From many places, speaking truth
and making magic happen. Celebrating language.
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JAN OSKAR HANSEN - Page 3
|Dignity||Too Big||Rex, the Memory|
|Tanka||Wine & Women||The Lost Ideal||Sonnet to a Film Star|
|Ordinary Life||Iron Cross||Illusions||Truth|
|Sonnet to an Oak||Master Mariner||Spring Light||First Light|
|Question||Red Cross Syndrome||Ageism?||The fly|
|The Re-Settlers||The Five Fishes||Bleating Lambs||The Siren of Sighs|
|An Omen?||The Quickening||Senryu||Dread|
Go to Page 4 . Page 5 . Page 6 . Page 7 . Page 8 . Page 9 . Page 10 . Page 1 . Page 2
Taunted him they did, had
expected him to fall on his
knees, beg for his life, so
they could laugh a bit more.
Now hes a martyr and his
name lives, so they did
him a favour.
And it took a brutal dictator
to teach the world about true
On the busy street, by the drains
near a café, a big cockroach on its back
It is said that this type of insect has
its brain in the stomach; if that's so
this one was an Einstein, taught others
how to survive nuclear wars behind
the kitchen sink.
Turned the roach back on its feet,
more dignified that way, glad it was
dead; had it been alive I would have
had to kill it, can't have monsters
like that walking in our street, not
near an eatery.
Rex, the Memory
When Captain John Henderson, US Army,
was twelve he had a wolfhound called Rex;
his father said the dog was too old and shot
it in front of the boy, who cradled the dog,
cried and got blood on his shirt; his mother
scolded him for that.
Later his father fell out of a helicopter, (talk
of suicide) and his mother remarried.
Captain John Henderson sat in his humvee
patrolling streets of dust and hate when it
exploded and he flew up in the air where he
met Rex, his only friend, in a field near home;
together they walked away from the vista of
The mangled body they put into a zip-up bag
wore a saintly smile.
An Indonesian plane fell into the Java Sea,
no Portuguese onboard; it's ok then, next
item. Soon Bangladesh will be a turf sticking
up from the sea, a few trees where monkeys
sit trying to figure out how to catch fish.
The warming of the planet, don't you blame
me for that, I have been talking about it for
years, but can't take any action; what is it
you want me to do? March in the street and
shout: "Down with the capitalists!"
Israel is in trouble, they have burnt bridges
to peace; a siege mentality rules, end of dreams
and fiddlers on the roof. The president of
Palestine drives an expensive black Mercedes,
but his prime minister waves a green flag.
Ten years since that dreaded, early
morning call last night and long ago.
A nightmare, I assure myself, when
vividly dreaming of you; wrong name,
a misunderstanding. In the day, too,
I hear your voice. You let go slowly,
days drift by now when I don't think of
you; when I do it's with a melancholic
shrug, I shan't see you again, our time
(Written on the 10th anniversary
of mother's death.)
Night lasts long in my winter vale,
darkly dreamless too, trust street
lamps to find my way into town;
tiny moons emit ideal lime light.
Stopped under one and hammed a poem,
didn't see the patrol car, grinning
faces, but as I stood on one leg
at a time, they knew I was sober.
When reaching the point of my travail,
the day was flowing like a hungry river,
my street lamps looked pale and quite
The pig in the sty
Lost a hind leg last Christmas
This year, who knows?
Ink drips from sky
Obscuring mountains and lakes.
The lone seagull
That flies low over a fiord
Is a timeless echo.
Hospital Surrounded by
Full of unspoken worries
all ships sailed
dock lights shine on oily sea
as night waits for dawn.
Drive on bio fuel
And you deprive someone
Of his bread
If you feel a poems
Honesty, you need not understand
Lurks pitiless high finance
Your vote is a joke.
After the bomb has gone off
Before people scream
A lake mirrors the dawn sky
As a lone man drowns
Frost kills twigs
Civil war... Libya
The well educated
Against the unskilled workers
The less erudite
Need a job and bread on the table
And not Napoleon cakes
If you see the poor
in your leafy neighbourhood
buy them a bus ticket
so they can see our great land
and settle somewhere else.
White foam on blue sea,
Spindrift, brother of the cloud,
Spun a magic carpet
On which we can forever fly
Till fairy tales come true
When the al-Nakba,
The stain on Israel’s sad soul,
Has been forgiven
Semitic tribes will unite
And the people will rejoice
He rode his brave steed
Up a steep mountain and down
To meet his beloved
Burst lungs; the mount, useless now
Was made into salami
From a fair distance
I could see the house was empty
Etched in faces of the dead
Frozen on the window pane
To be a good goy
Accept Moslems and Jews
But remember this
When the forest is logged
Affiliation supercedes nation
The festive street
Now that bars and clubs have shut
But is a dark hunting ground
Where rats, caught by cats, shriek
Hazy Sunday dawn
A man on a rimfrost field
Has shot five hares
He has tied them to his belt
Blood drips on his trouser legs
Wine & Women
...to ease this suffering:
In a little Spanish town
by the sunny coast
there was a Ferris wheel
and a carousel
near the docks.
