Editor’s Note: From halfway around the world, the poet presented this poem to Delmarva Review, Volume 12, from an event that shook the planet.
Author’s Note: While it does not directly reference the event, “The Man Who Turned Himself into a Gun” was prompted by the unconscionable slaughter of fifty-one worshipers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019. In fact, the poem was written a few days later. I grew up in Christchurch, and still live nearby. The gunman did not. He was from Australia, and brought with him to our country a vile set of beliefs that have some currency throughout the world including some disaffected of our own citizens. It is just over a year since the massacre and feelings are still, of course, raw. New Zealand is a peaceable country and such events are quite alien. While prompted by this specific event, however, I do trust the poem has a more general application. – JN
The Man Who Turned Himself into a Gun
At first he thought bullets;
then he expressed them.
He became gun-metal gray,
cold to the touch.
He wanted to press himself
into evil’s shoulder, be cradled there.
He wanted to be trained in evil’s grip,
evil’s telescopic sight in his sight.
Above all he longed for evil’s finger feeling for,
feathering, depressing his progressive trigger.
He was sleek, he was balanced:
no longer flesh, no longer sentiment,
James Norcliffe, of Christchurch, New Zealand, has published nine collections of poetry including Shadow Play (2013) and Dark Days at the Oxygen Café (VUP, 2016). Recent work has appeared in Landfall, Spillway, The Cincinnati Review, Salamander, Gargoyle, Flash Fiction International (Norton, 2015), and a new collection, Deadpan (Otago University Press).
Delmarva Review publishes the best of new poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction, selected from thousands of submissions annually by authors in the region, across the United States, and beyond. The independent literary journal is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Print and digital editions are available at Amazon and other major online bookstores. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.