p a

he is filling up

breath by over-rapid breath
squeezes into a space
with no room left
for air

no room
in a waving crop
of terrors
reared on a fertile mental acreage

then sown

it seems odd
the acute awareness he has
of the weight of his chest
the tightness

he cannot think
but feels a prickling
at the corners of his eyes
calling him to drift away
to a moment of peace
in oblivion

like a distressed dog
mouth open

hands on hips
in the aftermath
of a long distance run
that has gone
nowhere at all
the journey is internal

he longs for sleep

each breath
is tight

© Frank Prem, 2008

Daily Prompt: Panic

a tree entrusts the wind

I will offer you my seed
he has grown beneath my boughs
as much as is reasonable
and I have directed
in my thoughts
and in my dreams
and through the sap that flows within the veins
that rise rigid from the earth
always seeking sky

I have attempted to communicate
the big ideas
that come from being rooted deep
and steady
from growing ring by ring
and year by year
until I can offer nothing more

it is the time to let my seed go
and I bequeath it’s fate
and all of what may be
to your breath
blow gently and steady
as you lift this future
from me into the sky
find the soft earth
and the rich
before you choose to let him down

for this is my seed and it is time
so blow you forwards
and take my spirit with you
to distant vantages
then gently set him down

© Frank Prem, 2010

Less Than Average Rain

walk along the back-roads
of summer
hot wind touching your face
the shimmers prancing capers
are silvery devils in the heat of the day

there’s no respite from the brown
of a baking land

hold out your arms
for water
no sign of rain no cloud
long trails of white to Sydney
fade to blue in an empty sky

with no fall of sweet salvation
from above

there’s nothing too surprising
in the dry of the dust and dirt
the illusions still dancing
come from the springtime

the aching thirst of too much sun
brings an end to last hollow hopes
and the truth about the season
is arriving home


© Frank Prem, 2000

Published in The Lakes and Longbeach Gazette, May 2000 edition.

Born to Dance

Cheltenham is near winter
the air deep-chilled
on these still mornings
when cold settles
to make breath smoke and drift
lazy in the early silence

it is quiet here
the street is sleeping
and I am alone
to see the broad-leaf dancer
on the green carpet of nature strip
beneath a lifeless tree
across the road

rising tall
four straight shoots stand
unmoving and rigid
surrounding a colleague
with an unstoppable
need to move
in the urgent vibrations
of a private rhythm

some of us are born to dance
even if we have to dance alone
in the chill silence
of a Cheltenham morning

© Frank Prem, 2001


the public poet

he’s been assigned a billboard
that stands as high as the price of fuel
displayed at the petrol stop
just down the road

on a corner not far from the main drag
at a place where the traffic has to slow
he’s posting a new poem

one letter at a time
working above his head
with suction and pole
this is writing poetry the laborious way
but he was never one for pen
or paper

it takes a long while
an age
so he keeps them short
while his muscles burn
from the creative ache
of chasing an elusive muse

with his goggles steamed
so much of the time
at least the helmet ensures
he writes in occupational health
and safety
for any misjudgment
of a letter or a word
could bring the whole verse down

occasionally a motorist
toots from a car
or an educated passer-by
might comment
about a stray apostrophe
a comma

until he wonders
does anybody really read the work
try to see to the heart
of what he’s dragged out of himself
or do they focus
only on the shape
and argue about the form

but it doesn’t really matter
he’s their poet
this is all he can do

© Frank Prem, 2008

This poem was published in the Fish Poetry Prize Anthology (Ireland) in 2010.



the rhymer finds a corner spot –
a seat under the window
with the light coming in behind him

casts an eye around the room
a hotel where open mic readings
are part of every Saturday
for the committed
the persistent
and the lonely

needs a line to get him going –
perhaps a trick to force a smile
with hinted double meaning
and a killer rhythmic pulse
delivered with a pause
of expectation
and an emphasis on the last line
of the final clinching stanza

but nothing much is happening
so he tries another beer
to make a bubble of thought
the three o’clock reading time is past
and free-versers
with their grubby little words in hand
are making contented conversation

the rhymer is going home unread
on the corner at the traffic lights
he’s stopped and stalled and waiting
for a line or two that will sing out loud
into that room of streaming window light
illuminating the  empty page
that he somehow left behind him

© Frank Prem, 2001

Just a Lifeline

This is just a lifeline.
It’s only saying words.
A connection to the mainstream,
written, but unheard.
At least, the words are only spoken
in the recess of a mind
where the voice has lost the reason
and the sanity unwinds.

Just a lifeline.
Some kind of shouting hush.
A way of keeping company
in a crowded mental crush.
Murmurs on the paper,
and wandering monologues.
Lines of staggering hieroglyphs,
guard sentinels and dogs.

It’s not important, like a heart attack,
there’s no victim of the sounds.
Not even really punishment,
it’s just releasing hounds.

© Frank Prem, 1999

A very early attempt to define writing, by a very junior writer.

lament for a lost _uzz (1) and (2)

I have loved the smell of flowers
the nectar taste of ripened fruit
an apple
a pear
straw_erries with cream

_uttery canola
spread on pumpkin-_read toast
then _reakfast yellow-_ox
or Tasmanian leatherwood honey
dripped slowly
from my knife onto the _read

the mead cakes my grandma _aked
were to swoon for
and vanilla
was the _est ice-cream
served in a cone

where have they gone
these simple _eauties

what has happened
to change the world
to shades of _rown and gray

I wish I’d started a hive
_ack when a little more
might have _een
a lot


the eucalypt still puts out _lossoms
we chose it for the flowers
and planted it where sun
would highlight the crimson
and we could see it
during morning coffee

and watch the _irds and insects
_usy in their work
and I do see the honey _irds
and flying things
_ut they work silently
where once upon a time
it was a _uzz

and yes
the tree still shows itself
in _lossom
_ut there was less to see last year
and there is less again this year
and I wonder
if next year
will _e quite the same

© Frank Prem, 2014


lub-dup (for the good of my heart)


when I was in nursing school
they described the sound


really it meant more than sound
it conjured an image of blood
washing through valves and chambers
pushed and pulsed on a bright red journey



and that’s the heart-beat sound
it’s what I hear
when I press my ear against your chest

or when something you do
makes my breath stumble and hold
makes me tighten
hyper-aware of myself


I’d like to run from the top of the hill
on our old volcano
down the crater-side like a child

then maybe halfway
when I’m moving fast
loose footing might force a dive
and I could roll
laughing like a carefree  fool
to the bottom

that’s the way I’d like to feel my heart






the doctor says
I have to take my walking more seriously
that if I don’t get up off my arse
I’ll need pills

is his cry
and life change
is what I have to do
or I’m going to die

he says
a lub-dup doesn’t last forever
it’s only for the rest of my life


I’m looking forward to walking with you again
from the base of the hill
deep inside the crater
up until we’re right at the top
on the rim

probably I’ll need an excuse to stop
about halfway
because I’ll be feeling for my wind by then
and the sound in my chest
will drive like a double-beaten drum


and when I feel it that way I’ll know
I’m alive
lifestyle changing
for the good of my heart


and you

the good of my heart

© Frank Prem, 2006