Song: "Mercy Wheeler"

'Nother night, 'nother villain. This one's a vampire.

"Mercy Wheeler," words and tune by April Grant. Some of you know this one already. Please learn it and sing it wherever you wish.

Lyrics and notes from the Soundcloud post:

Now Mercy Wheeler’s in the grave; they buried her today.
And God knows what her folks will do, left up there on the hill,
Or how the girls will all get on, with Mercy and their mother gone.
The twins stayed home to tend her all the time that she was ill.

And she said, “Oh, I’m cold,
It’s so cold in the night.”
Head to toe, pale as bone,
Clothes and skin, ashy white.
She said, “Oh, I’m cold,
It’s so cold in the night,”
She said, “Let me get warm,
Hold me tight.”

They say she’s coming in at night to see the girls alone,
A white sheet wrapped around her, as they laid her in the clay.
The twins and little Callie said she came and tried to get in bed.
Elias and their father woke, and so she went away.

Chorus (changing "said" to "says" from this point on)

Well, all the Wheeler girls are gone--Amanda, Callie, Grace.
Elias and his dad are seeing Mercy every night.
She wants them with her in the ground, so up she comes, without a sound,
And walks home to the Wheeler place by pale and starry light.


Elias dug her coffin up when he began to fail,
And though she had been buried through the summer and the fall,
The lid was split, and underneath, there Mercy lay with gaping teeth.
There she lay, white, fresh, and young, and not decayed at all.

Elias took a hammer and a rusty iron spike,
And when he drove it through her heart, she gave a little scream.
We burned her up. It took all day. I thought she’d never burn away.
I waited till the ashes cooled, and threw them in a stream.

[To tune of chorus]
As though she had never been touched by a flame,
She comes to my bed late at night just the same.



The Mercy Brown vampire incident was a real-world horror. The participants may not have used the word "vampire" but they sure had that concept:

Here's Mercy's grave in a handy Atlas Obscura article:

"But, April, why did you change the surname from Brown to Wheeler?"
I wanted to distance it from reality a little bit, imaginary interlocutor. In case there are living relatives of Mercy Brown out there, I don't want them to be insulted by my calling their ancestor an actual vampire, when she was the victim of tuberculosis and mass hysteria.

Page image unknown origin, hopefully public domain.

bride of dracula

Song: "Rachel Wall's Last Good-Night"

So, I a song. Rachel Wall's Last Good-Night. I've been meaning to post this since I wrote it in October 2016; now is as good a time as any. The words are mine. The tune is my adaptation of "The Bold Solder" tune sung by Lena Bourne Fish in the Anne and Frank Warner Collection.

From my Soundcloud entry:

Rachel Wall was hanged at Boston, on October 8, 1789, aged about twenty-nine. Find more details here:

Also here:…pirate/

If anyone wants to sing this anywhere at any time, you have my blessing. No permission needed. Just go wild and do it however you please. Attribution is nice but not mandatory. I have this wide-eyed dream of hearing my own songs come back to me one day as "folksongs" with no known author.


A-serving in Boston, I never was content
Until to marry James Wall I gave my consent.
With five sailors and their lovers, to piracy we went,
And for my offense I must die.

We beached our old vessel by the Isles of Shoals,
Crying, "Oh, Lord have mercy on us poor shipwrecked souls,
Our ship it is staved in and the bottom full of holes..."
And for my offense I must die.

Men saw me a-crying and tearing of my hair,
They quickly then landed to relieve my despair,
Their lives we did destroy and their gold and goods did share,
And for my offense I must die.

We sank thirty vessels all in the Gulf of Maine,
And food and drink and fine array in New York we did attain,
Then back to sea again another goodly ship to gain,
And for my offense I must die.

We met with a hurricane while cruising for our fee,
And that's the last of James Wall the world will ever see,
For the waves they roared across our deck and drowned them all but me,
And for my offense I must die.

On India Wharf, with a maiden I did meet,
I struck her in the face, and I knocked her off her feet,
And with her purse and bonnet I went running up the street,
And for my offense I must die.

They'll hang me as a thief on the Common tonight.
As a free prince of the ocean I should hang in public sight.
Hang me as a pirate, for you know that is my right,
And for my offense I must die.


