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JAN OSKAR HANSEN - Page 8

The Oldest Olive Trees Beirut the Levantine Pearl I'm Lebanese Conversation
42nd Street Pier The Banal & Obsolete Shipwreck Widows and Warriors
The Bus
Long Life The Boy Within Swimming Lesson
Bland Copies Love Story (part 4) Black Smoke
The Hyena
The Final Solution
A Day in August Humiliation A Name
The Bay of Cascais Inheritance The Losers Flags
Ignored (a seagull's story) Spring in Afghanistan Commercialism The War of Shame
Gaddhafi's People Silk Road Reflection in Phial Vilamoura (Portugal)
Go to Page 9 . Page 10 . Page 1 . Page 2 . Page 3 . Page 4 . Page 5 . Page 6 . Page 7 .









The Oldest Olive Trees

The little brown mountain horse, over there
is mine, been with me for twenty years; but,
it looks a young horse, shouldn't it be older?

It'w a real horse, you can smell it from here,
go and have a look, it's grazing now under
the olive trees where grass is always green.

No, it is not for riding, too small for that,
my feet would touch the ground, beside I'm
not a cowboy and it isn't a race horse.

What is the horse for? Silly question, it is
to enhance the landscape, gardens, dreams
and streams, its presence brings harmony.

Seeing the horse, no army would come here
burn down the copse for their guns to have
a clear path to destroy our ancient village.

There are horses more beautiful then mine,
say, a full blooded Arab; but they are too
visible in a terrain taken over by manikins.







Beirut, the Levantine Pearl

In Beirut in 1964 I met, at the pristine beach, a Saudi Arabian princess,
but it's such a long time ago that it could be that she
was just a young woman cleaning a princess's flat. Mind,
I didn’t really meet her, saw her stroll along the promenade looking like
a fairytale, gold earrings putting the sun to
shame. There were of course more easy women around, but
none of them were of royal blood, they had handbags and
wore too much make-up. Beirut then was where the rich played and
poverty was ignored, till someone became morally upset
and a new war began; who can blame them, oil wells belong
to the people and not to sheiks. …And then there was a new country,
like a thistle under the saddle of a horse, wild with anger,
untameable ever since, but life in Beirut was so easy
then, the days long ago, when I mingled with royalty.







I'm Lebanese

Today I’m Lebanese, see the world with
an Arab's eyes, what I see of the west isn't
a pretty picture; many occupations by foreign
armies now it'w the US and Israel who callously
kill babies in their mothers' arms, but these
fiends shall not win. We will prevail.

Today I salute the Hezbollah, they have
made us proud, showing that the enemy's
brutality is but cowardice. They, the brave
soldiers of god, show that it is us Arabs,
Moslem or Christian, who fight the war on
terror coming from the west.







Conversation

Saw God at dawn, he was naked, had loose skin
on his stomach after giving birth to the world.
He looked like Saddam Hussein when soldiers
humiliated Iraq by pressing his face down into
the dirt and we knew they had not come to free
that country, but to install a puppet regime.

Gave God a burnoose and a cane, prodded by
a soldier who called him a dirty Arab, we left
the burning town of Tyre. God is in everything,
he smiled at the soldier’s remark; as the soldier
was about to strike God in the face, he froze into
a statue and was carried away on a stretcher.

I said to God: "why don’t you freeze the whole
army, bend every gun so they shoot themselves
in the ass?" "That's enough from you, don't be
vulgar," God said. "It’s about free will, you are
not marionettes, but my flesh and blood; you'll
get it right one day even if it's going to kill me."







42nd Street Pier

Swam towards the shore of day, in a sea of cheeky
thoughts, kaleidoscopic dreams and odd memories.
At the 42nd Street pier, near my home, I saw military
hardware displayed on the deck of m/s The Intrepid.
If it hadn’t been for wars, inventions would have
taken longer, propeller planes would have made their
way across the Atlantic, 14 hours, time enough to
have a drink with the pilot. Cars would have looked
in 1955 and still do in Cuba, soon a business man in
Tampa will come, buy up all the old cars there and
ship them to Philadelphia. Why there? Well, Boston
is too posh, New York has got a song; I would not
like to wake up in Philly and have nothing to look
forward to; is it true you have to be Jewish to live in
Haifa? Can see the shoreline, fires are lit, but now
so very tired, sink into slumber, when awake again
coffee and toast will be cold.







The Banal & Obsolete

So many lost words out there blowing on
dry asphalt, obsolete, looking for a meaning,
at times picked up by a poet, but quickly
disregarded; who wants to called old fashioned?

Take the word "fuck," shocking first time
it appeared in a sentence applying to the sin
of sex that might entail pleasure, or if within
marriage: duty, jutting jaws, serious erection.

