wistful spookiness about it.

The third and final installment of Marcos Legaria’s article on the apprenticeship of aspiring weird poet Robert Nelson and his mentor Clark Ashton Smith contains several examples of the acolyte’s work and quotes extensively from their correspondence.

There is a very informative review by Donald Sidney-Fryer of Mr. Coffman’s latest collection The Coven’s Hornbook & Other Poems which made it sound even more intriguing than I had originally anticipated. Now I definitely want to snatch up a copy. You can get yours at

Finally, it was so rewarding to finally see my prose poem Vampire Vigil in print, although I was surprised to see the first word of the poem The Baleful Beldam changed from anent, which means beside, to around. I’m surprised Mr. Joshi didn’t mention it when he had me change the false rhyme in the same line.

“In all,” to quote the folks at Hippocampus Press, “this issue demonstrates why Spectral Realms has become the go-to venue for today’s weird poets.”

Get your copy here:

Update 07/18/2019: “Kiss of Life” accepted for Spectral Realms #12!

Posted in Hippocampus Press, iambic pentameter, Kiss of Life, Morbidezza, Prose Poetry, S.T. Joshi, Satanic Sonata, Spectral Realms, Trochaic octameter, Vampire Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Last night I checked my messages to find a positive response from S.T. Joshi in regards to my prose poem Kiss of Life, the third installment in the sanguinary saga of the Vampiress Morbidezza Vespertilio. He said he liked it, but asked that I change the tense in the second paragraph, which he felt, correctly, should be in the present. I of course got on it right away, made the appropriate revisions, and sent it out straight away. It shall appear in Spectral Realms #12, alongside my diabolical prose poem Satanic Sonata.

Speaking of vampire poems, I realized the other day that my poem Thalía is a bit different from your everyday terza rima poem. For starters, in English, the terza rima is usually written in iambic pentameter, whereas Thalía is written in trochaic octameter. [ retrieved 07/18/2019]

It also has an unusual ending.

“The literal translation of terza rima from Italian is “third rhyme”. Terza rima is a three-line stanza using chain rhyme in the pattern ABA BCB CDC DED. There is no limit to the number of lines, but poems or sections of poems written in terza rima end with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet. The two possible endings for the example above are DED E, or DED EE.”

[ retrieved 07/18/2019]

My little poem ends EEE. It’s not traditional, but it works! If I write another, however, I may try to keep it true to form.

Update from Mr. Joshi re: Kiss of Life:

“Yes, this seems to be in good shape now. Consider it officially accepted. ST”

Update 07/10/2019: Voodoo lore and haunted ponds

Posted in American Library, Black Magic: 13 Chilling Tales, Don Ward (ed), fairies, Felo-de-se, ghosts, Henry S. Whitehead, Library of America, The Serpent and the Rainbow (1985 book), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988 film), voodoo, Zora Neale Hurston with tags , , , , , , , on July 12, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I am putting the finishing touches on a vignette about a ghost or fairy that lures forest stragglers to her watery lair, like Jenny Greenteeth, only a little different. It is an excerpt from my story Felo-de-se that I embellished, changing names and a few details, particularly the outcome. I still don’t have a title though, nor have I  sorted out new names for the characters. I hope to wrap it up soon though, so I might submit it to one of the other genre publications.

Also, I have been researching voodoo tales for a potential prose piece. I read several tales from a collection called Black Magic: 13 Chilling Tales, edited by Don Ward (1968, Dell/Mayflower).

Black Magic: 13 Chilling Tales (Don Ward ed.) [1968, Dell Mayflower].

It has some tales in the voodoo genre but they didn’t have the sort of detail I was looking for. I mentioned this to my writer friends on Facebook and they suggested I try Henry S. Whitehead. I read some of his tales a few years ago, when I worked at Half Price Books, and they were entertaining, but were mostly just tales about Zombies wandering around plantations. I own a copy of the book The Serpent and the Rainbow, by Wade Davis, but it’s very dry, with a lot of anthropological jargon and self-aggrandizing anecdotes. I liked the movie adaptation though, which emphasized the horror elements of the story.

Poster for “The Serpent and the Rainbow” (1988).

I read not too long ago that author Zora Neale Hurston wrote extensively about her studies with hoodoo priests in New Orleans, so I decided to check out the Library of America volume of her memoirs and folklore research and struck gold. It is a detailed account of her apprenticeship, so it is pretty undiluted stuff seen through the eyes of a person of color. It is beautifully written and a pleasure to read as well as a great resource. I’m not sure exactly what I will do with the information once I’ve read it, but hopefully it will inspire me to write something a little different from the usual hokum one sees in these sort of tales.

Zora Neale Hurston: Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings : Mules and Men, Tell My Horse, Dust Tracks on a Road, Selected Articles. (1995, Library of America)

Update 07/06/2019: Morbidezza: the sanguinary saga continues.

Posted in Gothic Prose, Kiss of Life, Morbidezza, Prose Poetry, S.T. Joshi, Spectral Realms, Updates, Vampire Fiction with tags , , , , , , , on July 6, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I have just completed the prose poem Kiss of Life, which is the third installment in the Morbidezza saga. It wraps up loose ends and brings closure to the story of her imprisonment in the tourmaline tower. I may return to her at some point in the future, but I shall endeavor to write about some different genre topics for the foreseeable future. I am particularly interested in doing a voodoo related piece, but I won’t commit to anything just yet.

I am going to send it to Spectral Realms to see if S.T. Joshi will accept it for inclusion in issue #12. Hopefully he hasn’t grown weary of my Venetian Vampiress just yet.

Update: 07/08/2019:

Sent it out over the weekend, after some heavy revisions. Fingers crossed! Now on to the next piece…