Archive for Black Hymeneal: The Black Light Verse and Gothic Vignettes of Manuel Paul Arenas

“Black Hymeneal” Reboot

Posted in Black Hymeneal, Gothic Poetry, Gothic Prose with tags , , , on June 16, 2017 by Manuel Paul Arenas

My first poetry collection, “Black Hymeneal”, is back on track. It will not be the beautiful book I envisioned so long ago, but it will at least get out into the world. It shall not feature any specific artwork. Unfortunately, my friend Michele has some pressing familial responsibilities which have taken precedence (understandably) over helping to complete the artwork for the book, so I am going to just continue without it at this point. Perhaps someday we can collaborate on a portfolio of the completed artwork she did for the book, if the collection proves to be successful enough to warrant that. Her lovely artwork deserves to be seen, and I hope some day it will be. I appreciate the hard work she did and the help she gave me in showing me the ropes of the publishing business. I shall never forget her kindness.

The table of contents for the new book has changed, since I have decided to pull a few pieces for another planned collection of song lyrics for my old band, The Dark Young. More on that after I get “Black Hymeneal” into the world.

The new selection is as follows:

01. Manurog
02. Hell-flower
03. Thalia
04. Witch’s Tit
05. Sor Maria and the Devil, Luzbel
06. Krampus
07. Manqueller Manque
08. Moribond
09. Skull in an Ice Cream Cone
10. HPL RIP
11. Broceliande
12. Threnody
13. Black Hymeneal

I have already begun retyping the manuscript and adding new introductions for the poems. My goal was to be ready to publish by my 50th birthday in August. We’ll see if I can make the deadline. Keep your eyes on future posts with updates.

Goodbye 2016, and Good Riddance!

Posted in 2016, Black Hymeneal, Dick Kelly, Gothilocks, Krampus, Michele Bledsoe, 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.

Goodbye 2015

Posted in 2015, Planet Poe, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 1, 2016 by Manuel Paul Arenas

2015 was an odd year for me. Some very big things came up, but never quite came to fruition as it were. Most of my accomplishments and failures revolved around my book, “Black Hymeneal”.

With the help and guidance of my good friend Michele Bledsoe, I put together the content and layout for the book, which I had been talking about making for twenty years or so. We arranged to have the fund raiser, through Indiegogo, but didn’t even come close to reaching our goal of $2,000. Now, we are changing our original plans and seeing how we can cut costs and use the money we do have. It will still be published, it just won’t be the hardcover art book I hoped it would be, and it may take longer than I’d hoped to get it done.

portrait

Michele Bledsoe’s portrait of me for the “Black Hymeneal” book cover.

Michele is looking into other options, even electronic, which might get us more distribution and still allow us to use our collected funds for a few books for the folks who contributed to the fundraiser. A new goal for 2016, I guess…

come hither.jpg

“Come hither, my little darkling…” one of the many great pics from the Black Hymeneal photo-shoot by Hydroxia.

Also associated with “Black Hymeneal” was when I asked my good friend Hydroxia to do a photo-shoot promoting the book. In our travels to find the appropriate props and costume for the shoot, we realized that we had a strong connection, which blossomed into a very promising relationship, which unfortunately went awry and eventually imploded. As fraught with drama and high emotion as it was, however,this proved to be the closest I have come to a real reciprocated love relationship. I acknowledge that my inexperience in such things, added to my social anxiety,  probably sparked my friend’s misgivings about the whole affair, which translated into her slowly but surely pushing me away until I couldn’t deal with it and hastily put an official end to everything; but I still feel that not all blame should fall on me, as she was a bit impatient with me and also did not follow through on many heavy proclamations she made at the start of things, which gave me expectations that I fret over (perhaps too much, admittedly) when not realized. Even so, there’s no use crying over spilled milk as they say. What’s done is done and if I had my druthers now, I would have forgone the failed romance to save the friendship. She is a smart, beautiful, talented, fun, young lady and I miss her terribly.

IMG_0782_resize

Me and Hydroxia at the Planet Poe show in May of 2015.

In my attempt to process what I was feeling, I tried to write some poetry about it. However, the memories hurt too much for me to get much done, so all I have are fragments of poem ideas which I shall share at the end of this post. The only good which I consider having come from this is that I have some great photos, some great memories, and now know what not to do or say to a prospective partner if and when I get another chance at love.

Part the Second

Drummer Geoff Chse’s cover art for the follow-up Dark Young album, “Part the Second”, featuring a Posada print.

