October’s Occupations

Spooky Wordle

Last month, it was birdle, where I started each game of wordle with a five-letter bird word. This month, it’s spooky wordle. I don’t think I’ve kept a list of all of the words I used, but here’s what I remember:

  1. ghost
  2. ghoul
  3. death
  4. witch
  5. haunt
  6. trick
  7. demon
  8. fiend
  9. spook
  10. scare
  11. scary
  12. coven
  13. white
  14. devil
  15. float
  16. curse
  17. grave

How I See Project

Earlier this month, I began taking pictures at some point during my run, then posting them on my log entries with alt-text describing how I see the objects in the picture. I’m not completely sure where I’m going with this (or if it will go anywhere), but I’m hoping it might provide an archive of examples of what I see, or don’t see, that helps others to understand my vision loss (and how vision, more generally, works). I’ve created the tag, how I see.

What it’s like to be a bat.

This morning (24 Oct 2023), while drinking my coffee, I came across the academic essay (via this review) by the philosopher Thomas Nagel, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?,” which has inspired me to gather my collection of bat poems and bat ideas here for future Sara to use. It seems fitting to put them on my October 2023 project page.

In theory, I like bats. I’m fascinated by them and how they navigate with echolocation. Also, I like their combination of creepy and cute. In practice, they freak me out and my limited experience encountering them — trapped in our closet, setting up a colony in our attic — primarily involved shrieking (or squeaking or screaming or all three at the same time). Maybe spending time with these poems will inspire me to be less afraid and more tender towards them?

Here’s the tag for the bat poems I’ve collected. And here are some words I want to study and play around with:

1 — from Thinking of Frost/ Major Jackson

After a few moons, I’m loud this time of year,
unseemly as a chevron of honking. I’m fire in the leaves,
obstreperous as a New England farmer. I see fear
in the eyes of his children. They walk home from school,
as evening falls like an advancing trickle of bats, the sky
pungent as bounty in chimney smoke.

2 — ADVICE FROM A BAT/ Michael T. Young

Hunt only at night. Fly erratically.
Defy even your own expectations.
Feed on beetles, moths, and mosquitoes,
whatever is small and annoying.
Cultivate the myths about you
until every predator fears your legend.
When hunting, be guided by a language
only you can hear. The same is true
when courting the one you love.
Clean fangs and fur nightly. Crawl
or climb to confuse the observant.
Retreat to a cave no one believes in.
Let the day and the world pass
while you sleep, and sleep upside down,
ready to wake and fall into flight.


Fix your gaze upward and
give bats their due,
holy with quickness and echolocation:
in summer’s bleakest hum, the air
judders and mosquitoes blink out,
knifed into small quick mouths. Yes,
lurking in some unlucky bloodstreams
might be rabies or histoplasmosis, but almost
no one dies and you
owe the bats for your backyard serenity.

4 — Threshold Gods/ Jenny George

I saw a bat in a dream and then later that week
I saw a real bat, crawling on its elbows
across the porch like a goblin.
It was early evening. I want to ask about death.
But first I want to ask about flying.

The swimmers talk quietly, standing waist-deep in the dark lake.
It’s time to come in but they keep talking quietly.
Above them, early bats driving low over the water.
From here the voices are undifferentiated.
The dark is full of purring moths,

Think of it—to navigate by adjustment, by the beauty
of adjustment. All those shifts and echoes.
The bats veer and dive. Their eyes are tiny golden fruits.
They capture the moths in their teeth.

Summer is ending. The orchard is carved with the names of girls.
Wind fingers the leaves softly, like torn clothes.
Remember, desire was the first creature
that flew from the crevice
back when the earth and the sky were pinned together
like two rocks.

Now, I open the screen door and there it is-
a leather change purse
moving across the floorboards.

But in the dream you were large and you opened
the translucent hide of your body
and you folded me
in your long arms. And held me for a while.
As a bat might hold a small, dying bat. As
the lake
holds the night upside down in its mouth.

Found this poem on twitter the other day. I don’t totally understand it, but that’s okay. I might get there after a few more readings of it. I picked it for the threshold, the bats, the swimmers in the lake, and these lines, which fit with my current vision project on adjusting and growing accustomed to new ways of seeing/not seeing:

Think of it—to navigate by adjustment, by the beauty
of adjustment. All those shifts and echoes.
The bats veer and dive. Their eyes are tiny golden fruits.
They capture the moths in their teeth.

Adjustments. Shifts and echoes. Always moving — veering and diving. All of this fits so well with my thoughts on seeing and peripheral vision right now

log entry 20 oct 2022

5 — from I Went Out to Hear/ Leila Chatti

The sound of quiet. The sky 
indigo, steeping 
deeper from the top, like tea.
In the absence
of anything else, my own
breathing became obscene.
I heard the beating
of bats’ wings before 
the air troubled above 
my head, turned to look
and saw them gone.

6 — November Rain/ Linda Pastan

How separate we are
under our black umbrellas—dark
planets in our own small orbits,

hiding from this wet assault
of weather as if water
would violate the skin,

as if these raised silk canopies
could protect us
from whatever is coming next—

December with its white
enamel surfaces; the numbing
silences of winter.

From above we must look
like a family of bats
ribbed wings spread

against the rain,
swooping towards any
makeshift shelter.

7 — Exodus/ Joseph Fasano

I don’t know why I should have woken today 
remembering it, but I did: 
1989, the lights turned down, 
and we’d locked ourselves in a closet 
in Goshen, New York, 
my mother and I, 
because a bat was trapped in the house. 
This was before 
life before alcohol before madness— 
and you can imagine 
what happened next, 
you can hear her 
squealing when something touches her shoulder 
and she realizes it is not 
my hand, or the hand of my father, 
and the door bursts open and 
a woman stumbles through a house 
praying and thrashing her hands, 
her nightgown catching on the furniture, 
and a small thing 
crouched in a closet, 
dark and wild and 
hearing it all, 
wondering how the hell to get out of there.

8 — Bat/ D.H. Lawrence

At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise …

When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding …

When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno …

Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.

A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.

And you think:
“The swallows are flying so late!”


Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop …
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.

Never swallows!
The swallows are gone.

At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio …
Changing guard.

Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one’s scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Flying madly.

Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;

Wings like bits of umbrella.


Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.

Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.

In China the bat is symbol for happiness.

Not for me!

Wow, D.H. Lawrence really doesn’t like bats!

As of 9:30 am (24 oct 2023), I haven’t read Nagel’s article, but I’d like to, and then put it beside this echolocation episode from Invisibilia: How to Become Batman

And, one of my (and Scott’s) favorite Halloween cartoons:

I think I’m partly (mostly?) drawn to bats because of the way they “see” with their ears through echolocation. I can’t remember where I first read it, but I recall learning that “blind as a bat” was a myth:

What if being “as blind as a bat” just meant, well, being able to see perfectly well? 

Contrary to what most people believe, bats are generally not blind at all and in fact are believed to have eyesight keener than that of most humans. The misconception that bats are blind comes from their nocturnal nature and enhanced hearing abilities. Because they hunt mostly in the dead of night, when lighting conditions are, of course, very dark, bats rely on echolocation to pinpoint exact locations of prey. This ability does not, however, require or have any connection to blindness. Instead, the genetic mutations that evolved the powers of echolocation in bats likely surfaced as they aided the animals in the darkness. A bat’s eyes, far from useless, are attuned to low-light conditions to better aid in finding prey and are enhanced by their super hearing power.

Are Bats Really Blind?