TCR Holiday Special 1998

John Tranter


John Tranter
John Tranter (Photo by Guy Shahar) John is the editor of the online magazine, Jacket.  He tells the story of what Christmas is like in his homeland of Australia, where the holidays come during the hot season.  This poem is from his latest book, Late Night Radio.


Backyard    Click to hear RealAudio

The God of Smoke listens idly in the heat
    to the barbecue sausages
speaking the language of rain deceitfully
    as their fat dances.

Azure, hazed, the huge drifting sky shelters
    its threatening weather.
A screen door slams, and the kids come tumbling
    out of their arguments,

and the barrage of shouting begins, concerning
    young Sandra and Scott
and the broken badminton racquet and net
    and the burning meat.

Is that a fifties home movie, or the real
    thing? Heavens, how
a child and a beach ball in natural colour
    can break your heart.

And the brown dog worries the khaki grass
    to stop it from growing
in place of his worship, the burying bone.
    The bone that stinks.

Turn now to the God of this tattered arena
    watching over the rites of passage -
marriage, separation; adolescence
    and troubled maturity:

having served under that bright sky you may look up
    but don't ask too much:
some cold beer, a few old friends in the afternoon,
    a Southerly Buster at dusk.


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