2015 was also the year that my old band the Dark Young finally released the long-awaited follow-up to our 1994 debut album. It is composed of recordings made in several different countries over 20 plus years, and it sounds at home along side of the original album. I wish we could have had a reunion gig to promote it, but we all live in different states now and our saxophonist lives in India at the moment, so that wouldn’t be practical.

Last, but not least, 2015 was the year I joined the Planet Poe theatrical troupe, run by Robert X. Planet, and which specializes in dramatic recitals of various works by Edgar Allan Poe. I have done two shows so far, and have enjoyed it immensely. I love the work and my companions are wonderful people, from whom I have learned a lot about the art of acting. We have plans to do another show in the Spring, so keep an eye out for more news on that in the future.

A snapshot of me, in costume, with the skeleton prop from "The Oval Portrait", taken by fellow troupe member, Joy.

A snapshot of me, in costume, with the skeleton prop from “The Oval Portrait”, taken by fellow troupe member, Joy.

Anyway, I did not quite meet my goals for 2015, but I got close and learned a lot. Hopefully 2016 will prove to be the year I finally realize some of these dreams. I wish you all much joy and prosperity in 2016. See you all next year!

As promised, here are the fragments for Hydroxia:

https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/fragments-for-the-griff/

 

Black Hymeneal

Posted in Gothic Poetry, New Addams Family with tags , , , , on September 25, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

This is the title piece from my upcoming book. I got the initial inspiration for it from an offhanded comment in an episode of the New Addams Family where Gomez and Morticia were reminiscing about the first time they met. I then began to wonder what their wedding must have been like, so I began to write what was intended to be a romantic/humorous description of the wedding ceremony but it got dark very quickly and I realized that I was writing about something more serious. I then changed the name of the bride from Morticia to Azraelle, a feminized version of the Angel of Death, and thus was born one of the most prominent figures from my oeuvre. She is also featured in a triptych consisting of the prose poems “The Toilette of Azraelle, the Litch Queen”, “A-Hunting She Will Go”, and “Good Morrow, Azraelle Undercroft”, all of which may be found on this blog. So, without further ado, I present to you my wedding song for Death, “Black Hymeneal”…

Work in progres: Michele Bledsoe's illustration for "Black Hymeneal", the finished version will be featured in my book of the same name.

Work in progres: Michele Bledsoe’s illustration for “Black Hymeneal”, the finished version of which will be featured in my book of the same name.

Azraelle, my moribund bride, gowned in ebon lace

Down the funest aisle you stride, with an exequial pace

Niveous hands let fingers slip, with sharpened ruby nails

Like little bloodied arrow-tips, which have my heart impaled

Your fine fair bosom does not heave, with movements to respire

But moves my will, in twain, to cleave, as my heart would to expire

Trailing from your muddy feet, your sombre bridal train

Sullied in your brief retreat through graveyards in the rain

Tangled in its filigree are tokens from the grave

Supported by, with impish glee, a grotesque Lilim babe

Behind your veil of spider’s webs, your sable tresses flow

In rivulets, about you ebbs away from your dark brow

Peeling back gossamer mesh, your eyes aglow, like gleeds

Burning into my weak flesh to my wan heart, which bleeds

Your crimson labia do stretch into a hungry smile

Enticing me, a poor fey wretch, with lewd and baneful wiles

Eagerly, I give to you, my last remaining breath

And as my lips avow “I do” receive your kiss of Death

Fundraiser for “Black Hymeneal”

Posted in Fundraisers, Gothic Poetry, Indiegogo, Self Publishing with tags , , , , , on September 21, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

It’s finally started! The fundraiser for my upcoming collection of poetry, “Black Hymeneal” has begun and you too can contribute! Follow the link below and it will take you to my pitch video and all of the pertinent information on how to contribute to the publication of this book.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/black-hymeneal-by-manuel-paul-arenas#/story

Each book will be a hardcover, with a full color dust jacket, and will be fully illustrated throughout by artist Michele Bledsoe.

Work in Progress: the portrait of me by Michele Bledsoe, which will be used for the cover of the book.

Work in Progress: the portrait of me by Michele Bledsoe, which will be used for the cover of the book.

Poems featured in the book are as follows:

01) Manurog

02) My Friend Boris

03) Gargoyle

04) Manqueller Manque

05) Skull in an Ice Cream Cone

06) Thalia

07) Threnody

08) The Golem of Prague

09) Flower of Evil

10) Night Hag

11) Witch’s Tit

12) Sor Maria and the Devil, Luzbel

13) Black Hymeneal

Work in progress: some of the images which will be detailed and used to illustrate the book. Images featured here are for Black Hymeneal, Skull in an Ice Cream Cone, Gargoyle, and Manurog.