We sat holding hands
telling lies, and drinking cola,
through a straw when her
father came, dragged her
away by her dark hair,
I did nothing,
to make matters worse
I drank the cola she had
midnight and told
The Lost Ideal
Like dolls, children's faces
pale as death,
carried by lamenting choruses
to their graves.
brother against brother,
poverty and utter
This hell hole, an open sewer,
created by people with long
They are in full control,
a moving wall stealing land,
uprooting biblical olive trees;
the warden is corrupt,
a Dorian Grey who will one
day look into his
souls mirror...fall to earth
Sonnet to a Film Star
It wasn't her creamy body that caught
my attention, nothing unusual about it,
curvaceous, yes, but going soft. It was
her eyes; in a blink, they were blue,
green or brown depending on her mood
that changed faster than traffic lights
on Sunset Boulevard, between laughter,
pain and suspicion. I could see her soul
wide open eyes; they killed her slowly,
those famous men who wouldnt let her
grow, a dumb blond forever. If I met her
I could have made her happy, but when
I found the courage to ring her doorbell,
Marilyn wasnt around anymore.
A grazing mule and a sociable donkey make
for an ordinary day, walk to the café, gossip
about the lady who runs the pharmacy; her
new lover is the doctor, which makes sense,
and the baker is rumoured to be gay; where
else can you find such an ordinary day?
If I were to live a busy life, see all the world's
wonders - lakes, oceans and big mountains,
flit between the Taj Mahal and Louvre, in
one day, just to see how great mankind is -
I wouldn't have the time to see how strange
and fascinating ordinary life can be.
Under her white lace the baker's wife wore
an iron cross, tight-lipped secrecy, the baker was
in prison for selling cakes and information to
the enemy in exchange for nazi paraphernalia.
Alas the iron was contaminated by an unknown
substance, made her skin olive oil tan, her
blond hair black, blue eyes brown; it was clear
for everyone to see she was a Levantine Jewess.
So they set the baker free, these people have
suffered enough, applause, tears and waving
of flag; the baker and his wife emigrated to
Israel to help shape things to come.
You were so warm and tender,
so giving in bed that I thought
you felt as I.
Mind, you have a busy life, often
didn't see you for a long time,
never asked why, for when you came
back all was ok.
Winter gone, spring, I loved you
more than ever, tried not to think
why you stayed away, till I got
this dreaded call; another man.
The pink bubble burst, for a moment
engulfed by hate and dark thoughts
of revenge, but it was my own fault,
knew all along, but refused to open
my eyes and see.
The whaling boat hunts an empty sea,
dots of clouds try to look like albatrosses
but they can't shriek and are myopic;
the trigger finger is cold, iron arrow
attached to a coiled snake tries to catch
a breaker before it's a foamy surge;
there is no horizon, land has gone,
a surviving sardine shines, truths are
hand reared to fit any old occasion.
Sonnet to an Oak
I'm an oak with a bald crown; from my
nether branches they used to hang criminals.
I still wear a scar, not that I had any say in
the matter, but I enjoyed the spectacle, lots
of people looking up, passive compliance?
Sheriff and judge are thighbones rubbing up
against the bony hips of whores and grave
robbers' grinning skulls...serves them right.
White landscape, descendants of the hanged
are coming down the road...revenge time?
I have no leaves to hide behind, but they are
not looking my way, busy cutting smaller
trees, mere saplings, and that's ok, they are
only fir trees pretending to be a forest.
I'm leaving next week, going back to sea;
my last voyage before handing in my oars.
"But arent you a bit...?" Too old, you
mean. Not at all, had a facelift in Rome,
Italy and a hair transplant in Argentine.
The ship, too, has been painted, no one will
notice that she's a bit aged; was her master
back in '42, when the Atlantic crawled with
u-boats. I'll do all the navigation at night
and wear sunglasses during the day; don't
worry about me, I'll be fine; look forward to
feel her moving under my feet once again.
"So what are you doing here in the park?"
Feeding ducks out of date Danish pastry.
The evening sun shines on grey asphalt road like
a snake in green, spring grass, as three young men
come out of a tavern, drinking from a bottle of
sweet, cheap rosé wine wrapped inside a famous
brand name. Alcohol melts a frozen soul till it's
a drying spot on the road; I've lost my soul, here's
a knife, scrap it off yourself. One of them vomits
pieces of undigested meat, in pink, as a car bomb
explodes in Iraq; human flesh hangs from lampposts
and blood runs down a drain. Fear not, democracy
is near - any day now - the people are allowed to march
and protest against the illegal occupation. If you have
lost the soles of your shoes, go buy a new pair made
in China; the cobbler plied a trade long since gone.
'Jesus Saves', in black & white, the only
Neon light in town where darkness descended
Long before the day was over. Those who
Worked in a factory never saw the sun before
April. No cafés, no bars; we were a reading
Proletariat, didn't bother much about Mr. Saves.
His name is still there, now in bright colours,
Green, yellow and pious pink; the competition
Is hard these days and there are many bars and
Diners, but I remember the old name with fondness.
It did light up the night, seen from the skylight
In the attic, when darkness had no ending.
