Christina Lynch

One writer's struggle to make sense of the universe, or laugh trying.

Diary of a Rural Writer

The Bat

Posted by Christina Lynch on October 7, 2010 at 2:07 PM

I wrote this while at the Stone House writer's retreat on Naushon, an island off Martha's Vineyard. There actually was a bat in the house the week we were there, but there was no rhyming dictionary or internet access, so I had to do things the old fashioned way. This was for the cabaret on the last night.

The Bat

With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I labored blocked and weary,

Over my quaint and curious novel at the Stone House on the moor,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

`'Tis some writer,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -

In search of a place to plug in her Mac, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak September,

And each separate dying ember brought its smoke to the third floor.

How I feared the coming morrow; no more days now could I borrow

‘Cause my book was due tomorrow  - or the publisher would be sore -

O that twig thin Prada clad maven would be well and truly dour -

A deadline missed for evermore.

And the silken sad and fleece-ish rustling of slippered feet upon the floor

Thrilled me - filled me with excitement that there might be latenight s’mores;

Though the pudding still was thudding and my waistline it was budding.

Might be a chef now lugging food up to my chamber door -

Knowing writers on a deadline hunger like a wild boar; -

It’s a chef, and nothing more,'

Presently my wit grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

`Ari,' said I, `or dear Adam, truly your distraction I can’t ignore;

And I swear I wasn’t napping, at the bowl of genius I was lapping,

When so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

But I can always take a break - here I opened wide the door; -

Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep in Stone House blackness peering, long I stood there procrastinating, fearing,

Doubting, daydreaming and procrastinating a little more;

But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Don’t snore!'

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Really, don’t snore!'

Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, knowing my novel was good only for burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping quite a good bit louder than before.

`if you care to please me, bring me Hemingway, Welty, Kesey, Fitzgerald, or even someone sleazy

Because I could really use some help with this colossal bore -

The general reading public this book will certainly abhor; -

And I don’t want to spend the rest of my life poor!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with a loud fart and stutter,

In there stepped a stately bat right out of a movie horror.

Not a “hi how are ya” made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, as if he were a Forbesish lady, perched above my chamber door -

Perched upon a curl of wallpaper just above my chamber door -

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Pausing my writerly styling, gazing upon the ebony mammal I was smiling,

So serious an expression that it wore,

You’ve a pig nose, tummy fat, and your fur is like the rat.

Ghastly grim and ancient bat wandering o’er the Naushon shore -

Tell me what thy lordly name is on this Isle’s Idyllic shore!'

Quoth the bat, `Bangalore.'

Much I marveled yes insanely at this birdish dog which spoke so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bat above his chamber door -

Bird or beast on the peeling paper above his chamber door,

With such a name as `Bangalore.'

So the bat, growing tired of my stupidity, did pour forth with some acidity,

More words, as if his soul itself he would outpour.

You writers are all sauced and useless, taking years to channel your fickle muses

Better prose has been produced by mongooses carrying papooses who less themselves did whore.

We’ve checked out tax hole loopses, crunched some numbers, focus groupses,

The news is you’re unhorsed, unemployed, outdone, outsourc’d

Your novel will be written by a team of Indians in Bangalore.

Startled by his frankness spoken, my spirit did feel slightly broken,

Sure,' said I, `they could churn out many pages more

Of snappy banter at a veritable canter but the iambs and trochanters!

And my signature barrage of clever reportage and Wikipedia garbage is not something to ignore -

It can’t be churned out like some Bollywood score

By a team of tech support in Bangalore.

But the bat he still insisted, all the hours he never desisted,

Talked the night straight through like a beady eyed Al Gore;

Til the dawn I saw was breaking, and my knees they started quaking

On his words I saw publishers staking futures and kicking writers out the door -

This terrible bat who bore the odoeur of albacore

Was telling the truth about all American fiction being outsourced to Bangalore.'

Of my future there was no guessing, and I wanted to start depressing

But instead I called to Wayne to start French pressing coffee—More!

Instead of napping I started writing, suddenly my characters were fighting

Laughing, loving, joking, lighting Havana stogies from a humidor 

There was fencing, there was dancing, there was kissing, there was hissing,

There were chapters bright and brilliant but could they match the roar

Of the scribblers in Bangalore?

As I typed the pithy ender and hit send from sender and the email dinged and then Der

Bat I turned and spat to “take that you winged rat from Elsinore

An entire novel tender I have finished and sent to editor, agent, friends and various lenders

Try and get such genius from even Wizard Dumbledore!

Try try I cried and beat them senseless but you‘ll have not such lovely sentences of amor

From your prose slaves in Bangalore.

Profit!' said I, `The sales will be sky high, a record so sublime

At Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Powells, in store and –yea- online.

Fondled on the Kindle, on Apple’s I-Pad dandled, and yes by candle handled.

This book will sell a million units, be Oprah’s favorite and Itune-its and don’t forget the author tour

I will go to Fresno, Phoenix, Fargo, Philly, Boston and Bangor.

But I will never never never go to darkest Bangalore.

The bat he started laughing, his mirth unchecked, his wings a flapping

His little eyes did run with tears, the winged rat of dear Naushon.

“Now your book you have completed, deadline met and future seeded

Thanks to a prank by a bug-eyed crank at the Stone House attic door 

Did you really think you could be replaced in all your glor-y

By a team of techies in Bangalore?”

`Be that word our sign of parting, bat or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -

`Get thee back into the tempest and the Isle’s Idyllic shores!

Leave no bat poops as thy token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my fury here unbroken! - quit peel of paper ‘bove my door!

Take thy teeth from out my heart, and take thy form from off third floor!'

Quoth the bat, `Nevermore.'

And the bat, never flitting, still is sitting, still is shitting

On the pallid pic of Edith just outside my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the scheming of an agent’s who is dreaming,

Of the profits that’ll be streaming from my next book and one more.

And so I am caged, trapped and really quite enraged not to mention now I’m aged here upon the highest floor

Leaving Stone House - nevermore!

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