Work in progress: some of the images which will be detailed and used to illustrate the book. Images featured here are for Black Hymeneal, Skull in an Ice Cream Cone, Gargoyle, and Manurog.

 

We have been allotted 40 days in which to raise this money and have only 35 days left as of this posting. Remember, no contribution is too small, and even $5 contributions can qualify you for one of our many cool perks; so, reserve your copy today!

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 (https://www.facebook.com/BlackHymeneal) 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

The Golem of Prague

Posted in Blood Libel, golem, Golem of Prague, Gothic Poetry, Jewish folklore, Paul Wegener, Rabbi Loew with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Back in the 90’s I picked up a collection of Jewish tales which featured themes of mysticism and the supernatural. This was the first time I had heard of a Dybbuk and it is also where I read the original account of the Golem of Prague. I was so inspired by the Golem story, that I wrote a narrative prose poem about it, coming from the point of view of the creature, which I initially entitled “Thoughts of a Soul-less Savior”. Over the years, I have read it at poetry readings and shared it with some of my Jewish friends who appreciate the acknowledgement of their people’s lore from a gentile. My old band, the Dark Young, even made a performance piece out of it which we have finally recorded in a studio, after 20 plus years, and we shall be releasing as part of our long overdue follow-up to our 1994 debut album–but that’s a tale for another blog entry.

The tale deals with the story of the Rabbi Loew, or Levi, depending on the source, who must defend his people against the “Blood Libel”. The Jews of 16th century Prague ghettos were the victims of anti-Semitic attacks and were being accused of kidnapping and sacrificing Christian children in blood rituals (never mind that this soooo un-kosher the very idea is ludicrous). The rabbi made a homunculus, called a golem, out of clay and brought it to life using rituals and incantations. The creature protected the rabbi’s people until an oversight allowed it to run amok and wreak havoc, so he had to put it down.

The Rabbi Loew and his golem.

The Rabbi Loew and his golem.

An excellent film adaptation of this was done in 1920 by director Paul Wegener, called “Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam” (“The Golem: How He Came into the World”), the creation scene of which should be used as the visual for the Dark Young piece if it is ever made into a music video, as it follows the ritual I describe verbatim.

The beginning of the end for the Golem is when he falls in love. [

The beginning of the end for the Golem is when he falls in love. [“Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam”, 1920]

In recent years, I decided to make the subject of the poem a little easier to recognize by renaming it as “The Golem of Prague”, and it shall be one of the 13 poems in my upcoming collection “Black Hymeneal: the Black Light Verse and Gothic Vignettes of Manuel Paul Arenas”, which I am presently putting together and which shall be illustrated by Arizona artist Michele Bledsoe co-author and illustrator of the children’s book “The Secret Kingdom”.

“The Secret Kingdom” a children’s book of poetry and paintings by Richard and Michele Bledsoe.

Michele’s husband, Richard Bledsoe, who also contributed to “The Secret Kingdom”, gave me a painting he did of a golem which ties in beautifully with my poem, which is now hanging on the wall of my living room.

“Golem” by Richard Bledsoe.

I’ve mentioned it a lot on here, but I do not recall ever having posted the poem itself, so without further ado, here is my poem “The Golem of Prague” as it stands today (a note to the reader “circumferring” is a word I created to fit the piece, basically the word is used here imply that the “air sign” is carrying the Torah around the circumference, or perimeter of the golem) :

I am Joseph, the mute beadle of the Maharal; conceived of in a dream, I am the answer to his prayers. God is not my creator, although it is through His mercy that I exist. A child of the elements am I, and of them men which from them are derived.

Seven times did the fire sign encircle my form and I began to glow with a fire in my frame.

Seven times did the water sign encircle my form, and the fire was quenched.

Seven times did the air sign encircle my form, circumferring the sacred scrolls of the Torah and reciting the cabalistic incantations which would set my being into motion. Then, simultaneously, they uttered the Holy Verse of Creation, and I lived!

But I shall only be suffered to do so until my people are free of the dark cloud of the Blood Libel; then I shall lay myself down and my fathers shall reverse, thus undoing, the rituals which bind me to this world.

And I shall return, as they themselves must eventually do, to the lifeless clay from which I was fashioned.