cloudy face prayer

lord this is earth
I am alone
too far from water-
blue we look
from where you gaze on us

we are that colour
not only sky above
but there’s a sea somewhere
that’s running too

I try to catch a glimpse of you
in between the picture-faces made by clouds
they’re only distorted scenes
only suggestions
if I turn my head
I can’t find you there

perhaps in sea
underneath the ocean swirl
I hold my breath and open eyes
once to glimpse
a gliding ray

was it you

do you watch from there
the things that happen
past the break of surf on land
or higher
in the atmosphere surrounding us

and lord
I am alone
too far from water blue
look down on me
if you will
show me a cloudy face

© Frank Prem 2016

Daily Prompt – Clouds


this is mine

I’m making this my own
from gun-metal blue salt water
to orange fruiting of the sun

I am ankle deep in the sand of low tide
running out fast
in the chop of a wind
that has raised heads
white at the top of driving waves
full of fizz in the black
of a night that fades
behind the moon
shining a ripple-line that reaches out
to the last of daylight

this is all mine.

© Frank Prem 2001, 2016

Featured in an e-zine (Caught in the Net 3) that doesn’t exist anymore, back in May 2001

arthur and alice

arthur and alice found each other
one day back in fifty-nine

he was a young man
with hair slicked
and tongue tied
no aspiration greater
than a seat at the flicks
with a girl as beautiful

alice was a slender reed
hardly of an age to say
yes to next saturday night
if her mother could talk
to her father
and if arthur came for her
freshly scrubbed and standing tall
to shake her dad’s hand

then an easy walk
to see the movie
with a newsreel
and a serial thriller thrown in
as shown on the billboard
wired to the elm tree
at the corner
of camp street and ford

a bag of chips
from the dolphin café
to share at intermission
as thrilling as the main feature


arthur and alice
walk in the town every day

the old man stands tall
with his hair slicked
speaks quietly to alice
her little frame at risk
of an unauthorized journey
from the tug
of the gentle breeze

slow steps and hand-in-hand
theirs is a small world
made only for two

arthur is anchor
alice is home
together they’ve featured
in a day to day serial
not made for the newsreel
or the billboard wired to the tree
at the corner of camp street
and ford

but playing privately
in a small house
an easy walk from town

© Frank Prem 2009, 2016


april moon

all through the cooler nights of april
I wrote my songs and stories

pausing only
for moments taken
to gaze
into the pallid mystery
of a poet’s moon
that shone
sometimes a feeble glow
sometimes hardly present
yet at other times
a golden balloon
abreast of the horizon
at first rising

I wrote down almost half
of everything I ever knew

penned to illuminate
and clarify
to obfuscate
and to destroy
I wielded this pen of mine
to make the necessary
private admissions
reveal myself in unguarded words
and personalised glittering symbols
the shaman of slippery words
with his onion staff

I sang and sang
while the moon went past

night after night
as it cooled
I sang slower
sang quietly
kept voice barely within the sound
until at last
it was hardly more
than a whisper
that could have been the breeze
I felt
ruffling my coat
worn long as talisman
and to kiss this
the moon of poets farewell
for she is gone
and I
am almost
done in
by the cool of april nights

the songs
and all the stories
are etched deep into the paper
no longer secret words
nor enigmatic
merely a kind of historical accounting
for the poet moon that was

I abhor
the coming silence

© Frank Prem 2003, 2016

April Moon appeared in The Australia Times Poetry Magazine Vol. 4 No. 4, 2016


materinski jezik – the mother tongue

Frenk, tell me, why you not use
you mother language some more, hmmm?

You speak Australski, yes,
but this is not you mother tongue.
You mother tongue is Hrvatski,
you call him Croatia, no?
That is language you was born with
and you papa and mama speak him.
Why you no speak him more?
Why always Australski, Australski?

Yes, Frenk,
of course you not too lovely speaking him,
if you don’t get praksa, the practice,
how you can be speaking him good?

even you mama and you papa mix him up now,
with the Australski and the Hrvatski sve in jedan.

And your tetak iz Chermany, too? What he do?
Oh, he mix deutsch with the Hrvatski? Ha!
This mjeshanje of languages is no good.
I think svako, eh, everyone, should speak
mother language proper, no more mixing-ups.

Frenki, you go now to you grandma, to you oma,
and you speak her and you listen to her
to proper Hrvatski speaking – this beautiful language.
Maybe is something you can be learning.

What you saying, Frenk? Oma is mixing Australski, too?
Oh, joj!

© Frank Prem 2003, 2016


This is one of a series of poems I’ve written that make use of a ‘foreign’ or immigrant voice – Croatian-English in this case.

This is a voice that I grew up surrounded by, and there was a period of time when I was able to capture it for my poetic purposes.

I’ve had the good fortune to have a few of these pieces appear in publications of capture prizes from time to time. This piece – materinski jezik – was featured on the UNESCO site as their Poem of the Month, back in 2003.

Hope you enjoy reading the piece.

Losing Sleep About Perfection

My father is losing sleep
about perfection.
A man who, all his life, pursued
the plumb straightness of his lines
is watching, without capacity to change,
the ups and downs and wavering
of lesser work
performed in his domain
and he doesn’t sleep well.
Not anymore.

