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Poem: "Igor's Creature" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Igor's Creature"
This poem came from the April 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from xjenavivex , thesilentpoet , and aldersprig .  It was selected in a generally sponsored poll.  In order for this to make maximum sense, you should be familiar with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  It also helps to know some of the (many and contradictory) feminist interpretations of the story.  Sometimes, mad science isn't all about the scientist after all.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses. (To give this a good start, I rounded up instead of down, posting the first two verses instead of just one.  The original $5 donation thus covers the 4-line first verse and 6 lines of the 10-line second verse.  The next $2 will cover the end of verse 2, then it's $4 more to reveal verse 3.)

So far donors include: general fund, Shirley Barrette, Anthony Barrette

110 lines, Buy It Now = $55
Amount donated = $15.50
Verses posted = 4 of 15

Amount remaining to fund fully = $39.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $4
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $6.50



Igor's Creature


Call him that,
because that's what he was:
Igor's, not Frankenstein's
and a creature, not a monster.

Igor was the one who assembled the lab equipment,
nut by bolt, buying and begging and scrounging the parts,
sweating on his back on the scaffold under the ceiling
with a candle clenched in his mouth
and a screwdriver twisting into the very small screws.
It was not Igor's fault that Victor Frankenstein
had gone out drinking with several other gentlemen,
and neither read nor listened to the instructions
for operating the equipment, being convinced
that he already knew what he was doing.

Igor was the one who went out to the graveyards
and dug through the mud to find fresh bodies,
carefully selecting the parts, just the right parts,
the broad strong hands and the square shoulders
and the good heart.

It was not Igor's fault that Victor Frankenstein,
being a man and a doctor and a rich one to boot
hadn't enough sewing skill to replace a lost button.

So when things went inevitably, horribly wrong
Igor was the one who cleaned up the mess.
He swept up the broken glass in the laboratory
and repaired what equipment he could.
He put Victor Frankenstein to bed with a warm blanket,
a cup of lemon tea with honey for his crumpled throat
(plus enough brandy in it to keep him in bed and out of trouble)
and a magazine of science and another of loose women.
Then he went out in search of the poor confused creature.

Igor found the creature sitting beside a lake, crying.
"It's all right," said Igor, patting the creature's back.
"Sometimes he makes me want to strangle him too."
The creature leaned his heavy head against Igor's shoulder
and bawled like a lost calf.  Igor patted him and rocked him
and wondered what the hell Victor Frankenstein had been
thinking, anyway -- but of course the answer to that was:
he hadn't been thinking, at all.

It was all too easy for a man, a wealthy man,
a society man, respected by his peers
and belonging to a prestigious profession,
to go galloping off after whatever idea
happened to flit through his head
because he was convinced that it would work
just from the fact that he wanted it to.
A man like Victor Frankenstein had little if any
counterbalance in the way of people telling him
NO when that's what he needed to hear,
and not much more of telling himself,
Well that wasn't such a good idea, old chap!
or even Perhaps I hadn't ought to do this after all.

Igor had a lifetime of such experiences
and absolutely no trouble in spotting a new one
as soon as it appeared on the horizon.
What Igor did not have was a banker's fortune,
which meant that he needed a job,
which meant that he put up with Victor Frankenstein
and kept his mouth shut so he could keep his job.
Now that it had all come crashing down around his ears,
and people had gotten hurt despite Igor's best efforts,
he was determined to put things right as best he could.

"Come on," he said, tugging the creature's hand.
"We may as well start walking."  So they walked
out of the town that knew Victor Frankenstein.
They begged for clothes and food, and when they could,
they did a little work on the side.  Slowly,
the creature learned to speak a few words,
but mostly they communicated by signs.
Before long, Igor's creature
became Igor's friend
so it hadn't turned out too badly after all,
although it would have been nice if the good doctor
had somehow learned a lesson from the whole mess.

Eventually they found work in another town,
with Igor minding a lab for another absent-minded scientist
and Igor's creature cleaning the floors and walkways
with the meticulous care that Igor had taught him.
Igor didn't much care for people who liked to play God,
but he'd take their money, then he'd go home with his friend
and emulate the kind of God he wanted to believe in:

the kind of God who took care of the poor,
the reviled, the broken, the downtrodden;
the kind of God who believed in loving your neighbor
even if he was an over-educated ass;
the kind of God who would put himself out
to heal a stranger's pain and sorrow --

not the God of scientists, all gleaming
steel and gold and jewels;
but the God of carpenters, who'd understand
what it meant to scrunch on a dusty scaffold
with a candle in your mouth so you could see to drive screws
because your work was important to you.

That kind of God, yes, Igor was willing to play
and to pray to and to tell his friend about.

In their new town they even
made a few new friends.
Nobody from their old town
ever managed to find them,
for Igor had outwitted the good doctor
and Igor's creature had proved more capable
than anyone else would have suspected,
and they hid themselves just fine where no one would look.
So they settled into a quiet life,
enjoying the company of their new friends,

and the nice bluestocking girl
who bought them coffee
and listened to their story
was kind enough to grin at their conspiracy

and lie about the ending.

