five bird poems (Benalla)

highway (crows)

crows shone
on the shoulder
of the highway

striding
business like
from carrion to carrion

ruffs alert to the tender kiss
of a passing breeze

black feet
black beak
black feathers

the black crows
shone
on the shoulder
of the highway

~

evaluation of a swimmer

the line of the wake
is a duck
is a dabchick

a moorhen

the bobbing of her head
is the forcing rhythm
of hard work
under water

a flotilla of ducks
sedate
by the shore
consider
their evaluation

but a quack
is such a nasal thing
that
whatever their conclusion
I’ll never know

~

slow water

lazy river
upside down
your silt rides
on the surface

making
a turbulent mirror
for the sun
to reflect an arc
of cockatoos
in slow flight

sky
among the branches
of a restless corrugating
raised
by soft breeze
soughing low
low along
the rippling water line

but hardly touching
red gum leaves
that dangle close
and lazy

slow river
slow waves
slow
slow water

~

Cockatoo Tree

cockatoo tree
white
against the olive

the afternoon
this afternoon
is for sleeping

until you wake up
a hundred
one hundred wings
flapping

cockatoo the sky
full of squawking

cockatoo
your white
up against
the stainless blue

~

More hens please

moor hens
on the foreshore

dabchicks
on the grass

red faced
red chased
by other moor hens

dabbling the river

and still
it rolls


© Frank Prem, 2017

June 2017 Poem #38: breathing air and truth

once a hole

he is
a prisoner

the poet prisoner

his jailer
laughs

what will you write
.
.
.
.
of this

a ha ha

and what
will you make
.
.
.
.
out of that

blood spills
droplets
to the floor

teeth fall
hardly a sound
where they settle

each movement

each moment

brings him close
to the end

.
.
.
.

a gift of paper
small
a gift of pencil
blunted to stub

come
come
come you poet
write me your poem
write me
now

~

the universe is black
and contained
within a room

four rising walls
and a hardened floor

there are no openings

only
the dark

until
the beam of a lonely ray
up in a roof
so high
he can hardly
imagine it

the sun
is a kindness
with a benevolent face

who longs to shine
even into the dark places
where no welcome lingers
to greet passing light

a single ray
through an un-guessed hole
a halo
around a sharp white point

first
high on a wall
then slow-moving around
and down

circling the room

lower
low
towards the floor

as day-time passed
and the sun moved
in its progression

through the sky

slowly
so so slow

until ray meets floor
and shines its light
for a moment in passing
upon the upturned face
of one poor man

on his knees

face upturned
eyes closed
reverent as
a worshiper

praising
the sun

~

so

so you poet
mine

so that is a poem

well
I know it now

I know you now

tomorrow I will pound a poem
of my own

metal on metal

can you guess the name

my poem will be called

once
a hole
was here

a ha 
a ha ha ha

once a hole


© Frank Prem, 2017

June 2017 Poem #37: five bird poems (Benalla)

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
obviously

overalls
dark glasses
heavy boots
rubber gloves

a helmet
because
well you never could tell

enough

enough to make a start
to the working evening

~

he found that every room
had a different
flavor

the beginners rooms
were just a mess

loose letters
naïve words

singletons

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
though
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

sometimes
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
lingering
in the air

left for him
to clean up after them

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

no pentameters
no sonnets

and they paid him
peanuts

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: daisy

oonga boonga (power to the people)

the government wants to charge me
for the electricity
I make

I have a power plant
sun-worshipping
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
my
sun
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
something
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
regress
ka boonga

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

the end
surely coming

surely


© 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
I
moving too fast
to take it in

I know these things
in daylight
I know them well

but here
I am the stranger

here
I am alone
realizing
the transience
of the familiar
grass 2


© Frank Prem, 2017

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

stripping

beneath the paint
the timber
resides

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

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

Yellow Board

beneath the paint
still pure
heartwood

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

but  where the paint
is pushed away
pale
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
rescue
and revelation

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


© Frank Prem, 2017

June 2017 Poem #32: passing familiarity

shadow me

shadow me

here I stand
here am I

grey on grey
and I
the dark one

where
do shadows go

will I be there

in another day
another angle

a different sun

transient as light
will I fade
into the passing
of a cloud

shadow you
are you still me

or am I your passing thought
an idea of grey
laid temporarily

just
a little darker


© Frank Prem, 2017

June 2017 Poem #31: stripping