The Love of Boys—A Poem about Men & Love from The Poems of Tibullus & Sulpicia, ca. 55-19 BC

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(trans. by AS Kline)

IV The Love of Boys

“So the protective shadows might be yours,
and your head not be harmed by sun or snow,
Priapus, what skill of yours captivates lovely lads?
For sure, you’ve no shining beard, or well-groomed hair:
naked you fulfil your role in the cold of cloudy winter,
naked too in the dry time of the Dog-Star’s heat.”
So I: then the rustic child of Bacchus answered me, so,
the god who’s armed with the curving hook.
“Oh beware of trusting the crowd of tender boys:
since they always offer a true cause for love.
This one pleases, that keeps a tight rein on his horse:
that one breaks the still waters with his snowy breast:
this one for his audacious bravery: while that one’s
virgin modesty mantles his tender cheeks.
But don’t let boredom seize you, if at first he denies you
fiercely: gradually his neck will yield to the yoke.
Length of time has taught lions to comply with man,
with length of time soft water wears away rock:
time ripens the grapes on the sunny slopes,
time drives the bright constellations on their sure course.
Don’t be afraid to swear: the winds bear vain oaths of love
over the lands and over the surface of the sea.
Huge thanks to Jove: the Father himself denied their power,
so that foolish Love might swear anything in passion:
and Diana lets you swear by her arrows with impunity
and Minerva lets you swear by her hair.
But if you linger you’re lost: how swift time flies!
The day does not stand idle or return.
How quickly the earth loses its rich purple hues,
how quickly the high poplar its lovely leaves.
How the horse is despised when weak old age’s fate
arrives, he who once shot from the starting gate at Elis.
I’ve seen a young man on whom later years now pressed
mourning his foolishness in days gone by.
Cruel gods! The snake renewed sheds his years:
but fate grants no delays to beauty.
Only for Bacchus and Phoebus is youth eternal:
and unshorn hair is fitting for both those gods.
You’ll yield to your boy in whatever he wants to try:
love always wins the most by deference.
You’ll not refuse to go, though he intends long journeys,
and the Dog-Star bakes the earth with parching drought,
though the brimming rainbow, threatens coming storm,
painting the heavens with its purple hues.
If he wants to sail the blue waves in a boat, with the oar
drive the light vessel through the waves yourself.
Don’t complain at submitting yourself to hard labour
or roughening your hands unused to work:
while you still please, if he wants to trap deep valleys,
don’t let your shoulders refuse to bear the hunting nets.
If he wants to fight, try to play at it with a light hand:
often leave your flank exposed so he can win.
Then he’ll be gentle with you, then you may snatch
that precious kiss: he’ll struggle but let you take it.
At first he’ll let you snatch it, later he’ll bring it himself
when asked, and then even want to hang about your neck.
Sadly alas these times now produce wretched arts:
now tender boys are accustomed to wanting gifts.
You, whoever you are, who first taught the sale of love
may a fateful stone press down on your bones.
Boys, love the Muses and the learned poets,
let no golden gifts outweigh the Muses.
Through poetry Nisus’s lock of hair’s still purple,
without verse no ivory gleams on Pelop’s shoulder.
He the Muses name, shall live, while earth bears oaks,
while heaven bears stars, while rivers carry water.
But he who cannot hear the Muses, he who sells love,
let him follow the chariot of Idaean Ops, and traverse
three hundred cities with his wanderings,
and cut at his worthless limbs, in the Phrygian way.
Venus wants room for blandishments: she favours
complaining suppliants and wretched weeping.”
These things the god’s mouth told me, to sing to Titius:
but Titius’s wife forbids him to remember them.
Let him listen to her: but you praise me as master,
you whom sadly a wily boy possesses, by wicked art.
Each has his own glory: let despised lovers consult me:
my doors are open wide to everyone.
A time will come when a loyal crowd of young men
shall lead my aged self along, carrying the laws of Venus.
Alas how Marathus torments me with love’s delay!
…’

Current Read: The Isle, A New England Gothic Novel by John C. Foster! (Chapter 1+Link)

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Chapter One

“I need you to bring back a body.”

Bone decided to drive off the end of the pier, but his foot had already slipped from the accelerator to the brake, a betrayal so automatic that the opportunity was missed before he could seize it.

Wind leaned against the hearse, rocking it on its springs as he sat and considered his orders. He considered corpses and the function of the vehicle he drove. He considered the drifting nature of his movements since the accident and slid out of the hearse before the spiral became inescapable, a long man wearing a black raincoat and fresh facial scars.