High-five for not eating my prince boyfriend alive

I was asked to be a judge in a ballad singing competition for teenagers and young adults. I have mixed feelings about this "competition" thing, but the end result is to get people singing, which I like. I promised I would do "Kemp Owyne," with which I have intense emotional connection dating back to early childhood. Apart from anything else, you never see what the hell the monster is, apart from context-free details ("...but if you touch me, tail or fin...") It's the Cat People of heroic balladry. This is one of the reasons I haven't been around much this week.

From my latest FB post:

That feel when it's 12:18 a.m. and you're up late on a work night, running through a ballad that you promised to sing right after an evening of judging other people's ballad singing. 0_0

And it's ONLY your favorite ballad in the history of ever, but you've never performed it because it's Too Big Of A Deal For Any But A Master To Do It Justice. *wheeze* *gulp*

I wonder if anyone has stressed this much about "Kemp Owyne" (Child 34) in the last hundred years.

Town hall

Apparently I was on local TV briefly, telling Representative Mike Capuano that I wanted to not be helpless. He gave me good advice which boiled down to "talk to people." Mayor Curtatone told me to email him for some ideas. Er, good heavens.
poor life choices

No laws I own, my ship's my throne -- my kingdom is the Sea

Lest you think that I am all work and no play:

I recently re-watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl at a party. Some things never get old for me.

Black Pearl's crew: *storm the beach, roaring like orcs*

Me: :D :D :D *heart hands* shine on, you crazy wonderful diamonds

Pirates: *extort, pilfer, plunder and loot* *horrible rotting teeth* *murder* *arson* *kidnapping* *blow shit up* *manslaughter*

the scarred vampire

Action: Vigil, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain

I'm going to this tomorrow night after work, with my friend K.

Vigil in Support of Black Lives Matter, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain. 5:30 to 6:30. sovay attended this last month, and that made me want to go. Handily, you can get there via the Orange Line, so we'll haul ass straight from work to the T and get to the vigil, hopefully, almost on time.

I'm a little worried people will think I'm just there for Ally Cookies. Agh, well, regardless, they're probably up for extra warm bodies participating. Hopefully, I can ask the organizers for ideas for what to write on my sign. (I now have a whiteboard and it's a sad comment on our country that it will probably save me money in the long run to bring that instead of buying posterboard every time there is a human rights crisis.) I mean, I'd be eager to hold a sign that said, "Summary Execution Is Wrong," but it seems too on-the-nose.

What you can do: Bill H.1190, against conversion therapy

While we're talking activism, here's what I recently posted to Facebook.
Friends in Massachusetts, here's an action you can take.

The bill currently known as Bill H. 1190 is intended to ban conversion therapy in Massachusetts. You can read the full text at the MA legislature website below, and see whether your state senators and representatives are on board as petitioners. It was drafted by Representative Kay Khan (district: 11th Middlesex). Previous versions of this bill have been abandoned or left sitting indefinitely.

[friend who doesn't have an LJ] and I spent some time on the phone yesterday trying to find out whether this incarnation, H. 1190, would get anywhere. Here's the interesting thing: our representatives said that at some point there will be a public hearing for this bill, and that members of the public will be able to testify as to the importance of getting it passed.

If you want to speak in favor of this bill, we strongly encourage you to do so. We plan to attend the hearing(s) and we want to offer moral support to anyone who wishes to testify and would like backup. If anyone is unable to be there in person but wants to send me a statement to read aloud on their behalf, I will be happy to do so.

Right now, there's no public hearing date set. Here's what you can do to keep in touch with the situation:

--Phone your state senators and representatives and tell them you support Bill H.1190; ask what needs to be done for it to move forwards.

--Seriously, phone your legislators. Most of these fine folks have very friendly staff and respond quickly.


--Send an email to Ms. Caroline Medina, Ms. Khan's chief of staff, at and politely request to be updated when H.1190 gets a hearing date set.

And if anybody wants to discuss this further or has other ideas, I'm all ears; please comment or email me.


About to head out to a Bank Exit action in Harvard Square

If anyone is at large in the Harvard Square area between 11 and 1, you might want to come check out this action. Aw man, I'd better head out now.

