“How I mourn for my lost love Josette. I couldn’t help but remember how beautiful she was the night we met.”
Time is running out for the Collins family of 1841, if you believe in the letter that Brutus Collins wrote, and if you don’t, then take a look at the Nielsen ratings and get back to me. With only seven weeks left for me to write down everything I ever want to say about Dark Shadows, I’m going to take a day off from this parallel time, and circle back to The World of Dark Shadows, the unparalleled fanzine that reigned supreme for the first twenty-five years of DS fandom.
The World of Dark Shadows was a print zine that ran from 1975 to 2001, and it was the thing that Dark Shadows fans had instead of the internet. Its founder, Kathleen Resch, was well-known in the Star Trek fan community, and she established Dark Shadows fandom along the same lines, using her magazine to bring together fan voices from around the nation to do what we like to do: alternately adore and complain about the show, admire the actors, trade scraps of news, and make up new stories. In a previous post, “This Terrible Truth“, I wrote about Resch’s influence on the way that we now think about the show, thanks to the long and essential series of Dark Shadows Concordances that she published.
The World of Dark Shadows inspired many of the silliest life choices that I’ve made, including publishing 20 issues of MuppetZine, my own 1992-97 print zine about Jim Henson and the Muppets. This made me, for a time, the Kathy Resch figure of Muppet fandom, a pursuit which took several interesting turns, changed the actual course of my life, and finally brought me back full circle, to write about Dark Shadows for the last thousand-plus posts.
So I want to dedicate one more post to The World of Dark Shadows, and everything that it did for Dark Shadows fandom in general and for me in particular, and unfortunately I have decided to do that by posting some of the zine’s silliest poems, which is not at all fair and which I am going to do anyway.
TWoDS published fan stories, art and poetry, some of it very good and some of it not so good. I posted a little collection of TWoDS poems back in 2015, and noted that the vast majority of Dark Shadows verse focused on Barnabas the vampire, his love life and his nocturnal activities, which broke down roughly into three groups: Damn the Curse, Bite Me, and General Mayhem. You will find some of each below, but there are also poems that reflect on other characters and storylines.
The theme of this collection is the struggle by fan writers to express themselves in meter and rhyme. Some of the following are excerpts of longer poems, just focusing on the parts that I think are funny. I offer these to your attention with admiration and love for the authors, and gratitude for the uncountable hours of joy that they and their fellow scribblers have given me.
Ode to the Vampire
by Debra Sims (issue #57/58, February 1991)
I bite a neck and hear them shriek,
My ancient bones, they do not creak.
My coffin is my only bed.
In my dreams, I see red.
I lurk around from dusk till dawn
My cheeks are hollow, my face is drawn.
Inverness cape and cane I own
I often hear my victims moan.
Being a vampire can be rough
Some necks are lean, some are tough.
Some people think that I’m real sleazy
A vampire’s life is never easy.
The Red, Red River (excerpt)
by Richard Billings (issue #61/62, December 1991)
My wings’ black shadow spreads against your
Heralding my arrival; I’m come in answer
To your lonely call.
I can smell the red, red river.
I feel your heart in passion beat,
And ‘though I take you into my embrace —
Our hungry lips shall never meet.
I press my mouth against your throat,
And in the swell of death, your struggling
Hands grasp my leathern coat.
I can taste the red, red river.
The Distant Roads of Collinwood (excerpt)
by Mike Greene (issue #67/68, July 1994)
The distant roads of Collinwood
Are beckoning to me.
To dwell within the mansion walls,
And gossip, over tea.
Collinwood (to the tune of “Edelweiss”) (excerpt)
by Tom Hotz (issue #52/53, May 1989)
You were very deceitful.
‘Specially when, with those teeth,
you bit all those people.
But we know you felt you really loved
he that actually spurned you.
So we forgive, but he must live,
and you should forget he burned you.
Jason’s Rhyme (excerpt)
by Sue Gentner (issue #59/60, June 1991)
Blackmail is fine when your savings are low,
But to marry for money’s the best way to go.
Combining the two serves to better your chunk
And there’s no guarantee like a corpse in a trunk.
For lovely is the blossom on the springtime tree,
And soon dear Liz Stoddard my new wife will be.
She thought she killed Paul, whom she begged me to bury.
Now eighteen years later, we’re going to marry.
She’s just where I want her, she moves on command.
It’s a family scandal she never could stand.
She won’t tell the law. She knows if she did,
I’d give them details on that old trunk we hid.
To Olivia: Somewhere in Time (excerpt)
by Richard Billings (issue #71/72, August 1995)
Somewhere in time, beyond all memory,
Yet, at the edge of my emotions –
I once found love.
An all-consuming, never ending
Ageless, deathless love.