Dawn was a red rim of anger on the horizon as the storm gathered its strength and the wind tried to rip the door from his grip. Waves detonated against the rocks with loud explosions of white foam, the ocean matching the swirling fury of the storm clouds overhead.

“I need you to bring back a body.” Marching orders. He looked away from the hearse, remembering the last time he had seen such a car, freshly waxed and gleaming in the October sun. This one was dirt-streaked and hunched against November. He thought it more appropriate to its function. The Atlantic beckoned to him, and he touched the change in his pocket, thinking about coins for the ferryman.

“Some sonofabitch is standing out on North Pier,” old Vic said from the window inside the cramped Dock Office. His big-knuckled, arthritic hands were holding a bulky pair of binoculars he had owned since his time in Vietnam, and he adjusted the focus to see better.

“Yep,” the dock boss said from his perch at the rickety metal desk. The white paint was mostly gone and salt air had rusted the legs, but it held his ledger, dock schedule and overstuffed ticket book—he was a demon for writing tickets—and worked “well enough” as he liked to say about anything that didn’t need change. “Bastid asked to charter a boat out to the Isle.”

Vic turned away from the window with its view of fishing boats bobbing at anchor in the small bay. “Ain’t no one fool enough to run ‘im out there,” he said.

The dock boss leaned over and spit a mass of phlegm and tobacco juice into the Folger’s can he kept on the floor for just that purpose.

“Could be I mentioned that, and could be that’s why he’s standin’ over there on North Pier waitin’ on the Isle boat herself.”

Vic returned to looking out the window at the slim, black figure waiting alone. “Well I’ll be. Is that his hearse parked out there?”

The front door banged open just then and two fishermen bundled inside. “Gonna get big weather today,” a bearded fisherman in a thick sweater said as he headed over to the coffee pot and poured dubious-looking sludge into a Styrofoam cup.

“What you looking at?” the other newcomer asked, nicknamed Babyface for the obvious reason.

“Fella wants to charter a boat out to the Isle.”

Babyface and his partner exchanged looks.

“Isle folk are awfully jealous about their waters,” the bearded man said.

“Ain’t no one fool enough to run him out there,” Babyface said.

“If another body repeats that phrase, I believe I will shoot him,” the dock boss said, spitting a wad that rocked the Folger’s can. The bearded fisherman glanced in the can and gave the dock boss a nod of respect before taking a sip of coffee.

“Jesus Christ, this is awful,” he said, frowning at his cup.

“Second pot,” Vic said, and the other man nodded. The dock boss was in the habit of using coffee grounds at least twice to save money.

“Say,” Vic said as Babyface held out a hand for the binoculars. “What’d he want out there?”

The dock boss shrugged. “Didn’t rightly say, but he showed me a badge. A Federal badge no less.”

“FBI, DEA?” the bearded man asked as he put on a new pot of coffee. The dock boss ignored him.

“So you get a man with a Federal badge, which means he’s carryin’ a Federal gun, and he shows up drivin’ a hearse. Ain’t too hard to jump to a certain conclusion,” the dock boss said, not entirely sure what that conclusion was but enjoying the expressions on the faces of the two younger men.

“If Old Jenny gets her teeth into him, this Federal man might be finding himself in the back of that hearse on the return trip, badge or no badge,” Vic said.

“Yep,” the dock boss said.

“Yep,” the bearded man said.

Babyface surrendered the binoculars and echoed the common wisdom. Hell, everybody knew to avoid that stretch of the Atlantic. Boats that didn’t had a habit of not returning to port.

“Yep.”

Link

“As a Guest at the Telekinetic Tea Party”—A Witch’s Poem by Stephanie M. Wytovich

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Mismatched outfits drenched in earl grey design,
the ladies stretch their legs,
their platform heels dusted with tea cakes
against a heralded cry for the haberdashery
as rogue buttons line the floor.

Move down! Move down!

They each float to new spots,
their honey-soaked spoons dripping nectar
on their plates,
such beehive gossip
against poison clouds and milk.

The clock strikes thirteen
inside strawberry hookah rings,
laughter and lullabies paint blueberry scones
on flying saucers,
their girlish whispers slathered in apricot jam,
sprinkled with pecans and preserves.

No room! No room!

They pin their hair back with shards of bone,
as soft curls frame their heart-shaped faces,
their fingernails tapping on both table and tea pot.

Uniformed in madness, they hold hands in sisterhood,
the women all a flutter on cushions stuffed
with soaked butterfly wings,
bodies rising, minds expanding,
their dresses swishing, dancing in the air.

Move down! No ROOM!

They crack their necks
remove their matcha-stained ribbons,
the scent of burning around them,
a boiling high-pitched hiss
amongst a table stained with tarot and tears.

