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John Tranter

God on a Bicycle


for John Forbes


A handful of snow turns into a cloud
shaped like a camel, then a weasel, and briefly
troubles Carlton’s sidewalk restaurateurs
before cruising on to Port Phillip Bay
to ruin things for the weekend sailors -
            or is all this just a wish
projected from the forehead of the cyclist weaving
through the traffic outside ‘Readings’ bookshop?

Soon, he says, he’ll return to his true vocation:
icing complex jeremiads on a wedding cake
so the young couple on top of the confectionery
get a bit of a fright before the gin and tonics.

                                    Right now he’s
bouncing off a silver Volvo as it makes the turn
into the driveway of ‘Gino’s Gents Apparel’ -
first you hear the thump, then the car tyres
crunching to a stop on the gravel made up of
countless chips of genuine Carrara marble.


Photo of John Forbes 1984
John Forbes, Annandale, Sydney, May 1984, weighing the relative virtues of the pen and the sword (as exemplified by a toy artillery field piece on the one hand and the Sydney Morning Herald on the other), photo John Tranter.

John Tranter is the editor of Jacket magazine. This poem was published (with its dedication) in the collection At The Florida in 1993.


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