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JAN OSKAR HANSEN - Page 4


The Day of Reckoning Cremation Sonnet to Equality The Tribe
Autumnal Dance Hug a Star Gobsmacked Lost Recollections
Poor Little Ones Nearly Morning Wishes The boy I knew
First Love Homecoming The Night The Sportsman
Night Journey (Christmas Story) Be Light! Love's Lifetime April Leaving
Tanka Edible Tubers Sonata Epigrams
The Origin Love Family Tree Senryu
25th of December Earthquake in Haiti A fountain in Naples (Carvaggio) A Carvaggio Painting
Go to Page 5 . Page 6 . Page 7 . Page 8 . Page 9 . Page 10 . Page 1 . Page 2 . Page 3









The Day Of Reckoning

It rained when I went ashore, miserable grey drizzle
lasting for days, making people indoors pale and righteous.
Met a woman in a pub, she had a tart fallen face, which
made her interesting. Most of her had fallen, but
dressed in black she looked ok and she lived just around
the corner...In her cups she was frivolous and we did
things I had only read about in books; thought she was
wonderful, asked her to marry me. It was afternoon next
day and still drizzly when I went down to the docks. My
ship had left, my suitcase packed; just as well, the thought
of sailing on a wintry ocean in the company of gossiping
Norwegian seafarers and their narrow-minded ship world
was a sacrifice I needn't carry...Pessimistically sober now,
I winced at the thought of going back to the quiche in black,
booked into a hotel and went to bed with a bottle of rum.







Cremation

Mother had a picture in a golden frame
on the wall of a boy in his coffin, tried not
to look but my eyes strayed and the boy's
stillness frightened me.

Yet, she refused to take it down: "It's good
for us to be reminded of our mortality," she
said, young then and death was something
that happened to other people.

Years passed, the picture still hung there,
as if forgotten, till cancer snatched my brother;
then she took the picture down and burnt it,
but sensibly kept the frame.







Sonnet to Equality

Four chairs around the kitchen table, no space
for the fifth chair; it was put in a corner
with a rubber plant on its seat. First it looked
embarrassed, then got mad; would, if it could,
have thrown the plant through the closed window.
Then it got so depressed that it nearly collapsed
into pieces of planed sticks of wood. Something
had to give. "A week each in the corner," I told
the other four. They demurred, but relented,
since we do still live in a democratic society.
A timbered whisper: "What about you? When
are you going stand in the corner with a pot plant
in your arms?" With great stateliness I rose from
the chair and said: "I’m the one who sits on you."







The Tribe

Under canvas in the rain, their horses are tethered
safely beneath the thick branches of carob trees;
difficult days for the Roma tribe who wanders
its way deep into the landscape, but at the outer
edges of our regimented, intolerant society.

When the weather clears and they ramble
again there will be rubble on the ground they
briefly occupied and the locals will complain:
"Those dirty people, they have no respect for
other people's property, see this mess."

White bellies of dead fish in rivers and lakes
float down to a lifeless ocean, greenhouse
gases, trading in emissions, more hurricanes,
floods and needless wars, but the Roma people
trek on, oblivious to our plight.







Autumnal Dance

Leaves in the square twirl with dust and
paper napkins smeared with ruby lipstick;
from corner to corner they reel, stop when wind
drops, gossip, wait and whirl again, shun
the square’s middle ground though.

Those caught there are blown over houses
and into a blueberry haze; but as wind tires
and departs they huddle behind a bin,
declaring undying love to life and beauty;
decaying leaves are compost for red roses.







Hug a Star

A tiny star, kicked out of the Milky Way by
a bigger one, envious of its delightful shine,
fell to earth, landed in a cove, lit the sea where
ugly fish, looking like cartoon capitalists, swam.

Pulled the star onto a beach surrounded by
palm. It looked like a fairytale; I fell in love, but
not with anyone in particular as female fireflies
drifted among trees that were secretive and ageless.

Towards dawn the star paled into a grey slab
of stone, excellent for gutting fish; a suited man
came, said the cove was now the property of
a hotel chain, and I was kicked off their beach.







