Terry McDonagh – Dysfunctional Echolocation

New book by Terry McDonagh Echolocation Live Encounters Magazine October 2015

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Dysfunctional Echolocationfor Lance Armstrong and all who cheat at sport
by Terry McDonagh, Irish Poet, Playwright and Writer.

This poem, Dysfunctional Echolocation, attempts to draw attention to unfairness of doping in sport. It also draws attention to the damage doping does to your health in the broadest sense of the word – people who cheat at sport are people who have lost their way. They are no longer in touch with what it means to be truly human.

This poem is included in my forthcoming poetry collection, Echolocation, to be launched on October 7th in Ireland by well-known children’s author, Sarah Webb. 

Book Cover copy

Dysfunctional Echolocation
for Lance Armstrong and all who cheat at sport

It all started one evening when bats were
preparing for their nocturnal community games.
They’d been darting, plunging, blowing whistles and
checking records – some were upset when qualifying

times were not reached. Suddenly and without warning
a top sprinter wobbled over on to another bat’s lane,

havocing through a fish n’ chip van and ending up
in a floating A&E. Horroritus, said Batdoctor.

What ails thee sprinter bat on track
…easy for thee, usually – let’s see.

Help me Batdoc, I need to see. My echolocation
has gone whacky. Give me glory from your laboratory.


Terroritus, thought chip-van-man
fuming and swinging his fish n’ chip pan.

I’ll call dope-finder, PC Batman, I will!
to check for echolocation manipulation.
How can a bat sprinter throw wobbles
like a human child on cobbles?

I’ve a good mind to teach that bat a lesson
and thrash him with my chip pan for he’s
wrecked my van, but I won’t just yet  –
I’ll hold out awhile for PC s doping results.

Chip-van-man rang Hot Air Insurance.

Someone has to pay, I say.


The starting guns were going off for long jumps,
high jumps, triple jumps, sprints, swerves, races,

steeplechases, discus, darting, fly-catching,
wrestling and weightier events for fatter bats.

Athletes started bumping into humans, crashing
into trees, missing flying insects and juicy bees.

But rich bats and frilly bats were mystified
and befuddled up in the bat-spectator stand.

We are as corrupt as people, they screamed.
We’ll be awake in daytime if this goes on.

Some athletes protested innocence at interviews
like Olympic sprinters or cyclists at the Tour de France.

PC Batman sent in his report – positive! The games
were scrapped and Batdoc was packed off to do time.


Some bat-performers began to find their way home
after dark again, but experts noticed a number of baby bats

with names like Lance, Gene or Manipulation
and they wondered about the future of Echolocation.

© Terry McDonagh

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