Yellow Roses


we bought the yellow roses
with a blush of red at the end of budding petals
to make a sketchbook picture
to remember

you plucked leaves away from stems
and placed them tall inside a pitcher
with a yellow rose facing each direction
but you didn’t get to draw them
because love fell in the way
and made a small distraction

in the morning they were opened
a little fuller in flower and soft perfume

there’s no picture in the sketchbook
but i think that i’ll remember
the blushing red of yellow roses

© Frank Prem, 2000


A kind of love poem

i’ve been pretending
that i don’t need
anyone to caress me
in the quiet of an hour
as time is passing
and moving outside the places
clasped in my reach

i know how foolish it is
to make out that castles
might keep against time
when they’re eroding
fading away with each tick
of the clock
but i can’t help it
if you reach
to hold me
i blink in your light
and then i need
to turn you away

when i’m alone
i feel so small
the world that’s around me
is crowding me out
i feel surrounded
by people and things
that are out of control

hands that tremble
are a constant reminder
that i’m a fragile affair
balanced on the edge
of a blade
and even needing someone
can’t change the outlook
of a solitary mind
that’s confusing itself
from inside

perhaps it’s better
if you turn your head
don’t stay to watch
contortions of a fool disarrayed
by the burden
of trying to belong

© Frank Prem, 2000

Published in The Brown Critique (India) July – October 2001

A Bit of Sweet Old Fashioned

there’s a little bit of sweet old-fashioned coming on
and I am bracing to lead the way and be the one
to say the words we need to hear out loud
it’s my turn
and I’m ready

in the traditional way I can gather up the numbers
brought together for a moment of salute and toast
and the babble of good natured joy and heart deep wishes
they’re all willing
and they’re ready

I could make a speech out of the many things
words of praise and wish you well and love you but
I don’t really think that’s right and might lead to fear
of too much said
if he’s not ready

I know it’s not old-fashioned and it doesn’t satisfy
but it might be better if I whisper things I need to say
in a corner with a quiet word and tearful hug before I ask you
to raise your glasses
when you’re ready

© Frank Prem, 2001

Published under the title ‘Toast’ in Manifold Magazine #38 (UK) May 2001

Rock’n’Roll Star

I used to be a rock’n’roll star
Used to hear the young girls scream
Used to sing to a hard guitar
Man, those riffs were just obscene.

The boys and me, would strut our stuff
When we walked onto the stage
Strobing lights and an audience roar
The fans came out to rage.

Then we’d hit the notes
Of the first hot song
The rhythm, the beat
All night long.

Until we’d played our hearts
Shouted our souls
Encores done
And we’d hit the road.

Ohhh, those days
On a rock’n’roll road
Yeah those nights
With a rock’n’roll broad.

Yeah, yeah, I used to be a rock’n’roll star.

I play a little blues at the local bar
I hear occasional clapping
I love the sound and the smoky air
Like to know I still make them happy.

I play alone, no entourage
No strutting needed here
The lights are low, a drinkers place
I wonder what they hear.

Just a gig sometimes
Day job running as well
Bluesy nights, merchant days
An early morning bell.

A little blue note
A touch of slide
Customers waiting
Ohh, what a ride.

Hey, I remember
Days on the road
And the nights that were blurry
In a rock’n’roll show.

Yeah, yeah, I used to be a rock’n’roll star.

Yeah, yeah, I used to be a rock’n’roll star.

© Frank Prem, 1998

non-photographic south

this is not a photograph

the composition however
seems close to perfect
from the clarity
of near-focus volcanic brown scoria
larger than pebble smaller than fist
to the symmetry of parallel pairs of lines
riding the brown over a middle-distance ridge
implying disappearance after breasting the rise
then perfectly aligned reappearance
without a break visible to the eye
separating by cleft suburbs from bay
until the point of nothing
at the distant end of sight

this is not a photograph
just the current framing
of a way to travel south

© Frank Prem, 2002


traversing the beechworth gorge

… and then we walked
through untidy scrub
and paths that needed reinvention

across granite monoliths
whole through the ages
with moss
now dry and thirsting
lichens clinging
unchanged by weather

and naked rock showing
a clean face
and still seeming newly broken
at the hands of the engineers,
thirty five years
after the time when I
was as old as the boy
breathing hard beside me
in this exposition of the past
with its smoke-blackened caves
and the peculiar silence
of distant cicada thrumming

trickling creeks
are obtained through thickets of berries
black and red
and slipping rock faces
worn smooth to cover
the rough edges
of a partly shared history.

listening to the marveling
and the disdain of the boy
I feel anew
the powerful passing pain
from the crunch of a loss of footing
in the sparse and tangled undergrowth
as a revelation
of the simplicity of pleasures
and momentary brutalities
still present in these rugged brown places
that I remember

fresh bruises
will pass quickly
the tenderness of reminder
will remain
acting as a balm
and a satisfying confirmation
that my yesterday
held moments of magic
still reachable now
even if
in somewhat smaller portions

© Frank Prem, 2001

Featured in the poetry e-zine Caught In The Net 1 April 2001. Don’y think it’s accessible any more.


