Poem #28 from The Book of Evenings (final)

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

it’s cloudy
but clear
with a breeze


he watches clouds swirl
around the stars


is there anyone thinking of him

© Frank Prem 2003

This is the final poem from The Book of Evenings.

Watch out for Tuesday Night at Emile’s.


carmen and cisco

Poem #27 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

* Listen to Frank reading carmen and cisco on SoundCloud*

she said

you and me
should dance latin

salsa is in
and I know I’d look good
in flowing skirts and ruffles
I can see you as a gaucho
sharp tight pants
and clicking boots

we could hold roses
between our teeth
while we’re stamping our feet
on the floor

she said

I want to dress
in black and red
your senorita carmen
watch the way I shape my arms
and sway my hips
hold my head up proud

come on cisco

she said

come on
do you think we could dance latin

will you take me out stamping tonight

© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #28: tonight

the argument for noosa

Poem #26 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

He pointed a finger.
I think you forget,
he said,
where you came from.
Where you’ve been.

I think you’ve forgotten
what you were,
and what made you.

I don’t forget.
He spoke to her face,
directly to her eyes.
I remember,
every dreary day
and every dirty moment.

I remember you.

I’ll always remember who
you were,
and know what you are now.

Don’t think you can forget, just because
you’re in a different place.
Have a care how you go.

He looked at her another long moment,
and walked down the pavement,
to the corner
where the traffic light changed

from Don’t Walk to Walk
without need for him to break his
crooked stride.

She watched until the white
of his back
had shrunk and faded
with the distance
and the night,
shuddered once,
then contemplated a long season
in Noosa.

© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #27: carmen and cisco

the idiot

Poem #25 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

he’s as loud as a damned circus
the idiot
this is getting beyond a joke
he’s obviously stinking drunk
singing and shouting
by turns

such an idiot

she has been tolerant
but it’s enough

the neighbours
god knows what they think already
and now this carousing
as though he could possibly think
it would do him any good

he can’t even sing when he’s sober
and this is just awful

look at him
a bottle in his hand
a fence to lean against
and a bloody stupid song to sing
at the top of his bloody stupid voice

calling her name now

he’s fallen over
that’s IT





see what that does
surely he’ll leave soon

she’ll have to call them

more damned fuss


© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #26: the argument for noosa


a whole hour

Poem #24 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

settle down honey
we haven’t even started yet
you don’t want to fly
before we leave the ground
now do you

why don’t you just
hop in to the shower for me
like a love
while I fix some pillows
and a towel
my special oils
and essential equipment
or is that the other way around

you’ll like some of these

are you watching me
from in there
take a look at this

nice huh

now come on out
dry yourself off

lie down on your back a moment
while I take a little look at you

now I’ll just slip this on for you
hmmm you like that don’t you
I can tell


what would you like to do
to get us started

what would you like hon
no rush
we’ve got
a whole hour

© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #25: the idiot

towards kansas

Poem #23 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

he has listened to the story
of a wonderful life
a tragic affair

watched her eyes
welling tears that brimmed
but never broke
as she herself has not been been broken
though close
so very close

dorothy in a whirlwind
turning and contorting still
searching desperately for a way
to click heels together
while riding riding
and feeling every whipping lick
the twisted beast can lash at her

let there be a landing
but don’t make it too fast
just make it be there
in reach
when the moment comes

as she spoke
he could hear the elemental roar
feel it
touched by chill tremors
while swept along
in a small part of the journey
with her

and now it is done
she has told the tale
and gone
to face the next storm
already bellowing its presence
in her mind

the house is quiet again
the world outside the same as it was
the same as it always is

night has fallen
and he so restless


© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #24: a whole hour

katy’s scrubbing up

Poem #22 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

mama’s checking out the make-up
rummaging for things she hasn’t seen since
let’s say
they’ve been missing awhile
but she thinks she might know where to find them
they’ll be in katy’s room

katy’s scrubbing up tonight
glitter in her hair
she’s had the beauty parlour treatment
to look gorgeous
for the ball

cha cha cha

for dancing

fourteen years and six feet tall
slender as a model on the cat-walk
she’ll be black off the shoulder
pink in a shawl
a little colour on the cheeks
dark eye-liner
and yes
that’ll be the missing mascara

