A summer by the sea
Jan Oskar Hansen
A summer by the sea
A blue rowboat lay on its side,
on the pebbled beach, hull had
been tarred, its aroma warmly
mingled with sea air; when
the tide comes in (not strong
here) the boat will float again,
From the wooden pier the sea
was emerald, yet crystal clear
I could see small crabs and
tiny fish feeding in the shallows,
as pebbles softly fizzed when
the sea inhaled and exhaled.
The sea mirrored the heavens,
no bathers here, just as well,
found it difficult to resist
the captivating pull of the sea,
not be absorbed by its beauty
and live forever in its embrace.
A May Day
Sunday morning, a run over dog
dumped by the bins; blood on
soft, brown fur
A young dog it had perfect teeth
a dentist, out for a stroll, took
a passing interest.
A formation of blowflies flew in,
shrouded the body in a carpet of
Paris, Mon Amour
Spring in Paris walked along the Seine when
I saw her walking on the other side, she was
petite and very French, pretended she didn’t
see me when I reached out trying to grab her
hand. Seine is wide fell into it, swam ashore
but got no help since I didn’t speak French.
Went into a bar pointed at a bottle of Pernod
the barman poured me a glass took my wet
euros, but I had to drink outside; later, when
in my car smoking a cigarette my suit draped
on the bonnet drying in mild air, she walked
by; haughtily French, ignoring me.
Remember it like yesterday, in Trieste, a town
where neighbours hated each other more than
usual, when I met a tiny woman with a clown’s
face I could not help smiling at; she had bright
brown eyes and was struggling with a suitcase.
I offered to carry it for her, we walked for
hours on a road of holes and broken asphalt as
tanks had just passed here, (suitcase was getting
heavy) till we came to a fairytale cottage, it had
an overgrown garden… so I weeded it.
Looked up and saw her sitting, in a limousine,
beside a famous film director, they were both
driving down to Rome to shoot a movie about
a road and the life of the people travelling on it.
I haven’t been back to Trieste since.
As I sat on the steps, in the yard,
drinking a morning beer, the dog
lay dead in front of me and
I reflected on the ruin that was my life,
a single raindrop fell on my upper lip,
but it tasted of salt, perhaps a message
from the sea?
High above amongst clouds, glinting
In the sun I couldn’t see,
a plane carrying 210 tourists
winged its way home;
as the dog stirred and yawned
I wondered idly whom had opened
the plane’s porthole and peed out.
I left the light on in the living room
before I went didn’t want the room to
be frightened when night came as it
was used to my constant presence
For days I danced glad to be away
from the daily monotony, chilled
champagne and hot eyes, but then
an icy dawn came and killed dreams.
I had gone to alleviate my loneliness
now, broke and walking home, it took
two days and two nights; the front door,
and the room were both glad to see me
Lost in the City
I was lost in a nameless city where people spoke
a language not mine, a massive place an endless
stream of blank faces came out a tunnel and
disappeared into big buildings where blinds were
drawn on every window to stop daylight entering
and showing reality in a harsh glare;
when I tried to call passer’s by attention, the flow
of humanity parted and I was a stone in a river.
I had lost my wallet and could not recall the name
of my hotel, it was getting overcast and rain would
soon be lashing down, I could do nothing but walk
on, hoping to see a familiar landmark;
homeless now, waves of fear I’ll never find my way
back home doomed to walk in streets of loneliness.
God, let me remember the name of the hotel, or let
me find some loose change so I could call the one
I love, tell how much I care and ask her not to leave
me alone in a world I do not understand.
But the ungrateful, miniature bastards
The three ugly manikins sat on the roof
making obscene gestures and pulling whiskers
of a cat one by one, then the sick little trio
threw the cat down into the street where
it was torn to pieces by a pack of dogs,
a dark spot on the road and fine hair in the wind,
and that was all what was left of someone’s loving pet.
I shot at the pack; wounded one,
a bullet had broken its back
I saw it crawl down a hole under a house to die.
The three repulsive dwarfs, my sons,
the unhappy result of my relationship with
the daughter of a troll that lived under a bridge
in the vale of wild goats,
their mother, seeing the three squalling little monsters,
got up from her birth bed and waddled into the morning sun
where she exploded,
and I had to bring up those little imps myself.
I came down from the roof sat them all in a wheel barrow
I was on my way to the market to sell them.
On the way there they silently cried, but when we arrived,
seeing the people, they pulled faces and sang rude songs,
that was good for me.
I got a good price for those perfect entertainers.
