From many places, speaking truth
and making magic happen. Celebrating language.
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POETRY OF JAN OSKAR HANSEN
|Child of War||The Sage||To Walk the Walk|
|El Rocio||Our Neglected Children||Words|
|The Philosophy of Loss||The Peace||Unsolved Theft|
|Food for Thoughts||Haiku (Late Summer)||The Striker|
|The Writer||Winter Mood||A Summer Season Ends|
|Consumerism||The Month of Mars||Another Dawn|
|Jonas, the Cook||The Legacy||A Portuguese Graveyard|
|The Lonesome||A Poet's Morning||Senryu|
|The Weight||Wings||The Deepest Pool|
|The Comedy||The Clairvoyant||Love is a Story|
Go to Page 2 . Page 3 . Page 4 . Page 5 . Page 6 . Page 7 . Page 8 . Page 9 . Page 10
Sweet blood and heavenly light -- let me be consumed by your fire,
let me see the earth burn and let me once more sit on a steed
and lead men of iron into oblivion.
Train explosion in India, many dead and
wounded, black smoke, chaos and people
milling about; it was on the news, yet
in India, far from here, it looked unreal.
In the crowd I saw my brother, had been
dreaming of him all night, he didn't look
like me, small white teeth glued to red
gums, in no special order; delicate hands.
A learned man who lives on the flesh of
calves and drinks goat milk for breakfast.
He looked straight at the camera, willing
me to recognize his existence; I looked
down, put two teaspoons full of sugar in
my coffee and when I looked up he had
disappeared into the noisy crowd, and it
was time for the weekend's football results.
To Walk the Walk
On iron decks I have walked across
the Atlantic and forever the drone
of a ship's heart beats in my ears,
reminding me of mortality;
sleepless nights when engines
ceased in ports of call.
It used to be different,
walked on solid planks to Mandalay
where fly-fish wake, flapping sails,
roaring silence and mariners worried
when rounding Cape Horn.
fake pearls and crows' silver I collected,
behind me a wake of loneliness.
It's hot at the bus station, dust whirls about like
tiny malevolent tornados stinging my eyes, shirt
clings to my back like a tiresome child; my bag
is heavy too, daren't put it down, contains nothing
much but it's all I have got and a passport giving
me an identity. Have to ask when the bus to
Spain leaves, got to go to El Rocio where I have
a cottage and my dog waiting for me. They say it
isn't so, that I'm deluded, confusing an old dream
with reality. I know they are mistaken, if I can
get on the right bus, one that doesn't make u-turns
with a stern-voiced driver telling me to get off, I'll
be all right. I was happy in El Rocio, a woman sang
me lullabies, perhaps she was my mother.
Our Neglected Children
Tough kid, sat in a tree, ate a red squirrel;
she made a cute little hat out of its fur.
"Laura is my name," she shouted, took aim
and shot arrows through open windows;
a menace, terrorizing our neighbourhood.
Special police came, firepower displayed to
an adoring crowd of rebel haters, chased
Laura up a mountain, they did, where she
vanished in a shaft of light; but they arrested
her mother, for keeping an imp in the house.
"I'm a chicken, come eat me." Painted on
the supermarket's fence, near the entrance.
Hooligans; teenagers shouldn't be allowed
to buy spray paint; employees try to scrub
antisocial graffiti off with soap and water.
Other people think it rather funny, I bask in
their applause, but say nothing, not even
make a hint. It was exciting getting up in
the middle of the night wearing a hood,
a thousand shoppers have read my message.
The Philosophy of Loss
A thief came to our home, said he was
a shop-fitter, stole mother's heart and
the savings she had in a jar; peed into
the kitchen sink and left by the back door
She cried, not too long and unseemly,
a charming man had entered her dreary
poverty-stricken life; the money was
only worth two packets of cigarettes
The upper village is morning cold, chimney smoke
rises in still air; dogs that sleep in sheds now sit
by the east wall, huddled together facing the sun; see
me and there are greetings, a slow wagging of tails.
The air is so incredibly clear I can see the houses on
the slopes of the hazy mountain where dogs sit and
face the same sun; I know I'm witnessing a flick of
eternity when other people and their dogs will walk
across the landscape and have the same dreams and
hopes we had. Pedro is outside smoking, his wife
won't let him smoke inside, turns the curtain yellow,
she says; the tobacco aroma drifts my way, wonderful.