"Fuck" has gone all oral now and only plays
on the tongue as a banality; no self respecting
sentence, struggling for order, deep meaning
and military precision, would dream of using it.







Shipwreck

The Barents was unruly, grey and cold. The ship
was afire from engine-room to bridge: abandon
ship! The crew dutifully did, but her captain
stayed in case she didn't sink and tugboats came
claiming her. He went to hide in the fo’c’sle,
away from the heat of the fire, but wasn't alone.
The cook sat there playing his harmonica
trying to calm the sea; it relaxed, but remained
mortally cold, and the fire burnt itself to cinders.
For three days they lived on burnt potatoes and
exploded cans of tuna fish; the cook played on,
keeping the sea unruffled and driving the captain
quite insane. When tugboats came the captain said:
"She is mine!" "And mine," the cook modestly
murmured. The lifeboat was found, tableaux of
deadly art, in a tranquil bay, on an isolated stretch
of southerly coast. In a church made of timber
from schooners of the past, there was a funeral,
the captain’s; he had succumbed to incessant grief.
Few mourners came, but the cook was there.







Widows and Warriors

On the plateau a file of women, all in black,
war widows waiting to be given tea, bread
and rice from two men in a pickup truck.
The men spoke hoarsely, scurrying them on,
found their work shameful, would rather have
been up on the mountain fighting, thought
the women superfluous. They had given birth
to sons who now fought in war and to daughters
married to warriors on the mountain.
The women didn’t look the men in the eyes,
spoke softly and briefly amongst themselves
about the health of their grandchildren. They
had miles to walk, back down to meagre soil
and skinny goats.







The Bus

The bus of the world was going uphill, to the last village
on its route, when it stalled and stopped. It darkened till
a light from an outer galaxy lit up, made the day phosphorous
green; an unearthly wind blew, made leaves on trees into
clanking diamonds and dust on the road into gold.
A man emptied his plastic bag of food onto the floor, got out and
filled it with gold, his future safe, or so he thought.
This couldn’t go on; Dona Manuela, the postmistress,
was waiting; the bus stalled a few time but wheezily started, it
really needed servicing and a new exhaust pipe,
but the old mechanic and his son had stopped coming around.
A man on the bus held onto a bag of wet snow; he wouldn't let go
of his delusion, tomorrow maybe, when they whispered
about him, he could laugh with the laughers or run away.







Long Life

He sits in the shade of the old oak,
remember him sitting there years
ago, when the oak was not quite as
big and he was a taller man.
Skin wrapped loosely around antique
bones and I see in his eyes that no
one lives in his body anymore.
Stop, say hallo; long silence,
see I cast two shadows, one is caused
by the sun, the other is a malevolent
reminder of my own impending old age.
Whispering of voices, suggestions,
but not today thank you. Godless men
cling to longevity.







The Boy Within

He spots everything, sees through me and
the hollow in my heart, my terrors, illusions
vanity and cowardice.
When regretting not being in Beirut defending
the poor who cannot get away from rockets
and bombs, preferably on top of smouldering
debris with a rifle in my hand, he knows that
I'm nothing but a poseur.
Mother said he left early because he had an
old soul; other children play in my sand pit
now and I'm too old to join them.
The boy shrugs when seeing my anger, thinks
it's a total waste of time; lately, and as he fades
away, I’m getting around to his view of life.







Swimming Lesson

We used to bathe where the river ran slow, wide
and reached us to the chest, except in the middle
where it was too deep for us who couldn't swim,
we often talked of crossing but had too wait till
late summer when the river had less water.
After bathing we sat on a blue blanket, drank
lemon tea from your mother’s thermos flask, ate
cheese sandwiches and admired your tanned legs.
One day Fred came with us, he could swim even
under water, swam to the other side, picked you
flowers, you were mightily impressed and went
with him to the coast to show you a real beach
with soft sand. The rest of the summer I bathed
alone, and in early September waded across
the river, flowers had been picked and there was
a chill in the air.







Bland Copies

I don't walk into the bright day anymore,
wait for nightfall, my neighbours, be they
man or woman, are so distressingly like me;
elderly, guarding our peace and comfort,
and siding with the mighty of this world.
Sepia copies, why should I wish to meet
my inferior self? I was the first and can
afford being cocky, as they will never go
to heaven. No, and I will not sleep with
her next door, looks like me with hair and
curlers, only less handsome, I do not find
my pale copies sexually stimulating and
they have nothing to say other than repeat
what I said long ago.







Love Story (part 4)

Morning sadness on the kitchen table where
a white ceramic stallion challenges me with
shifting contempt - as the day begins,
remembering a woman I once loved, or was
it the passion of attraction I loved?
Can't see her face clearly anymore, but sense
embraces, her sweet breath and a soft voice
whispering:

"Forever, my love."

