last one

is the last day
of November

it’s a hot one

I can’t wait can’t wait
to get myself to the pub
and buy a beer

to buy another

I don’t drink so often
that it ever gets old
but today
is the last day

I’ve been toiling today
since way before
the sun got warm

and I haven’t had a chance
to take my pen
into my hand
and I’m due another one
before that sun goes down
so here it is

the last one

this is the final thing
I’ve written down
for November

and that
my friends
is the last that I can do
for Spring

© Frank Prem, 2016


spe-lli-ng b-y nu-mbe-rs

Poem #18 from Small Town Kid
Small Town Kid will be posted (again) as a complete collection a little way down the track. Other, currently published and available, collections can be found here.


I learned to spell in small numbers
multiples of three
has five and one remainder

I would mis-spell words deliberately
to keep the numbers neat
I do not like remainders-s

that was seven (four)

I gu-ess- it’s- ski-rti-ng o-n ob- ses-sio-n
bu-t I d-on’t- thi-nk t-hat- mat-ter-s to-o mu-ch

when I was small people used to think
that I was saying the words under my breath
moving my lips as children do when reading
but I was counting in threes
to the end of the word the line the page

spelling in small numbers

I so-met-ime-s do- it s-til-l

© Frank Prem 2009

of culture

when I was little more than child
my sister a teenager
we owned a reel-to-reel recorder
a brown quarter inch of plastic
fed from one reel through a channel
of pressing heads and circling rollers to the other

push both buttons down when you’re ready to record

my sister I believe has cultured me
from that young day to this
from the moment the microphone was applied up close
to the speaker of the radio
gathering disc jockeys and the songs they played
the pause button cutting out advertisements and banter

please don’t go near the lounge
and don’t make a noise
the taping has started

we played that first reel for month on month
until we knew the songs by heart
listening for hours save only those few minutes
when the tape required re-winding and re-feeding
then to start again with those familiar opening chords

today I heard a song played on golden-good-times-radio
so familiar that I sang it through and hardly missed a word
I knew the song that should have followed next
and the one that ought to have gone before
for there is an order to these things
established in 1969 when I was on the cusp of thirteen
and my sister ran the reel-to-reel that cultured me

© Frank Prem, 2002


lagoon #31

we are a solemn gathering

I stand at the top of the path
with you
looking down into the bowl

to me
it is a forlorn sight
with the floor cracked open
like a crazed sore
but too tender to touch

the fallen trees
are a disquiet
in the thin embrace of silence

the tall weeds
still green on moisture
stolen from the drying corpse
are a mourning crowd
leaning in
towards the heart of the bowl

one fish
two fish
remain obscenely mounted

waving farewell
from grey branches
others merging by degrees
into the exhausted soil
and the dust
of a memory

© Frank Prem, 2006

Next Poem: This is the final piece in the Drought/Lagoon series. Thank you for reading to the end.

Back to Drought/Lagoon – Introduction


seasonal content

the season has changed
without doubt now

in the space of a week
it has passed from light summer-doona
to winter
and back again
as the nights have cooled

from shorts and no shirt
to trackie-daks
socks and slippers

each evening
has been starry
and cool

the night before last
it rained
a brief burst
but substantial

it has not stopped

the season has changed
for sure
and the predictions
have also come true
el niño has departed
for parts unknown

whether it’s for a long time
or short
whether la niña is to replace him
whether the drought
is now passing

no-one can know
the water I feel
on the collar of my jacket

the puddle I can splash
with my boots
are confirmation
of a brand new season

right now

I feel content

© Frank Prem, 2006

Next Poem: lagoon #31 (final)

Back to Drought/Lagoon – Introduction

A. Family matters

Mrs Allium Fistulosum
met Mrs Allium Porrum
out on the garden bed
on an afternoon
in late Winter.

Good morning Mrs Allium,

one said,

Good-morning Mrs Allium,

the other replied.

The days,

pronounced Mrs A. Fistula,

are growing longer.

I’ve noticed an unsightly
thickening of my leaves.

I believe spring
is on the way.

Mrs. A. Porrum chimed,

I know my dear.

I’ve begun to notice
an unsightly spreading
in my girth.

I hardly know where to hide.

I blame this balmy weather.

Each nodded at their thoughts.

Mrs A. Porrum added,
rather pungently,

It’s very well for certain bulbs!

Those Cepa’s over there
are just soaking up the sun.

It seems to me that almost anyone
can be let into the family now.

It’s my belief
they’re really only Lilacaeae,
you know.

Mrs A. Fistula rejoined

there ought to be criteria
for proper Alliaceae
such as you and I.

If it doesn’t stop soon,
I intend to initiate sativum-action.

Suddenly, in a panicked rush
she cried,

Oh dear!

Oh my dear,
I think I just felt my umbels start!

I’ll be flowering in no time,
and I haven’t any purple ready.

Oh dear!

Mrs A. Porrum called kindly,

Au revoir my dear,
off you go
and have yourself a lovely rest
before you multiply.

Have a nice spring!

©  Frank Prem, 2009

the crocodile trainer

I am the crocodile trainer

I have an egg-flip
in my hand
and six sets of teeth
are smiling up at me
as I line them up


big one on the left
descending in size
until I get to the
big one on the right
who’s now climbing
all over his neighbour

Hey! Hey!
watch out for my sheets
 with those claws

tonight I have to sleep
in that

I have delivered a smack
sharp across the tip
of a nose

and somehow my egg-flip
seems to get
a good response

and there they are
my croco-stars

six mouths open
six in a simultaneous

and I am ready
to wake up now
job done

the crocodile -trainer’s job
is done

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #30: venus of the eucalypts

lagoon #30

desiccation has occurred

the plump
water-fat fish bodies
have sagged and shriveled

and the waterhole
this strangely fascinating study
of heat and time
and detached involvement
has shrunk with them
since yesterday

it is no more
than a muddy bog

a death hallow
with disturbing shapes
suspended in ghost branches
and a handful of pathetic corpses
abandoned and half buried
in the wake
of a no longer existent waterline

the lone ibis
stalking the remnants
of this distressed summer
can have no further reason
to return

© Frank Prem, 2006

Next Poem: seasonal content

Back to Drought/Lagoon – Introduction