They open their weeping eyes to blood,
sip the sacred tea as their heart beats slow,
each girl rising, never to stop,
forever a sleeping witch in the sky.

***

Image: Vintage divination teacup , ca.late 1800s (Pinterest).


9A1398FE-5A70-4D38-A8D1-81AF74A70C60Originally appeared in Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders, Edited by Doug Murano (Crystal Lake, 2017)

Printer’s Devil Court—A Ghost Story by Susan Hill, 2014 (Cover + Excerpt + Link)

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Tonight’s Read: A ghost story/novella by the author of The Woman in Black: Susan Hill. It’s only $2.56 right now on Amazon for Kindle. (Link below).

Hill is a writer with some serious chops.

Here’s Part One (Note: the first panel is a letter that ends with the title of a book. The second panel is missing the header The Book—as what follows on the remaining panels is excerpted from Dr Hugh Meredith’s book.):

About the Author

Susan Hill, CBE (1942- ) is the winner of numerous literary prizes including the Somerset Maugham award for her novel I’m the King of the Castle (1971). She is the author of the Simon Serrailler crime/mystery series and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. Hill has written two literary/reading memoirs: Howards End is on the Landing, and Jacob’s Room Is Full of Books; and she is well known for her ghost-story novellas and novels: Dolly, The Man In The Picture, The Small Hand, The Man in the Mist, Printer’s Devil Court, Ms DeWinter (a sequel to Dumaurier’s Rebecca), and her most famous book, The Woman in Black—which was made into a 2012 feature film starring Daniel Radcliffe. (A play based on The Woman in Black has been running continuously in London’s West End for more than 20 years.) In 2012, Hill was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her service to literature.

Other Books by Susan Hill

Buy the Book…

What’s on the Tube? “The Damned”—A 2013 IFC Midnight Film, Directed by Víctor García. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

What would you do if, after seeking shelter from a flash flood, you found a young girl padlocked in a room in the basement of creepy old house in Colombia? … Let her out?

The Damned—an IFC Midnight film is streaming on Netflix. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ It’s other name is a better name I think, since the house used to be a hotel called Gallows Hill, although, why a name like that would draw guests to stay overnight is beyond me.

It has a few subtitles here and there, for clarification’s sake, but the film is in English. I’m about a half of the way through and so far I really like it. I suppose it could go either way—but usually, if I like a movie by half-way in, it turns out to be a worthwhile watch for me. The film has a nice atmosphere. It won an award in 2015 and was nominated for another. Here are some links…

Awards:

At Premios Macondo (2015)-Festival Award Winner for Best Make Up Artist: Olga Turrini Bernardoni; and at Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival (2013)-Maria Nominee for Best Motion Picture.

Blurb:

The Damned, also known as Gallows Hill, is a 2013 American horror film directed by Víctor García. The film stars Peter Facinelli, Sophia Myles, Nathalia Ramos, and Carolina Guerra. The film features a family and group of friends stranded in a storm and looking to seek refuge in a house with an ancient evil presence. The film was produced by Peter Block, Andrea Chung, and David Higgins, and is a joint Colombian and American production. The film had its world premiere at the Sitges Film Festival on October 17, 2014 (nominated Best Picture) and was released on video on demand on July 25, 2014, before a limited release by IFC Midnight on August 29, 2014.

More Here (Spoilers!):

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Damned_(2013_film)

https://www.indiewire.com/2014/02/ifc-films-nets-thriller-gallows-hill-30226/

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“The Screaming Skull”—A Vintage Ghost Story by F. Marion Crawford, 1908

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Art by Devin Francisco (deviantart.com).

The Screaming Skull

F. Marion Crawford, 1908


Below: “The Screaming Skull originally appeared in Volume 41 of Collier’s National Weekly Magazine—in two parts—in the July 11 and July 18, 1908 issues. (Click thumbnails to enlarge.)

Top-left: The 1911 book cover for F. Marion Crawford’s story collection Wandering Ghosts, which included “The Screaming Skull”; and top-right: Original story illustration for the 1911 edition (caption reads: “What? . . . It’s gone, man, the Skull is gone!!”); artist unknown. (Images: Wiki; Pinterest; Haithi Trust; Public Domain.)

I have often heard it scream. No, I am not nervous, I am not imaginative, and I have never believed in ghosts, unless that thing is one. Whatever it is, it hates me almost as much as it hated Luke Pratt, and it screams at me.