A peaceful pocket on earth, my valley is; but I do fear
an easterly wind might bring the smell of cordite.
A big black bike, with frugal rubber tires
and an old fashion handlebar is leaning
against the whitewashed wall this morning.
Someone has nicked it on the way home
from the bar last night; so the thief lives in
one of the stone cottages around here.
The bike, that looks catholic, isn't telling.
Made of hollow tubes, chains and rubber,
it doesn't really care who rides it.
Homes that look pretty are seen hazily - and
at a distance - behind flowering almond trees
in the spring sun - have shuttered windows.
Food for Thoughts
Five Spanish tomatoes on a chopping board,
four were used in a salad, the fifth was put
on a saucer and placed in the fridge behind
a red-skinned, well-mannered, Edam cheese
and a cheeky Danish blue.
When found a month later, it was wrinkled,
shrunken and had grown a grey-flecked beard;
flung into the bin with potato peel and curled
up lettuce leaves, it bitterly murmured:
longevity! Whats the point?
Haiku (Late Summer)
Is an actor who wont share
Limelight with autumn.
Reluctant to leave,
Summer clings to soil and trees
Blowing empty heat.
Clouds on a blue sky
Soon cooling rain will fall
Hose summer away.
When death stalks near our houses, it turns
us into ghosts that fearsomely hide in shadows
so as not to be seen lest it cast a viscous eye
upon us...and on how wrong we are.
It is the light we should seek; celebrate spring,
chase death down the vale, throw it into the sea
where it can drown in is own un-deadly-ness;
so we can, for a moment, feel immortal.
I was writing a novel, it took long, when
looking up a window shutter slammed
as the breaths of fall frostily entered.
Alone, they had gone; family and friends
tired of waiting for me to have time for
them. The October wind tells me I'm old.
Three hundred blank pages going sepia,
distant memories, love and laughter, too
late now; deep shadows obscure the past.
November drizzle is greening
the landscape, I listen as drops
of rain trickle down leaves of
grass, hear a tree's murmur and
sand that sighs under my foot.
An epiphany occurs, I'm what
I see, Nature, hurt a plant and
you hurt me, kill nature and
you eradicate mankind into
a miasma where Time has died.
You and I, we shall not throw
menacing shadows over land,
yet, we'll live forever when new
Time arise, where air is chaste,
virginal and tastes of honey.
A Summer Season Ends
The sea is cooler today than yesterday,
the sand is damp underfoot, in the bay
dolphins swim about, finding breakfast
I suppose; fresh fish every day.
Terns swoop, don't want me here, now
that bathers have gone back to work,
their allotted days of relative freedom
have been absorbed by sands of time.
Holiday photos: "we're there last year,"
but for now I'll take my last swim of
the season, shiver a bit, yet feel good
when coming back ashore.
A pair of trousers and a yellow silk scarf,
I had the saleslady's attention; a full frontal
smile she gave and wished me a nice day.
This is a shopping street, we are all middleclass;
the matted hair people who begged here, and
made us feel ill at ease, have been exiled,
live behind the gasworks where nice people
descend every noel to hand out blankets,
yesterday's cakes and plastic sheets for when it
rains. We are consumers, all of us. Even India,
now so prosperous, has chased beggars out of
New Delhi; shiny office blocks and rags do not
mix. Tomorrow I'll buy a pair of brown shoes
so I can feel worthy and respected again.
The Month of Mars
This spring's more intense than the one before;
it's like it's in a haste to green the valley,
still winter cold to the touch, and... Manuel's
donkey is with foal, twins, it's said. Does nature
sense the beginning of a hundred years war?
The overture has started, believers in an almighty
god and atheists are squaring up to slaughter one
another, lay waste the land to prove a point;
and a future springs that brings no joy of life,
but a place where diamonds blink in streams
of useless tears.
Restless night, Agent Orange, plums of fire
and burning bushes, silent dawn a flock of
tired birds flew past looking for trees to sit
on and rest a little before flying north.
