This judgement from above

is not by God.
A squadron of 17 vultures

out of RAAF formation

each to its turning screw of air

is making light of gravity

in the late evening blue.

Broomless witches.

The pale neck ruffle is

that of the Leonine class

distinguishable from eagles

by wider wingspan and,

like hyenas, the family pack.

On my back, warmed by slates

I hold breath, slit-eyed, wait

for one to descend from 200 feet

to run a closer beak and eye

over this still-breathing meat.

No need, they keep to their art

of spiral staircases
alert only for carrion’s fume

past-it pig, fallen fox, keeled cow

down for any dish that’s overdone.

They lean away, not as one

but in unruffled accord

of auto-pilot, cruise control.

I roll onto my belly
slateheat now on bony knees

all the fleshy parts up to chin.

Inwardly I grin:
I’ve just passed muster
or passed it, just.

Optimist, soon I will arise

go inside to prepare supper

in red wine put my trust

convinced as a Leonine vulture

about the here and the after.

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