and the lipstick

those two will be gone awhile
it’s time for girl business
in the bedroom
but papa
have you charged the camera

because here she comes now
look at her would you
just look
we always knew
just look at her

strike a pose by the mantle shelf
underneath the painting we brought away
from grandma’s house
she might not approve of black
but she’d be just so proud of you
and happy

little brother please
remove yourself
this is not your picture
or your time
you’ll have to wait your turn

papa take katy now
it’s time she made her entrance

you won’t need to carry
the shotgun

she’ll be fine you know
she’s a big girl
still your baby
but she’ll be fine

he’ll be worried all night
fretting like a

like the father whose baby
is taking steps into the world
and away


keep him busy if you can
talk motor cars
help him do something with the radiator
or the carby
until one o’clock
or so

until she gets home

© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #23: towards kansas


identification from height

Poem #21 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction



shelter me from storms


there’s a monotony that comes
from living in the tree-lined
the leafy streets that promenade
all up and down
the smallness of this tiny town

a figure is at the bed
in a room in a house
leaning across to bathe
the brow of a restless soul
tossing and turning
running into fever
in the drenching of a torrid time

singing little snippets

underneath her breath
like a crooning angel
ministering by mouth
at a pace that surely surely
must bring deliverance


she sings

baby you’ll be fine

mama’s on the job

mama takes no prisoners
baby she’ll stop dragons
from sneaking in to take advantage
mama’s by your side

baby baby babe

maybe that isn’t what she said
she might have sung some song about
the sinking of a boat
in the middle of a flood
while she was bathing off the sweat

I only know the wind blew
and shook a leafy branch
or two
up against a window
of the house that hugged the street
in a small town
dressed in brick and wood disguises

that every place and every one
every tree that stood the kerb-sides
was like a replica
and rising above them
in heated levitation
through a fog that yielded to clarity of sight
and identification of the patterns
of the houses
the allotments
of the avenues
the straight and the winding roads

that there was nothing
to choose between them

they are all the same
when you see them from the sky
when you kiss them all
and wave
stretching out your hand           your fingers
for goodbye

except for one place where a woman
reaching with a washer
croons in a low voice
singing you back
to where you are the one
truly the only one

baby baby
I’m calling you a way 
whispering the path

baby come on home


© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #22: katy’s scrubbing up


socks to tell no tales

Poem #20 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

it is a sock

a grey school-sock
from one of the boys
on the mat outside the front door


herd the boys in
set the packages down
start the kettle
a cup of tea and then
the window is open
not much
but open

it wasn’t left like that

to the bedroom

from the bedside cupboard
huddled on the floor

another sock

drawers open
the bed oddly angled
some things look different
some the same

the lounge room

empty CD holder

the spare bedroom

no lap-top
game-boy and DVDs gone
a backpack
unable to be accounted

mess on the floor

nothing broken
just mess
a vague awareness of absence


send the boys to the neighbors
check all the rooms
under beds
in cupboards
never mind what’s gone
make sure no-one is there

call the police
no tidying till they get there
only a few hours

learn that socks
eliminate fingerprints
the backpack carries the take
this happens
all the time
there is no danger
don’t forget to do the insurance
in the morning

put it out of your mind
go to bed

rest easy

© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #21: identification from height


Poem #19 from The Book of Evenings

Back to: The Book of Evenings – Introduction

she was at the bar with a friend
when he bowled up to say hello
larger than life after all these years
full of bounce

told all that had happened to him
marriages divorces children work play
all in the space of a breath
how wonderful it was to see her
she looked good
have to run
see you again soon maybe

all in the space of a breath that left her without air

so many years

he had left the town young
heard of every blue moon or so
glimpsed in the street sometimes on a family visit

as children they had played
gone to school
kissed on a new year’s eve once
might have grown close but probably wouldn’t have
and then he was gone
into memory
and the wide blue yonder

she had stayed local
worked local
married local
divorced local
under the local eye
a life lived small and contained
but enough

it’s only on days like these
up early to open the shop
to sort papers and stock before the first customers
days like these
with his pleasure at seeing her and his humor
his stories
still bouncing inside her head
she wonders
if it really is enough

if it ever was

© Frank Prem 2003

The Book of Evenings Poem #20: socks to tell no tales