playing hard ball

Poem #9 from: Memoir of a Dog

Back to Memoir of a Dog – Introduction

he is tense
quivering in expectation
eyes fixed on a point
in front of him

on an object
beneath my foot

I fake a move to the left
his head darts that way
the body not so easily fooled
coiled tight but unmoving

the dog
is still young
but he is full-grown
his head the height of my hips

he is an illusion of size
appearing solid beneath his thick coat
but underneath
he’s thin
as rangy as a whippet
the creamy odour of lanoline
a strange characteristic
of this woollen dog

another fake
this time forces a bounce forward
and a bark
of joyous frustration

he likes this game
the build-up of tension
before I perform a genuine kick
that sends him bounding in pursuit
to the very depths of the back yard
it’s not easy to grin
around the sides of a tennis ball
but he tries
for now he has control
and it’s my turn to do some hard work
and get the ball back

bouncing ball 30%

© Frank Prem 2009

Memoir of a Dog Poem 10: tba

the school cleaner

he armed himself
on a daily basis
with the tools required
by his trade

a broom of course
and a mop and bucket

solvent and a three inch paintbrush

a duster
an eraser
and assorted cloths

a chisel
he had sometimes found useful

and a hammer

some weights

protective clothing

dark glasses
heavy boots
rubber gloves

a helmet
well you never could tell


enough to make a start
to the working evening


he found that every room
had a different

the beginners rooms
were just a mess

loose letters
naïve words


half formed couplets

strewn and abandoned
on the floor
in corners
under the desks

simple enough though
to sweep them up
into a seething mess
then scoop them
into recycling

the more advanced rooms
spelled trouble

ha ha
not a pun

some of those phrases
could be curly
almost fully complete
as meaningful stanzas
before the sense of them
had flown
leaving despair and resentment
trailing in black lines
of entrapment

he might have to stop these
in their tracks

possibly whack down
leading lines with the hammer

glove up

handle carefully
words can sometimes
do a lot of harm

and the ‘S’ room
was a shocker

all those sibilants
curling round everything
seeming alive

and slippery

he would show no mercy there

almost as disturbing
as having to contain
the over-friendly ‘T’s next door

an unpleasant student
would scribble
or carve
on the furniture

some small doggerel
but always
with a nasty bite

out with the solvent
or the stripper

hammer and chisel
if it was extreme

the teachers
were perhaps the worst

the rubbish they left
on blackboards

on whiteboards

the gifted ones left their nonsense
in the air

left for him
to clean up after them

left for him
to leave things gleaming
by mis-formed rhyme
an absence of free-verse

no pentameters
no sonnets

and they paid him

not enough to compensate
for the nightmares
of letters and words running
through his mind

not enough
for the loss of sleep

and they say
that HE
has no imagination

ho ho
bloody ho

he’s half a mind
to chuck this job

words and all

he kicks
at a loose middle third
of an alphabet

shoves the last letters
into a plastic garbage bag
for incineration
and he’s done

off home now
for a drink

© Frank Prem, 2017

June 2017 Poem #35: tba

Rock’n’Roll Star

I used to be a rock’n’roll star
Used to hear the young girls scream
Used to sing to a hard guitar
Man, those riffs were just obscene.

The boys and me, would strut our stuff
When we walked onto the stage
Strobing lights and an audience roar
The fans came out to rage.

Then we’d hit the notes
Of the first hot song
The rhythm, the beat
All night long.

Until we’d played our hearts
Shouted our souls
Encores done
And we’d hit the road.

Ohhh, those days
On a rock’n’roll road
Yeah those nights
With a rock’n’roll broad.

Yeah, yeah, I used to be a rock’n’roll star.

I play a little blues at the local bar
I hear occasional clapping
I love the sound and the smoky air
Like to know I still make them happy.

I play alone, no entourage
No strutting needed here
The lights are low, a drinkers place
I wonder what they hear.

Just a gig sometimes
Day job running as well
Bluesy nights, merchant days
An early morning bell.

A little blue note
A touch of slide
Customers waiting
Ohh, what a ride.

Hey, I remember
Days on the road
And the nights that were blurry
In a rock’n’roll show.

Yeah, yeah, I used to be a rock’n’roll star.

Yeah, yeah, I used to be a rock’n’roll star.