Returning from a long voyage across many
oceans, she had married and moved away;
spring darkened, a wintry wind blew my
youth into cynical middle age; should have
called her, couldn't find anything sensible
to say other than bitter, angry words.
The unspoken between us is a barrier to
a melodious memory.

Now that I shall not see her again nor sail
the seven seas, too many years have
dripped and made holes in the sand stones
of time. Only a faint echo remains:

"Forever, my love."







Black Smoke

Behind the easterly ridge, out of sight, a pall
of black smoke arose in the morning. A tyre
factory was afire; nearby a fireworks business
exploded rockets flying through the air, but
since it was daylight the effect was diminished.
Five men and two women rocket makers are
unemployed and soon it will be Christmas.
18 cats, who lived amongst the tyres, lost their
homes too, went feral, steal school children’s
lunch boxes and upend milk churns. There
is no war the paper said and printed a sweet
story about a missing giraffe; it had been under
the bald oak and was fed peanuts by passers-by.
But we who live near are not so easily fooled.







The Hyena

When sun baked dust settles there will be a vacuum
called peace, they will be there waiting, the big firms
and builders ready to reconstruct Lebanon, millions
to be made; dross will be forthcoming by nations who
feel the burden of guilt and demonstrate it, for future
references. “We are all brothers, are we not?” It’s easy
to clear a blocked road, build high rise flats and bridges,
but how do you clear a path to the heart of man clogged
by grief, anger and hate? How do we repair shattered
minds, by sending in a team of psychologists? “It was
all for the best, dear.” Unless the hyena, that laughs in
the night, can be trained to be a guard dog, a defender
of its weaker neighbours, should we cage it or, failing
that, expel and make the beast lair-less?







The Final Solution?

Too many Arabs in
the Middle East, they
are all over the place;
if they went to live in
one place, say, Borneo
the Gaza strip could
have been a holiday
resort for the loaded.







A Day in August

My neighbour, Luis, is back from ploughing his
field, it's only ten in the morning but already too
hot and dusty; his wife, Maria, has brought him
cold water to drink and now he's washing his face
and hands. They are in the courtyard, she's doing
the laundry by hand although they have a washing
machine bought a year ago. It's covered with a table
cloth and on top a blue vase with fresh cut flowers;
she thinks it's too nice. Her daughter will be home
from France in September and she will, I'm sure,
use the machine. The sky is clean, not portentous,
clatter of helicopter gun-ships in the air, ploughing
tractors and only puffs of diesel fume. Maria asks
if Lebanon is far from here, she's seen bombed out
villages on the TV, not unlike the one they live in.
Luis tells her that the Middle East is far from here,
war will never come to this valley.







Humiliation

Warm spring day, a tall, blue sky with dots of friendly
clouds when I rode my scooter into town, wanted to
see if the bookshop had sold any of my collections
of poetry. They were not on shelves, the lady owner
had taken them down: "No one wants to read your poems,"
she said, with an icy smile, handed me my many verses,
wrapped in a dark plastic bag, the type used for garbage.
There were many in the shop that day; some smirked,
others looked embarrassed, pretended to read. Yes,
I was humiliated, but smiled and left her shop,
wondering what had made her so rude. Outside, time
rolled on, the landscape is green now, soon it will pale
and wilt under the cruel June sun; won't let a philistine
female or anyone else spoil this mild day in May.







A Name

How abstract time is
yet it ages me…
and her.
Wonder what she looks
like now.

Her name,
my dearest love,
is the only one
I remember.
Loves since were
only an attempt
to recapture
the lost.

When the moon
is full
I wonder
why your hold on
my affection
never eases.

Today I was writing
your name
on a mound
of sand
when it struck
my feeble mind
that you must
be dead,
since I wrote
your name on
a mound that
looked like
a filled-in grave.







The Bay of Cascais

Her mother was
in a hole in
the wall
with a glass door,
there was dust on
the brown coffin
and on
the wax flowers;
the frame,
on her
mother's picture,
was rusty.

While she
cleaned and
prayed
I looked out at
the bay,
it was serene,
shrouded
in a blue miasma.
Keeping
the secret of
eternal life
to itself.







Inheritance

Got a letter today, my half sister’s
Meager possessions have been divided.
I’m now the owner of a step-ladder,
Two illustrated books and an atlas, but
I have to pick them up within a fortnight
As her flat is being cleaned and re-let.

No, I never met my sister, father had
Many children, his adultery dismayed
Mother. A step ladder, two illustrated
Books and an atlas, nothing much to
Construct a lasting memory of; I only
Hope her life wasn’t lived in vain.





