Black Petals Issue #88, Summer, 2019

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Place of His Own-Fiction by Dorian Sinnott
Blood on the Riviera-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Chapter 13-Fiction by A.M.Stickel
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Chapter 14-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Chapter 15-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Conclusion-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Red Dress-Fiction byTrisha McKee
The Dead Are Not Lonely-Fiction by A. L. Hodges
The Taxidermist is Hatching-Fiction by Michael Mulvihill
This Isn't You-Fiction by J. David Thayer
Love River Forever-Poem by Hicham El Qendouci
Fire Rages from Her Fingertips-4 Poems by T. B. Kelley
Sheepsquatch-3 poems by Richard Stevenson

Summer, 2019-Chris Friend


Because of the huge popularity of the TV series, “Game of Thrones,” I decided to start my summer issue of Mars with dragons. The dragon myth can be found all over the world. They are often connected to the elements, including the seasons, the weather, and all manner of natural phenomena. In the Balkans, dragons are also weather demons. In Celtic myth, dragons are harbingers of the Other World. In China, dragons are part of the earth and natural forces. Some areas of Europe are often named after a saint known for slaying dragons—such St. George or St. Michael (the Archangel). Many places associated with dragons are also associated with fairies. Dragons are also guardians of treasure hidden in caves.

Occasionally, fairies take the form of dragons. Fire drakes are fairies who appear as dragons. Described as having long dinosaur-like necks, bat wings, and massive jaws, they are commonly found in German and Celtic fairy lore. They are said to have poor vision, but a good sense of smell. They can be cunning and malicious, and often breathe fire from their mouths, which helps them guard treasures. Sometimes the devil is symbolized as a dragon-like monster with a few examples in the Bible, possibly a way to vilify the dragon’s connection to older pagan religions.


Recently I read Stephen Jones’ exceptional anthology, The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories (Skyhorse, 528 pages), and it was a good read. The past few years I have noticed that Jones has quit publishing his Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Stories, so this was the closest thing I could find. The Halloween-inspired stories were quite original and yet close to its holiday themes. Anytime Jones releases one of his horror anthologies there is never a bad story in the mix. My own real grievance is that there was not a single story (or poem) by Ray Bradbury. (Bradbury’s classic “The Homecoming” would have fit in quite nicely.) But there were so many excellent Halloween horror stories to make up for this oversight that I give the anthology my highest recommendation. 


On the topic of my beloved Halloween, I finally got around to watching Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, which, I believe, was directed by Burton collaborator Henry Selick. As I get older I’ve grown to love Burton’s more childlike films with their toy universes. I’ve grown seriously sick of zombies and extreme splatter. Some of Burton’s more mature films can be a bit violent, but even these are nowhere as disgusting as many of the so-called torture-porn films, like The Hostel. Of course, it depends on the level and nature of violence in the horror film. I admit that I enjoyed Evil Dead Two, but the violence is so cartoonish (with blood usually being a comic-book green), it lacks the cold-blooded sadism of the current crop of torture porn. Maybe I’m being a bit of a hypocrite, but the unflinchingly violent excesses of recent horror films are leaving me a bit cold. Maybe I’m just growing old and soft. Who can say? 

Happy summer, Earthlings.



Chris Friend,, of Parkersberg, W.Va , who wrote BP #85’s poem, “Demons Play Flutes”; BP # 84’s poems, “The Sentinel” and “Psalm of Mithra”; the BP #81 poem set, “Angel of the Bereft,” Beauty’s Sleep,” & “Dark Trinity”; the BP #80 poem, “The Temple of Colors”; BP #79 poems, “The Marquis” and “My Bloody Valentine”; the BP #78 poem, “The Old Yule Goat”; BP #77’s 4-poem set: “At 50,” “Owls,” “Vintage Halloween,” & “Xmas in the Doll Asylum”; BP #76’s 4-poem set: “Hag Fairy Communion,” “Love’s Sepulcher,” “Night Wanderer,” & “St. Andrew’s Feast”; 2 poems for BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher”; 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 at and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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