Birds vs. Bats

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Ealancheliyan s/Noun Project

Iowa Bird of Mouth is a yearlong, online crowdsourced poetry project created by Jennifer L. Knox honoring a different Iowa bird each month. (You can add to this month’s open source poem here!) Last weekend at the Ames Public Library, as part of this year’s Maximum Ames Music Festival, several writers shared bird-related poems. Here’s one of them.

A bird has never hung from my wall, pretending to be an innocent, hairy potato.

But, a bat has never shit on my head as I locked up my bike.

To be honest, this kind of made me feel like I was in a movie, like everything was going wrong but would be righted as soon as I started wearing contacts and let a tall man pick up my spilled groceries.

My groceries have never included unfertilized bat eggs that I added to batter then panicked when they didn’t firm up so I made them into scrambled pancakes and offered them up as a tattered mound of my imperfect love.

What love is perfect? What does perfect even mean? During the guano boom of the nineteenth century, it meant piles of sea bird and bat excrement harvested for fertilizer and gunpowder. The War of the Pacific was fought over it. It was on that Wikipedia page I read, “during the guano boom of the nineteenth century,” and couldn’t not put it in a poem, even though it did nothing to help the fact that birds and bats remain neck and neck.

And speaking of necks, Ozzy Osbourne has bitten the heads off both a bat and a dove. They’re still tied.

And speaking of tied, did a bat save 194 US troops in the First World War with a message tied to its leg? No, that was a homing pigeon.

And speaking of homos, vampires are notorious for progressive acceptance of the gender and sexual continuums while most birds are socially but usually not sexually monogamous, just like your parents.

But skip back a few million generations and you’ll find that birds are the only remaining ancestors of dinosaurs!

Bats comprise 20 percent of all mammals!

Birds don’t have bladders so they never get urinary tract infections. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

But, they also don’t have echolocation so they have to use their dumb eyes to see stuff which doesn’t work so well in the dark.

I do wonder how great echolocation can be, though, if it allows a bat to get into my apartment, hide behind my beanbag chair and army crawl up my arm when I least expect it.

There it is, the personal bias, the sample size of one, but also the loudest voice in my head

so birds, I’m gonna give you this one

but don’t stop fighting

for your place in the sky.

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Molly McDonald is an Iowa native with abuncha college degrees and pretty big muscles. She has one published book of poetry and one cat. Coincidence?! Yes. Contact her at mccardoor [at] gmail [dot] com.