small moving things


small things
matter to me quite a lot
I don’t know why

a smile
can move me to tears
at a black look
I die a little

just for a moment
there’s nothing else

in the wide world
I’m at the mercy
of changing winds
emotional tides
of ebb and flow
beneath small things
that touch so deeply
and I don’t know why
your smile
can move me

© Frank Prem, 2009



cosmic oneness in a bedroom universe

the bedroom ceiling
is off-white
the electric light diffused by a hanging ball
of translucent ceramic

transformed by the darkness of a flick of the switch
to become an unexpected universe
of stars and moons and planets
each painstakingly adhered
to create a comforting illusion
of cosmic oneness before sleep

the furthest wall centres a framed print
of contrasting dark shades and bright reds
a suggestively arranged depiction of flowers
surrounds a central pinkness of vulva-shaped petals
revealed in a solemn act of unfurling

but tonight the view is subtle glows
candles placed each side of the head of the bed
to throw elongated ceiling reflections
that turn the round white ball above my head
into a cartoon mouse with over-large shadow ears

there is a flicker of flame in the distance
behind a shoulder
and another waverer beyond the edge of my pillow
glimpsed only after following the suggestive arrangement
of the line of your body
past half-lit belly and breasts
and the twin gleam-reflections of your eyes

this wall harbours an open poem
and a framed sash-window
that holds a remnant imprint
where I rested foot on glass

a single star is visible in the night sky
beyond this solitary portal to the outside world
and a certain stillness is in the atmosphere

© Frank Prem, 2002

a ‘my garden’ page

tomato potato beetroot
parsnip fennel carrot
white radish aubergine capsicum
chili broccoli cabbage cauliflower
turnip swede brussels sprout
blueberry raspberry strawberry
black current gooseberry jostaberry
blackberry cucumber snap peas
sugar peas purple bean green bean
borlotti fava bean runner bean
bush bean brown onion green onion
shallot potato onion tree onion garlic
leek coriander oregano rocket celery
celeriac silverbeet mushrooms
walnut pecan macadamia hazelnut
almond apple pear rhubarb radish

© Frank Prem, 2013

rooster morning


a rooster calls (koo-koo-ka-roo)
at the first sign the dawn brings
he’s got to sing the fowl-yard
on it’s way

when the hens arise (ka-koo-re-ooo)
all soft down and clucking
he can tilt his crown
then strut all day

it’s a rooster morning
wake the day
with a clarion call

rooster dawning
here’s a song
for your hens to lay

© Frank Prem, 2011

the escaping

the escapologist
has concluded his act

he un-kinks each link
in a yellow length of chain
coils it into a convenient backpack
for his tools

undoes every buckle
of the canvas straight-jacket
folds it small
then tucks it
into a purple bowler hat
and into the backpack
before he leaves
to trade a place
for a place
a little further up the Mall
from which he will escape

© Frank Prem, 2015

above and below

the wind sings aloud an unquiet song
a eucalypt bows its branches

the rustle of the grass is eager to tell
secrets it shares in whispers

flutter leaves

twirl and turn you dancers

confound my eyes
with your green sequined sway

I could grow lost
among your kisses

oh wind you sing an unquiet song
crying above the eucalypts

a rustling of the grass reveals nothing at all
for all I hear is a whisper

but these green young leaves
are dancing

my eyes pursue
each gleam-sequined sway

I might fall
were I kissed so sweet

© Frank Prem, 2014

Morning Metaphor

don’t forget that morning is a metaphor
for any time the darkness fades
and you catch a glimpse
of the faint light of dawn

don’t forget that it harbours promises

the night can stretch to the limits
of your coping
but come the hour
come the minute
or the moment
the black will fade to grey
and then
the light comes
to show a place to start
© Frank Prem, 2000

the spread

the modern house is laid out
in a sensible design pattern
for example the entry
fronts the kitchen
where food preparation is a pleasure
on imported italian benches
designer stove and cupboards
the dishwasher is active but is silent

while adjoining is a dining room
round table and four chairs
for cozy little gatherings
or family meals taken in the evening
between children’s shows and news time
on the tv in the corner

it’s pleasant
snug and nice

there is a lounge room
with a space for entertainment
a nook to make a library
and excellent separation
of the ensuite and master bedroom
from the number two and three neat bedrooms
the laundry and a bathroom

it all fits together well
ideal for the modern family
not too large for them
no no


I rattle around this house
in the middle of suburbia
it’s a long way from my office
in a spare bedroom
through the kitchen
past the lounge and to my bedroom

I leave the television on up there
so I can hear the sound of something
other than my echo and the clatter
of my fingers pounding at the keyboard
the quiet can disconcert me
but not even the neighbours can hear me
when I shout to hear my voice sound out
the fence-line is designed to maximise my privacy

the spare room is kept at ready
for a visit from somebody
I don’t know who or when or why
but if they come I know it will be ready

the dining room is a storage space
the table is surrounded almost covered up
in papers from this job or that
and the kitchen bench
holds a week of mail and three local papers
it’s almost always bills and the papers
get redirected to the garbage can

I do the dishes once a while
it’s hard to justify the dishwasher and I am loath
to wash by hand
I don’t dirty them too often I don’t cook
except the electric fry-pan
on top of the fancy griller of the stove
to fry an egg
from time to time

it’s a good job that I like my space uncluttered
I have always traveled lightly on possessions
and I have an acreage of house now to myself
like an indoor farmer I can roam
the paddocks of my own open range
yee ha yee ha

I better go check the boundaries

© Frank Prem, 2003

a story for my lawyer

I wrote a story for my lawyer one day
when I was on the forty second floor
sitting in his office
to pay three-fifty dollars an hour
in six minute increments
for his time and his opinions

it was a beautiful tale
about the winding of the river
I could see the silver gleam among the trees
and hills all the way back up to Mt Dandenong
and I wrote it down as it flowed
across my page
before he came into the room to talk divorce
I had it written

I’d like to send the story to my lawyer
in a way it belongs to him
and his view from the forty second floor
but I doubt he’ll ever see it
I can’t afford the time he’d take to read it
at three-fifty dollars an hour
in six minute increments

© Frank Prem, 2002

Essentially Enigma


I will draw you in a dervish
swirl from pallet onto paper
cream and dimple hungry
for the shape and hue emergence
of you
from rapid dabs and strokes
by brushes coarse for vital shape
and background fine for definition
of the porous contour detail hid
inside the mystery of your face

I whirl around unsteadied
by your eyes brown on the canvas
watching every line and mark I make
to fill demanding empty spaces
like a judgment needing eyebrows
and the shape of mouth to better cast
a verdict on my fever rush of colours
stroked in the flurried brightness
of deluded acts to catch what is
essentially enigma

© Frank Prem, 2001