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Group One

1 Alligator

2 Anemone

3 Ant

4 Antelope

5 Aphid

6 Armadillo

7 Badger

8 Bat

9 Bear

10 Beaver

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I curse ye gods that walk the earth -
Called “womenfolk” and “men” -
        Who hate us bats before we have a chance
To demonstrate how beautiful and splendid bats can be,
        But put down our whole nation in advance.
I don’t critique your godlike “kids,” they usually respect us
        And love Bat-man, Bat-woman and Bat-child.
But as a rule you elders all abhor us and reject us,
        Not caring how we feel to be reviled.
We’re mammals, folks! We nurse our babies just as humans do,
        So with your body-type we all comply.
You hate our looks? But what of yours? You lumber up and down,
        Pale, sluggish monsters who can’t even fly!
Nine hundred kinds of bats are we, with technicolor coats
        Of black or red or yellow, gray or brown.
All night we ramble, guided by the echoes of our songs,
        At dawn sleep soundly, hanging upside down.
We’re sunset lovers, quick as thought,
With sheer skin-covered wings,
        Our strong webbed fingers sculpturing our flight,
Our best have five-foot wingspans, live for twenty-five long years,
        Huge darts of darkness whizzing through the night!
So, all ye gods in human form, I’ve lost respect for thee,
And to your pride I dedicate this heartfelt blasphemy.

from the forthcoming book Prayers of 100 Animals A to Z, by William Cleary



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