I’ve asked several poetic-type friends to share some words with us during this month of Making Manifest. Today I welcome my dear friend, Megan Willome–who’s comparing poems to bats. Wait… What?
The weather is warm, and that means one thing in Central Texas — the bats are back! These creatures of the night will sojourn with us from around May (when it stops freezing overnight) through October, until temperatures drop again.
Last night we were in Austin, welcoming my cousin, her husband and their son, who recently moved from Los Angeles. My nephew can’t wait to see the bat emergence from under the Congress Avenue Bridge.
Some of you reading this post are probably thinking, “Yuck! Don’t bats have rabies?”
Well, any mammal can get rabies, including cuddly puppies. I wouldn’t advise making a pet of the bat that is most common in my area, the Mexican free-tailed bat, although they are kind of cute (in a creepy way).
However, if you were to banish all the bats, guess what would happen? Insects would take over the world. Not good.
Poems are like bats. They are small. Five hundred bat babies per square foot? That’s nothing. Try a poem with five well-placed words.
We tend to think of poetry as a little scary, like bats. We need to see it in context. Most of us only experience it in a language arts classroom in April, when the curriculum dictates Thou Shalt Discuss Poetry During National Poetry Month. We need to get poems out into the wild, where they can do some good.
The first time I saw a bat emergence was on a summer evening about eight years ago at Old Tunnel State Park, an empty railroad tunnel home to about 3 million bats. When they flew out of the abandoned space in a dark smoke-like column, I was mesmerized. I knew they were doing their job, eating pests that destroy crops and drive me indoors when I should be lounging on the back patio, grilling veggies. I knew they were a mysterious part of creation, like the mysteries in my own life that are more creepy than cute.
If you find poetry a little scary, if it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose, get it out of the cave of the classroom. If bats never emerge from out of caves or under bridges, then vermin overpopulate the earth. If poems are stuck in textbooks, they starve, too. Poems need to get out, fly around and destroy parasites.
The more I let these tiny bat-like creatures into my life, the more they clear away life’s insects — writer’s block, depression, loneliness, lack of just the right word.
Megan Willome is the managing editor of the WACOAN magazine. Her forthcoming book, The Joy of Poetry will be released by T.S. Poetry Press in 2015. You can catch up with her on her blog and follow her on Twitter.