thinking about the still to come

yesterday was a bread I baked
from flour and yeast
to aroma and crust
today was coffee
from green beans to brown

tomorrow might be sauce
from tomatoes on the vine
and I’m wondering about
the things that I might do
with a harvest of apples
and a pick of dark berries
that’s already overdue

do-it-yourself has become my name
though it’s not the one
that I was born with

and grow-it-yourself
is the way that I eat
though I can’t find that
on any supermarket shelf

honey let’s dance
a self-sufficiency dance
you know I’ve learnt my steps
from you

I’ll spin you around
no package required
on our makeshift dance floor

you can twirl me
into the pantry
I’ll hold you close
against the found potatoes
we foraged last week

let’s whisper nothings
to the pickled cucumbers
they won’t remember anyway

come away
with your new-made man
to his self made bed
lie down with me and then later


we’ll think about what’s still ahead

© Frank Prem, 2011


friday marching

police are at the lights
halting traffic
for a disheveled line of twos and threes
mostly older and oddly formal
in long coats and small hats
with occasional children
like the misplacement of a Sunday

over the road to right-angle
past the few shops
and on towards the crossing

halted by the raising
of an arm shaded official blue
there is time to gaze
amongst them
and over
old ANZACs
in too-bright teeth
tottering dowagers
in mesh-veil hats

a younger man at the head
tall and skinny
bones and beard
carries a full-length lightweight cross
with measured steps
like the flag bearer
at an olympic opening

little lies beyond
the tentative crossing of the railway
now being negotiated by the leaders
that could cause them to march
against the Park Road traffic

there is only a park and a cemetery
and the last of the meanderers
a pink-frocked girl
skipping at the tail on the arm of her gran
seems unaware of the purpose
mindful only of the direction

the police don’t care
three vans have done their job
for this Friday morning
and move off at a crawl
I can proceed with my journey
and pull up at the bakery
to purchase the hot cross buns
that are my reason this morning

© Frank Prem, 2002

One word prompt by Kristian

unfamiliar affections


af·fec·tion (ə-fĕk′shən) ( P ) Pronunciation Key (-fkshn) n.

A tender feeling toward another; fondness. See Synonyms at love. Feeling or emotion.

Often used in the plural: an unbalanced state of affections. A disposition to feel, do, or say; a propensity. Obsolete. Prejudice; partiality.


and I am wholly wholly given over
to these unfamiliar af·fec·tions
in my awareness of your presence
the absence of a key to you
unbalanced -fkshn

© Frank Prem, 2002

guilty secret

I don’t usually drink alone
a little glug at teatime
is enough when I’m at home
but sometimes grows as large as I feel small
temptation gets too much and that is all …

when I’ve got a guilty secret
in a bottle by my side
some lousy fool was drinking
and it must have been left behind
so today while nothing’s stirring
but the dark things in my mind
I’ll steal a nip from a guilty secret
in the bottle by my side

a little sip while no-one’s watching
and the dog is sleeping fast
another swig to knowing that
it’s not going to be the last
while ever the bottle’s sloshing
I still hear that devil’s call
and the temptation is too much and …
is all …

© Frank Prem, 2014

in the rehearsal room

in the corner of the room
she’s set up a kind of mobile stage
with a keyboard and a microphone
song passages on a music stand
the foot pedal below
waiting for a touch

the black-vinyl chair
is almost ready to sing now
and all that’s needed is …


there it is now
just arrived
the staccato beat of raindrops on tin
is the applause she needs
to start the show

a few notes on the keyboard
before she sings …


I listen from the stalls
a small bed against the facing wall
in this rehearsal room

it’s like a concert played for one
or two
and the dog and I
are appreciative
it’s not every day
we hear her play
she’s so often on the road
to a cafe
or a pub
to private functions
where neither of us can attend

so we soak it all up
take her in
and know that each song
has a private side
she only shares with us
on a night like this
with the rain applauding from the roof
the fire burning bright
and a bed against the wall
of this rehearsal room

her music surrounds us


it’s time to get ready
I can see the professional look emerge
and the assumption of some distance

she has sorted out
the music for tonight
now packing equipment in the van
keyboard and p.a.
stands and mikes
and music books
all tuck away in places familiar

back to the room to change
black pants
black top
the elegance of formal darkness suits
because tonight
she’s set for business
playing for pay is no amateur affair
and attention to detail
is a step towards the next job
and another pay

mascara in general
this brush in particular
is a recalcitrant tool to use
as an aid for the enhancement
of beauty
it layers in lumps and
to my eyes
is a shading un-needed
but takes just one place in a pantheon
of eye-liner and blush
even a colour to darken the lightness
of lips I adore
as they are
just as they are
as she is

but I know nothing of these things
and stay quiet with my thoughts
while she musses her hair
with a customised wax
standing above me
a cheat in big heels
I have to look up and reach higher
to kiss her goodnight

good luck
all the best
slay them all at their tables tonight
with your voice
and these wonderful songs you’ve rehearsed
here before us
me and the dog
and the rain on the roof
I’ll do the dishes
I’ll keep the fire alive
and we’ll wait for you
to come home