Fall/Winter 2016/2017 Issue 10

The fall/winter issue of Red Wolf Journal, themed ‘The Heart Knows’ is out. Two of my poems – ‘Lub Dup (for the good of my heart)’ and ‘The Reviewer’ are featured.

I am delighted and grateful.



Red Wolf Journal


We are pleased to announce the release of Red Wolf Journal’s Fall/Winter 2016/2017 Issue 10:


The poets with work in this edition are:

Julia Cirignano
Darren C. Demaree
Arika Elizenberry
Edilson Afonso Ferreira
Jared M. Gadsby
Peter D. Goodwin
Jessica Goody
Christopher Hileman
Andrew Hubbard
John Huey
Patricia McGoldrick
Jean Voneman Mikhail
Frank Prem
Diana Raab
Pegi Deitz Shea
Sanjeev Sethi
Debi Swim
Larry D. Thacker
Maja S. Todorovic
Marg Walker

You are welcome to submit work to our upcoming Spring/Summer 2017 issue. The theme is “Sweet Sorrow”.

With pleasure,
Irene Toh and Tawnya Smith
Fall/Winter 2016/2017 Editors

View original post

Way Poem #17: Boat to the Island

The good folk at The Drabble have given me a lovely Christmas gift by publishing one of my Way Poems – #17 the island, today.

Thank you Drabblers, I am delighted.

The Way poems were a little set that arose rather loosely from a consideration of Tao and the way it might be seen to work in different scenarios, and it’s lovely to see one of them in print.




By Frank Prem

the current calls

will you carry me

unfurl your sail
then let us drift together
beneath the sun

the lazy breeze
knows me well
and to where I’m bound


raise a little wake
for me

that I might feel the salt
and spray
as though we sail
for pleasure

my friend the breeze
has riffled my shirt
and you
are steadfast


let’s circle once
this island

the surf
broken on a shoal

the harbor

then tell the breeze
that I am ready
to ride the current
and her sweet luff

BIO: Frank Prem has self-published three collections of his work, The Book of Evenings (2003), Memoir of a Dog (2008), and Small Town Kid (2009).

View original post

The Reviewer, by Frank Prem

A lovely Christmas Present from the good folk at Red Wolf Journal who have published one of my poems – The Reviewer.

Ho ho ho.

Cheers to everyone,


Red Wolf Journal

The Reviewer
by Frank Prem

why relief
he asked himself

it wasn’t better
sometimes worse

so why the feeling of relief

like a third person
a reviewer
hovering above
he looked back and down
at himself

at how good it had been

he found it hard to say aloud
what was in his head
feeling himself to be in battle
with an irrational conviction
that the sound of the words
would either turn everything
into overblown reality
or prove the lie

every good thing magnified
to an impossible goodness

every negative grown enlarged
until it loomed

he reflected on the way the unspoken
could be ignored
changed if need be
or hugged in a warmth
that hadn’t been aspired to
and could never be uttered aloud
for fear

he considered her

her need to hear him
his thoughts
his feelings
his reassurances

how he had tried

View original post 211 more words

of culture

when I was little more than child
my sister a teenager
we owned a reel-to-reel recorder
a brown quarter inch of plastic
fed from one reel through a channel
of pressing heads and circling rollers to the other

push both buttons down when you’re ready to record

my sister I believe has cultured me
from that young day to this
from the moment the microphone was applied up close
to the speaker of the radio
gathering disc jockeys and the songs they played
the pause button cutting out advertisements and banter

please don’t go near the lounge
and don’t make a noise
the taping has started

we played that first reel for month on month
until we knew the songs by heart
listening for hours save only those few minutes
when the tape required re-winding and re-feeding
then to start again with those familiar opening chords

today I heard a song played on golden-good-times-radio
so familiar that I sang it through and hardly missed a word
I knew the song that should have followed next
and the one that ought to have gone before
for there is an order to these things
established in 1969 when I was on the cusp of thirteen
and my sister ran the reel-to-reel that cultured me

© Frank Prem, 2002