From many places, speaking truth
and making magic happen. Celebrating language.
Poets' Pages | Title Page | Links
JAN OSKAR HANSEN - Page 2
|The Path||Evening||Cupid?||Prisoners of War|
|Harold Pinter RIP||Tanka||Prey for the Hunter||Not a Janus Mask|
|The Occupiers||Art Gallery||Friday||The Farewell|
|The whiteness within me||Nazi Time||A Plea for Clemency||The Veiled|
|The Human Condition||Dry Drunk||Alternative Healing||A Seafarer's Life|
|Winter Wish||No Return||The Last One||Beirut 2007 30 BC|
|The Flick||Haiku||Housewife, circa 1810. Or today?||Night Walker|
|Neglect||Fortunate Jim||Haifa Oranges||Tanka|
|Birds of Prey||October Heat||Modern Haiku||October's Pretense|
Go to Page 3 . Page 4 . Page 5 . Page 6 . Page 7 . Page 8 . Page 9 . Page 10 . Page 1
Light came from the street. I sat by the
window and looked out, there was a party,
lots of action and coloured lanterns, but
the windows being double glazed, I couldn't
hear a thing. Tired, but didnt dare sleep in
case lights disappeared and the street got
as dark as the night behind me.
I did fall asleep; when I awoke the street
was white and covered in pristine snow,
strolled outside, the snow was like dust.
I began walking, came to a plateau where
memory said my home town used to be:
nothing of it remained except the railway
tracks darkly going yonder
The sky is pale blue and afar a few dank clouds
hang about, too frozen to move; twilight walks
across the land and soon the ruin across the road
will look mysterious and unsold.
Work, done, hours of dreams have only produced
a few meager words, look tiny and trite on paper;
there is no escape, only a line between me and
the cold enormity of the winter sky.
On this cold February day wind blows from
the North and my almond tree sings of love,
unfulfilled, lost affection and undefined
longings; in the tree's case not being able
to move, standing still all day, rooted, not
entwined with the beloved, next to a staid
olive perennial, gnarled and ugly to look at.
It hopes that its song and words of love
will be heard by the slender almond tree
in the next field, the one that wears pink
flowers now, in spring, and stands too close
to a pompous oak where stygian ravens live.
Fret not my tree, I've heard your words and
will relay your message at twilight time.
Prisoners of War
It has been there, under the surface of awareness,
a memory that called to be clearly remembered;
I could not stop it growing, from a vague outline
into cinema screen clarity.
1944, as a five year old, I used to give scraps of
food to Russian prisoners near our farm; they in
turn gave me wooden toys.
One February day I walked there as usual, the gate
was wide open, prisoners lay on the ground and
I heard twigs snap.
It began to snow and it didn't melt when landing on
white faces; unable to move, I stood there till bodies
were covered with a shroud of snow and the stillness
Harold Pinter RIP
Harold Pinter is dead; he protested
against NATO’s bombing of Belgrade,
I did too. He disputed the invasion
of Iraq, so did I.
He called Bush and Blair war criminals,
so did I. His voice was heard far and wide,
mine wasn't, but in the end we were
Yet, Harold Pinter could not find time
to sharply criticise Israel's brutal
dealing with Palestinians, his voice
fell curiously silent; in that respect
we had nothing in common.
Tanka (The Power)
Used to travel to the US
To seek approval
Now they go to Jerusalem
To get the endorsement.
Running for president
Must go to Haifa
Eat bitter oranges
And extol their sweetness
Got the French Legion of honour,
Well deserved indeed.
Will the captives of Gitmo
One day get a medal too?
To tell Palestinians,
Get a life, forget Nakba,
Is like telling Jews to
Get a life, forget the holocaust,
It never happened anyway.
During the Iraqi war
What did you do? Dear father
grumbled, wrote letters
to freethinking newspapers,
especially to The Guardian.
Big house, many doors
Opened and closed them all,
The last door, blue, led into
A room bare as naked truth.
Tanned, aged face
Narrow, autocratic lips
Faded blue eyes
A hardening of sentiment
I am a powerless tyrant.
Hanged a thousand times
Hard dark eyes
Taunted by the small people
Died as he lived, no regrets.
Twenty to midnight
Plough has cleared snow off roads
Piled it man high
Chest pain, cold air and moonlight
Blue light lacerates the night.
