The Situation: James Norcliffe

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton

Wolf Light


L’heure entre chien et loup




Wolf light: between your

out-breath and your in-breath;

your in-breath and your-out breath,

the stasis mimicking the real thing.




The time of fading

bees and dying ladybirds.


When the drone of distant motorways

drowns chittering and buzz:

the grey time where

all noise becomes white.




The little ones bring us stories.

They want us to read to them,

to embroider the bright illustrations

and make them even brighter.


How can we resist?

Lying is in our blood.




Buzz, drone, lies

and wolf light and after

wolf light: darkness.

After darkness: darkness


— James Norcliffe


The man who turned himself into a gun



At first he thought bullets;

then he expressed them.


He became gun-metal grey,

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 wanted evil’s finger feeling for,

feathering, depressing his progressive trigger.


He was sleek, he was balanced:

no longer flesh, no longer sentient,



then weightless


mechanically perfect,

perfectly mechanical.


— James Norcliffe

James Norcliffe biography

Man with a beard standing in front of a vine.
James Norcliffe. Image provided. 

James Norcliffe has published several collections of poetry and many novels for young people. His most recent poetry collection is Deadpan, published last year by Otago University Press. With Michelle Elvy and Frankie McMillan he edited Bonsai;(Canterbury University Press,) New Zealand’s first major collection of flash and short fiction, and this year with Michelle Elvy and Paula Morris, Ko Aotearoa Tātou — We Are New Zealand;(Otago University Press), an anthology celebrating diversity in New Zealand / Aotearoa.

No comments: