Archive for the Gothilocks Category

Update 06/06/2018

Posted in Black Hymeneal, Clark Ashton Smith, Denisse Montoya, Gothic Poetry, Gothilocks, Grimscribe Press, Poetry, Self Publishing, Test Patterns: Creature Features, The Audient Void, The Fell Fête, Vastarien, Weird Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I have had a lot of stuff going on over the last month or so and many of my previous plans and aspirations have been put on hold till further notice. My friend Denisse, who was helping me put together Black Hymeneal has had some personal concerns which demand her time and attention so the work she was doing for me has been put indefinitely on hold, which may work out for me in the end since it has been suggested to me by some friends in the field that publishing a book before one has an audience to sell it to may be an unsound investment.

So, instead, I have been focusing on getting my work published. At present, there are five publications which I am waiting to hear back from. I have sent poems to The Audient Void, Vastarien, and Mirror Dance for consideration and I have also sent The Fell Fete to a UK publisher which is putting together a book in tribute to Clark Ashton Smith, and just last night I sent Gothilocks to the magazine Test Patterns: Creature Feature for their next issue. I’m not sure that I understood their requirements and may have just made a futile submission, but we’ll see what Fate has in store for me in that regard.

I have been thinking that I want to do some video recitals of my poetry for a proposed Youtube channel. In the interim, I have contacted my good friend Rand to see if he knows anyone who can perhaps shoot a video of a brief recital to post on here. I’d like it to be up close and personal, as if I were reading directly to the viewer and maybe even have a moody setting. I might even dress up a bit for it. We’ll see what we can pull off.

Update 6/14/2018:

Vastarien sent a very polite rejection notice recently for Moribond. I was surprised, since they emphasized their interest in poetry of the Park Barnitz persuasion, and Moribond is definitely within that charnel house genre, but I think my little poem may have less to do with the artful poesy of that doomed scribe and more to do with lurid Gothic broadside ballads. Either way, they didn’t take it.


Goodbye 2016, and Good Riddance!

Posted in 2016, Black Hymeneal, Dick Kelly, Gothilocks, Krampus, Michele Bledsoe, Year End Review, year in review with tags , , , , , , , on December 25, 2016 by Manuel Paul Arenas
Goodbye 2016, and Good Riddance! It may be a bit early yet to be assessing the past 12 months, but I don’t foresee much of any consequence happening between then and now. 2016 was to be a year of promise, a year for turning things around. Instead, I spent most of the year coasting and waiting for change to happen. I had planned to complete and publish my book, “Black Hymeneal”, but made very little progress at all, despite the help of a few good friends, while several of my colleagues from the local poetry scene put out their 2nd or 3rd books. I was going to go back and finish up some of the many unfinished works I have floundering in limbo, but I only managed to finish one, and added several more works to the unfinished pile. In fact, I wrote very little this year. Aside from my journal, which I write in almost every day, and some odd lines of doggerel, I did very little writing despite having some genuinely good ideas. I fear that I cannot rightly call myself a writer anymore because I do not write.
As I have mentioned before, I suffer from anxiety and depression, which holds me back from doing the things I love. I do see a counselor, which helps, but I am loathe to take medication because of the adverse side effects. I also fear it might block the creative juices. I may have to rethink that though, because I don’t know how much time I have and I have too much unfinished business to attend to before I go and I can’t let my anxiety hold me back.
This year, despite my anxiety, I took a leap of faith and on a tip from a friend left my bookstore job to work at a local mortuary. I was a “removal technician” for 3 weeks. My job was to pick up “decedents” from wherever they might be (hospitals, hospices, and even private residences) and transport them to a care facility for processing before they go on to their final destination. It is not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, and I respect the folks who can do it without the repercussions I faced. The physical demands alone were intense, even with tricks and tools of the trade, and I was often in serious pain after one of my 4 weekly 10 hour shifts.
What got me, however, was the human factor. I thought that with my interest in funerary ritual and with the right attitude, I could make a career out of this job. What I didn’t count on was my empathy. I couldn’t deal with the grieving families or even the people who died alone with no one around to send them off into the great abyss. I would look at the pathetic husks of human remains and think, “Is this all we are?”
I would obsess all day over this before my graveyard shift of 7 pm to 5 am. Many times I would worry about losing my loved ones, like the time I picked up someone at a hospital morgue with the same exact name as someone from my extended family. I knew it wasn’t them, but it made me think about when I would have to pick up someone I knew. I thought a lot about my own mortality, and would have panic attacks.
Worst of all, I dreaded picking up dead children and messy cadavers, which they called “nasties”. As part of my training I was taken to the “decomp” cooler where they kept corpses in advance states of decay, or messy bodies, like gnarly accident or murder victims, so that I could accustom myself to the sights and smells. It wasn’t too bad, something like looking at a gruesome picture of a crime scene or a horror film, but I didn’t have to touch them, like I would on a run. And then there was the smell…
The smell of death, a distinct pungent smell unlike anything else, began to follow me everywhere I went, even to places it could not possibly be, and whenever I talked about my new job with friends, I would break down in tears. In desperation to save my situation from getting worse, I lit a votive candle with the image of the Santa Muerte and implored Her to help me to find the courage and strength to take on this sacred task of helping the dead in their last voyage, but to no avail.
An Internet stock photo of the vela I used. I got mine from a local Frys supermarket of all places.

