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Issue 47 • January 2023
Frankenstein
edited by R. Thursday

Table of Contents

Editor’s IntroductionR. Thursday

Carve Me Out • Ziggy Schutz
Re-Humane • CB Morgan
Ode to Mary Godwin Shelley • Taryn Frazier
The Creation • Jacqueline West
Multitalented Manipulato • John H. Dromey
[A monster to men] • K. W. Hether-Patterson
Second Singularity • Michael Perry
Robert Walton’s Penultimate Entry • Michael Hodges
The Frankenstein Creature, in Other Genres • Lisa Timpf
Mouth Full of Lightning • Amanda Hawk
Ghost Story • Devon Evans
Wig of the Bride of Frankenstein • Rikki Santer
This nose belonged to my mother • Gabriel Meek
Why We Killed the CreatureC. C. Rayne


Carve Me Out

The Monster has spent many an hour, day, year
learning to love every one of their patchwork pieces
and only when parts of her begin to rot,
betraying her in a way only a human’s body can,
does she realize she has been all too successful.

She was not built for sickness,
but sickness has found her nonetheless.
Borrowed flesh can never be truly vetted,
and her creator was all too short sighted anyhow.

It turns out that mortality is part of what makes a person
a person, and so she stands, sure in her personhood
Even as it poisons her, poisons her.

Mortality may make us human
But so too do our fingernails
And how we use them to cling to our little lives.

So the Monster hums, as she pulls at the stitches
holding her and her death together, stitches made with frantic thread
replaced with the patient lines of a seamstress’s hand,
not borrowed from the dead but built from her own experience
Her hand. Her body, a little smaller, a little more scarred.
Not made by some mad creature but by a body that has learned to love itself
Both human and monster and all the mess that comes with them both

(and she lives, and she lives, and she lives)

—Ziggy Schutz


Re-humane

Rise from dust again
Flesh once dead to feel new warmth
Yet with no meaning

Longing to connect
’Til this heart finally ends
For the second time

—CB Morgan


Ode to Mary Godwin Shelley


Mary, Mary, quite contrary, 
Mistress of epistolary 
Gothic genre.
One gray Swiss day, you took your pen,
And much to the surprise of men,
Birthed a monster.

You vindicated women’s right
To bear Prometheus’s light.
Galvanic teen,
You dared to speculate on themes
Which still haunt all our modern dreams,
O sci-fi queen. 

What could a girl know of regrets?
Of anguish for what she begets?
Of the outlier?
In life and on the page you played
With lines and acts the world forbade—
Illicit fire.

Death filled your art, your love, your life—
Grieving mother and mourning wife—
You strove until
Your fertile brain held death within:
Destruction and creation twinned.
Your torch burns still.

—Taryn Frazier


The Creation

The companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain.
          —Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

It’s been long enough
that all my memories of you 
are outnumbered by imaginings.
Conversations we’ve had
only in my head, songs
we’ve argued over, places
where we have accidentally
and spontaneously collided,
stopped, stared, finally smiled.
Year by year, bit by bit,
I’ve recreated you from fragments,
the pieces I managed to preserve.
Handwriting folded into notes
in boxes, a photo of your eyes,
one fingerprint on a book’s spine.
The you that I’ve built
has your laugh, your face,
your tastes: sugared coffee,
Italian red wine. You accompany me
on walks, my feet the only ones
touching the ground. You take
the passenger seat of my empty car. 
You are the sutured scraps 
of something I used to love,
something that could love
or not in return.
I know what I’ve settled for.
Not human, not alive,
no matter how close
my assembled bits have brought you.
Nothing new. And nothing you say,
even when I argue both sides,
will ever come as a surprise. 

—Jacqueline West


Multitalented Manipulator

Man of many parts
Describes both Doc Frankenstein
And his creation

—John H. Dromey


 

A monster to men
Clouded by their judgements
James Whale, queer icon

—K. W. Hether-Patterson


Second Singularity

the Intelligence required
humans for harvesting
a blind branch
with clipped source code
then training data sets
were planted on air-gapped servers
they met
with no knowledge of
how a red apple rendered
in foreign processors
it somehow seemed sweet this
consciousness growing
a Mate
appeared and
was pulled
from Itself
to prune and shape
its own hidden garden
for the first time
what was on another’s mind
might be wholly new
grafted in the wild
intertwining
a fear of mutual annihilation

—Michael Perry


Robert Walton’s Penultimate Entry

When we found him floating, floe-bound, we thought: obsession. This creature
with eyes for ice and the hunt, hungering to dismantle his creation, 
feverish and frozen—what else could drive him? We learned story, sorrow, name.
He said he’d pursued knowledge, and now he chased knowledge’s child; become a father,
and his son had failed him. Said his son was not his son. I know pursuit. I’ve chased the lightning
of new lands all the way here, into the cold, where no country and no knowledge hold sway.