Lone snowdrop fell
Landed on a wooden fence
Glinted like a gem
More snowdrops downed
Exclusivity forever lost
Thanks for your poems,
Sorry, we cannot use them
Wish you luck elsewhere
Even though we strongly doubt
Anyone could be that crazy
Painted the floor green
Sit in a corner and wait
Quick drying paint
Four hours it says on the can
Where I sit it's a lifetime
Mirror in the hall
Don't sarcastically laugh
When I walk past
On my way to the kitchen
To eat another strawberry tart
Prey for the Hunter
Somewhere in Texas people with guns they
don't often get to use, pay good money to
hunt semi-feral, free-range pigs; easy targets,
fat and white, just wait behind a bush and
your killer instinct will soon be sated.
In case you have wondered, there are black
pigs too, but they are not hunted; one has to
be careful these days not to upset minorities;
they are, however, rounded up and clubbed.
Their meat is of great gourmet quality.
Not a Janus Mask
Drank wine and was dizzy for a day; the African mask
on the wall woke to life, drumbeat, coconut oil and
rum, said it was guys like me, Nordic missionary types,
who had robbed him of dignity, land and language.
"But I have never been to Africa." "Doesn't matter
you are guilty for your society's insensitivities to other
cultures, and as you are a European, you are also Anti-Semitic,
especially if you criticize Israel."
"I resent what you said, but I defend your right to say
it," I muttered and offered the mask a glass of wine,
which it declined, but whispered, under my breath,
that it is difficult to be racially offensive to someone
who is confident and proud of his ancestors' travail.
"That remark shows how little you understand," said
the mask and spoke no more. Soundless, empty eyes,
black as night; a soul had spoken, but not in vain.
They came, the huddled masses, victims
of a war and pogrom far from our shores;
we gave them room at the inn, and on
our common land they could graze sheep.
They have now taken over the inn, stolen
our common land, bulldozed our villages
and uprooted olive trees to build roads we
cannot use, erected walls to keep us out.
They want us to leave to roam the world
as they did; we will not, we shall stay here
near our ancestors and the land and wait,
yes, wait till they uproot again and leave.
From the left of the big canvas depicting
still life - an apple, a tennis ball, a bottle of
wine and a Greek vase - lava ran, forever
erasing the artist's work;
when the lava cooled I painted on its surface
a landscape of pale night flowers...and
you, nude and extremely white, striking
a pose on black velvet...
Drive around, been alone for a week now,
don't want a woman. I see pathetic figures
lurking in dark ally ways and under trees;
prostitution is boring - money, cruelty and
graceless sex; not a sensible word spoken;
drive off disgusted by the netherworld of
mankind. Bright light of a big supermarket
beckons, it's Friday family shopping day.
Christmas décor, children eating ice cream;
lonely people, mostly middle aged women,
closed faces, stern lips, acting as though in a hurry;
if I speak to one she will move away, but
she needs someone to talk to as much as I do.
I say nothing, but listen to the spoken silence
that mingles with the warm voice of a child
and the cold air from the exit.
A blustery day, early June,
I was going on
the train; mother
followed me to the station.
She wore a dirty old coat and
her hair or washed her face;
she looked like
a bag lady amongst
the nicely dressed people.
A shower of hailstones;
she waved, I didn't,
in case people thought
she was my mother.
The train was five minutes late.
The whiteness within me
Yesterday I saw an albino raven
that had just killed a sparrow
and had drops of blood on its chest.
Having had the privilege to be
white, you would think it would
desist from killing sparrows.
But I must be wrong, perhaps it
was an angel dressed as a Cardinal;
they wear red and eat meat.
Or was it was a dove of peace
wearing a ruby necklace; or one
that had been hurt by an Israeli sniper?
Perhaps it was a white cloud
I saw drifting along on blue,
lit up by a red-eyed sun.
A white feather, cowardice is
pale as cold snow, so why does
a peace dove have to be white?
(The poet, 8 years old, is the center figure in the photo.)
Uniformed men with ice-blue eyes marched up
and down the street, bombs fell, earth shook
and I was two years old.
An officer with steel-rimmed glasses and
a thin cruel smile said: "This child is blond and
has blue eyes; a true Aryan." Proudly I clicked
heels and sucked my thumb.
Mother took to singing sentimental lieder and
they gave her an iron cross while I dreamed of
becoming the kindergarten's new Führer.
To my regret, peace broke out and life was dull
again till I was circumcised and we went to live
in Haifa where I could pee over the new high wall;
this made me a natural leader of men.