Gobsmacked

The small trout in the creek stood still
looking at me, a fearless gaze it had;
as I made a face it flicked its tail, stuck
my tongue out, another flick.

A dream had come true, I was having
a conversation with a fish, recited an
epic poem: "Terje Viken" by Henrik
Ibsen, its tail flicked, no ends.

Bubbles to surface, it spoke to me, but
a big shadow came behind it, too late;
the tiny fish was eaten by a big one that
didn’t have the gift of speech.







Lost Recollections

Couldn't find my car, looked everywhere: on main roads
and side streets, in alley ways and in the back of closed
down warehouses by the docks where old cars, once a family's
pride, are dumped, and memories of a Sunday outing end
in bird droppings and the silence of flat tyres; no one
about, only immobile autos; I must be dreaming, tried to
wake up, couldn't, unmoving as an abandoned family saloon,
could not move a muscle; a scream, like someone sinking
in a mist of bland oblivion, brought me back from the
precipice of permanent unconsciousness. Icicle hanging
from the ceiling, my cold bed giving me no comfort,
crept to the terrace to draw nutrition from the new day.







Poor Little Ones

Since a child of four nearly drowned in the town's little lake
in the park, it has been filled in and painted green; now it's
the only place in town where children are allowed to bicycle,
providing they wear helmets and knee pads; if not, their bikes
are confiscated and irresponsible parents are fined. Ornamental
ponds in private gardens, too, have been cemented over but
there is a choice of paint - red, green, sea-blue or nursery pink.
It is also against the law to climb trees, as children may fall
and break a leg; a tree found to have been climbed on will be cut
into winter wood by men in charge of a chainsaw wearing yellow
vests and ditto helmets. However, there is an indoor gym where
children can climb up rubber trees and, if they fall, they land
on the softest foam; they fall all the time, proof that they
should never have been allowed near a real forest.







Nearly Morning

Sunday, we walked on a street where rich people live,
big houses, swimming pools and well-kept gardens.
We paced the whole length and where not thronged
by people, we didn't see any; nor cars, and agreed
that if we got into money we would buy a house here,
but I didn't voice my unease that something was missing.
In the night she woke me and said: "If we had money
I wouldn't like to live there after all, would you?" “No,
love, we would be very lonely there, it's a necropolis
for the wealthy." "What’s necro something?" "A city for
the dead, darling." “Why don't you say so, have you
been dipping into the dictionary again?" "Sorry love,
it's nearly morning, do you want a cup of tea." "Yes,
and toast, with sugar-free blueberry jam on, no butter."







Wishes

In the time, long ago, when Islam ruled Algarve (Portugal)
and religious tolerance thrived, a Moslem prince married
a Viking princess and happily they settled into their newly
built castle. When winter came and no snow, the princess
cried and longed for home; her beautiful dresses got soggy
and the castle's walls mouldy. Allah took pity, ordained
that henceforth the almond tree should bloom in early spring,
strew white petals liberally around and it would look like
snow, without the hassle. The princess smiled, walls dried
and dresses hung out in the sun. But the peasants revolted,
sorcery they said, and invaded the castle. The couple fled
for their life, up north where the prince was bitten by frost
and died. Every winter since, his widow has sat by the window
and wished the snowflakes would turn into almond petals.







The boy I knew

The boy pretended to have a big limp, one foot in
the gutter, the other on the curb. June mornings
he was alone, I used to know him well; he wanted
to be an actor like his uncle had been before he died
of tuberculosis ("claimed him," his aunt said).
The boy saw him at the hospital, through an open door;
his uncle was thin, ghostly pale, but wore a saintly smile.
This morning he had wrapped himself in a black shawl,
acted dead, giggled, had given his mother quite a shock.
His friend came out, he was taller than the boy and he
had a bag of cake crumbs for the ducks in his hand;
together they ran down to the park. The boy tried to run
a bit faster than his friend.