The Losers

They have been silenced,
you no longer hear
the voices of Iraq's women;

before the liberators came they were
free to get a good education and
wear modern dresses;

now, after freedom from
tyranny, it's back to the burka,
headscarf and veil.







Flags

The money tree, at the bottom of the municipal park,
the one my father showed me that dripped coins, is
inside a bank cathedral now; the park too has been
privatized. The corporation's flag snaps, with clout
in the wind. People working there wear nametags and
are proud to belong to such a splendid organization
that can tell small states how to run their affairs.

Flags are vital, everyone must march under one, even
if it's a rowing club's banner; without one you're alone.
Take the woman who was married to a famous man who
left her for another, younger; she didn't sink into
oblivion, but hoisted her own colors, told the world he
had a small dick and a piscine air about him; her
banner is red, for rage, and has a £ sign printed on.







ignored (a seagull's story)

At the seaside restaurant it was busy,
everyone was eating lobsters.
I tried to catch the waiter’s eye.
I was ignored and got the feeling
that I was Invisible, or that I was so small
that my head didn’t reach over the table.
A seagull landed on my table, a beautiful bird,
yellow beak and feet, plumage snowy white,
its wings light grey-blue and its eyes were green;
it also had the aroma of the Pacific Ocean.
Waiter came, looked at the bird, asked what it wanted;
lobster, I said. When the dish came I gave it to the bird,
got up, left, and no one tried to stop me.







Spring in Afghanistan

Rivers run white and jubilant down ancient
gorges, free of winter's shackles and there
is a whisper of a song. Vales and dales are
greening and the poppy fields smell sweet

Outside houses, made of mud, in empty paint
Cans, flowers grow. The thirst for beauty and peace
in arid land is endless.

Killer drones do their dirty works, but they
can’t destroy a year’s youth. Women guard their
goats, it’s lambing time. Eternal their serenity
and hope for a peaceful harvest.







Commercialism

In the town of Faro
the mall has a spire and bells
It tolls every hour
To remind us to come shop
Consumers and ringing tills
We know it is wrong
A vision a pledge of riches
Not satisfied
By reduced price of bacon
Charmed by our possessions
We know it is wrong
But we cannot stop our greed
Bright lights of a mall
Momentarily we are sated
Till Armageddon calls
A tsunami of hate
By the exploited and underpaid
We lost our soul
On the road to equality
We thought it only concerned us
And not the rest of the world.







The War of Shame

Europe, for its new grand war,
Was given permission
To conduct it on its own
By the US Of A
And Europe screwed it up

Once occupied --
Leather boots on sand --
Send in the Norwegians
They like to be invaders
Proper tiny fascists do

Like to blow up tanks
Call it defense of freedom.
Obese arsed twits,
Inbred political elite
Saudi kingdom of the North







Gaddafi’s People

Libyan people
Who believe in Gaddafi
Have they no say
In the future of Libya?
They are the less affluent







Silk Road

Farghana valley,
the splendour of a mythical dream.
The fabled silk route
snaked its way through here,
bringing new cultures, silk and jade,
and no drones filled the night sky with fear.

In this valley of ancient dreams
beautiful horses made the landscape enchanting.
Civilizations come and go; yes, religions too,
each claims to have the key to the ultimate truth.
Our time will also become cosmic dust in the history of man,
but the valley of Farghana shall endure.







Reflection in Phial

I look at my hands, they are brown as a farmer’s; this pleases me
although I have no tractor or mule.  A workman’s sturdy hands
- all socialists should have hands that have harvested carrots.
I flex the muscles of my upper arms, see the faint movement
like mice moving under thawing spring snow. Glorious vanity - to
think I used to do 100 push ups a day only because I lived in fear
of being a weakling. I think of sex, and sadly conclude I never was
a great lover; when the act was done I reached for the book I was
reading. Yet women liked me because I was not pretentious, they
also tried to domesticate me as I had an affinity to walk my own
way and often ended up in seedy bars. The squalid side of life has
always mystified me: why does a person choose a road that leads to
ruin and hardship? I have always been lazy, strenuous effort will not
touch me. But I would like to have my muscular arms back....







Vilamoura (Portugal)

The sun is shining full and strong on the seaside town,
its marina is full of toy boats only the rich can afford.
Restaurants and cafes are selling overpriced food and
drink under shady awnings and parasols.

In summer shade is costly, under every tree a table
and waiters waiting to take your order. The midday
sun is relentless, a throng of people walking up and
down the promenade, can they all be English?

I often walk here in late October when the elderly
come on holiday; shadows are free, the sun is pale
on a fluffy sky, boats have sailed to a warmer clime
and the town dreams of last summer’s wine.

  



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