From the FB invite: [Please note you don't have to RSVP here to come. I'm betting you just show up and introduce yourself/give your name to the organizers. We'll see if I'm right.]

In Support of Standing Rock, a coalition of grassroots Indigenous activist groups (including the Indigenous Environmental Network, Honor the Earth & Sacred Stone Camp) are calling allies around the world to confront and apply pressure on the banks that are supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline, a network of primarily white settler allies and accomplices are answering that call by sponsoring a #BankExit Actions in Boston.

This solidarity action has been planned in collaboration with indigenous leaders in Boston, and is being held and facilitated by allies/accomplices. People of all backgrounds are welcome.

We need you to commit to closing your account with any of the 17 banks funding DAPL and/or to attend a protest outside TD Bank.

Harvard Square #BankExit - Saturday, February 25
1414 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
In the heart of Harvard Sq

Use the RSVP link to commit to attending the action and/or to close your account with one of the 17 banks funding the pipeline. (List here:

This solidarity action will honor and reflect the peaceful and prayerful resistance as exemplified by this indigenous led movement and our courageous Water Protectors at the front lines at Standing Rock.

Signs will be provided.
Absolutely no non-indigenous person should wear or use face paint, headdresses, or any other indigenous garments, symbols, or sacred objects.
Please dress for the weather and bring water and a snack.
bride of dracula

Song: "Sail Away" aka "The Maiden in the Boat"

Here's a finished song from a few months ago, written on the heels of this post. (How the hell was that all the way back in July? Time has roared past me. Well, it's still important.) First sung in public in December 2016.

Tune: "The Lish Young Buy-A-Broom"

Based on the Japanese legend of the Utsuro-bune (literally "hollow ship") which is reported in supposedly-historical books as having appeared in 1803, near the shore of Hitachi province, Japan.
More info and context here.

When we were out a-fishing, a silver boat we found,
The top was made of crystal, flat and smooth and round.
We pulled it to the shore, its nature for to tell,
And inside was a maiden who stepped out alive and well.

Oh, sail away, sail away, little maiden, sail away,
Oh, may you find the shore that you seek one day!

Her hair looked like feathers, and her eyes were blue and wild,
She stood just as tall as a six-year-old child.
She wore three robes, and the outer one was gold,
And her ship was packed with dainties, as full as it could hold.


She looked me in my face and she chirped like a bird,
I know she asked a question but I couldn't catch a word.
So then we brought a scholar, who wrote words by hand,
And she answered him with nonsense that she scribbled in the sand.


If the Emperor knew this, we would all be killed,
But we gave her plums and rice and saw her water filled.
Then the maiden got back in and we put the top back on,
She waved for me to push her out, and then she was gone.

poor life choices

Song under construction: "Still On Patrol"

This has been at the back of my mind for weeks, since reading a Tumblr post that discusses the idea that US Navy subs which never return are still on patrol, not lost at sea. The resulting comment thread seemed to want to be a song. To top it all off, it's a Christmas song! I'm two months too late for this to be seasonally appropriate, but what the hell.

I'm looking for (a) more singable lines (b) a good refrain line (c) a tune. Suggestions are welcome.

It may be news to you --
I know it was to me --
No US Navy sub
Is ever lost at sea.
But every Christmas Eve
Dispatchers read the roll
Of officers and men
Still out there on patrol.

Down an unknown abyss
That never sees the light,
We crowd to our radio
On this December night,
Listening to the static,
Whalesong overhead,
And things below that groan
And only fear the dead.

A friendly voice calls out
Through the static and the noise,
"We think of you at home,
So Merry Christmas, boys."
We hug one another
And weep with joy to hear
The living still recall us
Year upon year.

Our mission isn't done,
And none of us can sleep.
Things still move down here
In the belly of the deep
The living couldn't face --
The living need not know.
While we are on patrol,
Deeper yet we'll go.

Note: I didn't notice till now that the first verse is in my voice -- "I know it was to me" -- and the other verses are in the voice of a crewman. I think I may leave that for now. It can be logicked away as the reminiscence of a ghostly submariner who didn't expect to spend his afterlife fighting abominations at the bottom of the Milwaukee Deep, and yet here he is.