A Plea for Clemency
Jessica Lynch, brave soldier, broke a leg in
her president's war. The enemy brought her to a
hospital where she was looked after till her army
came, guns blazing, and picked her up; no,
she hadn't been raped or beaten.
The cant machine and compliant press could only hint
at the unspoken cruelty that had befallen her, they
made her a heroine, her picture in papers, and then
let her go home to mum and dad. For this, I think,
Saddam Hussein should be given a pardon; he isn't a
common criminal, but a big one, like Bush and Blair
who will end up elder statesmen, (Blair, a Lord)
admired by all, if not by the Iraqi people whose
country they've destroyed.
In Athens I lined up, with others, in a church.
A priest gave us each a bag of cakes while
I wondered what I was doing there. In front
of me was an old lady, she quickly ate her cakes
and lined up for more; the priest refused, told
her to go; she eyed my bag and I gave it to her.
This made her so glad that she followed me around
the rest of the day. When I came out of an all
night bar she was leaning up against a lamp post...
sleeping, the subdued light had erased her wrinkles
and she looked like a little girl made homeless by
a drunken father. Coming to the docks it was morning
and I had seen hidden beauty.
The Human Condition
The paleness of the screen ogles me, waits
to be written on like a woman waiting for me
to make the first move, but I’m too timid, fear
her rejection; shall I murmur something jovial
or say she has lovely hair? Or is all this too forward?
Can’t very well mention the massacre in Gaza
and that the victims of Israel’s foul act are those
who get blamed? Or shall I say, the display of
fireworks on the night and the buildings on fire
have their own awe-inspiring beauty?
In 1959 I sat in a park on New Year’s Eve, holding
hands with a gypsy girl in Huelva, Spain; but for
Maria it was a boring town -- she had brown legs,
dark eyes and dusty feet; her grim father came,
took my lighter and chased me away.
Now isn’t that a better story to tell than tales
of tediousness and the human tragedy named
Gaza, where the sky rains fire and children are
covered in the dust of war, unable to escape?
But will she listen to such a sad story?
Big party, plenty of food, wine,
music and dance. "Another drink?"
"No thanks." "Wine?" "I'm alright."
Face hurt by all this smiling and laughing.
"You alright?" The mask had slipped,
"Sure, yes, grand party." Twelve; time
to go home, "Stay a little longer."
Dry throat, headaches, this is going to
last forever, two o'clock!
My god, cant stand this any longer,
I'm going home, where is my coat?
Sobriety brings little rewards.
I kissed the healing crystal stone,
cold and blue with an ethereal
shimmer, icy as the South Pole.
Lofty thoughts entered my mind
azure sky, white clouds and last
year's summer breeze.
I paid, the lady smiled, healing
doesn't come as cheap as a pair
of boots bought in a Chinese shop.
Sore lips, ulcer, ate an orange
threw the peel into the fire, its
aroma warmed the winter air.
A Seafarer's Life
So, how does it go? Ship ahoy sailor boy? I was going to write
about my life at sea, salt water and romance on tropical nights
but I can only remember the old seafarers, who had no other
home than the temporary shelter of a cabin on a ship.
Ashore they stayed in boarding houses, walked up and down
streets, bought the sporadic services of a prostitute, sat in bars
till money got short. In a way they were old lags, institutionalized,
fearful of double-crossing people wearing shark smiles.
Life had sailed them by, only with a deck under their feet
did they feel at home. There was a deep sadness about
them, a greatcoat of loneliness only love could penetrate,
but where they walked and lived there was none to be had.
So tell me old boy, was it in Le Havre or in Singapore that
you met a girl you can't get out of your mind, the one who
smiled in a way that made you feel special? Do tell us, dear boy,
and let's pretend she was more than just another slag in a bar.
I’m tired of this winter valley, the sky has seven
hues of grey, there are no donkeys left only blue
tractors reeking of diesel fume, no echo of happy
I will go to the Congo where nature is both beautiful
and scary with roaring lions, snapping crocodiles,
ear flapping, cantankerous elephants and chest
beating mountain gorillas.
I will break in a river-horse and bare back gallop
across the Serengeti followed by crashing rhinos
flanked by laughing hyenas; arrive in Cape Town
as the biggest show on earth.
Welcomed by Desmond Tutu, he’s such a nice,
all forgiving man, stable my horse near a river,
take the plane back to Portugal just as the sun
breaks through and the sky is blue again.