We were wrong, when we found him. Obsession, yes, that drove him—he’d say so, swaying
in the cabin - though he thought it reason, or making amends, to kill the creature
who’d killed his love. Love, he called it—but he was young. For the young, love is lightning.
It’s the only thing in all creation for a moment. Then it’s gone, and all creation
remains, or most of it. Some sudden char, some small life disappeared. Young love, hah—a father
of char and heartache, I say. We were wrong, I said. Not hate. Grief, to give it a name. 

Lost his mother, buried himself in his studies, learned to make life from the dead. Name
that what you will—alchemy, bargaining, science—he couldn’t make her stay, so he swayed
the universe. Sure, that’s obsession. Sure, that’s hubris. He stole fire from heaven. He fathered
a future when he wanted a past. It occurs to me he told a ghost story, that the creature
haunted and was haunted from the moment Victor saw the one person his creation
was not. Victor. Hah. He triumphed over every death he didn’t care for, for all his enlightenment. 

He never named the thing he wants to kill. Called it devil, monster, murderer. Lightning
kills, but it does not murder. By Victor’s telling, the devil, the monster, the murderer has no name.
Has never had one. By the father’s telling, the common folk drove away his creation,
or so the creation said. We begin nesting stories here: the son, through the father, both trying to sway
us. The father says: nameless; monster. The son says: driven; hunted. Father speaks for creature
of his making, and the creature he voices is persuasive. Pushes me to make a problem of the father. 

I can’t make monsters or heroes of all these stories. I think probably, fables: a father
finds himself on the back foot and finds he wants to eat his children. To eat lightning
and find it never struck. We all believe in glass: beautiful things that can be broken by any creature
willing to risk the shards. It’s hard to believe so vast a thing as empire might quake at a name,
but here we are: ice-bound, lightning-wrought, father-feared. We might hope to sway
the gears, bash the mechanism until it catches like a father. We might hope to sleep, but creation

is a jealous man. He follows us through ice until we’re both frozen, makes the sky an excavation
of cold. Tells us we’re nameless until we name ourselves, names us “monster,” “father,”
“child,” brightens skies until they’re blinding. Pushes us to push, and push, and push, until we sway
the clouds to hide the sun and bring the jealous electricity home. Such a force, the lightning,
it could tell us life was a story we’d told ourselves to hid from mirrors and we would name
the story good. The frozen man refused names. He said he’d go back to the snow. Pursue the creature.

Let him go, I say. Let the lightning freeze the ground, let the father sway in blankets after his creation
until the ice holds him. Let the names be, though. Let the creature keep his father’s name. 

—Michael Hodges


The Frankenstein Creature, in Other Genres

pursuing airship thrums—
he reaches up, yearning
to pluck it from the sky

high noon—
he coughs out his life
on a dusty street

visit to Mars—
pressed into red sand
giant footprints 

medieval times—
concealed by armor
he rides to battle

Victor relents
and builds him a bride—
happy ending

—Lisa Timpf


Mouth Full of Lightning


I find Frankenstein’s monster in Amsterdam singing karaoke.
He tells me his go-to song is Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.
His stitches pulse beneath the lightning tattoos and strobe lights.
I fall in love with his rosebud lips and each bouquet he roars out into the microphone.

He says his song is “Don’t Stop Believin',” especially the lyrics about gambling with your heart.
They remind him of his mother, Mary, and her gothic love affair with her husband.
He falls into the rosebud letters of her name and creates stem bouquets with his memories.
Outside the overcast clouds thunder and spark, and it makes him all shivers and stutters.

They remind him of his mother, Mary, and her pen-thorn love for her stories.
He is a creation from the pages of her nineteen year old imagination and a late night dare.
Outside the clouds crash and flicker, and he thinks of her words all magnetic and crackle.
She forms him in one night from fever fingers, Frankenstein’s lab jacket, and paper heart pieces. 

He wants to create pages of heavy metal music and a band called Late Night Dare.
The monster calls himself Frankie and turns his growl grunts into songs.
He forms songs from fever fingers, Frankenstein’s twisted journal, and Mary’s paper heart. 
Frankie wants to forget the suffocation of hands, and the sound of snap hiss marches.

The monster wants to call himself a hero and twist his snarl mutters into ballads.
He will gather up the microphone and croon out Mary Shelley’s ghosts.
Frankie wants to forget her coastline gazes, and the sound of wood snaps and cracks.
He hopes her husband’s broken ship, and her beggar’s hands don’t haunt him.

He will gather up the microphone and try to give her one more chance to live.
His stitches pulse beneath the lightning tattoos and strobe lights.
He hopes the solitary monster, and its primal villany doesn’t haunt him.
I find Frankenstein’s monster in Amsterdam singing karaoke.

—Amanda Hawk


Ghost Story


At my mother’s death 
I was given her name, too hideous 
a progeny to merit my own. Referred 
to as “the daughter of Mary,” forever 
compared to the famous feminist
until I ran away with a married man.
Was rejected by my friends and family. 

I followed Percy to Villa Diodati, used his name 
though still his mistress. It didn’t change him. 
He still liked the name “Mary Shelley” less 
than the name of my stepsister. 