© Frank Prem, 2003

Still in awe. Still delighted.

acting on one leg

a friend of mine is a one-legged man
who once was an over-weight thespian
fell on the stage in rehearsal
broke an ankle
picked up an infection in the hospital
lost his leg

he is a jolly man
who runs to two new prosthesis every year
removes the current choice from time to time
in sock and shoe
to stand alone on his work-desk
painted in the stripes of his football team colours

occasionally he throws it at someone
to catch them unawares

sometimes I feel that I have missed the catch
off-balance and destabilised
like a one-legged actor
whose exit stage-left
is a fall
amid a tangle of forgotten lines
and missteps

© Frank Prem 2002

small town

this is a small town in victoria
streets are wide
the shops are neat
and the tourists come

it’s a lucky town
in a lucky place
where making bread means dough
and buying a loaf just has to be
a local experience

on the main street in the morning
the haberdasher sweeps
her pavement
the green grocer dons his apron
and there’s rusty old knives
and a sausage machine
on display in the butcher’s window
olde-worlde beside the t-bones

but the barber has gone away
maybe to die
after fifty years of scissor trims
californian poppy
and talcum
on the back of each fresh-shaved neck

they’ll probably create a mausoleum
of strops and cut throats when he’s gone
to let you soak up
a little additional local history
with a piece of cake and latte
in the swivel chair
of a very small town

enjoy your stay

© Frank Prem, 2009

a shooting star in emergency

I thought I saw a shooting star
not far above the height of my head
on the road outside the fence-line
it moved fast enough to create the illusion
but soon
too soon
became just a car
travelling the highway
lights reflected
on the overhead wires
of the electricified train line
and in a moment
it was gone

I feel I am a bookend to their relationship

I was there at the beginning
a dinner in a formal restaurant
maybe the eatery by the sea
maybe their other place
I no longer recall
but I was there
the day she and he came out together
that first time
the time it all began
to have a form and a shape

they married
both with the baggage
that comes with certain years
but they made their arrangements
and lived on through a decade or so

then our occasional convergence
constant friendship rekindled
as required
never a drama
always there if needed
I find I’ve gone on that way with so many
through the years
these ‘certain years’
that we who are now of that age
that was once the preserve of our parents
and their middle-aged friends
pass through on our individual journeys
to wherever it is we are travelling
the place where …
I don’t really know

and now I am here
at the end
after their catastrophe
the death in the middle of
that has been eked now
for forty-eight hours
while decisions about his lingering life
the viability of his organs
about the certainty of decease and its aftermath
are made with solicitous care
about someone I once knew
and while I am only a peripheral
yet I have my role
in the whole of this
the series of steps and consequences
for I cannot resist the call
to be the moral support
observer and dispassionate adviser
the ears and a heart

I was there when it all began
and I am here now
at the ending

it is not death that traumatises here
but that the simple man he was
would have wanted so much less
than he has been given
it is the excess that is cause for trouble
the tests and procedures
to confirm the knowledge
of a certain death inside his brain
and the absence of the soul
that must reside there
so much time before the pronouncement
in these things lies the pain
and the distress to all
the delay to commencement of grieving
and a closure

but it is nearly done
the beginning and the end
accounted for
it is late now and I have been affected
in the morning
it will be completed
tubes removed
organs taken and despatched to god knows where
some other victim in need
of a saving
the corpse prepared for viewing
with the best decency good-will can muster
for this man who died
two days ago
but has not yet
been allowed to stop breathing

I was there at their beginning
and now I will remain
until the end
the deposit of ashes
onto the moving water
of the bay

you know I thought tonight
for a brief moment
that I had seen a pair of shooting stars
skimming low
across the horizon of Station Street
I know it was only an illusion
only the reflection of a passing light
but for that fleet moment
I thought
it might be real

© Frank Prem, 2002

welcome return

the dog has found joy
a bark has returned to her lips
and she capers
with squealing yips
to emphasise her pleasure

I also have found my pleasure
in your return

it may be true
the adage about absence and fondness
though necessarily understated

for the absence is brutal
the fondness almost a plea
for restoration

I have grown accustomed
to what we share
and its disruption
however necessary it may be
levies a toll
on my emotions

© Frank Prem, 2009

after ’till the next time’

but later
after the energy has gone
drained in a celebratory extravagance
super-high super-charged
and burned magnesium ignited
and you
were so … you
were so so good
and it rushed around your body
till you buzzed
and hummed fast really fast
but after
so empty that you rattle
like a rock in a can
you echo every time you have a thought
and the silence is screaming
only you
there’s no one else
there’s never anyone else
only you
and it breaks
it kills
it’s more than anyone
ought to have to take
and it’s like that all the way
to the next time
the next time
bring on the next time

© Frank Prem, 2002