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The Resident Poet Pages

 

Tina Rath

 

In 2014, the Dracula Society Committee created the honorary post of Society "Poet in Residence".

 

The second incumbent was Tina Rath, who is based in London, and is a long-standing member of the Society.

 

She is a noted authority on Dracula, and vampires in general, and has her own website here.

 

These works have appeared in our Society magazine Voices from the Vaults, and many of them have also been presented "live" by their author at Society events.

 

Please be aware that these works are the property of the author, and should not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

 

To read the work of our very first Poet in Residence Cardinal Cox, please click here, and for our current Poet in Residence Matt Thomsitt please click here.

 

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Sour Grapes

 

Praise-God Jenkins killed him a witch

Shot and downed her by Dead Man’s Ditch.

He was a poor shot – aimed too high –

She took close on an hour to die.

 

Praise-God Jenkins, deep in the mud

Watched her drown in her own red blood

Wiped his boots and rode back to his farm

Whistling a stave from a godly psalm.

 

Praise-God Jenkins was hale and stout.

Saw the Protector and two kings out

Killed two wives – so the neighbours said

With work and childbirth – and died in bed.

 

Jason Jenkins he hates his life

Loves his children but loathes his wife.

She nags and worries him night and day

Mocks his manhood and spends his pay.

 

Jason Jenkins he’ll never know

What great great granddad did long ago

He never heard of the Good Book’s pledge

How children’s teeth shall be set on edge.

 

Jason Jenkins in pin-stripe suit

Munches an Ironside’s bitter fruit

And curses the day that he met the bitch –

Near somewhere they once called Dead Man’s Ditch.

 

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The Girl Who Loved Graveyards

 

There was a girl who fell in love with graveyards

She went to see her favourites at weekends

She took them flowers, sat with them in the twilight.

Her mother, Demi, was a market gardener

She did not like the gardens of the dead

And so she worried for her lovely daughter.

But in the green dusk of one soft Spring evening

Her daughter met a man, a kindred spirit,

He was as kind, and rich as he was handsome,

And he loved graveyards too. They spent the summer

Hunting through London for its hidden jewels –

The lost, the lovely, near forgotten graveyards…

He gave her a lace veil as fine as cobwebs

Spun by dead nuns in an abandoned convent,

A midnight beauty none could replicate.

A silk gown made for a Victorian widow,

A fragile girl who did not live to wear it.

And when she put it on, she found it fitted

So well that it might have been fashioned for her.

Her mother feared she might be married in it.

He gave her jewels - antique jet from Whitby

A golden torque that looked like plundered grave goods…

And once her worried mother told her daughter,

“I think that you have fallen in love with death

And some day he will come and take you from me.”

But she just smiled. One evening in the autumn

They visited a restaurant they had found

Hidden away in a small secret square.

It was just warm enough to sit outside

They took a table underneath the plane trees,

There was no wind to stir the lighted candles

But now and then a brown leaf drifted down.

He offered her a cocktail decorated

With pomegranate seeds as red as rubies,

Strung on a silver swizzle stick surmounted

By a winged skull. She gazed into his eyes

So sad, so beautiful, so dark with longing,

And took the seeds and ate them – every one.

 

Demeter sits in her neglected garden

Dialling her daughter’s unresponsive mobile

Calling, still calling for Persephone.

 

[The incoming Poet in Residence Matt Thomsitt penned a response to this poem "Words of Comfort for Demeter"]

 

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The Lament of the Teenage Vampire

 

It really sucks to be a teenage vampire

I’ve had these spots since 1522.

But some things just won’t get bigger and I’ll never have a figure,

And I don’t think that is fair at all, do you?

 

They said I might find drawbacks as a vampire –

I’d never be a mother or a wife

I don’t care about that but no one mentioned puppy-fat

And now I’m stuck with puppy-fat for life.

 

And Snapchat doesn’t work if you’re a vampire

You have to go on Facebook like a gran

And da Vinci painted me, but the best you’ll ever see

Is a fuzzy photocopy of a scan.

 

My parents have no problem being vampires

My mother doesn’t understand my gloom

She just says, “It’s for the best, yes, of course you’ve got a chest,

Now run away and tidy up your tomb.”

 

There’s worse fates than to be a teenage vampire

And if I listened she could tell me some.

And the worst one of the lot is the one that she has got

And that’s to be a teenage vampire's mum.

 

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[While quite a lot of this work is mine, the inspiration, and a number of lines, came from a group of ladies who meet on the interweb to discuss work in progress, cats, food, hair, shoes and other things of importance. I have their permission to use it, but I do like to give credit where credit is due.