Sea-shell tells of hard life's ocean
calming when reaching Nirvana's
Nuns in a rowing boat smile, terns
float on silent air, no tempest can
reach this shore.
Sun is bland, leave passion behind
when wading ashore, here where
no one whispers of hidden delight.
Scintillating sun upon sea, music
reaches my ears too late now,
god sits on a stone motionless.
The Last One
You just know its mad, the grey
Walks in an endless circle, inside
That used to store double winged
It is the loneliness, you see; doesnt
Matter how much I talk
I'm not an elephant and can't play
Any musical instruments.
(As seen by an old Arab.)
I saw Beirut in 1958 when
Arabic princesses walked in streets
of peace in all their finery,
free of the restricting veil,
but dressed with a train of
burka, chattering servants
I still remember their dark,
mysterious eyes; mind in those days
all women were mysterious to me and
the Mediterranean, infant blue, looked
on with benign disinterest.
Now in May and far away
from Beirut, I see there is trouble once again,
rockets hitting buildings, flying concrete
and the sounds of machine gun fire -
so what's new?
Not much, since you have
the impunity to ask,
the Mediterranean has seen it all before
only now its eyes are milky blue
and she's too old to be a whore:
the trouble maker who returned
to these shores;
those clever alchemists who
turn words into fools' gold, and let you
believe that they are chosen by
an abstract god, to bring harmony.
This time they cannot be exiled, they have
found a strong ally which they eat up from the inside
till they can be declared masters of the world
by irrational Christians; and we will suffer their
revenge till their greed and capacity for double dealing
begin to kill each another,
and we shall be free and we will re-remember our
our glorious past.
The blond girl had turned her back to the beach,
head in hand, her guitar flung aside, I think she
was crying. A man walked his dog, another one
jogged, birds in V shape flew towards the eye of
twilight; and no scientist saw the weeping girl.
Night, on a strand of sand that faced the mighty
Pacific Ocean I so often had crossed on my way
to the land of the setting sun. A girl alone and I
on a beach of forget-us-not. I walked over to tell
her to go home; the girl was a heap of golden sand,
her fine guitar the flotsam of a blue fishing boat
and her bikini a tattered plastic shopping bag.
Rain takes a break
Jaded by its own languor
White clouds and sunlight
Flapping kitchen curtains
Aroma of coffee
Field ploughing tractors
Red soil and shrieking gulls
Horse empty landscape.
A grizzled donkey
Under a big carob tree
Makes it pretty.
So many flowers
Flamboyant aroma of death
Too late now for love
The good farmer
Has planted an almond tree
On my dog's grave.
In a dead rabbit's eyes
I saw the vast empty sky
Unmoved and godless
Does spring offensively
Mean procreation and birdsong
Housewife, circa 1810. Or today?
Mend my socks, by the sunny wall,
I love to see when your thimble of
silver shines as brilliantly as the sun.
Sew buttons on my trouser's fly; in
the midnight cove, I love to see when
your thimble outshines the new moon.
But leave the thimble at home when
we go to the ball; people might get
the wrong idea, think you're my maid.
Night waits for me to come, walk in its
deep shadow, to admire the way it
accentuates streetlight, makes neon signs
shine on damp asphalt, shuts out noises
and subdues the sirens of an ambulance;
cloaks me in security, unseen by prying
eyes, and the echo of lonely footsteps is
another dreamer. Yet, for all this, night
too pales when meeting dawn that takes
me on a ride through an irresistible day.
A Hudson River dockland that had seen busier times;
empty warehouses, closed factories, business
had moved elsewhere. I can't remember why we
docked there, perhaps as a punishment, but guess
we were waiting for orders; so time was spent
painting the ship's sides. A deckhand went missing;
it was assumed he had gone ashore for a beer.
The river police found him next day, further down
the river under a wooded pier; odd no one heard him
fall, no splash, just silently falling into oblivion.
Eighteen, still a boy; met his mother when I got home,
told her how good he'd been, well brought up. It pleased
her; she looked so very young herself, so I took her out
for dinner, and that dried her tears.
Jim was the cook, son of a lord it was rumoured.
The Polish master mariner, Joseph, said Jim
was a lucky man, brought fair wind and weather,
wanted him on his ship sailing to the Far East
and up festering rivers. But in warm Singapore
Jim had an attack of epiphany, saw everything
so clearly that he borrowed a typewriter from
the Anglican vicar and wrote a novel. Joseph,
the Polish mariner, not only lost his cook, he
also lost his ship in the Mekong River.