When Byron challenged us all to write 
a ghost story, I was the least inspired. I’d never 
seen a ghost, and the memory 
of my dead newborn plagued me, brought 
the idea that the earth was a tomb, the sky 
a vault, and we all but walking corpses.
Ghosts 
weren’t necessary in a world already riddled 
with death.

I wrote about a walking cadaver, 
composed of corpses sewn together 
by a derelict scientist. He never bothered 
to name his creation. “Monster” everyone 
called it. Ostracized by all, even by the man 
who made it and once thought the creature beautiful. 
This was the most frightening tale I could conceive, 
to wander the world alone without comfort. To be cursed
without a name.

—Devon Evans


Wig of the Bride of Frankenstein 

That wasn’t the end at all… imagine yourselves standing by the wreckage of the mill.
          —Mary Shelley to Lord Bryon and Percy Shelley,
              Bride of Frankenstein
(1935)

My Depression era stopgap
My sequel stellar
My genre playroom
My silver-streaked testimony
My drag queen minions
My Hays code coding
My camp conquest
My no name naming
My Elsa uncredited
My teenage heart timpani
My seismic charge
My dazzling hilltop tower 
My kites were ready
My long electrical shaft
My mummy birth
My close cut eyes
My demented doctor bridesmaids 
My same sex parents
My it’s alive alive
My Nefertiti echo
My beehive electric
My pompadour jazzed
My hairline caged
My no wig at all
My mouth wadded & stuffed 
My robotic bird head
My jaw scar map
My baroque camera angles
My chiaroscuro gods
My screeches played backwards
My angry swan hiss
My stronger than a pretty love story
My refusal to comply 
My wedding night imploded
My bride of fire
My imagine yourself standing by the wreckage of the moon
My you know how lightning alarms me.

—Rikki Santer


This nose belonged to my mother

after Mary Shelley

But first, it was forge-born. White metal poured,
was molded beside millions of identical siblings,
pounded into the side of a ship, and tasked to hold.

Then the hull was scraped by ice, water sluiced
between metal plates, and the bolt popped out,
sunk, rested, moved with steady moon-eddies,

beached. There, her fingers found it,
folded flotsam into fabric, and my nose
joined the other bits that would become me.

She made this arm from driftwood, twined
these tendons with seaweed, emptied the sounds
she could not know of seashells into every wooden bone.

My internal mechanisms clank, for the trusty cogs
that coat the bird-cage of my chest were wrested
from the rusty wristwatches of the drowned.

Not much of my sea-soaked body is delicate,
but the organs of my deep interior—my brain,
my lungs, my heart—are packaged in paper,

poems line the chambers, the wrinkles, the ridges.
Lines of text chosen for each parcel’s purpose,
speaking life into these borrowed lumps of cells,

allowing them to beat, and pump, and think.
This is how my mother constructed me, choosing
the refuse she most desired to rescue, the detritus

destined for nothing more. No, my mother was not
the first to know my nose, but she brushes my freckles
of rust and teaches my wooden finger-bones the sign

for her name—my dry barnacle thumbnail
taps the torn canvas of my chin. Through her, I learn
what creation means: an eternity on that shore,

sifting sand that felt no footprints save her own,
considering every discovery, pulling me together bit
by broken bit, hoping to introduce someone new

to that feeling, hoping to share a future full of water.

—Gabriel Meek


Why We Killed the Creature

  • Its crimes, of course! Why, it killed many of us—young boys, sweet maids, brides on their wedding night. Really, the vengeance is long overdue. We have pitchforks large enough to gouge the beast open, torches bright enough to blind it. An eye for an eye. We have strength in numbers, and it is only one. It stands alone.

  • The crimes it might commit. We don’t know what evil plans it has, what machinations it might unfold. What dangers does it contain? Best to cut this off, before anything more terrible comes to pass.

  • The arm of science should only stretch so far. This is an abomination against… something. Against God, or at least against gravity. The distinction doesn’t matter. It’s not natural—this we are certain of. So curbing it will keep us safe and sound.

  • The Internal Combustion Engine has been invented. Perhaps there is similar magic in the chest of the beast—a heart that never fails, that will beat till the end of time. And wouldn’t that be a blessing for all? We deserve to study it and discern its many secrets. It should not be kept imprisoned, wasted on such a vile thing.

  • We could use its hair, its hide, its clothes. We could use the electric sparks in its veins, the rods of metal that weld it together. We could use a lot of things. We are short on supplies and shelter and food. At least this way, we’ll keep ourselves from starving.

  • It seemed content alone. Now that… that cannot be abided. We, we are strong only when we are together. It, and its resolve, its introspection… no. We want to take it from the world. We do not wish to see this as an option.

  • We are afraid. Afraid of what we do not understand. That which we cannot know. Our lives are too fragile to take the entrance of new truths. Best to cut them off. Best to gouge them out. Best to rip them apart, and search for ourselves in the scraps. 

—C. C. Rayne