An Internet stock photo of the vela I used. I got mine from a local Frys supermarket of all places.

After 3 weeks of this, I quit. I had informed them of the possibility of me leaving a week prior, but when I did it was overnight. I had other reasons for wanting to go so suddenly, like how I didn’t fit in with my colleagues, and felt like they weren’t helping me get trained properly before they tried sending me off on my own, but really, the main reason was Thanatophobia a/k/a “Death Anxiety”. Anyone whom has read my poetry, especially such pieces as “Moribond” or even my beloved “Black Hymeneal”, knows my obsession with, and fear of, death. I thought I could use this job to help get past it, but it only intensified it.
The next few weeks were spent applying for jobs and trying not to spend too much money. I finally got a job working at a company that does closed captioning phone service for the hard of hearing. I haven’t started yet, but I am hopeful it will work out.
Twice in recent months I have had family members warn me of becoming bitter. I admit, I am not as hopeful as I have been in the past, and I have developed some negatively fatalistic attitudes about my life, in particular where my love life is concerned, but I don’t think I am quite there just yet.
Speaking of my love life, there is nothing going on there, which has surprised the heck out of me. I thought that within 6 months or so, I would be over my last amorous fiasco and finding solace with someone who would be less judgmental of me and more willing to settle down. Boy, was I wrong. I haven’t met anyone else in over a year with whom I would feel even a little compatible. That’s not to say that I haven’t met people I’ve liked, they just were not available to me or would have been unwise choices to get involved with. With my 50th birthday coming next summer, I fear that I may have to accept the fact that whatever time I have left in this life will be spent alone.
Perhaps this is for the better. I have heard a few times lately that attachments make one vulnerable and distracted. I need to stay focused if I hope to finish all the work I have planned for next year.
I also have family around me, who love me, and a handful of good friends, and that is what gets me through the day. I have come to realize that in this all too brief life of uncertainty and misery that is the only thing that matters.
Etching by artist Dick Kelly for an upcoming illustrated edition of my Krampus poem.

Etching by artist Dick Kelly for an upcoming illustrated edition of my Krampus poem.

On a final note, I am working on putting together a chapbook of my poem “Gruss vom Krampus” with the help of my good friend, artist Dick Kelly. The illustrations he has done already are amazing, and I cannot wait to see how it all fits together. If it goes well, and if we can recover some of the costs in printing it through sales, I am hoping to make more like it; perhaps a story this time, like “Gothilocks”. We’ll see.
Photo os me with my new hair cut, holding the card I made with the help of a very talented friend, for my parent's th anniversary.

Photo of me with my new hair cut, holding the card I made with the help of a very talented friend, for my parent’s 50th anniversary.

PS: I cut my hair, which I hadn’t done for 7 years, and I like the way it looks. Surprisingly, I look a bit younger, and although I’m still spending my nights alone, it has garnered me a bit more attention from the ladies than previously. Looking towards the future, let’s hope it’s brighter and better than 2016.
P.P.S.: I still intend to publish an e-book version of “Black Hymeneal” with alternate cover art and no illustrations just to get it out there into the world. Eventually, however, I hope to put out the version I originally planned featuring the amazing artwork of my good friend artist Michele Bledsoe.


