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Culture Vultures - Enda Boyle

It’s Thursday night in a provincial art centre

A Fulbright scholar has just finished reading

from her just published collection of essays

I eye up the last vol au vent on the snack table

and sneak a look at the clock on my phone

Already dreaming of the post reading pint

The moderator opens the floor to questions

My heart beats out a drum solo and a stream

of sweat runs from my left temple to my chin

As a culture vulture flaps down from its perch

Fluttering down in front of the microphone

the bird opens its beak and spits out the bone

of a visiting English novelist it had been picking

at since she plucked it from his out of his ribcage

at a panel on the death of the postmodern novel

The vulture spreads its wings and puffs its chest

Squawking “this is really more of a comment

than a question but I just really want to say”

A morgue-chill descends on the auditorium

as the bird chirps out its boring monologue

We wince with each sphincter-sealing

remark establishing a special connection

between our Avian friend and the professor

Eventually the moderator a master of tact

steps in and gently shuts the questioner down

above us the committee of vultures protest

feeling subbed they adopt an attack formation

swooping downward they peck at the speaker

tearing chunks out of her Balmain's blazer

they projectile vomit over the sales table

ruining the signed copies of the collection

As the vultures reach the height of Hitchcockian

fury we discreetly slip out the fire exit

escaping from the pandemonium of feathers

and blood that always follow these readings

as the vultures tear chunks out of each other

trying to get noticed by the BBC camera crew.



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