Your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice by Jonce Marshall Palmer
Funny how it never graces automatic ears.
Like voicemail is meant to amplify the message and
not the bandwidth to hear it.
It matters whether you funnel
something inward or spewed
out. Copper plates cup the
delicate folds of a bat’s
outer ear for a bowl that holds
I call the next person in the queue and think
does it ever get to be too much for them,
all the sounds, especially when they’re
if they did,
they wouldn’t be able to hunt
and would’ve died out.
Tell that to the woman on the other
line. She dropped her phone
and I can hear it dangling by the cord.
That’s the first thing.
Underneath that are her hurry-
ing footsteps, socks
smearing against hardwood
towards an open door.
The last thing I can make out for sure
is her gasp.
the sky is full of bats
hundreds of brown shadows blackened
by the backlight
of the sun
like light over disturbed water
full of sounds
One last thing
I may be hearing:
Somewhere in the throng, I
think a bat is full of sound,
too cluttered by the wingspans
in their periphery
to let anything out and stay out.
The air rushes past the ears
whine of rushing past eyes clenched
and trusting the ticking dial in their chest.
I think the bat is chirping,
groping with their voice
only to have the sound
s c a t te re d
a cr os s
a ll th e
bo d ie s
with the phone swinging from the cord
knocking against the woman’s wall,
I can’t hear all the flapping just chirps
too high a frequency for human ears to hear
but loud enough to feel
claustrophobia at my desk by the window
blown in from another sky.
Jonce Marshall Palmer (they/them) is a nonbinary poet & organizer living in Tallahassee. Their first chapbook, Searching For Smoke Rings, is available from Ghost City Press. You can connect with Jonce and see more of their work on Twitter @masterofmusix or on their website https://jmpalmer.carrd.co