Archive for the black humor Category

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.



Black Hyma-meal Cereal

Posted in black humor, cereal, goth, gothic, monster cereal, monster cereals, silliness, treat with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas
IMG_0383 - Version 2

photo by: Griff

Don’t start your night without a baleful bite of Black Hyma-meal

The darkly delectable new cereal with two spades of ravens–and other ghastly treats– in every box

Put a little darkness in your mouth!

Tabula Cūlus

Posted in Alchemy, black humor, book review, De Vermis Mysteriis, Hermes Trimegistus, Lovecraftian Horror, Lucifer, Ludwig Prinn, Tabula Cūlus, Tabula Smaragdina, The Cult of the Yellow Sign with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

A couple of years ago the Cult of the Yellow Sign approached me to write an article for inclusion in  one of their celebrated pamphlets. Wanting to take full advantage of this great opportunity, I gave much thought as to what I might write which would capture the essence of the C.Y.S. mixing surrealist humor and Lovecraftian Horror. At the time, I had just read about the Tabula Smaragdina of Hermes Trimegistus, a legendary emerald tablet upon which is inscribed an apocryphal alchemical treatise, and thought it might be fun to play on that. The Cult was enthusiastic upon receiving it, but they never used it, so it has been languishing in my archives since then. Written in the form of a mock book review from an unnamed (unnamable?) Cult member, here it is, in all of its dark droll glory, The Tabula Cūlus

“In his celebrated grimoire, De Vermis Mysteriis (a Cult bestseller second only to Abdul Alhazred’s Al Azif the most recent translation of the Necronomicon from the original Arabic by Egyptian scholar and all around madman, Ini-herit Apep, whose knowledge of ancient and forbidden tomes is exceptional but his man-crush on the Black Pharoah Nephren-ka is a bit cloying), author Ludwig Prinn said of his studies during his tenure with the mystics of Damscus that when it came to alchemy the Syrian sages continually emphasized their mission to find and reproduce the essence of life and creation. Their continual reference to the Tabula Smaragdina of Hermes Trismegistus, an over-hyped and frankly confusing fragment supposedly written on an emerald which fell from the forehead of Lucifer during his initial fall from Grace which claims to contain the whole truth and nothing but as it circumvents any revelation thereof pissed him off no end, so he performed a ritual of his own devising wherein he obtained an ebon gem from the Light-bearer’s arse upon which he forced 666 angels (culled from Thomas Aquinus’ pin-head angels to be precise) to transcribe his own alchemical treatise entitled the Tabula Cūlus which has recently been discovered, translated and published in our Cult Club Derma-Bound editions and will be made available to Cultists of discerning tastes at the next Void-of-Course Moon phase. The aforementioned gem has been retained by Cultist #138 and is currently being stored for safekeeping in his corresponding orifice.”

Cult Member #138

Cult Member #138

Black Hymeneal Photo Shoot

Posted in black humor, goth, gothic, photo shoot, portrait photography, promotion, skulls, voodoo with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

On May 15th, I did a promotional photo shoot for my upcoming poetry collection, Black Hymeneal. I decided that I wanted to put a face to the book, which already has a Facebook page ( and let people know what sort of project it is. I felt a bunch of fun photos with a Gothic twist would project the appropriate image for what I have in mind. I asked my friend Hydroxia to take the photos, since I had seen some work she had done in the Gothic vein and could see that she had an understanding of the aesthetic I was aiming for. Of course, I was correct in putting my faith in her talents because (as you see here) she really caught the essence of what I was trying to get across. She helped me find the right props for my surroundings and she also helped me with my look, which is very similar to what I used to wear in my Dark Young days, although the “guy-liner” was her idea (I must admit it does make my eyes stand out a bit more) and she helped me find the amazing robe I am wearing, which we located through Redhead Sadie Vintage:

Redhead Sadie Vintage business card

Redhead Sadie Vintage business card

We staged the shoot in the living room of my good friends Richard and Michele Bledsoe (authors of the children’s poetry book “The Secret Kingdom”); we drank some wine, took some pics, and had an all around fun evening. Here are some of my favorites:

Not sure exactly what this sphere is, but it makes me think of Pinhead's puzzle box.