First Love

We used to laugh a lot, you and I, especially over the way
older people walked. I decreed and you agreed that anyone
over thirty should be banned from the beach; we were the
first generation to discover sex. Over time grains of sand
came between us; you liked to go dancing with your friends,
I didn't like them, nor you mine; it also irritated me that
after love you slept so close, head on my chest, hair in my
face, couldn't breath; and my habit of repeating myself really
got on your nerves. I was busy reading a book one evening,
didn't ring you until late, no answer, ran to your flat, met you
in the street, been out dancing with friends. Grains of sand
didn't produce pearls of wisdom, only sour distrust; and our
love story ended.







Homecoming

I hadn't been here for thirty years, came and put up
a new gate; it made the inhabited house look posh.
I had been spotted, didn't think anyone remembered
me; people came, family I had never met; they were
clones of the older generation, with new bodies and
young faces. Clean streets, their children played in
a garden of plastic trees and rubber lawns, they wore
helmets in case of an accident. The new adults talked
about house prices, homeowners now, thought they
were rich and I wondered if the houses knew they had
become investments instead of homes. In my old room
in the attic there was a painting of me when a young
man, looked at it with some disinterest, wasn't pretty
back then, nothing has changed. I must be timeless.







The night

It is not morning yet,
the silence is compact,
unease...

A farm without livestock;
first the cart pullers, then the cattle,
only tractors now
ploughing endless fields.

Diesel fume and seagulls,
an everlasting canvas
of still life

Droplet horse on the hill,
beautiful and dumb
addicted to preening,
drowned in a pond.

I fear nothing now
but a futureless tomorrow.







The Sportsman

Ellesmere-Port’s municipal golf course
was an oasis in the bleak industrial landscape
and mass housing complex making up a purpose,
a soulless place, built by those who didn't
have to live here.

A hole in the fence, a few clubs and I was
a player too, though having neither aptitude
nor much interest.

A lake, a stream, woodland and roughs,
a place of solitude, except on week-ends when
serious play reigned.

Thunder and lightening, I was the only one who
ran to the clubhouse, cowardice on the battlefield;
not one of us, but I ignored their silent contempt,
this was the only beauty spot in town.







Night Journey (Christmas Story)

A near accident, almost run over by the train...shock, her
old heart gave way, she collapsed in my arms. Wrapped
in her blanket, she looked asleep. Drove into the long night,
headlights made a temporary tunnel in the darkness:

"If I turn the light off, we will both disappear." Looked
in the rear view mirror, mother smiled. At the petrol
station its young attendant was pale, seeing death
for the first time; this was reality, not play station 2.

Found the grotto I was looking for, it was dry, had straw
on the floor and a lit candle in a niche in the wall, the dead
Jesus on a slab, his body cleaned by loving hands, but his
face still bore the agony suffered by the righteous.

Laid her beside him, she looked so brittle, they had both
achieved eternal life, she because she had no foreknowledge
of impending demise; he was now our collective myth
Messiah, who gives hope and light in the darkest of nights.







Be Light!

Coloured lights, red, green, blue, yellow and
demure white, from Christmas-decorated shop
windows, admiring themselves in pools of
water on the street; when drops of rain hit
the surfaces, the lights blink as in pain and
shudder when their images are touched by
cold winds.

They have this awesome knowledge, they
only exist till someone switches them off;
there will be no memory of having shone
on tinsel and giving light into a child's soul.

From ancient times, a flickering flame between
humanity and the beast, candle, paraffin and
gaslight, London fog and Charles Dickens.
Outside the circle of light, near the docks
where the sea is forever dark, there is a sigh
of the unspoken, unseen and forgotten that
never shall be life.







Love’s Lifetime

Of the hundreds of photos I keep
in a lacquered box made in China,
there is none of you.

Once had one, but it hurt too much
seeing you; I tore it into small pieces
and threw them to the wind, the same day
that my almond tree shed its enchanting flowers.

Yet, when I look up to the morning sky,
if it’s blue with wooly, playful clouds
that make the heaven less stern,

I see your reflection, it has a shadow of a smile.
Since I shan't go up north,
where we first met, so many dreams ago,
you will forever look young.







April Leaving

The morning bus isn't full, mostly housewives
going shopping and the elderly who never had
a car; I'm leaving the valley for good, a bag
and a laptop, need no more; always rented, best
this way, property is just another mulish burden.
Warm spring rain, mist rises from asphalt, afar
I see the sea. In half an hour we will be there.
The ocean looks like a shiny steel band keeping
the land intact. Five years, I've been living in
the valley, know every stick and stone, stayed
too long, though; I will miss the dried up river,
crippled olive trees, the meager, rusty soil and
the almond tree that deliriously strews beautiful
flowers on cold February ground.







Tanka

This impossible dream
Called multiracial concurrence:
"My culture is superb
You can share it with me
But you must agree with me."

***

Moral nihilism is
Punishing a whole people,
Celebrate injustice
Blind to victims' suffering,
Victory without valor.

***

When Obama met Lama
Tennis players met in Dubai
China refused to play
When Hamas lost the first match
The winners hurriedly left.

***

Snow roofed mountain
Colour white the artist likes
The brown eyes aglow…is
Of a ghostly arctic vixen
Dressed in costly fur

***

To avoid racism
Newly born were injected
With a green dye;
Though some have gone all lime
They are equal and verdant

***

Sun argued with moon
He wanted to shine at night
Singed her cute nose
She, so much wiser, gave in
And night was made into day

***

Melancholic moon
Sun’s modest little sister
Only shines at night
Because she's beautiful
And her brother is envious

***

Had I only known
Old age is a tranquil bay
I would've hurried
Not suffered needless worry
Trying to be eternally young







Edible Tubers

It is the biggest potato farm in the world, a giant field
of potatoes as far as eyes can see; new potatoes boiled
with a pat of butter; delicious, no need to add a lamb.

This was once a battle field - thousands of Russian and
German soldiers bled to dead here, the soil grew fertile,
absorbed all flesh, only bones and uniform buttons left.

The soldiers didn't die in vain (only a few years before
their time), saved from old age debilities, Alzheimer's,
renal diseases, hip replacement and triple bypass.

I found a rusty gun, a German Luger pistol, it fell to
pieces in my hand, bullets inside still intact; owned by
an officer telling his men to die like Prussian heroes.

Long furrows of edible tubers, made into fries, full of
fat, grandchildren of dead soldiers are obese now and
only fight virtual wars on the internet.







Sonata

A symphony of car bombs, flying fingers...A man looks
for body parts of his son, finds half of a foot, wraps them
in a handkerchief; without a burial grief will be endless.
Women will always wear black.
How much, how loud, must people scream
before they are heard? How many must die?

In this macabre ballet, man is not made for intactness
soaring through air. Dancers try, and try again, for a few
seconds of wonder; it’s called art. Dame Margot and Rudolf
sailed through the air. Magic moment, our applause passionate.

How much, how loud, must people scream
before they are heard? How many must die?

These unreal Iraq wars, where there are no tall trees and new
leaders are shadowy pygmies hiding behind walls, in green
gardens that never run out of water for manicured lawns
and there are frequent showers for those who live there.

How much, how loud, must people scream
before they are heard? How many must die?

People of Iraq are not looking for democracy as they should
by an enchanted formula; water, sanitation, education, and
freedom from western interference, are more important. A tall
leader is needed; the last one had a fatal rendezvous with
a noose.

How much, how loud, must people scream
before they are heard? How many must die?

This weird war, motor-oil mixed with fresh blood, can only
run on the machinery of hate; we onlookers are so tired, we
feel not their fear -- not our kin -- the killing so far away.
Iraq is another planet, thank God for that, and let bells toll.

How much, how loud, must people scream
before they are heard? How many must die?







Epigrams

If you make fun of a Moslem he'll come, burn down
your home and try to kill you. Make fun of a Hebrew
he'll call you an anti Semite; and you will be a
pariah, even the bishop of Rome will condemn you.

What will Hugh Heffner, the cardinal of
Clean pornography, be remembered for?
Making orgies as tedious as an Anglican
Sunday forenoon sermon!

When the rich catch currency fever
I stay near and hope they'll sneeze
On me; I lick their dinner plates, but
All I get are coins that roll away.

Democratic election held in Gaza
Giving the imprisoned population
A sense of choice - alas they choose
Hamas, we punish them for that.

EU is a rich man's club, we are not
Invited; for them to get richer, we
Are told to work longer hours and
Receive less pay and pension.

The middleclass, once so prosperous
Finds itself taxed and flayed;
The super rich, as usual, pay nothing
And it's pointless to tax the poor.







The Origin

Poems begin with
a memory,
thus a child
cannot be a poet.
But poems can also
begin with a dream
of a past that has yet
to be a future.
A child can do that
it dreams
and is therefore
a bard
no one listens
'cause a child talks
gibberish'.







Love

The joy of first love
can't be copied,
but man tries and tries
to repeat this experience,
and on his way causes
much unhappiness
for his craving of love's
impossibility.
This lasts till he gets old
and settles for simple
friendship

    





Family Tree

The tiny girl is sweet, thinks her grandmother is her mother
and her real mother her older sister; that's ok, her mother
is busy rejoicing life which seems to happen in nightclubs.
Sex, booze and men. She falls in love, quite often, a child
is born; the man is in the periphery, family life has gone all
feminine, the lover is there to pay the bills and be damned,
that's right he didn't take care and made promises he could
not keep. Great children, no one can smile as pretty as
an African child, but there is no security, the party must end.
It is then that a boring, pale accountant can be useful, a man who
can bring safety and stability and send little girls to school.
But the African drumbeat will always be there to tell of passion,
human love to a generation of erudite little girls, who feel
longing for a forgotten past.







Senryu

Once ardour is ember
Out of the ashes flies
The bird of friendship

***

  Dawn has yet to come
Silence is compact and tense
Will day come through?

***

Farms without mules
Cart pullers in dog food tins
Tractors reign supreme.

***

Handsome horse on hill
Got addicted to preening
Drowned in a pond.

***

I fear nothing now
But a futureless tomorrow
And my wife's tongue.







25th of December

It’s been raining for days, fine drizzle not caused by tempest but
by a mild depression, liquid silk that gives soil time to soak it up
before it runs into rivers and brooks and disappears back into
the sea. The rain falls on the old roof tiles and gives off a soothing
sound, a promise, come spring the plants will be stronger and
flowers richer in colour and more profuse than the year before.

Grass grows quickly in the dizzle; I stroke the mule’s flank, it doesn’t
mind being wet but keeps on munching succulent feed. It is when
the westerly blows it seeks shelter under a carob tree or comes up
to the houses to be stabled. The dog awakes, she wants to go out;
I put a raincoat on, we follow the lane till she has had enough and
wants to go back to her place by the fire.







Earthquake in Haiti

The corpses look like they have been flung down from the sky,
rejected by god for being too poor. Broken limbs and stillness in
the dust. There is a groundswell of a cry, a primitive anger that
has nowhere to go, but inwards, eating the victims of injustice like
a virulent cancer. We are religious people who do our Ave Marias
and voodoo on the side. We pray to god and saints, so why this
devastation? Long deep trenches, a place for obese bodies, many
with hands stretching skywards asking, why did you forsake us?
And as always the heaven is silent, yet in the absence of hope and
the rumor of an angel is walking amongst the poor, blessing them,
there is hope. But more bodies fall, rejected by heaven; and our
bishop is dead too. The cry of anguish will tear us apart till we lose
our reason, sink to our knees and pray to a god that knows no mercy;
as cadavers keep falling from an indifferent sky.







A fountain in Naples (Carvaggio)

On a grimy Naples street, the grubby attracts
me, as do places where low life is lived in
the open; a boy of thirteen tried to steal my
wallet but I grabbed him, held him firmly till
he stopped struggling then I let him go

He ran off, turned, smiled and made a rude
sign like an inviting whore; I felt soiled,
washed my hands in a fountain which had
water spouting out of the mouth of a dolphin
and astride it a smirking urchin sat.







A Caravaggio Painting

Cupid the dirty cupid
is dead,
eaten by the syphilis
he smeared
on arrows;
lustful whore masters
dancing with death,
every ejaculation
a death rattle,
the beginning of
mass departure;
copulation and angst,
then silence.

 



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