My father is calling helpers in
these days.
He can’t shift the bricks and pavers
to lay them down in harmony.
His strength has left him overnight
or perhaps, crept away
in these last few, flying years.
Growing old is also growing anger
at the need to call for assistance
from incompetents and fools.

My father is holding on to pride
and dignity,
by forcing sundry artisans and labourers
to re-lay bricks and pavers
into the honest, straight lines
of plumb-bob and spirit-level
that a man may watch all day
with the satisfaction of a lifetime
spent pursuing small perfections
and building pride.

© Frank Prem

politika of the pipples

So! Frenk!
You are skippi or Evropski – from Europe?
Da, ja isto – me too – but you have lived here all life, yes?
I am only here few years.

What do you do? Oh, poet!
We have many poet in my country,
is long tradition, very politik, you know?
Telling pipples istina – the truth.
What you write?
What? Kako to? How can you no be writing politik
if you are poet?

Frenk, slu”saj – listen to me
when I was mlad “covjek – a young man
my country communist was. Eh, bastards.
We pipples no can say nothing, you know?
Every place bastard informer has, schools must learn
bloody communist. Je bempti, bastards!

It was poetry, it was stories, this was all we have,
za sje’canjufor the remembering.
You know this communist bastards, they want us to forget
who am we, who we have been, yes.
It was stories, pjesme – songs – you know,
they tell us, they tell our children, Frenk. They say
why do we exist, why are we proud, why we suffer.

Communisti, they make the smell, sve prljavo – everything dirty.
They are loud, like orchestra drums and trumpeti,
make noise too big for cello i violin, but is important –
if you have music ear – is important to listen
for little bit that violin. Sometimes when big noise bastard
is taking zrak – the breath – sometimes you can hear him.

This communisti was apocalypse for my pipples, you know?
Was poets, songs keep my pipple alive
inside their hearts where this bastards cannot touch.

Pa tako, jedan dan – so, one day, all sudden,
communisti are gone – pht! – no more.
But this violin, this poetry is playing after apocalypse.
Everyone can hear him now. Prekrasno
is very beautiful – and, is sound of our hearts.

So, Frenki boy, you are politik, yes.
You are violin in orchestra of big freedoms. Yes Frenk, you.
No, is not bullshit, is poets who will be left to play this –
kako se ka”ze – how you say him – is poets
who will be left to play the post-apocalyptic violin.

Yes Frenk, you are the politika of the pipples.

© Frank Prem (writing as Frank Faust) 2001


lygon street

lygon street is alive tonight
it’s only a thursday
but there are bodies everywhere
looking for a feed in the evening
I can’t avoid a spruiker standing outside
with his best moustache and a menu
twitching at a chance to tempt me in
with a free red wine and something special
but I’m just walking now
taking in the scene and the people
scattered everywhere on a cold night
in the middle of july

every restaurant is tables and chairs
under a sidewalk-spread of umbrellas
embracing the buzz of a round of chatter
and the cosy hiss of portable gas heating
it almost makes me want to sit and place an order
from the italian lebanese indian malay place
that I’m passing now on this smorgasbord
street of multi-cultural cuisine
but I’m only sucking up the sounds
and taking in the scent
and wandering at my ease
once more up and down

lygon street

© Frank Prem (writing as Frank Faust) 2000, 2016

Published in the UK in Aabye’s Baby 34, way back.


I can’t dance the tango
I am strictly still a watching man
who cannot dance to Latin
but I saw that guy wiggle his behind
in a fancy little shuffle
while his girl almost popped out…

why is she hanging upside down?

I swear she really almost popped out…

but did you see the way her leg flicked
right up among his articles
I didn’t know to tango
was to put your jewels at risk
and now she’s wrapped herself around him
how can a woman twist about like that
something in what she’s doing
seems to make me sweat

what about those other two
mincing up and down and eye to eye
this isn’t just a tango it is watching at a flame
lick every burning touch made by
a restless pair of roaming hands
and can you see the way
she seems to climb him
from the ground up




until he’s holding her
nose to nose
she’s right there in his face


I can’t dance the tango
I am strictly still a watching man
and if I’m ever going to tango
I think I better make a booking
for some lessons

© Frank Prem (writing as Frank Faust) 2000, 2016

2001, 2016

maketh the man

Listen to Frank read maketh the man  on SoundCloud

she drew her hands from the pool
squeezed and shaped the mud
sang a murmur while patting the form

la la la-la-la la la

and moulded a small man-figure
that she sat down beside her

she gave him a mouth
and two eyes
then breathed on him once

breathed again

la la la-la-la la la

it was no surprise at all
when he moved his arms
clambered up to stand wobbling
on the legs she’d made
especially for him

the first word that he spoke
was her name


and that was the song they sang together


when the call rang out for supper
she put him down
back in the water he came from

she would return later
to squeeze and shape the mud
and breathe him into life


la la


© Frank Prem 2010

Another piece taken from an unpublished mythologically inspired series of poems arising from repeat exposures to the work of the late Joseph Campbell, this piece has been recorded in spoken word format, with my wife Leanne Murphy providing musical accompaniment, recording expertise and final polish.