A new poem by Asa Boxer

The Harris Backlock

is a breech-loading weapon, which means
the barrel (that is, the backbone) snaps
open thus. Left unlubed, it tends to jam,
exposing the breech bush and the inter-

rupted screw. Relative to sliding block
mechanisms, this one is slower,
but does not require cartridge cases,
and handles better rearward thrust on firing.

Unlike its confreres (including
the Layton wedlock and the Solway
repeater), this model is equipped
with the Horatian shot-box:

essentially, a bullet-collecting drawer.
For although this rifle packs
enough firepower to sink ships,
the issue of a round might take

up to twenty years with cajoling.
Due to the sound the backlock makes
as slugs clatter into the magazine,
it is nicknamed, ‘the chuckling-gun.’

Though a favourite among collectors,
the backlock is by no means an insurgency
gun for mass-production. Any home
of taste that has one generally keeps it

out of sight (especially from the wife)
because its suggestive anatomy
can be offensive to house-guests.
Its full-cock mechanism, you see,

and the peculiar kink of its crosshairs
have been known to stare down gorgons,
and raise the blood in the ears and eyes
of the purest-bred, pure-white hounds.

Mavens claim it’s a harmless device
meant for sport and pot-shots at stars.
According to legend, it was the chuckling-gun
that put those pock-marks on the moon.

From what I know, when hunting
with one, the trees transform into deer,
the stones run with wine, and squirrels
reveal their caches of acorn-gold.