My friend Manuel Paul Arenas, whom the poets of the Valley of the Sun call Manny, with his poetry and fiction tills many of the same fields as H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and, last but first, Shirley Jackson. Manny’s work may be found in Spectral Realms and other…ah…spectral realms.
He is a soft-spoken and gracious man with a good, however dark, soul, and I am lucky indeed to call him Friend. When I texted him about doing this acrostic, I told Manny it might be fun to substitute “Pall” for his middle name. He texted back “Sure,” but I think he was being too nice to object. I ditched the idea, partly because there is a real apostolic quality to Manny. His Facebook video recitations have a velvety-voiced quality of arcane proselytization.
Manuel Paul Arenas
My friend explores an Area
Across the Primal barrier
Necropolyptal mise en scène
Undoes accursive Lion’s Den
Endearing ghoulish Shangri-La
Lets serve a plate of moist foie gras
torch’s blaze to darkest char
oleo to chop-fraught sea
new-paint-glisten on a barn
amateur but p.f.g
let the graphite SMILE & be
“P.F.G. stands for Pretty Good. 🙂 And the original meaning of Amateur is someone who does something for the sheer love of doing it. I love to draw.
It had been bugging me that I hadn’t done a segment of my n.e.s. series for a long time, so here we are. Again we see Good Idea, Slapdash Execution, but I kind of like the primitivity this time.
The “Gare Bear Lines” emblazoned on the plane is an inside joke for those co-workers, starting with Katie Hoffman and most recently with LaShawna Douglas-Muhammad, who call me Gare Bear (or Gair Bear, as some would have it)–I am grateful for their easy-going affection. If I ever own an airplane something like this will be going on the fuselage.
This page began in May, and I dinked with it and dabbed at it till today, when a little voice said, “You haven’t published anything on your blog in July, and it’s July 3rd. Now or never, dude.”
It’s mostly an idea: Write a bit of narrative and embed in it the opening lines from “If I Only Had a Brain,” in the film version of The Wizard of Oz. I’ll describe one motivation for doing so before we are done here. Meanwhile, here is the bit of narrative:
A quorum gathers for thematic scarification. We’ve a farce to throw: Throw on some ribeye styeaks/Pour Julep mix that slakes/No knowing what is true/Or what we might could do while the metaphorical cat’s away and we analogous mice savor the unsupervised hours
Iconic discoveries caressing us with their mmind-tickling delights
As the ideas flow some of the others convened in insulated waiting rooms, with plenty of fodder for the Truth-thirsty brain…
quoth the scarecrow:
i could while away the hours
conversing with the flowers
consulting with the rain…
Why did I do this? Several reasons. I wanted layering–several related things going on at once and overlapping, because that is sometimes a closer approximation to Reality than a static, one-thing-going-on illustration. I also wanted to pay tribute to the amazing lyricist, Yip Harburg, the amazing composer, Harold Arlen, and the amazing Ray Bolger, who brought Harburg and Arlen’s song to life. And I wanted to challenge myself with a word-puzzle with a high degree of difficulty.
But the BIG thing I wanted to do is a takedown on a book called The Bible Code. Published in 1997, The Bible Code is a piece of flimflam that purports to reveal hidden prophecies the the Old Testament, using equal-spaced gridding of certain texts. It was a New York Times bestseller and so was its sequel. People believed that the author was sincere, and brilliant.
But he wasn’t. He was a puzzle-creator, just as I am. He dinked with and dabbed at certain Scripture until he got certain patterns to emerge, which is exactly what I do with my acrostic poetry. And then he sold it as Cosmic Truth.
Shame on him. And shame on the people who believe not the Truth but what they want to believe. (Shame on me too. I do that. I am All Too Human to that extent.)
In the Wikipedia entry on The Bible Code, this delightful passage appears, under the heading “Criticism:” “The general construction of alleged “Bible Codes” and Drosnin’s methodology in particular have been criticised by mathematicians and others.” Bless the Mathematicians, and bless the Others, for knowing Hooey when they see it!