Posted in Antimärchen, Belladonna, Gothilocks with tags , , on January 23, 2012 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, in a town devoid of strip malls, there lived a young lady named Faustine. Not having been born with much good sense, but somewhat blest with good looks, she focused all of her energy on enhancing and maintaining her physical appearance.
Faustine was popular with the local youths, whose obsequious flattery and flirtation were the only attention she ever got in her lonely adolescent life. Her sole rival in this respect was a haughty young coquette named Gothilocks, who was renown throughout the region, for her jetty locks and fetching good looks. One evening, in the closing days of September, as Faustine arose with the setting sun, she stood at the railing of her balcony looking onto the forest and, poised within the twilight moment, made an oath to the murky woodland and its inhabitants. She swore that she would give anything to find a secret that would cause her beauty to surpass all others—especially that horrid wench, Gothilocks.
Then, just as the sun finally gave way to his mistress, a tenebrous figure stepped out of the woods and encroached upon the grounds leading to Faustine’s balcony. Faustine was shocked by the stranger’s boldness, and yet entranced by her grace. She was impressed with her confident stride and almost funereal solemnity of mien. When the mysterious personage came in close enough, she pulled back the tulle of her wide brimmed hat and revealed herself to the young lady, who was amazed by her beauty; startled, in fact, to the point of almost being frightened by it. She was a perfect vision of sepulchral pulchritude, clad in a form-fitting dress of dark purple velvet. Her skin was unnaturally fair, her lips were thin, but nicely formed, and seemed to be painted a dark reddish color, turning to black. Her all-encompassing eyes, as she looked up to Faustine, seemed to be of a deep purplish hue, but our young heroine dismissed this as a trick of the gloaming, and assumed that they must be some shade of blue. She had high cheekbones, which protruded slightly, insinuating a death’s head; nevertheless, she was breath-taking just the same.
Faustine stood there, spellbound, and gaped at the figure with what must have really been a silly expression on her face, because the moment was soon shattered by the snickering laugh of the stranger. This rattled her from her reverie, and put her on her guard.
“Who are you,” demanded Faustine, “that dares to trespass onto my land and laugh in my face?”
“My name is Atropa Belladonna, and I beg your pardon, but I was in the vicinity and could not help but hear your plea, and felt impelled to come to your assistance.”
“That’s a very strange name,” she said, “and I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
“O sweet lamb,” she intoned in a voice as sweet as aspartame, “do not be sore with me. I heard you bleating, as a shepherd hearkens to an errant charge and must come to its aid and show it the way. Dear sweeting, allow me to help you in your endeavor, and I promise you shall become the most beauteous babe in all the land.”
“More beautiful than Gothilocks?”
“Who, that curly-cued cow?”
“I like the way you think, and your offer is tempting, to be sure. May I have a day to sleep on it?”
“You may have a day to think on it, wherein you may sleep upon what or whomsoever you please, but I must have an answer by tomorrow evening just after sun-set. Then, if you consent, we may begin to transform you into the envy of every girl, and the desire of every swain in town.”
“On second thought, I would rather not wait. I want to start being beautiful now!”
“Do you not wish to consult someone before making your decision—your parents, or perhaps a confidant?”
“Why, so she’ll learn my secret? No thank you, and besides, I never talk to my parents. The less they know the better; they’ve even said as much themselves. No, I am quite sure in my decision. I wish to start now.”
“We have not yet discussed the cost of my services…”
“I don’t care, I’ve got money to spare. I’ll do it no matter what the price!”
“Very well then. We begin tomorrow at the previously appointed hour. I shall arrive just after sunset, and you shall follow me to my home where I shall wait on you.”
Then, bidding Faustine a good evening, the stranger slowly slank away, vanishing into the woods. Almost immediately thereafter, our ingenue started to have doubts about her decision, and wondered if she hadn’t acted too hastily. She even reconsidered telling her parents, but then thought better of it.
“Oh well,” she reasoned, “she seemed nice enough; besides, anyone that pretty can’t be so bad.”
* * *
The following evening, at the pre-appointed hour, Faustine met up with Ms. Belladonna, who led her to a secluded area of the woods where the ground was damp and sunlight scarce. There, in the middle of nowhere, was a curiously quaint little cottage, which was surrounded by a singular looking plant with puce colored flowers and dark purple berries, which brought to mind the purpure of the lady’s dress.
As they entered the house, the girl noticed an inanimate rabbit by said plant with purple stains on its paws and mouth. Turning to her hostess, she asked what was wrong with the creature.
“The little minx has no doubt eaten its fill of my berries, overtaxing its digestion, and therefore must sleep it off. Naughty cotton-tail!” she said in a huff, as she flounced past the threshold of the cottage. Eyeing the creature still, as she followed, Faustine just could not detect any sign of breathing from the little lagomorph.
When inside, she was surprised to see that there was no kitchen. Nor was there any indication of any kind of comestibles ever having contaminated the place. There was no bed either, only a large armoire, a vanity table, surmounted by a rather large and ornate mirror, and two chairs—all made from ebony wood. She was seated in one of the chairs, which was accented by purple velvet cushions.
“Omigawd,” thought Faustine, “Mircalla and the others would positively die for a chance to sit in a chair like this!”
So it was, that then and there, Faustine was turned into a gothic princess. She was shown how to henna her hair that copper color she’d been trying to master all summer long. She was shown how to blanch her skin, as well as tastefully apply the more somber hued cosmetics. She was also given free reign to try on any of the dresses in Ms. Belladonna’s wardrobe; and when she got up the nerve, she even dared to try some of the leather accessories the lady had fitted especially for her little dress-up doll. She didn’t have any PVC wear though, the lady did not approve of it: “I never don it, and neither should you; it is not natural!” she opined. Otherwise, Faustine felt she was looking great, and feeling great too!
As she looked at her reflection in the mirror, she was speechless. She had always been a pretty girl, but now she was a goddess! The gentlemen callers would be tripping over themselves to ask her out, as well as some of the more interesting girls, and best of all—she would make Gothilocks look like a carnival-grounds-haunted-house reject!

