Chris Friend-Spring, 2020
CHRIS FRIEND’S BP #91 MARS NEWS, SPRING 2020
Besides the old Irish festival of Beltane (May 1st), there
is another witchy festival on April 30th/May 1st. May 1st was Walpurgisnacht,
or Walpurgis’ Night.
Largely Germanic, it was a night when witches flew to their Sabbaths and
vampires were quite active. Possibly named after an 8th century abbess (but more
likely after the old Teutonic goddess, Walpurgis), the date was set aside to
honor the moving of the saint’s bones to Eichstätt. But eventually it became
associated with more diabolical doings, like Black Masses and vampires and such. With
vampires being active on this night the Bohemians would take precautions by
putting out hawthorns and wild roses to snag the vampires’ shrouds, thus slowing
down their evil mischief making. Walpurgisnacht is so well established in
vampire lore that it even made its way into Bram Stoker’s “Dracula’s Guest” as
a very bad night to be out and about.
Speaking of “Dracula’s Guest,” I am currently reading the
essential Penguin book of Vampire Stories.
The book has only the very best
vampire tales, from “Varney the Vampire” to “Mysterious Stranger.” One of the
outstanding offerings has to be August Derleth’s 1939 “The Drifting Snow.”
It could even be seen as a precursor to “The Shining” with its spooky isolated
house buried under the snow, trapping its inhabitants. Then there’s a large bay
window that always has its curtains pulled to hide what is going on outside,
especially at night. Seems that a young servant girl was cast out during a
fierce winter storm and left to die by the master of the house. He sees the
apparition of said girl and runs out to save her. Too late! Soon the ghosts of
both girl and master are seen lurking in front of the mirror on long winter
nights, even though “Drifting Snow's"
author refers to these apparitions as vampires. Other stories in this
wonderful anthology include those by Manly Wade Wellman, Tim Matheson, Lord
Byron, and so on. Slip this into someone’s Easter Basket.
Caught John Water’s trashy “Female Trouble” on TCM a while
back. Starring Water’s superstar Divine in the female lead, we get an
odyssey of extreme debauchery (rated NC-17 no less!). This was better produced
than I expected, wherein the unusual Divine plays a single mother with a bratty
daughter and weirdo friends. When all is said and done I am not too sure what
it was about, just that Divine gets fried in the electric chair at the end. And
so it goes. Happy spring, Earthlings.
Land of Big Teeth
Warm blood flows underneath scaly skin
While powerful jaws crush the hardest of shields:
T-Rex hunts and conquers the Mesozoic world.
Demons suck rats;
Witches nurse bats;
Blood rushes as my stigmata gushes,
Leaving Stygian pools,
A feast for ghouls.
Chris Friend, email@example.com, of Parkersberg, W.Va
who wrote BP #91 Poems, “Land of Big Teeth” & “Possessed” (+ BP’s fall 2018
poems, “Demons Play Flutes” & “Purdy Picture”; 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”;
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 http://chris.michaelherring.net/ and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate
PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].