Not sure exactly what this sphere is, but it makes me think of Pinhead’s puzzle box.

Effervescent crystal ball:

Effervescent crystal ball: “I see a bottle of sparkling Spanish Cava in your future!”

This one's got a voodoo vibe to it.

This one’s got a voodoo vibe to it.

Whispering swart nothings...

Whispering swart nothings…

Me in my colonial days

Me in my colonial days

Can I help you?

Can I help you?

Sepia tone pic of me in my new robe, wearing Richard Bledsoe's glasses. They look nice, but I couldn't see a damn thing through them--LOL!

Sepia tone pic of me in my new robe, wearing Richard Bledsoe’s glasses. They look nice, but I couldn’t see a damn thing through them–LOL!

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Bava

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Bava

My paranormal romance novel cover pose:

My paranormal romance novel cover pose: “Come hither, my darkling dear…”

Surprise! Note the bottom cuspids, which almost make me look a little lupine here.

Surprise! Note the bottom cuspids, which almost make me look a little lupine here.

Another paranormal romance cover pose: love the flowing locks and the inviting gesture.

Another paranormal romance cover pose: love the flowing locks and the inviting gesture.

Some behind the scenes shots:

Candle detail

Candle detail; I love the sparkly cobweb drapery: magical!

The set: how many skulls do you see in this picture?

The set: how many skulls do you see in this picture?

Table detail

Table detail

One of the many skulls on our set, replete with votive candle for that extra eerie look

One of the many skulls on our set, replete with votive candle for that extra eerie look

Michele feeds me grapes

Michele feeds me grapes

Gruß vom Krampus

Posted in black humor, Gothic Poetry, Krampus, Lawn Gnome Publishing, performance art, Phoenix Educational Programming (PEP), Poetry, poetry recital, Weird Poetry with tags , , , , , , on December 20, 2014 by Manuel Paul Arenas
On Thursday, December 18th, 2014 I attended the PEP (Phoenix Educational Programming) Rally at the Lawn Gnome Publishing building in downtown Phoenix. It was hosted by Aaron Hopkins-Johnson and Matt Storrs (sporting a very festive suit) and had a holiday themed program.
Our hosts, Matt Storrs & Aaron Hopkins-Johnson

Our hosts, Matt Storrs & Aaron Hopkins-Johnson

Featured artists were: Andy Warpigs, Ernesto Moncada, Dan Hull, One of Santa’s elves, Gordon Glitterbeast, High School Vocal Ensemble and myself, billed as giving a talk on “Understanding Krampus”. Basically, I was asked to come and read my poem “Krampus”, but stayed for the whole show (I was the final act, so I didn’t have much choice).
Gordon Glitterbeast explained the protocol of writing letters to Santa.

Gordon Glitterbeast explained the protocol of writing letters to Santa.

The basic set up was a featured guest would come up and tell a Christmas related story, then the hosts would follow up with a few comments on their set and introduce the next act. Every once in a while a little holiday themed contest would be held, the prizes being vegan cookies (baked by Matt Storrs, and delicious) and artificial flowers made out of book pages, one of which which I won for identifying the characters from “A Christmas Story”.
The show was a lot of fun and the stories were alternately ribald, funny, sad and sentimental. I honestly enjoyed every guest’s set and I think I made a good impression with my old chestnut, “Krampus”.
Krampus puts naughty children into his basket.

Krampus puts naughty children into his basket.

At this joyful time of year, full of festive reveling
There is one whom you should fear if you’re prone to deviling
On the heels of blithe St Nick, comes a fellow dark and wild
Horned and beastly, like Old Nick, searching for a naughty child
Cloven hoof and lolling tongue, with a basket on his back
Filled with wicked Alpine young, wailing at his switch’s crack
Lapping at their bleeding welts, their cries foment his dire thirst
Heedless of their rueful guilt, doomed in demon’s clasp they’re curst
After which they’re borne to Hell, shackled in a clanking chain
On a sled of ne’er-do-wells, never to be seen again