Somewhere in time, beyond all memory,
Yet, buried deep within me –
That love was lost.
And forward in time – that love erased –
I was tossed.
Yet love such as ours never ends,
And soon we were to meet again.
Last night, in the cold of winter,
Two apparent strangers did meet;
A prelude to farewell.
And when I lost you,
The present died –
And the memories began to swell.
by Andrea Guffey (issue #59/60, June 1991)
The dark holds no terror for you
Because you are of the night,
A battle wages deep within you
Between the wrong and right.
So many who have suffered
Because they loved you so.
You look upon the blood-stained hands
That once held Josette close.
Your mother and your sister
Your uncle and your friend,
How did it all begin?
Will it ever end?
Your immortal soul in anguish
The years can’t wash away
The tears you never cried
For the ones you might have saved.
Yes, Angelique has hurt you
But this pain is so much worse.
For forgiveness you can never know
Remains your greatest curse.
Dare I to Dream? (excerpt)
by Penny Holdren (issue #47/48, February 1987)
So lost am I in his compelling eyes,
The rest of the world might not exist.
Strange, his lips on my throat are so cold!
No, now they burn and I thrill to the kiss.
Time is a void of pleasure unnamed.
He raises my collar, next I am aware.
“To ward off the cold of a chilling night.”
I look into eyes I have come to love,
and wonder if I dare.
by Anna H. Shock (issue #63/64, October 1992)
Angelic looks surround her face,
Never showing, ne’er a trace;
Growing hate beneath her smile,
Evilness, cursed and vile.
Longing thoughts of shattered dreams,
In the vex of useless schemes.
Quaking words of fury fly,
Underneath a vengeful sky,
Empty hopes, wilt and die…
Branded by a twist of fate,
Afflicted with a curse of hate.
Repulsion deep within the soul,
Never to see the sun, so gold.
Awash with thoughts of life gone sour,
Blackness rules the waking hour.
Always to live by the night,
Searching for a ray of light.
It’s a Beautiful NIght at Collinwood (to the tune of the Mr. Rogers’ theme)
by Stephanie Stavropoulos (issue #65/66, July 1993)
It’s a beautiful night at Collinwood,
A beautiful night in the neighborhood.
Oh, Barnabas, please, Barnabas, please,
Come fly by and bite me.
I have always wanted to be a vampire
just like you, and live immortally
in your sepulchre with you.
So let’s make the most
of this beautiful night.
We’ll just lie here
and bite and bite.
Barnabas, hurry —
Barnabas, hurry —
It’s almost sunlight.
by Rhonda Foster (issue #63/64, October 1992)
Lips stiff and straight
As paper clips on a page
Your eyes tunnels of emptiness
What’s This I Find?
by J.R Pinard (issue #67/68, July 1994)
What’s this I find, a baby?
Oh… Naomi, is it mine?
I don’t remember demanding it,
so be it not mine.
Did you think I’d want it?
For sure it’s not a son.
I have an heir already,
I’ll not need another one.
You tend it and feed it and keep it from crying.
Just keep it away from me.
I don’t need a daughter!
Ode to Dark Shadows (excerpt)
by D.E. Rubin (issue #43, March 1986)
And Chris and Quentin, werewolves two,
Are frantically looking for something to do.
But the moon grows bright, and they change, all right,
And their anguished howlings fill the night.
Mrs. McGuire (excerpt)
by Joe Escobar (issue #47/48, Feb 1987)
Knife words cut deep,
and leave amber welts.
Knife words slash soul-flesh
and sever maternal bonds.
Knife words rend a daughter’s love
til only emptiness remains.
Knife words are cruel retribution.
How do you like your new name?
This final selection is my favorite. If anybody wants to ask me what I’d like on my gravestone, the answer will be: this entire poem.
Barnabas’ Lost Love (Josette)
by Donna Barishian (issue #63/64, Oct 1992)
How I mourn for my lost love Josette.
I couldn’t help but remember
how beautiful she was
the night we met.
Whenever I saw her, she would always
bring a romantic smile
to my face.
Oh, how I wish she was my bride,
dressed in a silk wedding gown
with white satin lace all around.
But I couldn’t wish for long.
Angelique came back into my life
where she didn’t belong.
She destroyed my life by deceiving
my lovely Josette.
Looking at her fearful eyes
before she fell was a sight
I would never forget.
Now my life without her stands still
Knowing my lost love Josette died
so violently on Widow’s Hill.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
The opening narration says, “This night, Quentin Collins, determined to find out why the curse exists, how it started, conducts a seance to try and summon up Brutus Collins, who in 1860 seemingly was the curse’s first victim.” They mean 1680.
While Catherine reads, “I’ll be able to give you everything you ever wanted,” there’s the sound of a squeaky door opening.
— Danny Horn