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Poem: "Motherless" - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Motherless"
This poem was inspired by prompts from flutterbychild and dulcinbradbury. It has been sponsored by janetmiles.


Monsters are motherless children.
Oh, they have fathers, right enough –-
The Wolfman and Dracula with their penetrating teeth,
Dr. Frankenstein with his shining implements of science –-
But there are no mothers in these old stories.
No warm milk. No lullabies. No night-light.
No one’s hand to hold when it hurts.
No one to come with a flannel blanket
When the nightmares wake,
Because these nightmares are for real.
No memories -– none at all –- of being loved.
Is it any wonder, then, that we call them monsters,
When they do not share the common ground
That makes us human?

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10 comments or Leave a comment
jolantru From: jolantru Date: October 15th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)
This is oddly beautiful.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 15th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I was aiming to create a sense of being on the outside, looking in ... so I painted a picture of idealized childhood that would touch on most people's memories, so they could imagine what it would be like not having that.

From: jorrocks_j Date: October 15th, 2008 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)

But Grendel had a mother...

...Leslie Fish even wrote a song for her.

The refrain goes:

Son, I'm sure you would be sorry
If you weren't so very dead
But you never listened to a thing I said...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 15th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: But Grendel had a mother...

*facepalm* I've even heard that song, but I'd forgotten about it. Saw the recent CGI movie too.

So, not all monsters come from the same source.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 15th, 2008 06:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the overall idea and the language used, but I wonder if it would be more effective if the link between fictional monster and real life monstrosity was hinted at instead of directly stated.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: October 15th, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's sad and beautiful both.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 15th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like it.
gumnut From: gumnut Date: October 15th, 2008 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, I have a mixed response to this...cos I was a motherless child for a long time. And while I understand the intended meaning, it also implies that all fathers are unable to give any of those things listed.

It could also be that I'm so tired at the moment my brain is misfiring.

It has good pacing and beat and works well structurally and drives its point across well.

Thanks for writing and sharing.

(not sure I should comment considering how brain dead I am at the moment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 15th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)


Feedback is always welcome. That includes constructive criticism and discussion of a poem's merits and flaws -- as long as people don't get gratuitously rude, and so far, that rarely happens in my LJ. This poem is drawing mixed responses, and that's okay.

You raise a good point about fatherhood. However, look at how English encodes parenting concepts: there's no good parallel in general terminology. "Nurturing-parent-less" ...? Gak. So the poem illuminates the sexism and gender biases of the language, and the culture; particularly since the "classic" monsters date back quite a while, when gender roles were more rigid. There's some fine feminist underpinning in Frankenstein though.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: October 16th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)

One word:

10 comments or Leave a comment