Shawna, as the ill-fated ingénue “Faustine”.

“For the finishing touch,” cooed the lady, “a few drops of my special ointment in your eyes to enhance their natural brilliance, and you can be on your way.” Leading Faustine back to her chair, and leaning her head back, she squeezed the grip of a small dropper into the young girl’s eyes, then kissed her on the forehead as she closed her lids to ensure the capture of every drop.
As she stepped back over the threshold to leave, Faustine was startled to see what appeared to be a black-a-vised man, dressed in pale green trousers, and a gauze shirt of puce, which was not unlike the color of the flowers of the plant growing alongside the dwelling. His pronounced collar furthered this likeness, causing his head to inevitably bring to mind the fruit of the plant. He struck an imposing figure, standing by the hedge, glowering, with a pair of clippers in his left hand. Gasping, Faustine stepped back and put up her hands to protect her pretty little face.
Then she heard the derisive laugh of Atropa Belladonna, mocking her fear, as she approached from inside the cottage.
“Funny little moppet, do not be afraid, that is only my friend, Banewort, come to help me tend my herbs. He’s a charming old devil, once you get to know him, and he is so dedicated to those plants! You know, he can only be persuaded to leave them for one night a year, just before May Day.”
“A sort of religious observance, you understand. It just wouldn’t do for me to miss it.” Added the fellow, whom, upon closer inspection, she realized did not have Negroid features despite the almost charcoal swarthiness of his complexion. In fact, he did not seem to belong to any particular race she had ever seen before. He was humanoid, in form, but seemed in essence to have more in common with the animal kingdom. There was definitely something feral in his countenance, which gave an unsettling aspect to his smile, and made him all the more frightening when he scowled.
Faustine stared for a moment, as Banewort’s smile grew into a leer, goading her to blurt out, “I must go home now.” and she did.
* * *
For the next several evenings, Faustine found her way to the lady’s home without an escort. On the way, she came across many a young buck who offered to walk the demoiselle through the perilous woods. Ms. Belladonna, however, had expressly forbidden her to let anyone know where she was going, or whom she was going to see. Faustine didn’t mind though, she liked all of the attention she was getting, and she relished seeing Gothilocks fuming at her physical transformation, and newfound popularity.
In fact, she was even approached by Gothilocks, who feigned friendliness in an attempt to extract her beauty secret from her. But all she could get out of Faustine was a smug smile and her reply, “Why, Belladonna of course!” This somewhat cryptic answer left her rival so perplexed and annoyed that she could “strangle the glossy-eyed bitch”. Where could she purchase this “belladonna”, and what exactly was it? More importantly, what was its cost? Come Hell or high water Gothilocks swore, she was going to find out, even if it was the last thing she did. But that’s another story.
Things were really going quite well for our little darkling. She was looking the best she’d ever looked. This gave her more confidence, which brought her more attention, and in turn detracted from Gothilocks’s popularity—and this made her very happy indeed.
And yet, even though she was happy, after a spell, she started not to feel as well physically. In fact, she started to feel quite ill. She began to get headaches, and her mouth was always dry. She ran a fever, her throat burned and she had trouble swallowing.
Even so, she continued to visit Ms. Belladonna as a daily routine, to get her primping and dosage of drops. She would drag herself to the little cottage in the deep of the woods, feverish and heart pounding as if it would pop, practically collapsing on the threshold to the woman’s oversized closet of a home.
