“Why I’d Be a Bad Bat, Among Other Things” by Claire Alongi, Willamette English Department Alumna

August 10, 2021

“Why I’d Be a Bad Bat, Among Other Things”

by Claire Alongi

Is this poetry? I don’t know, could be.

(Probably sucks. Not sure what I’m doing)

Never got poetry, never understood the rhythm.

Maybe it’s like the bass below me, shaking the floor, meant to be felt not heard.

(I’m staying above a club. Live music every night 7-12, kind of want to check it out but instead I open my window, drink lemonade, and listen from four floors up, slight FOMO)

Don’t mind the noise too much though, got earplugs, unused, can’t sleep anyway.

Not insomnia. Just nocturnal. Like a bat.

But I wouldn’t know the first thing about echo-location.

Additionally, afraid of the dark. Always need a night light.

Would be a bat-failure. Failure-bat.

(Heard lecture on failure, said we should try to fail, but I think I tend to fail at failure, run away from it afraid (except when it comes to being a bat), makes me think of seventh grade, in tears, bad at math, when I had an A (minus), at least, thankfully, mercifully, this poem is probably a failure)

Other reasons I would be a bad bat: opposable thumbs, no wings, decent but unremarkable hearing ability, can only hang upside down for short stretches.

(Poems should have metaphors? If not a bat, maybe I’m water (another lecture here on water, the past, present, future), or wish I was water, tide or no tide, life bringing life taking, when I turned my back on the ocean and got wrecked, tumbled, vomited on the sand afterward, kind of scared kind of amazed, thinking about how at Challenger Deep you could fit Everest with several miles of open water above it to spare, submarines, hollow metal peas on swinging cobwebs)

Also bats can’t write. That I know of.

I’d like to be a writer, am I writing now, does this crap count?

Sat in rooms the last few days, talked about publishing, not publishing, what it means to write for yourself, for others, the messy intersection.

Kind of helped.

Once upon a time 

(No, no wrong line)

I thought that BAM one day the switch would flip and I would be a writer, also understand taxes, health insurance, parallel parking, get used to blood draws, when you can fudge an expiration date on certain foods.

I would like to be on the other side of this transition, but instead I am in it.  

Maybe infinitely.

(Is that an oxymoron? Infinite transition? It makes me feel better to think that none of us will ever be finished, our bodies, minds, even our legacies evolving, fish constantly flopping on land, growing legs, learning to breathe again, wish I could go back in time and see a living dinosaur, preferably not get eaten) 

Is any of this understandable? If not I apologize; it is transitioning from non-sense to pro-sense.


Last summer went out to the causeway, highway over fields, extreme drought state somehow with rice paddies,

(Does the water know it shouldn’t be there?)

parked at sundown to watch the bats flying out from under the overpass and hawks showed up, started dive bombing, picking off flying mammals, Animal Planet in real time.

Reasons I wish I was a bat: to eat thousands of mosquitos every night. 

HATE those buzzy bastards, always come for me, fourth grade summer camp photo smiling, eye swollen shut, mosquito bite right on my eyelid.

Don’t know how to write a poem, don’t know how to end a poem, so I’ll just do it now, put it out of its misery, final lines, final thoughts, miserable failure, no transitions, too many transitions, have a fun fact: Mexican free-tailed bats can reach speeds of up to 100 mph, so if one hit you in the face it would probably kill you. 

Or not.

(Sorry. I know as much about bats as I know about poems, which is to say, not much)

(Now get out)