The field of almond trees, planted long ago
without the precision of economy, is now
a battlefield of death, men with chainsaws
walk around looking for signs of life.
A scream of agony flies upwards from
pained souls, explodes into a kaleidoscopic
cacophony, fading against a sky clouded
in white sorrow and spent wrath.
Why cannot things stay the same? A face in
a crowd, everything I loved going, going,
gone, the ever-changing world, now sky blue,
warming sun; afar, a dog barks.
They are planting orange trees in my field,
insipid fruit machines, citrus twice a year;
for cash crops my trees have been slain. In
combat zones there is no mercy.
Jonas, the Cook
Met a man in a bar in Kingston, he told me of Jonas,
the merchant navy cook's, demise. Late at night leaning
on a railing, looking at the stars, Jonas ship lurched
and he fell into the sea. A good swimmer, he floated on
his back and continued to watch the stars, thought they
were really close to dawn and found he was so close to
a tiny island that he could wade ashore. Looked up and
saw a vapour trail and was hit on the head by a block of
ice released from the plane. The man in the bar, who had
come to the island to live alone, buried Jonas, with a
cross of driftwood on top, which reminded the loner, life
was to be lived elsewhere, so he sailed back to the mainland;
only knew it was Jonas when reading about the missing
cook; never told anyone, thought it best that way.
I can't live here in this flat; the hall is an ice-box
generations of ill will, trying to get into the kitchen
through the keyhole, these walls layers of cooking
vapour, cabbage and cat-piss hide family abuse and
tears; can't you hear the echo of screams? It's Eve
the window in the living room is broken, blood in
vomit on the floor, someone in the bedroom is in
agony, I can't stay here. This is your heritage, you
have nowhere else to go. Yes I have, got a house
in Spain, it's in a vale by a river, my dog is waiting
it has waited long. You go to Spain every day but
always return That's because I have been going
on the wrong bus, tomorrow I'll get it right, you can
keep my birthright, Im not coming back.
A Portuguese Graveyard
The ship, riding swells, is anchored in the bay,
A seascape as seen from a cemetery, pilot's late,
yet time in shipping is essential; or perhaps,
I'm just misinformed. Visiting her mother's
vault; a hole in a wall, glass-door, a grim coffin,
a sepia photo of the deceased, in a rust striped
frame; dry bones and peaceful silence.
She opened the chamber's door, began dusting,
the photo and the coffin while humming softly
as to a child. So much light here and colourful
plastic flowers, it would be nice to sleep here,
if not today, to have a dutiful daughter coming
here every spring, tickling my old bones, while
telling me about ships anchored in the bay.
Sunday evening only a few cafés are open catering
to the lonely; an old lady, at a table near mine,
ordered the dish of the day and red wine, quarter
past nine, she always comes at that time, it coincides
with the arrival of a black man who wears ridiculous
earrings, a man who is showing a defiant, gay face
to the world, yet vulnerable, you know; if he could,
he would carry your burden. There are no happy
endings to stories told, we end up alone and nothing
matters much. Your questions will not be answered,
she knows that and when the café is empty pays him
a beer and drink another glass of wine.
A Poet's Morning
I like to sleep late, almost till eight, my skeptical
duvet doesnt like to blow its cover, so I pass
my time making up anagrams of famous names,
only I can't spell and end up with words that make
no sense; I have tried for years to be a novelist but
after a page of reluctant words, I end up going back
to bed. It is said gorillas are bright because they are
able to fold a few leaves together and make a bed;
big deal, the sparrows on my roof make intricate
nests of feathers, tiny twigs and digested worms,
and they get babies that try to push each other out;
nature is murder, mayhem and desperate survival.
So perhaps we should be more understanding; when
a flaming bush sets fire to a forest.
Hot air over Gaza
Makes roses bloom early
Or is it blood I see?
This tragic struggle
Semite Murders Semite
While we sing Carols
Notes fell from the sky
Sank to the bottom of a lake;
Made water music
I had to haste home
But left my eyes on a stone
To enjoy, sundown
In the square’s corner
A fallen woman danced
With dust and leaves
A denuded phellem
Suffers in noble silence
Birds do not titter
Sixty years today
Army parade and arrogance
While Gaza burns
On the mountain's tarn
Sunlight skipped crazily
On tiny waves
In rustic silence
I hear a sparrow's egg crack
And life in the open begins
Murmur from the East
We ignored to our peril
Now it's a scream
The thunder afar
Is not inclement weather
But exploding mines
Body parts drizzle
When eager children pick up
Toys dropped from planes
Man born to evil
Isn't it a miracle then?
