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The Resident Poet Pages
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 there is a list here of some of the many publications in which her works are featured.
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.
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.
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"]
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.
[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!"
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.
“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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
1973 - 2023