Ultima Ratio Regum
on announcement of intention to attack
by Greg Darms
Little medusa, what do you have to do
with the killing brought on by killing?
You are free swimming, little more
than floating in your own necessity,
unknown as any fauna overlooked
in a complex system, by a higher order,
until stirred from your place in the warm mud
waters by my warm cupped hand.
And what have the ubiquitous sea slug,
the gunnel and ghost shrimp,
the heart cockle and the spiny sculpin
to fear in that same sustaining medium,
that ritornello of days and years
on the saltings of the Skagit Sea?°
A periodic question, ending with a period.
For today we have heard "the final argument of kings."
Honoring the deeper tradition,
I set you back into the slack tide
with a petition: Mend this broken world.
° The Skagit Sea is a local name for the large estuary at the mouth of the Skagit River in northern Washington state where Greg led a poetry workshop at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on September 15, 2001, while reconnaissance aircraft from nearby Whidbey Island Naval Air Station circled low overhead.
Greg Darms teaches Science and English in Astoria, Oregon, where he lives on a hundred-year-old float house near the mouth of the Columbia River. He is working on Prima Materia, a fragmentary manuscript involving text and drawings, partially in the tradition of the early naturalists (Charles Darwin's Red Notebook). His poems have been published recently in VOLT, Isotope, The Diagram, and Wild Earth. He edited the literary magazine convolvulus from 1991 to 2005.
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