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Current Mood: busy busy

25 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 11th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)

No...

Doesn't sound familiar, but the anecdote is amusing.
siege From: siege Date: November 10th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Skin Horse, a few months ago, was confirmed to be in the same universe, as one of Narbon's creations happened to show up in a convenient plotline.
paka From: paka Date: May 11th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep. The grad student does the work, the faculty advisor gets the credit. Sounds pretty accurate really.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 11th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

All power differentials tend to work that way: the black folks set up camp, the white explorer gets the credit for getting there first. The woman does the work, her male colleague steals it. The poor guy does the work, the rich guy profits.

I just thought it would be amusing to highlight where the competence tends to lie in those sorts of dynamics.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 9th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a charming and delightful ending. :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad that it worked for you. I had fun retelling this story.
From: siliconshaman Date: November 10th, 2011 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Aye, it's the backroom boys that do the work, and the flashy guy with the money who gets the credit...

Of course, if Frankenstein had been English, of the pipe-smoking tweed-suited bespectacled Barnes-Wallace sort of Mad Scientist, it might all have gone rather differently.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>Aye, it's the backroom boys that do the work, and the flashy guy with the money who gets the credit...<<

That it is, which is one reason that I enjoy telling stories from behind the scenes.

>>Of course, if Frankenstein had been English, of the pipe-smoking tweed-suited bespectacled Barnes-Wallace sort of Mad Scientist, it might all have gone rather differently.<<

True. *chuckle* One can't help wanting to crossover with Sherlock Holmes. He did SO well with the Hound of the Baskervilles.
From: siliconshaman Date: November 10th, 2011 01:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

The Improbable Case of the Mine-Engineers Rocket.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

*laugh* Good one.
From: minor_architect Date: November 10th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)
He put Victor Frankenstein to bed with a warm blanket,
a cup of lemon tea with honey for his crumpled throat
(plus enough brandy in it to keep him in bed and out of trouble)
and a magazine of science and another of loose women.


Because we all know how well science and loose women go together...!

Hmm, now I'm envisioning a madam who does a little mad science on the side. Perhaps she creates special "augmentations" for her girls & boys to use on the customers?

I bet that would be a popular bordello! >;)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)

*laugh*

>> Because we all know how well science and loose women go together...! <<

Better in some people's heads than in others!

>> Hmm, now I'm envisioning a madam who does a little mad science on the side. Perhaps she creates special "augmentations" for her girls & boys to use on the customers?

I bet that would be a popular bordello! <<

Take notes. I could write that.
From: minor_architect Date: November 10th, 2011 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)

*smirks*

Take notes. I could write that.

Not to worry. I'm already bothering the, uh, employees and asking all the inappropriate questions.

I'm just not sure when I could bring all this up, though...unless you want "Kinks" as a future Fishbowl theme? :D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: *smirks*

I may do a steampunk theme some time.
From: minor_architect Date: November 10th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah. In that case, I won't be the one prompting you for steampunk sex machines. I'm not a fan of steampunk as a literary genre...or as an art or costume theme, for that matter.

Not to say that you still couldn't write about it - ideas are free, after all - I just won't be the one asking for it.

Ah well. It was an intriguing thought!
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: November 10th, 2011 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Steampunk sex toys! Now there's a thought!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

I have a steampunk setting now. It's up to the audience how much steam goes into it, and how hot it gets.

Just don't, you know, melt anyone's skin off unless he's a bad guy.
siege From: siege Date: November 10th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

And the name "Francis Horne Reaver" leapt to mind when I read this. I suspect this is one of those "bad guys" who looks so very good. Even when he has to wear a mask after his Accident.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

*laugh* Oh, now THAT has potential! And "steampunk" has been proposed as a theme.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: November 10th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like this very much!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

That makes me happy.
meeksp From: meeksp Date: November 10th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
*pouts at to-do list* Now I wanna draw Igor hard at work with his candle and screwdriver while Frankenstein sleeps in the background...or trying to comfort the wibbling 'monster'...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 10th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Go for it!

I'd love to see that. *ponder* Maybe you could make it a split-scene piece, like you did with "Unfolding Wings" ... Igor patting the creature on the shoulder while he blubbers, and then a frame showing Igor's thoughts about why HE wants to strangle Victor too, with the candle/screwdriver image.

I know what you mean about to-do lists, though. I'd really like to get together with kajones_writing and get descriptions for some of her vampire characters, maybe request an illustration of Nick and John talking. And I've had requests for that scene in "The Steamsmith" where Maryam marches up the street with her tommies carrying all her stuff. I'm still hacking away at the background material for that setting!
eseme From: eseme Date: November 14th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I enjoyed this one. I like the ending a lot, and the reference to Shelly. And the perils of mad scientists.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 14th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

>>I enjoyed this one.<<

I'm happy to hear that.

>> I like the ending a lot, and the reference to Shelly.<<

People often forget about her background, so I had fun playing with that.

>> And the perils of mad scientists.<<

Hee! Men with no brakes are no end of trouble. Their stories look very different from the assistant's perspective, and there's an element of that even in the original -- that the monster was innocent, and the high-status guy was a destructive jackass.
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