Then the lady would take her protégé by the hand, and with her support and steady step, would walk her over to the vanity and tell her in soothing tones how beautifully wan she looked as she combed her long coppery-colored tresses.
“Why my dear, you look so lovely and pale. You are the physical dichotomy of life and death. You are the Gothic ideal of vivacious beauty and mortal corruption. You are my spiritual child!”
{Faustine cringed a little at this last statement because, “I mean, come on, what real Goths would ever call themselves one?”}
“Yes, but Ms. Belladonna…” she began.
“Please, Atropa.”
“Atropa…I have not been feeling well lately.”
“Are you not happy? Are you not satisfied with the results of our sessions together?”
“Well, yes, I am…but…”
“But what my dear? Come, do not worry your little head about such things. You have probably just caught a cold carousing about town with your many suitors. I trust you have some now—more so than before, I mean?”
“Well yes, but…”
“But nothing! I grow impatient with your whining! Do you want to be beautiful or not?”
“Do you want to be desirable or not?”
“And do you want to outshine Gothilocks or not?”
“Then quit puling like a whelp, and sit still so that I may put these drops in your eyes!”
Faustine, envisioning the face of her rival, contorted with jealousy and bewilderment, acquiesced.
* * *
When she left the lady’s abode, that night, Faustine could barely walk. She stumbled in the doorway, and slumped down to the floor. She felt hot and flushed, so she pushed back her cowl, and pulled on the front of her corset to let in some of the cool night air. She felt delirious, and seemed to fade in and out of consciousness. After a brief moment in oblivion, she opened her eyes to find Banewort’s frightening face just inches away from her own. As usual, he was smiling, which always turned up his features in a rather unsettling way. His breath seemed to engulf her in a fog of sickeningly sweet pungency.
“What is the matter my little sweeting? Do you not feel well?”
“My head pounds like a taiko drummer and I feel sick in my stomach.”
“Ah, perhaps you are hungry. Please, let me get you something to eat. I have some fresh berries here that I have picked and cleaned just for you. I had intended to give them to you before, but wanted to make sure that Ms. Belladonna would permit it, as they are her berries after all.”
“Berries? Are…are they safe?” said the ailing girl, with much diffidence.
“Are they safe! Really my dear, what you must think of me! Would I ever hurt you? Have I ever hurt you? Watch me; I’ll eat one, nay, a handful—watch!” After having said this, Banewort savagely shoved a bunch of the purple-cum-black berries in his maw, and chuckled oafishly as the juice dribbled out of the side of his mouth in inky streaks, which could only be seen by their reflection of the moonlight on his swart features.
Faustine took a few of the berries, and with some degree of trepidation, put them in her mouth. As she began to chew, she was surprised by their sweetness, and, as she swallowed, almost began to think to herself how silly she…had been…to doubt…
* * *
When she came to, on a leafy bed at the edge of the forest, Faustine thought she saw the faces of her parents, who had come to save her, and take her back home to cherish her, their beloved daughter. Cruel clarity, however, soon revealed the gloating faces of Banewort, and Atropa Belladonna. Moving in close, the lady took Faustine gently by the hand and with an earnest and imploring look said, “Tell me sweeting; were you truly happy with the things I gave you? I hope so, because, as you see, the cost of my services is very dear indeed.” Then, with a smile and a kiss, she rose up and sauntered away with her ferine friend in tow. And at those parting words, Faustine, abandoning all hope, relinquished consciousness and fell into a deep sleep, from which she never woke, as the first rays of the morning sun insinuated themselves through the treetops and onto her pretty little face.

