atmospheric brooding

even outside
it is still

two in the morning

the heat
has imposed itself

is a commodity
in short supply
and there is a weight
as of water
as of an atmosphere
residing on me

what am I doing
awake at this hour
of brooding

perhaps it’s my work
where the lives in my hands
are at a teeter point
with my employees

on the scales

will they stay
will they go

will I decide

perhaps it’s as simple
as having fallen asleep in the evening
before the usual hour

that happens sometimes
I know

or maybe it’s the ghost
who returned yesterday
demanding new payment
for a debt I’d long abandoned


a debt
that I carry

a price
that awakes me at two
in a morning
that broods

© Frank Prem, 2007

sky sculling (2)

the scullers of the sky
are driving clouds
towards the rainbow gate

first across the light
will lead the dance of stormy weather

when the last arrives
with long thunder cries

such a crash such a roar
such a flash of blinding light

when the scullers of the sky
row their cloud-boats home

© Frank Prem, 2009

lollypop man

he’s a jolly un-english man
owner of a thick handlebar moustache
and a smiling fat face
above a red stripe white coat
and a sign that says


weekdays he is at the primary school
with a wave as I go past and a melody of


every day he walks the children
to the centre of the crossing
then returns to kerb-side
and waves his greeting song
at the cars that pass


in a rumbling surprise of deep voice
that might have just arrived
from a coffee-land
but right now it belongs
to a wide fat smile
on the dark skinned face
of a jolly traffic stopper
at a place where children
walk across the road

the voice within a smile
at the crossing that belongs
to a Cheltenham jolly lollypop man


© Frank Prem, 2001

Kinds Of Nothing

afternoon TV shows
even cartoons pass good time
textbooks on philosophy
don’t hold attention
disaster shows on the news
reporters can’t believe their eyes
I don’t know what to think
I’m just spectating

watching raindrops fall
to my window from the sky
forming and falling
and then there’s nothing
except another one coming down
in a pattern descending faster
than my understanding

so many kinds of nothing
I hardly notice the loss of hours
emptiness has time to fill
and I’m trying
a sheet of white paper
that disappears beneath a scribbled line
nothing worth saying and I’m the man
to do that job

© Frank Prem, 2000

taking possession

and we have purchased land
it is ours
but not yet sanctified

for that we must walk
to each corner
stand in contemplation
of our footprints in this place

touch the soil
then move on

here it is the north east
this aspect is the west
and saying this
we claim as our own
each new direction

towards the sun of morning
this is mine
it is me standing here

towards the evening
from where the darkness
I dedicate my self

I will make my monuments
and my temples
and with every change I cause
I will grow
until we are the same

no boundary line exists
between me
and my heart

© Frank Prem, 2010

occult bloods

it has a



like witchery

but it refers mainly
to the secret

the hidden

it is days now
since I last viewed meat
with lust

for intents and purposes
I have become

hard to believe
I know

I have become a connoisseur
of aubergine

an appreciator
of fresh rocket
and baby toms
from the garden

the delicacy of home crafted pizza
with feta
is an appreciation

and it’s ok

not so hard
as I thought it might be

a self-imposed discipline

and only for a week
or so

the worst of it
is not about the food at all
the food
is quite delicious

but fancy

grubbing around
the bottom of the bowl
with a toilet brush
trying to spear one that sank
instead of floated

to scoop a specimen
that some stranger has to pick apart
and examine


in truth

I’m glad
it’s a stranger
© Frank Prem, 2008

still the plum

my plum
she makes the brandy
that I love
stilled the night
stilled the day
stilled into brown
then into white and I say
my plum
she makes the brandy
that I love

blood plum
blue plum
red flesh
white flesh
try to get some flavour
from the stone
my plum she is so sweet
I lie alone

my plum
she drips white fire
into the jug
run all night
run all day
run from the brown
run to the white and I say
my plum
she drips white fire
into a jug

© Frank Prem, 2015

the bravest deed …

… of the most courageous man

he knows he has woken
before he opens his eyes

the task is defined
a first step upon the way

rubs his face
to be sure he feels right
then moves to the side
levers himself out of bed

small things
tiny steps
nothing too grand
to get the show underway

a cold water dousing
a shake to clear the head
make sure the mind is engaged
and ready

for whatever will come

© Frank Prem, 2009

minor adaptation

mynah birds are clever little critters
survivors able to adapt
to inner city and suburban conditions
I heard they are good mimics
within the urban situation
often startling in renditions
of other birds and city sounds
but they know their limits
and won’t be drawn to the point
of adaptive foolishness
mistrustful of excessive assimilation

though seeming aware of the rules
the yellow beaked babbler sped
from jaunty walk to ungainly run
finally flying from the centre point
rightly assuming that right of way
for a mynah on a zebra crossing
may not yet be recognised by all

© Frank Prem, 2001


I can’t really see that there’s any reason for it


we are at a wedding
the bride is late
the slow-step up the aisle
is a jig of twitches
beaming smiles
a barely contained agitation


she half-whispered

I organised mine
did all the planning
made sure everything was attended to
then let it happen

good planning leads to good results
and an absence of concern
so you can enjoy your big day
I certainly enjoyed mine


the bride is dancing up and down
on the balls of her feet
in front of the priest
beside her almost-husband


thoughts have strayed to my own wedding
years ago
as frozen as a carved statue
while shaking like a leaf

barely able to respond
to rehearsed prompts and cues
bewildered and overwhelmed
mindless with fear

I thought of others
who never believed the day would come
never believed they’d find their match
those conscious of the watching gaze
of a judgmental family
a judgmental world

those waiting at the altar
wondering if something has gone wrong
those donning the veil
wondering if the decision
has been the right one
those with a secret
held close


the solemnity of the occasion
has been disturbed

there is a titter passing
through those gathered here today
for the priest has had a small stumble
in performance of the ceremony
he has married the bride to christ
instead of in christ

it occurs to me that such an error
could have consequences
his eyebrows are doing backflips to compensate



she muttered

there’s no excuse for being nervous
you just have to make it happen
and then you get on with it

© Frank Prem, 2002