Black Petals Issue #74 Winter, 2016

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Beyond the Stars-Fiction by Brian McLelland
Doesn't Play Well with Others-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Killkenny Man-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
The Family F.-Fiction by George C. Economou
Masks of Innocence-Fiction by Dr. Mel Waldman
Trim Thought-Fiction by Chris Moylan
When the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Anticipating Miracles- 3 Poems by Teresa Ann Frazee
Cemetery Haze-3 poems by Michael Keshigian
Seven Horror Haiku-by Denny E. Marshall
Four Zombie Haiku-by Denny E. Marshall
Love Letter (to L. W.)-Poem by Reyhan Qayoom

January, 2016-Chris Friend


Warm Sorcery

The Author of spring

Lights the lantern of the sun

To thaw winter’s cold heart

Buried deep

In the hard earth,


The hearth of nature’s fire.


Hello there, fellow soon-to-be Martians! 

Pigs are not normally animals we associate with fairies or the winter solstice, but in ancient folklore they are connected to both. Pigs were often the animals slaughtered at Samhain (Sow-Unn) and salted for the coming winter gloom. In this case they were seen as sacred to a variety of gods and goddesses, most notably the Tuatha De Dannaan, the legendary deities who ruled Ireland before the advent of Christianity. It was believed they gained immortality from eating the sacred flesh of magical swine. 

There are many tales of fairy pigs who had magical powers. In some folklore, pigs are associated with the dead and the Underworld. An old English superstition is a tale of a fairy pig who wanders the night on New Year’s Eve. Pigs also have a connection with the winter solstice. Those Christmas werewolves known as the Callicantzari were said to steal, Grinch fashion, the roast pork from holiday feasts. The evil Callicantzari would slip down the chimney, unlike Santa, to disrupt the sacred celebration.

In old Rumania there were tales of were-pigs who made plenty of mischief at this sacred time. During these ancient times it was beef and pork that was most available for the Celts, which might explain some of this folklore. Even today it is considered good luck to break a peppermint pig on New Year’s Eve. At Halloween pork was the meat of choice, mixed with potatoes and cabbage. Known as colcannon, it was commonly prepared for the Eve of All Saints.

I have to admit that, besides The Bride of Frankenstein, the other Universal horror film I love is 1935’s Dracula’s Daughter. Obviously made on a smaller budget than its precursor, I still loved the exotic Countess Dracula. The best scene in the film is when the lady vampire seduces a young street walker (Nan Grey). Far ahead of its time, with Gloria Holden as the Countess Dracula, even given its limited budget I found it to be quite stylish.


And for a little nepotism here, my sister Susan Sheppard has just had another book of poetry, BALEFIRE, released. There are several excellent Halloween poems as well as a few spooky Christmas ones, published by Crisis Chronicles Press. Her “Eve of All Souls” is a very creepy poem set on Halloween night in rural West Virginia. Susan’s Haunted Parkersburg Tour is the 8th most popular ghost tour in the nation. She also teaches poetry every Thursday night at Sacred Way Arts, and has appeared on quite a few TV shows like Family Channel’s Scariest Places and Haunted Canada.

 The Halloween Issue of Night to Dawn # 28 is now available. For a nice little bloody valentine for Valentine’s Day, visit See you in the spring!


Chris Friend,, of Parkersberg, West Virginia, who wrote BP #72’s 2-poem set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour Puss” (and the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve”), writes and illustrates our “MARS News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in 2000 for the fall issue, and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two websites for him and prints his column in the issue quarterly. Chris has a gallery on this site: and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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