I cannot find my rhyme

where did I put it

seems as though it’s gone
long gone

it’s always been
just there
so I could use it anytime
but I must have turned away
just for a minute
and now it’s gone

at the closing of a day
in the middle of a night
when I saw lovers
hand in hand
whenever there were clouds above
fogging up my mind
or when I felt an urge
to sing my song
it was always
right there

maybe it’s on the road now
thumb out
hitching for a ride
down to Melbourne
I can just see some trucker
on a roadside with travelling friends
suddenly declaiming
in couplets

it might have got a ticket
to journey on a train
playing a hand of poker
in the dining car
sipping a scotch
and matching rhythmic movements
with the sway

or queuing at an airport
in a line to have it’s passport stamped
for Vanuatu or Noumea


chasing a long held secret dream
of placing toes
deep into the sand

but I have no clue
to where my rhyme
has gone
it’s no longer where it was

I thought I’d always know exactly
where to find it
but it’s gone and now
I’ve only these few
free associations
to replace it
because that rhyme is
so long

© Frank Prem, 2010


the idiot

Poem #25 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

he’s as loud as a damned circus
the idiot
this is getting beyond a joke
he’s obviously stinking drunk
singing and shouting
by turns

such an idiot

she has been tolerant
but it’s enough

the neighbours
god knows what they think already
and now this carousing
as though he could possibly think
it would do him any good

he can’t even sing when he’s sober
and this is just awful

look at him
a bottle in his hand
a fence to lean against
and a bloody stupid song to sing
at the top of his bloody stupid voice

calling her name now

he’s fallen over
that’s IT





see what that does
surely he’ll leave soon

she’ll have to call them

more damned fuss


© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #26: the argument for noosa


Whose six-pack? Whose scotch?

There are three of us in a babbling hotel,
close to the happy hour.
He is older than I,
younger than my father.
A man full of stories about the town that he left
when he was young.

A rich balladeer,
unique in his capacity to reflect
through the escapists fortune
of having been away.

In all the years till my father died,
when I was a youth and when I was already a man,
I never once supplied, or offered to supply, beer
or whisky or wine.

When I brought my mates around home,
we drank his beer.
When my brothers and I came to visit,
we could not retire to our beds while there was a drop left
in the whisky bottle that he always had available,
even if it was just the two of us doing the drinking.

You know, I never even thought of offering to supply it,
whether drink or food.
Of course, I realise that he would have been offended
if I’d ever done such a thing, but,
especially since he died, I’ve thought about it a lot
and wished that
I’d bought a six-pack, or a bottle of scotch,
and at least made the gesture.

My own father responded,

well, that’s just the way they were
in those days, and now
you probably do the same for your own kids.

I looked at my father, and thought, yes,
that’s the way you have always been. Perhaps
I should get a six-pack or a slab of beer
to offer you, and see what you have to say
to that.

drink up gentlemen, it’s my shout.

What’ll you have?

© Frank Prem, 2003

a whole hour

Poem #24 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

settle down honey
we haven’t even started yet
you don’t want to fly
before we leave the ground
now do you

why don’t you just
hop in to the shower for me
like a love
while I fix some pillows
and a towel
my special oils
and essential equipment
or is that the other way around

you’ll like some of these

are you watching me
from in there
take a look at this

nice huh

now come on out
dry yourself off

lie down on your back a moment
while I take a little look at you

now I’ll just slip this on for you
hmmm you like that don’t you
I can tell


what would you like to do
to get us started

what would you like hon
no rush
we’ve got
a whole hour

© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #25: the idiot

frog call (ba bonk)

was once a frog
you know

upon a lily

it seems a foolish time
so far ago
but all of us
were young

a croak
is like a call
to love
sent by one

a croak is just
a song to sing
on wistful nights
of ripples
on the pond

and I still send
my song of love
though I’m no longer
on the lily

I call out my heart
once so alone
but now
I call to …

we are all just
crying on our lilies

sending songs pa-donk
just hoping for
an echoed bonk-ba-bonk
to give the hope
of love

© Frank Prem, 2017

March 2017 Poem #32: orchestrated autumn


company for a magpie

a magpie and a wagtail are keeping odd company on the park
the magpie has no partner and is not part of a gang of bachelors
he bustles on the ground in a few running steps this way and that
pauses to assess and then hurries forward again
the wagtail matches the running movements in a manner almost mocking
but whereas the magpie is all chest and legs
the wagtail is a tail-ticker who insinuates an occasional curlicue of flight

I wonder what the magpie has done to achieve ex-communication
it would be more usual to find his kind living as part of a thuggish band
of delinquent warblers marauding over claimed territory
I wonder too about his association with the scallywag-tail
the grim beaker and the clown

I suppose even a solitary misfit is entitled to a mate

© Frank Prem, 2002

towards kansas

Poem #23 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

he has listened to the story
of a wonderful life
a tragic affair

watched her eyes
welling tears that brimmed
but never broke
as she herself has not been been broken
though close
so very close

dorothy in a whirlwind
turning and contorting still
searching desperately for a way
to click heels together
while riding riding
and feeling every whipping lick
the twisted beast can lash at her

let there be a landing
but don’t make it too fast
just make it be there
in reach
when the moment comes

as she spoke
he could hear the elemental roar
feel it
touched by chill tremors
while swept along
in a small part of the journey
with her

and now it is done
she has told the tale
and gone
to face the next storm
already bellowing its presence
in her mind

the house is quiet again
the world outside the same as it was
the same as it always is

night has fallen
and he so restless


© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #24: a whole hour

unravelling the code

the genie’s lamp

she muttered to herself
as though she had found
what she expected

what is it

she glanced at me

that you wish for?

turning back to her work

a bowl

it is filled with fruit

more bounty?


she grasped my hand

at a pattern in the markings
at the bottom of the square
that only she
could identify


she said

a horse

higher up in the square


is the rider

is it a fall?
a separation?

what of the gun?

she threw my hand down
while she mumbled
half under her breath

then turned
looked up at me directly


it is you
I see your face

the die is cast

touch your finger
on the shadow

the code
will take you
to where you need
to be

she held a thin
deeply lined palm
face up
towards me

waiting for it to be blessed
in silver

© Frank Prem, 2017

March 2017 Poem #31: frog call (ba bonk)


Hammered Gold and Gilded Tin

It is a grail of sorts, the quest
for possession of a small
but precious and growing thing,
the evolution of a child.

The taste of truth is crafted
in a cup of beaten gold,
shaped plain and unadorned
of false or burnished pride.

The cup of venality
lies coated in thin enamel.
Gilded stuff, poor of substance.
Pretty, gleaming, shallow.

Which will nourish
the thirsty young?
From which a sip
for the future?
Hammered gold or yellow gilt?
Elixir or sugared syrup?

© Frank Prem, 2001