This is my last poem of 2016.
I hope there’s a happy new year and some big ideas awaiting you all in 2017.

he does his best work
in pencil

all serve him well
to sketch outlines
mark details
shade in shapes
with shadows

and he is drawing
a small tree
a eucalypt sapling

placed off-centre
in the bottom third
of a sheet
of cotton paper

the leaves are formed
shade implies their colour

twisting as though
every single leaf is alive

and just in front
is drawn
a large bucket container

a breeze ripple
shows it to be
quite full

he will draw more
perhaps a line of rustic fencing

other detail

but that’ll be enough
for now


the trunk
catches his eye
at first sighting


the sapling appears
a young tree

the leaves are long and slender
low hanging
he can almost smell
the eucalypt oil
released under the warm of the sun

and he can’t understand
a matter he knows
he must attend to

replace the empty bucket
with a tank
drawn as full
as he can make it seem


it is magnificent
looks very much
a maturing redgum

the trunk is wide
and tall
reaching high
to the top of the sheet

they are a great big tree
and he can see
this one
is going to be
a beauty

so he takes down
the sheet
places it down
on the table

transparent paper tape
to abut one sheet
up against the other

almost seamless
no-one will ever
be able to tell

finds a new position
to accommodate the length
upon his easel

by tomorrow his tree
will be both sheets

and so he executes
another sketch
placed in the foreground

he knows
you can never get
too much water
to a growing tree


he didn’t manage
to fully draw his picture
or the spill and shape
or the teeming
of his other ideas

but the tree
at a sheet and a half
is just about
one thought enough

and he can’t be sure
in the end
just how big
it might be

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #01 (January, 2017): time awareness


shopping (every day)

every day
he goes shopping
in the afternoon

he can’t go
in the morning
it takes a long time
to wake up
these days

the burden of a shower
is an exhaustion
that lasts
beyond the towel
beyond a shave
beyond the donning
of a singlet
and putting on
his outdoor shorts

he’ll lean awhile
on the kitchen bench
audible gasps
of stale
emphysemic air

while he reads
the gospel
in his daily

he navigates the cooking
to be ready
come lunchtime
twelve o’clock
then serve
is the tradition
that became a rule

a grandpa nap
and a quiet
lung settling
in the easy chair
is the closest point
to no-gasping

but every day
he will go shopping
in the afternoon
at the self-service grocery
off the main drag
where he can manage his laps
by resting on the arm of the trolley
when he needs
some air

at the lotto shop
he’ll look
for convenient parking

a quickpick ticket
eighteen lines
to a fortune
he doesn’t need
or want
it’s important
you have to know
that you’re still
in it

it’s something to speak
every evening
with a beer
at the local pub

but pharmacy
for steroid pills
and inhalers
is a little bit harder

there’s always
some prick there
in the disability
parking space

so he drives around the block
four turns
to every square
and to bring him
back again

no space?

what to do?

go around again
dear sir
go around again
or just go home

to try again


© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #33: sketch

I on solid ground

there is a storm raging
across the heavens

I see the dark
destructive clouds
swarm and rumble

wind gusts with the lash
of driven rain
I feel the cut
I wear the blows

and still I stand
in the temple
of my home

I stand
inside the doors
no room for storms



rage you loudly
amongst the night
and darkness
but I
am holding
to the flame
that shows me clear
who am I
and why am I

I can stand
against terrors
flashed white on black
across the heavens

for here
on solid ground
am I

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #32: shopping (every day)

interpreting signals

the clouds are grey
massing above us
filling the horizon
away to the west

untranslated semaphore
is sending messages
of what the heavens have in store

if only I
could understand them
the signals flying all around me
in the telegraph line
that is the air

but I am blind
I cannot see them
I am deaf
I cannot hear
I cannot read the portent
of what the storm-front has said

I wait here
with those few senses
that I own
open to the sky
waiting for the weather to show
with a kiss on my skin
from the wind
with a wet touch
fallen from a droplet
of rain

I am waiting

the clouds
away in the west
are grey

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #31: I on solid ground

an unsuccessful journey towards the promised land

all right all right

the leader said

all those of you
who do not know
the way
make a line

make a line there

make a line

come up close
come up close

come up closer

take a tail
in your mouth
but do not bite it

I said
a tail in your mouth
but no
no biting

now first rank
you may proceed

second rank
you may proceed

third rank
oh no
who dropped their tail

fourth rank
oh no
oh no oh no

in the chaos
of half liz-
seeking their tails
running over everybody else’s

and the wriggling
of discarded rears

the leader
when out of the assembly’s gaze
slipped beneath
a convenient stone
pressed his nose

close up
to his own tail

and sought again
for his dream

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #30: interpreting signals


lazy lizard (dreaming)

the old blue lizard
that lazy blue lizard
has got nothing to do
but to
sleep in the drain

he knows I’m looking
but he’s not moving
that old blue lizard
has just got time
to dream

and he dreams the sunshine
he dreams the soft breeze
but he won’t be raising
his head up
to see

because it’s only weather
it’s the same old weather
the summer is shining
and he is warm
where he is

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #29: an unsuccessful journey to the promised land

two totters

Merry Christmas and season’s greeting to all, from me and my gang of misfit characters and imaginings. May you each totter to a lovely year end, and an extra … an extra whatever it is that you most crave.

she totters
when she walks

it’s as though her heels
could be stilettos
even though she’s barefoot

no matter the footwear
the totter-gait remains

perhaps due to an uncertainty
of medication
of weight gained
of life preoccupied
lived out in her mind

the first totter
is slow
pronounced and ponderous

a little bit
drunk at the end of a long day
at the races

her mind is busy
with complaint about
the absence of a menthol cigarette

with a request
to which the answer
is already

with a threat
that failure to deliver on this important demand
means that she
will simply have to
before dinner is served
on Christmas Day

it is a thoughtful

totter two
is a dance step
there is jaunt
and there is precarious haste

oh Happy Christmas!
joy to all


potato chips with honey soy
a Strasbourg sausage loaf
a herring roll mop
an ice cream
an extra cigarette


© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #28: lazy lizard (dreaming)

artist enough

if I were
to brush
to oil

what would I
to word

is it come one
come all
or is there room for …



I will not
with brush
and I will not
with oil

I am already
with pen
how much can I need
can I use
can I want
can I be

I speak
I say the word

write the thought

look into
my own mind
right into yours

what need to paint my reply
when I can speak
the word

I am
I am
my words

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #27: two totters

can’t trust the rice

he is almost inarticulate
in his fury

almost desperate
in his need
to chastise her

how many times
have I said

when you’re cooking
you can’t
you mustn’t
do anything else

how many times



she said

I thought
both of you were right there
surely you would know
when the rice
needed to be stirred

to be taken off
the flame

why does it have to be
my fault


he approaches me
wheezing and breathless
from the exertion
and the expenditure
of so much emotion

what am I going to do
with her

I can’t trust her
with anything


she approaches me
eyes a little glazed
to have a private
perhaps a sympathetic

I forget so much
these days

today I got distracted
by the washing

he seems to need
so much
to get angry with me

I do my best


all right
all right

let’s just calm down now
no more yelling

the rice is burnt
but no one has been harmed
you’re both ok

the saucepan will be cleaned

the smell will clear

you’ll eat a different meal
than you had planned

this afternoon
you rest

both of you

I’ll come back

and we’ll start again

hoo roo
till then

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #26: artist enough