 

Now, this is what we decided must be the original version of the well-known monologue The Lion and Albert, written by Marriott Edgar, and performed by Stanley Holloway, translated here from the Original Old Norse by the Ladies of the Interweb.]

 

Sigurd and the Sea Serpent

 

There's a world famous port on the Baltic

That is noted for fresh air and fun

And Mr and Mrs Fafnirsbane

Went there with young Sigurth their son.

A grand little chap was our Siggy

All dressed in his best; oh, my word!

He'd little horned helmet, like daddy’s,

And he carried sharp Tyrfing (his sword).

They didn't think much to t'Baltic;

The waves they were piddling and small

There were no rapes, and no-one got murdered

And not much to pillage at all.

So Mr and Mrs Fafnirsbane

Decided to take out a boat

To go twice round the bay with young Siggy

They agreed on a fee of one groat.

But scarce had they got to blue water

The ocean it started to boil

And up rose a massive sea-serpent

In coil upon glistening coil.

The beast was the great Jormungandur

The offspring of Loki the vile

And it gave them a cheeky wolf-whistle

And a sinister sea-snakey smile.

It seemed to have taken a fancy

To the figure-head reared at their prow

"Oh Frey! it's their, (cough) “wedding season,"

Said the skipper, "Well, Thor help us now."

"We'll have none of that," said young Siggy

"Do you think that I'm going to stand by

And watch Loki's son ravish our vessel

Right under my poor mother's eye?”

Now Sigurth had heard about serpents;

How they was ferocious and wild:

And to see Jormungand actin' so lovesick -

Well, it didn't seem right to the child.

Now Sig was a brave little Viking

And not showing a morsel of fear

Took the magical sword he called Tyrfing

And rammed it in Jormungand's ear!

You could see as t'snake din’t like it

For, giving a kind of a roll,

He dragged Siggy right into the Baltic

And swallowed up t’little lad, whole.

 

"Now look at that," said Siggy's father

While his mum cried alas and alack

"Yon sea serpent’s swallowed our Sigurth

I think we should have our groat back."

But his mum she was praying to Odin

And Thor and the rest of the crew

"Oh please make him give back my Siggy..."

And his dad said "We'd like his sword, too."

Well t'serpent was writhing like fury

Till, giving a terrible yell

It spewed up our Siggy, all naked

Then spat out his armour as well.

So they counted the armour right quickly

For the serpent was likely a thief.

They were right – it had kept the sword Tyrfing!

It were 'andy for picking 'is teeth.

"Just look at our Siggy’s best mailshirt!

All nibbled and ravelled and tore!”

Said his mother, “Well, next year it’s Blackpool,

I'm not coming back here anymore!"

 

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Our Street

or, The Power of Music

 

My next door neighbour, Mrs Grey

Is seldom seen by light of day,

A lady of uncertain age,

She keeps a Harpy in a cage

And hangs it in her window where

It can enjoy the light and air.

She feeds it on true lovers' hearts

And Mr Kipling’s Bakewell tarts

Though she assured me such a diet

Would keep a harpy tame and quiet

Still, I confess I hurried by

For fear I’d catch the creature’s eye.

 

But one bright morning in the Spring

I thought I heard the angels sing

And saw the Harpy from her perch

Carol like choir boys in church

A sweet, heart-piercing melody

Although the words were Greek to me

So beautiful I stood and wept

While all the while the Harpy kept

Chanting her anthem to the day.

And now I do not run away

But coo and praise her amber eyes

And, “Pretty Harpy” she replies.

 

 Now, two doors down lives Mr Green

He’s seldom heard and rarely seen

But sometimes on bright moonlit nights

When everyone’s turned off their lights

And cleaned their teeth and gone to bed

He sits inside his garden shed

And plays such music to the moon

That nightingales begin to swoon

And rilling from their feathered throats

Gush showers of such perfect notes

That all things join the melody

And the whole world’s in harmony.

 

The cat who lives at number nine

Is always out, come rain, come shine

He sits upon their garden wall

Keeping a cold eye on us all

You never see him sleep or play

He’s there on duty night and day

But looking out one night by chance

I had the luck to see him dance

He trod a stately minuet

With number eighteen’s pampered pet

The shabby spy danced with the Queen

To a pavane by Mr Green.

 

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New School

 

“How was your first day, darling?”

“OK, but did you know,

Our form master’s a vampire,

The big girls told me so.

He’s tall and dark and handsome

And he wears a big black cloak…”

“What, even in the classroom?”

“Oh, mum! It’s not a joke!

The gym teacher’s a zombie

They say that you can tell

By gazing in her empty eyes –

But I think it’s just the smell.