If I were you, I would never tell ugly stories about ingenious ways of killing people, for you never can tell but that someone at the table may be tired of his or her nearest and dearest. I have always blamed myself for Mrs Pratt’s death, and I suppose I was responsible for it in a way, though heaven knows I never wished her anything but long life and happiness. If I had not told that story she might be alive yet. That is why the thing screams at me, I fancy.

She was a good little woman, with a sweet temper, all things considered, and a nice gentle voice; but I remember hearing her shriek once when she thought her little boy was killed by a pistol that went off, though everyone was sure that it was not loaded.

It was the same scream; exactly the same, with a sort of rising quaver at the end; do you know what I mean? Unmistakable.

The truth is, I had not realized that the doctor and his wife were not on good terms. They used to bicker a bit now and then when I was here, and I often noticed that little Mrs Pratt got very red and bit her lip hard to keep her temper, while Luke grew pale and said the most offensive things. He was that sort when he was in the nursery, I remember and afterward at school. He was my cousin, you know; that is how I came by this house; after he died, and his boy Charley was killed in South Africa, there were no relations left. Yes, it’s a pretty little property, just the sort of thing for an old sailor like me who has taken to gardening.

One always remembers one’s mistakes much more vividly than one’s cleverest things, doesn’t one? I’ve often noticed it. I was dining with the Pratts one night, when I told them the story that afterwards made so much difference. It was a wet night in November, and the sea was moaning. Hush! – if you don’t speak you will hear it now…

Do you hear the tide? Gloomy sound, isn’t it? Sometimes, about this time of year – hallo! – there it is! Don’t be frightened, man – it won’t eat you – it’s only a noise, after all! But I’m glad you’ve heard it, because there are always people who think it’s the wind, or my imagination, or something. You won’t hear it again tonight, I fancy, for it doesn’t often come more than once. Yes – that’s right. Put another stick on the fire, and a little more stuff into that weak mixture you’re so fond of. Do you remember old Blauklot the carpenter, on that German ship that picked us up when the Clontarf went to the bottom? We were hove to in a howling gale one night, as snug as you please, with no land within five hundred miles, and the ship coming up and falling off as regularly as clockwork – ‘Biddy te boor beebles ashore tis night, poys!’ old Blauklot sang out, as he went off to his quarters with the sail-maker. I often think of that, now that I’m ashore for good and all.

Yes, it was on a night like this, when I was at home for a spell, waiting to take the Olympia out on her first trip – it was on the next voyage that she broke the record, you remember – but that dates it. Ninety-two was the year, early in November.

The weather was dirty, Pratt was out of temper, and the dinner was bad, very bad indeed, which didn’t improve matters, and cold, which made it worse. The poor little lady was very unhappy about it, and insisted on making a Welsh rarebit on the table to counteract the raw turnips and the half-boiled mutton. Pratt must have had a hard day. Perhaps he had lost a patient. At all events, he was in a nasty temper.

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What’s on the Tube? Killer Legends–A Documentary from the Makers of Cropsey…

I thought Cropsey was a stellar documentary. So I’m eager to watch Killer Legends, this filmmaker’s second documentary about Urban Legends and there possible sources. Check it out, now, streaming on Netflix!

Killer Legends (One Sheet) 2014

For those unaware, like I was, but apparently, social scientists are trying to re-brand urban legends as “contemporary legends.” Well, whatever the label, what these legends basically boil down to is modern folklore or oft told tales — usually with a macabre element or an ironic twist to them, deeply rooted in popular culture, with just a hint of plausibility to keep the gullible hooked enough to keep passing them along. These tales are used as fables, parables, possible explanations for strange occurrences or events, but, more often than not, they are used as cautionary tales that usually happened to a friend of a friend of a friend or someone’s cousin’s uncle. And one of the prime examples of an urban legend is the tale of ‘The Hook.’

It begins with a young couple parked in a secluded lover’s lane engaged in some premarital necking. And as hormones rage, passions heat up, and few hickeys are born, the music on the radio is interrupted by a breaking news bulletin revealing an escaped mental patient / mad-dog killer has just escaped from a nearby asylum / prison; and this fugitive has one very distinguishing characteristic: one of his hands is missing, and has been replaced with a stainless steel hook — which he used to murder several people. The bulletin ends with the authorities encouraging everyone to stay indoors until this madman is captured. Of course, the girl is frightened and wants to head home. The boy, who was >this close< to getting to second base mere moments ago, scoffs, saying the killer is probably miles away. And as the minutes tick by while they argue about what to do, a sudden scraping outside her door frightens the girl so much the boy finally gives up and drives away. But when he gets to her house, ever the gentlemen, he exits the car and hoofs it around the hood to get the door for her. And there, caught on the passenger side handle, hangs a torn-off stainless steel hook covered in blood.

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