© Frank Prem, 1998

oonga boonga (power to the people)

the government wants to charge me
for the electricity
I make

I have a power plant
on my rooftop

even though
I make it for myself
the government
wants to take it

they don’t to build
a power plant
oh no no no

they don’t want
to be touched
by dirty coal
oh no no no

they love the sun
oh yes yes yes

they love
oh yes yes yes yes

they pay me peanuts
for power
they pay me
enough so I can’t say
it’s nothing

now they want to levy
a small premium
oh no no no

a little extra
I’ve never before
had to pay
oh no no no

when will it end
no never ever

will they never leave us
trying to support the earth
she’s dying all the time

think I’ll go
to Stone Age
oonga boonga

think I’ll just
ka boonga

I can’t wait
for the end
it’s surely coming

the end
surely coming


© Frank Prem, 2017

June 2017 Poem #34: the school cleaner

passing familiarity

grass 1

the night
does not shine
she doesn’t show

she keeps her cloak
worn tightly

only the distant light
only the luminous elsewhere
invades her spaces

what shade is green
at in darkness

is night life a blur
or is it
moving too fast
to take it in

I know these things
in daylight
I know them well

but here
I am the stranger

I am alone
the transience
of the familiar
grass 2

© Frank Prem, 2017

June 2017 Poem #33: oonga boonga (power to the people)

knock before entering

Poem #8 from: Memoir of a Dog

Back to Memoir of a Dog – Introduction

a cardboard sign
tacked to the lamp-post says

home-made kennels
all sizes
16 barnard street


it’s big enough
and we’ve made it comfortable
he doesn’t want anything to do with it

we’ve tried enticing

push and shove

he won’t enter
won’t stay

seems to feel we’re inflicting
an unpleasantness

time to use plan b
if only we had one

this should’ve been easy


our youngest has disappeared

so has the dog

fast initiation of the quick search
we’ve perfected

murmurings are detected
from the vicinity
of the kennel

soothing sounds

the boy has taken upon himself
the habituation of dog and kennel

they both look warm and comfortable
though perhaps
a little too snug

kennel 30%

© Frank Prem 2009

Memoir of a Dog Poem 9: Search No search term specified. Showing recent items. Search or use up and down arrow keys to select an item. playing hard ball

god of the mountain

who was it
that walked these hills
and with a stamp of his feet
shuddered the stone
to shingle

who lit the blaze
beneath the land
to turn this mountain
into a cone filled with fire

I see the signs
but I don’t know

the blue-grey haze
obscures me

yet when the sun
on the sandstone in the evening
glows red
I can almost see a face
like the picture of a man
in the mountain

© Frank Prem, 2016

some poodles turn grey

Poem #7 from: Memoir of a Dog

Back to Memoir of a Dog – Introduction

they made a movie
about hanging rock

schoolgirls clambering up the path
surrounded by some kind of eeriness
before they disappeared without a trace
somewhere near the summit

it’s supposed to be haunted
whether by white ghosts or aboriginal spirits
I’ve never been sure

I do know it’s a great place for a picnic
only a couple of hours north of the city
and that’s where we’re heading for a day out

the station wagon is getting a little old now
starting to need an oil top-up between regular servicing
but it’s worked well for us with our two small kids
room for all the luggage in the back
easy to access

of course
we move around a little differently
have to arrange the travelling things
so that they leave a clear space
in the centre
room for sparky to sit
with his head resting on the seatback
in between the boys
where they can pat him on the muzzle
murmur gentle words to him
in exchange for a lick
before he turns around three times
and settles to sleep
he’s a pretty good traveller


it’s unusual
sparky can’t seem to settle down on the drive
he looks distinctly out of sorts

yips occasionally

we wonder if he may be ailing
speak words of comfort to him

doesn’t seem to help much


the sparkler is sitting up
waiting for release when the tailgate is raised
he’s shivering
and looks distinctly uncomfortable

a pat on the flank as the leash is attached
feels moist

there is oil on my fingers
and the freshly washed dog
is a dirty colour

the carpet in the back of the car
is soaked and dark
the plastic container of motor oil
lies on its side
minus the lid


what can you do

wipe the dog down
with a towel
un-drown the luggage
pull the carpet out

look at each other

anyone for a picnic

© Frank Prem 2009

Memoir of a Dog Poem 8: knock before entering


beneath the paint
the timber

mountain ash
that once grew
so tall
so straight
in the heart
of the rain forest

length by length
canary bright
used to seat the children
in municipal pools

Yellow Board

beneath the paint
still pure

in dabs and blobs
a coating applied
of a jelli-um

a something derived
from a something

wait and watch
paint cracks
and bubbles rise
soaking deep
while lifting

Yellow Scrapings1

I feel the burning
of the stuff
seep into
across my fingers

this is not sport
it is a fire
of redemption

and as the scraper
and digs
yellow ribbons curl
above the sludge
and fly
off to the side
away to ground

but  where the paint
is pushed away
like new skin
cloistered beneath a parasol
the wood
the straight grained wood
is revealed again

Clean Board

I would not have thought
to be so moved
by this
and revelation

but when the garish
is gone
what is left
is the passing purity
of mountains

© Frank Prem, 2017

June 2017 Poem #32: passing familiarity

truck canyon alarm clock (good morning)

the trucks that roll down Mellish Street
take lumber from the hills above the town
that are plantations

and their rumble and their roar project
in an illusion that seems to run for miles
through the Spring Creek canyon

in a funny way
an inexplicable way
the engine’s bellow is a soothing sound
in the heart of nighttime
in the early morning

they echo like the sound of a faded dream
that stops
just before the call

good morning you
see the sun rise
wake up and shine

of the quarter to six
alarm clock

© Frank Prem, 2016