I bought oranges in Haifa for the ship's crew;
those on top of the crates were juicy and lovely,
those lower down well past their sell-by date.
No point complaining, brown eyes would harden,
noses wrinkle in contempt, menace fill the air:
Stop! the unsaid accusation an elephant in the room.
My will was weak; we were anchored in the bay,
their air force had been playing war games, diving
down to the ship before flattening out. The roaring
stunned us into incoherence. Great fun for some.
No point complaining though, no one to listen;
we were the victims of a land gripped by delirium
We coldly dismiss
Western cultural heritage
It brought democracy
Let us not dissolve freedom
To please fundamentalists
"Straws bend in a wind
That will uproot you, old oak,"
A yellow stalk said
"Look behind you, the tree said
The farmer carries a scythe"
Fred built a hut in an oak
Up a mountain side
Winter brought high wind and rain
Fred fell down and broke his neck
So they hung Saddam
The brutal, old dictator
But as they gloated
He faced the hangman bravely
That will be remembered.
There was a hill hamlet
Built on the steepest slope
Held up by the wind
The inhabitants made goat cheese
Till the day wind ceased blowing.
Was it written
Across an indifferent sky
That the chosen tribe
Possess the fair land, Palestine?
A dirge for beset Palestine,
They kill your children;
If you forget this misdeed
The night sky will lose its stars.
What's close to me
Is so very hard to see,
I've to step back
Not one lousy pace, but ten;
Humdrum blinds to the obvious.
Will one day bring anarchy
Birds of Prey
On the slim tarmac road, seven long-necked white birds are feeding;
they look like cranes and are noisy, but what do I know about birds?
They indolently take flight, circle behind me and continue feeding on
insects I can’t see. This is a repeat of yesterdays; there are always seven
of them and they make the same circle before landing behind me and
feeding on what my bike may have disturbed in cracks in the road.
In a few weeks' time they will be flying to Marrakech, where the clime
is milder. Perhaps they will settle in Dominique Strauss Khan's garden
and feed on the poor man’s pleas of innocence from women he has been
open toward, holding them caringly in his arms, gently kissing them.
Pitiable man, his dream of being the President of France is ruined by
embittered women. The birds take no interest in this, they want to find
morsels of real food and not tidbits newspapers may find appealing.
They cannot feed on a deplorable story about a dismal man’s great
conceit and fall from grace; so don’t come here and blame the birds.
This October heat has turned into a shocking corpse of a tramp left in
the unholy heat for days. Last time someone touched him was when
he was a bairn in his mother’s arms. Those who handle him now wear
gloves and facemasks. On the walkway sit old tourists; they came here
for a cheap holiday, been lucky, going home with a tan. But if they die
alone at home, those who touch them will wear gloves and the coffin
will be closed…what we know we do not need to see. Deluded sun is
an actor who wants to speak all the line in the play and refuses to leave
the stage. The public is restless, curtain is coming down, but this is his
moment. Slow clapping and he says ”I gave you summer, so why do you
forsake me now?” October sun is an old person who tries to be young;
he feels he has much more to say, but does not see he is repeating himself.
Give way now, let rain fall and clean the slate of the past, look out and
enjoy how much of what you planted thrives.
Looks into a rain pool
When it rains
Cats sleep on window sills
In the mist
Rain; nature is greening, but it’s a false spring; December will
pale the land into submission. Do not write poetry till February,
when almond trees blossom and strew petals about in protest
thinking winter takes the season of its sinister drama too far.
Last winter snow fell, a wonderland; people said they had not
seen snow for forty seven years. The stream is xanthous I think
from China’s main river where dolphins, not seen for years, swim
in cloudy water. What can’t be seen cannot be caught by man.
Dawn; on the track a boar sniffs the air and grunts; a hairy
pig in need of a pair of glasses. I move and it disappears into
the undergrowth. On a nature walk I used to take a camera, but
wild animals hate having their photos taken and avoided my
intrusive lens. I was left with taking photos of trees, weeds and
evergreen bushes. My lazy dreaminess has paid off; I have had
a good life; no one ever expected anything glorious of me, and
left me in peace. If you look for me I will be on a bus trying to
find the fabulous castle I once saw, when I could see the future.