Red Cross Syndrome
Time and time again Ive seen women trying to get
truculent alcoholics to stop drinking, thinking love
conquers all. Or female lawyers helping their clients
to escape from jail, for love naturally, only to end up
losing their licenses and futures. The list is long,
what can I say -- infatuation, lethal attraction? Victims
and abusers in a fatal embrace needing each other.
On the other hand, running away with a gambler has
a romantic allure, Mississippi River and steam paddlers,
robbing a bank, fleeing to Rio de Janeiro; adventure
beats the safe boredom of a middleclass life for
a time, but then the dream fades like a face when
meeting reality, money gone, the man also, creaking
joints, too late now to go home.
Collectors of dogs and cats, eccentric old ladies who
have a story to tell; only there is no one around to
listen, yet they still defend the man who got them
into their mess - a golden memory - a shiny illusion -
Or, if they are lucky, they get caught and spend
some time in jail, find Jesus - as Paris Hilton did.
Or atone for past sins and work as a cook,
in a soup kitchen for the destitute.
There has never been a goal keeper like me.
I have studied how the big cats jump when
Catching gazelles, and do like them.
But what do you know? I cannot get a job.
Football managers smile, tell me to go home,
Won't even let me demonstrate my method.
Too old, the say, me! At seventy three!
I have been sending film clips around to
International clubs, of Rudolf my cat and I
In action, they don't even bother to write back
And thank me. I, who can win them gold and
Honours; they are hung up on ageism. Bully for
Them. I'm going to China next, they're attuned
To the athletic ability of us old men there.
High summer, a room in darkness,
the one with a coffin in it; the mourners
sit in another room, wait for the hearse.
A fly is buzzing about, too quick
to be swatted; a door opens, the fly
flies into the cool dark room.
Here's silence, the fly waits for no one
but settles on the nose of the deceased
and cleans its wings in peace.
Black is white, yellow is green, war is peace and
everything is truth even if it is a lie when spoken
from auto cue by a man who should receive
an Oscar for expressing horror over Afghan carnage,
a war he expanded and will keep on fighting till
he loses and declares victory. A lake of blood; will
the West ever be forgiven for trespassing into
the business of the Middle East? And in the end,
even though they don't know it yet, Israel will pay
the heaviest price for being a Western transplant
that did not take root in Arab soil.
The sea is turquoise, ships are white as
summer clouds. On the dock headless
dolphins lie side by side and there is music
in the air. Children have fun sliding on deep
dark blood. Shouting buyers and sellers
listen to the great cacophony of humanity.
Bless this day... this moment, god is good
here is food for all.
Builders are busy building houses everywhere
in and around Jerusalem, in my backyard too.
The olive grove is gone, except for a few trees
used as decorations, and so have goats too,
they have been sent to a zoo, except for a few.
Builders are busy tearing down old houses in
and around Jerusalem, in my backyard too.
The village is gone, except for a few cottages
used as showrooms and so have farmers too,
they live in migrant camps, except for a few.
The Siren of Sighs
How mystic the Caribbean ocean is, ebony sea with white
crests slapping the hull of the ship; and the mermaid’s voice
is a sweet wordless whisper, but I do understand her well.
Alone on a wooden deck, on a ship of yore, she invites me to
embrace her and she will bring me to an island, in the middle
of the Saragossa Sea, to meet old friends and talk about the days
when a ship had more shapely wood than hard unbending iron,
to make them beautiful. But the moon is full and stars fill
the heavens with wonder; tomorrow we will dock in Kingston,
Jamaica, so my old friends on the island of dreams will have
to wait a little longer.
Following a track only used by the shepherd and his
dusty sheep, I saw amongst sandstone rocks a pair
of young olive trees; it was clear that they were twins.
One was healthy, bore tiny rosy olives and had green
juicy leaves. Her sister had lost her leaves, bore no
fruit, had xanthous fungi on her pallid bark and was dying
from self inflicted starvation and fatigue of mind.
The strong tree leaned southerly, the precarious one
Westerly, and I wondered why.
Upstairs, the tide-slapping sounds of laughter and music
became a din, small cubicles, pink light and creaking bedsprings
and the reek of beer, belching men and perfumed women.
Angry gull-like shrieks from cubicle five, a customer had fallen
asleep occupying much needed space. Two bouncers came and
carried the sleeping one down to his friends at the bar.
Lost and silent after bought love, they drank more, the music grew
louder, as did laughter; their eyes betrayed them though, quiet
longing in a pool of stillness, their romantic male illusion had not
yet hardened behind a shield of cynicism.
Our dying life
Briefly forget to breath
And it ends
A dark alleyway
You’ve no business being there
Glint of jagged steel
Five ton truck
Behaving like a crazy horse
Your very last thought
Night lives in the black bin liner
in a drawer in the kitchen, I wake
up in the night tell myself
that if I open the bag there will
never be a day again.
The bedroom is as dark as
a bin liner I can’t see my hands
and the stillness tries to eat me,
switch on the bedside lamp
my hands have dark spots where
stillness bit me. I must remember
not to open the bag.