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Fall 2005

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Parens Patriae
Laura Lee Washburn

"PLEASE DON'T FEED THE SEAGULLS
24-HOUR SURVEILLANCE" -sign outside pub, Kaikoura, NZ

Last Tuesday, 3 a.m., we caught two
tourists from Denmark. On a small
offshore island we call Little Gulag
Archipelago
, Little Guantanamo Bay,

Little Laogai, one of the places
on which we've eradicated the introduced
species, killed off rabbits and stoat,

ferret and damned Australian
possums, where our endangered native
birds are scheduled to make a comeback,
we've securely detained the culprits

in holding cells. Honeymoon, he
keeps saying. Though
we have the surveillance tape,

he denies feeding the gulls. She
claims she offered them blue cod-
not white bread. Our experts
work day and night reviewing

the evidence. We tell our detainees
they have no need of lawyers, to wait.
I've seen it happen before,

she'll crack like a fresh breakfast egg,
spill everything, beans, guts,
glory. We've got them, dead
to our last civilized rights.