The Head Teacher’s a werewolf

And I don’t like her at all.

The caretaker’s a golem

And he’s seven cubits tall!

And RK’s taught by angels

The ones with all the eyes,

School dinners come from Sweeney Todds –

Today we all had pies.

There are dybbuks in the cloakrooms

There’s a yeti in in the gym

The school dog is a wendigo

I’m keeping clear of him!

I’ve got lots more to tell you…”

“Of course, my little star

But never ever let them guess

Exactly what we are.”

 

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Blood and Roses

(From an unwritten Gothic novel)

 

Oh redder than the roses

Blood blossomed at our feet

The fairest of our roses

Lay murdered in the street.

 

Now he who sees a murder

And turns his eyes away

Shall stand condemned for murder

Upon the Judgement Day.

 

Oh Lord of Blood and Roses

Whose Lordship is the knife

There’s canker on your roses,

A shadow on your life.

 

For he who dares cry murder

Shall one day find impressed

Your rose-red seal of murder

Upon his naked breast.

 

Though blood springs bright as roses,

It has a bitter smell

And fiercer than your roses

Will burn the flames of Hell.

 

Oh rose-red Lord of Murder

There’s blood upon your head

Have you no fear of murder

With all your roses dead?

 

 

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The Absolutely Shocking Story of Belinda

 

Belinda loved the Gothic scene, she couldn't get enough

Of weathered stones, and human bones, and all that kind of stuff

She changed her name to "Cankered Rose", she dyed her hair maroon

And went to live in Whitby with her little pet baboon.

One midnight she went walking up the Abbey steps alone

(The baboon was rather chesty and he had to stay at home)

And Belinda, gazing seawards, saw, with more surprise than fear,

A great storm-beaten sailing ship go smash into West pier.

So down the steps she hurried, and across the empty street.

The people in the houses heard the patter of her feet.

They heard her run across the pier, they heard her give a cry

And never since has she been seen by any human eye.

For when they dared to go and look, the ship had vanished quite,

And there was nothing to be seen but storm and waves and night.

Now every evening when the dusk displaces afternoon

Upon the pier, in hope and fear, there waits a small baboon.

He doesn't think they'll bring her back, but just in case they should

He's got a store of garlic and some pointy bits of wood.

The moral of this story is writ in ancient runes:

Steer very clear of vampire ships, and never trust baboons.

 

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Night Life

 

Werewolves like a public park

They can hunt there after dark

Down the paths on furry feet

On the trail of human meat.

Afterwards they like to play

When the moon shines bright as day

They find playgrounds loads of fun

Hardly wait for set of sun -

Up the ropes and down the slides

Giving one another rides,

Sharing all their favourite things

See-saws, roundabouts and swings.

Happy werewolves never fight,

Always patient and polite,

Still - it's best to keep away

When the happy werewolves play.

 

Vampires like to dance all night

Won't go home until it's light

But their ballrooms are discreet -

You won't see one from the street

Only glimpse a vampire belle

Flutter, like a moth from Hell

From her smoked-glass limousine -

Vampires can be epicene -

Toss a coin for Queen or Jack -

If you see one don't look back.

She may want to dance with you -

You might last a night or two

Playing games of cat and mouse

To a pretty tune by Strauss -

Better - far - to run away.

Live to dance another day.

 

Zombies favour shopping malls

They can hang with zombie pals

Underneath that neon light

Everybody looks a fright

Everybody's skin looks blue

Zombies can look just like you

And they like to club and rave -

It's so boring in the grave

When they're out they want to riot

Zombies don't like peace and quiet

Call them up and watch them race

From their fine and private place.

 

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All On a Midnight Moon

 

As he was out walking in Grammerie Park

All on a midnight moon

He met an old sweetheart, it was in the dark,

And the night will be over soon.

He spoke not a word, nor bad nor good

But he led her deep into Darkman’s Wood

He laid her down on the earth so chill

And there in the darkness he had his will

The withered leaves were their wedding bed

And the small cold rain was their coverled

But the clouds blew by and the moon shone clear

And he gazed on her face in doubt and fear.

 “Oh why do you look so weary-worn,”

 “That once was fresh as a midsummer morn?”

“It was after you left me I lost my bloom

By lying too long in a narrow room.”

 “And why are your lips so scarlet red,

When all the rose from your cheeks is fled?”

“All of my blood I gave for this

To mark the place of your long last kiss.”

 “And why are your eyes so foxie bright?

 “And why are your teeth so sharp and white?

 “Oh can it be you’ve turned vampire, too?”

All in a midnight moon.

“Why yes, my dearie, but so have you.”

And the night will be over soon.

 

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