Shai Goldman

The Inter-Animal Court (A Satire, in Verse)

The Lion, the Hyena, and the Vulture, Esteemed Judges All

The Lion, the Vulture, and the Hyena
Convened to form a court
That Truth and Justice would restore
And evil actors thwart.

For lately evil deeds were done
Which had disturbed the peace
And cast a shadow o’er the land
Which must be brought to cease.

The Lion soberly began,
Stroking his kingly mane:
“Fellow judges, honored all,
We must cleanse this stain.

“Great wrongs have here been brought to pass —
Crimes against us all;
We, arbiters of this realm
Have a duty to recall.”

The Vulture squawked, “Let us hear
A witness, one or two
That might describe the terror clear
So we will know what to do.”

“First witness!” the Hyena cried,
And the Bear, crying came.
His eyes were red, his claws were sharp,
And his voice was filled with blame.

“Speak your piece!” the Hyena squealed,
“Testify your pain!”
“I cannot speak,” the Bear replied,
“For my tears flow like rain.

“But in between a sob and groan,
I may still say a word —
Forgive me if, through woe and ache,
The meaning be obscured.

“We were wandering in our woods,
My father dear and I,
When came the Man and ruined all,
Never will I know why!

“O! why he’s so I cannot know!
His soul is blackest grime!
He slaughtered my father without pity
And laughed at his crime.”

The Vulture gasped to hear this speech —
It was as he had feared;
The Hyena howled a howl of rage;
The Lion stroked his beard,

“Fellow judges, just and wise,
Let us think on what we’ve heard,
But be not hasty to condemn
Before the final word.

“We must be fair, we must be just
When we lay our binding law,
A law of Truth and Justice pure,
Not biased, without flaw.”

“I think we’ve heard more than enough,”
The Hyena then did shriek,
“But there is more, if you insist —
Let the Fawn now speak!”

The Fawn looked just a bit afraid,
Trotting towards the stand —
She must have spied the judges’ garb
So glorious and grand.

She spoke: “I saw the Man hunting
With bow and quiver and arrow,
Riding in the forests thick
In path most dark and narrow.

“I knew right then his dark design,
His evil plot was clear —
He wished to murder all my kin
And rid the Earth of deer!”

“Enough!” the Lion roared at once,
“There is no need for more!
I find the human guilty, guilty!
Condemned forevermore!”

The Vulture cawed, “I concur —
His crimes are heavy and black;
Crimes against the entire Earth
Can never be taken back.”

“Worse than these!” the Hyena moaned,
“Worse and worser yet!
There is no crime as black as Man,
I condemn him to death!”

“Very well,” the Lion spoke,
“That is all for now —
Court adjourned, and case closed;
Let us all take a bow.”

But as they began to leave the stand,
Their bellies softly rumbled;
“I think that dinnertime has neared,”
The Lion first then grumbled.

“It is so,” the Vulture crowed,
“But what should we eat?”
The Lion licked his lips and laughed,
“I spot some tender meat!”

And so he mauled the frightened Fawn,
Biting through the bone,
Once a witness, now a meal —
Her blood there brightly shone.

Next the Vulture and the Hyena,
Judges, wise and just,
Joined to feast with their friend
As so by Law they must.

“A splendid and a goodly thing!”
The Lion did them address,
“Bringing peace to all the land,
And feasting to our success!”

“I must concur,” so then the vulture,
With bloodied beak replied,
“Our kingdom and the Earth did well
That they on us relied.”

But the Hyena spoke not a word,
Only howled in delight,
Enjoying the taste of innocent flesh,
And Justice, Truth and Might.

About the Author
Shai Goldman spent three years studying talmud at Yeshivat Har Etzion. He is currently pursuing his bachelors in Computer Science at Columbia University. There, while taking the required core literature courses, he fell in love with poetry, and began writing poems of his own. His recent book, "Poems on the Parsha," is available on Amazon.
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