Gothilocks Introduction

Posted in Antimärchen, Belladonna, Dracula, Frankenstein, Gothilocks with tags , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by Manuel Paul Arenas

In the early aughts, I took a creative writing course at Broward Community College in Ft Lauderdale, FL (they have since dropped the “Community” part of the name and go by Broward College) which I enjoyed immensely. One day my professor tried to explain to us the concepts of the protagonist and antagonist in a story by using the example of the fairytale of  “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. Apparently, in the academic community, there is an ongoing debate on whether it is a story about a golden haired girl who gets lost in the forest and takes shelter in a lodging apparently owned by three bears, or is it a story about a family of bears that go out for a walk only to find upon returning their residence usurped by a squatter? After some discussion, he gave the class the assignment of writing our own stories using the model of Goldilocks. Of course, my imagination being filtered through a Gothic lens, I came up with “Gothilocks”, a young Goth girl who stumbles upon a cottage in the woods inhabited by Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, and a Wolf-man.

The story went over so well in class that I decided to write more in that vein and ended up writing a whole series of stories involving Gothilocks and her friends interacting with faeries, and various monsters from legend, mythology and Gothic literature and film.

Bandido Studios, circa 2005: Me, Jessica (Gothilocks), Jesus and photographer Juan Sanchez. @ Gothilocks debut signing.   

In around 2005 I collaborated with an Arizona indie comic book artist named Jesus “Jessie” Gutierrez on a comic version of the story. The initial book was sold at comic conventions and the Phoenix Comicon at the Bandido Studios table, which was owned and run by Jessie and had modest success for such a homegrown effort. One of Jessie’s favorite ways to plug his own comic series (Barrio Blues, a “Mexploitation” comic with gun-slinging vatos and voluptuous Latina hotties) was to talk his female acquaintances into donning “Bandido Studios” t-shirts and pretend to be the characters in the stories. This helped a bit to draw interest to his table and when he suggested I do the same for Gothilocks, I gave it much thought and decided to ask my good friend Jessica (I have chosen not to reveal her surname for her personal privacy) to be my spokesperson. I spent lots of cash getting her costume together and she took to the part with gusto! She would show up at in-store signings and would sign the comics with her real name–LOL! She fit the character so well, that she inspired me to write more stories and, in my mind at least, she became synonymous with the character. When we did a reprint of the comic in 2006, I included a few photos of Jessica dressed up as Gothilocks in her cape, corset, mini-skirt and knee-high boots. We did a few different photo sessions around town in a local cemetery and a wooded area by a roadside in Surprise, but none of the photos made it onto any comics as Jesus and I drifted apart before we made any more Gothilocks comics. Also included was the original text of the story since I felt that the comic had cut out way too much of it for my taste.

For the proposed second comic in the series, I had decided to do the prequel, “Belladonna”, which doesn’t feature Gothilocks per se, but does mention her in passing and sets up the pretense for her being in the forest in the first place. After much soul searching, and one failed attempt to recruit a former co-worker, I decided to go with another friend, Shawna (again, surname withheld for privacy). Jesus took some photos of her in her father’s backyard, which came out nicely, but the comic was never made.

Me and Shawna in her Dad’s kitchen after taking photos for the Belladonna comic.


To this day, the series has remained largely unread by others because I cannot find the right artist to do the spot illustrations I want. What I hope to do someday is make the series into old fashioned Penny Bloods featuring a few illustrations and a lurid cover. I have approached many artists for this over the years, with interesting results, but none ever really caught the right feel for what I wanted. What follows will be the Gothilocks and Belladonna stories, (as two separate entries) accompanied by their respective artwork and photos…