That there is goodness
Freedom is costly
Those who swap it for security
Will long for yesterday
Guilt is a heavy burden
it makes you hate those
you trespassed against;
the urge is to erase them,
bodily and historically, so
there will be no trace;
of the grand larceny you
committed when robbing
a people of their land
Once I could fly, celebrating my return from the sea
My wife wouldn’t let me in, standing there in the yard
I stretched out my arm like a large phoenix bird and
Flew high above the roofs in the close where I lived
And could see I didn’t belong and could clearly see
That I didn’t belong amongst tax inspectors, office
Managers and police Sergeants.
My arms got tired I landed on the roof of my house
Where I tired fell asleep, when I awoke a fireman was
There insisted on helping me down, and days later,
When found guilty of disturbing the peace, the magistrate
Asked me how I got up on to the roof. I flew…sir
And there was talk of psychiatric valuation, but luckily
My ship came in and off I sailed never to return.
The Deepest Pool
In the deepest black forest there is a tree
where wild boars come and rub their
behinds; you can still see, carved in its
bark, a heart with an arrow through it and
two names: Eva & Adolf. But it's the dark
tarn that interests me the most, the world's
missing people, lost thoughts and unwanted
memories, end up here, which makes its water
so nutritious that it can make a Sahara
green and full of sweet potatoes. Thirsty for
knowledge I drank a cupped handful, and
sixty-five years of history changed, but I can't
come out and say so; if I do they will send
me to prison as a denier of official truths.
When the sun sets he flies through the night to
far away enclaves, looks around and declares
that he sees an improvement from eight years
ago, then he takes off, flies through the night
and in his own dreams and lands unheralded
on his own, sacred soil. The mishap on his way,
a reporter’s loose boots, has reduced his tenure
to farce, we should have laughed, only it wasn’t
funny just sad; end of a failed system.
To build a tower, higher then the slain towers
of scraped gas guzzlers, light a fire and let it burn
itself out: end of story. The historians can pick
the skeleton clean and tell us what went wrong.
The new century has been eight years delayed,
it begins in January 2009 and it will be a painful
birth; but if the elite tinker with the old system
Athens will burn for no gain; blood will flow in
rat infested sewers as nihilism reigns supreme.
Over a cold Nordic coast a seagull flies and sees
the bay between the island and the coastal town.
40 minutes each way by ferry. It’s an old gull and
has a blind eye and one leg; yes, you are right,
a real pirate I used to know years ago, it knew me
too when I was a cook on that a ferry boat, sat on
the mast and waited for me to throw scraps of
food into the sea shrieking harshly, it is the gulls’
way of wishing me well.
This year has no ice in the bay, there was a time
when the ferry was icebound, island’s folk had to
walk across on ice to get to the shops; they walk
across now on a bridge, ferry been sold and
is plying its trade on the delta of Bangladesh.
The day is clear I’m a seagull and can see the past
lucid as the day, it is lucky that I can’t see the future,
but there is a name that warms my heart: Falluja.
The down trodden, the raped, took up arms and
fought the mightiest army the world has seen and
won a moral victory that one day will bring peace
to Iraq. I’m not a seer, but the old pirate is, flies
beside me now and harshly shrieks, it is the way we
seagulls greet each other.
Love is a Story
It seems incredible now but once I was in love,
inflamed blood rushed thru my veins, threatened
to drown my heart in sweet delusions, but we
both agreed at the time that never in the history
of man had anyone loved as us.
Summer nights are not for sleeping, tired I was
when October came with cold, sober precipitation
and a north westerly that reduced the rapid river
of ardour to a mere trickle of lust and my words of
love rang hammy and theatrical.
Tears, a tub full I’m quite certain; had I had sense
to bath in them I would have been assured eternal
youth. I kicked myself, fled. A fine November dawn
I saw Recife; fell in love again, but this time, alas,
with an irony-damaged heart.