Counting my money I said,
“Now my little ones, I have done this for
your sakes. You must learn to survive
on your own and when you have made your
first million come and see your old dad.”
gave me the finger.
Horses for rent
They are mild eyed and well mannered,
My neighbour has four mares
and three subdued stallions,
all middle aged and slightly swaybacked,
rents them out to tourists;
forget flaring nostrils, flying manes
of a pure bred Arab, wild eyed,
galloping across golden sand,
more like painted horses in livery stable scenes
in a western movie or the type
extras, in ditto movies, get to ride.
if you mount one it takes you through a track
that leads back home,
it might even trot,
but stops when it knows you are sitting
In afternoons, when sunrays
are golden leaves on oak trees,
there is a misty halo about them,
no doubt, they are,
a lump-in-the-throat achingly beautiful.
On the telly four girls mime a song and try to dance, it’s
all so hopelessly inept one wonders if they are hapless
lambs or just without any sense of embarrassment; or are
they just plain stupid? On the news a politician tells us why
sixteen year olds can be fired from their employment
without a warning, it’s good for the economy and I’m sure
Depressing light darkly overcast a flock of sheep walk up
a ramp into a car that’s going to take them to the abattoir
and they nervously bah and crap black round pellets when
not butting each other
and the green field they leave will
be the last they will ever see.
Outside the abattoir, fenced
in, they will run in a ring and smell death as they are taken
in one by one, throat slit, hung upside down, its stomach
opened, innards taken out…fresh food for you and all your
kinds, so don’t complain.
Dismal day utterly bland it isn’t raining, no storm nor
a burning sun and who gives a fuck about a few lambs,
it’s just there and promises nothing but a boring evening
that is not cold enough to light a fire, yet not cosy, just
feeble as warm beer and a bottle of vinegary wine.
good for the employment statistic, he is a well paid sheep,
bleating lies, but who gives a fuck about the young, there are
too many of them, anyway, setting cars afire to liven up their
dismal lives, since there are no wars to make their lives interesting.
The dreamy Landscape
The greenness is too verdant, sort of artificial if you ask me,
perhaps there has been a war here that has wiped out all
the horses; but I’m sure people have survived, they always
do, no they live underground produce enormous amounts of
It’s been so long since I was there that it’s like a fragment of
a dream, the pampas of Argentina that stretches an eternity
before meeting the tall mountains and on the other side you’ll find Chile,
here, bodies used to fall from the sky, but that was
long time ago and is forgotten now that we have Iraq to
talk about. But something is wrong in pampas land, there are
no horses here to break the monotony, no shady tree where to
stop and have a little snooze, nor a stream where to cool my
feet and let he horses drink.
mushrooms, keep pigs and chickens and have banned plastic
bags that are a dead give away: Humanity Lives Here!
The survivors only come up at night and have developed
an ability to see in the dark; but I didn’t come here for them,
where are the damned horses?
Love Story (the beginning.)
It was morning, after a long night, when my face fell into the sink
and down the plug hole, it was nine o’clock and the alarm had
been ringing since seven. It was summer open-widow people
were looking up wandering if there was a fire; a police officer
looked up too, he stood there wide legged like a sailor on a moving
deck, but he killed that effect by effetely holding his hands on his
rather big hips. Outside I was accosted by a woman in a long
black dress playing the harmonica, badly, and her two
dogs; I paid her to stop, but she kept following me till I escaped
into a bar where I drank cold beer re-discovered my face in
the bar’s mirror and wondered how I got that black eye; looked at my wrist -
the watch was gone - and vaguely remembered angry
voices, someone running in a back alley and a woman with
greedy octopus sucking lips. Left the bar as shadows of the day
were getting porous, met the musical lady in the park where she
sat crying, “Why those tears, my dear?” I compassionately asked.
“I have thrown my harmonica in the bin I will never be a female
I sat down beside her and cried too, took out my
pen and threw it away;
“I have tried to write as Ernest
Hemingway for thirty five years and it has brought me nothing
Yet, as the city lights were turned on and the hum of
traffic ceased, we two sad losers, sat there holding hands.
Riot & Riots
The student rioters in Paris are better
dressed and burn newer types of cars
than the poor from sink estates that
rioted last year. While they, the poor,
were called scum by Politicians and
commentators, they are careful not to
call their sons and daughter that.
The Blue Bus
The workman bus has steamed up windows, is damp and
reeks of diesel, but I see a black expensive car passing us,
the boss, in splendid chauffeured privacy, drives by,
and to think they charge me for sitting here. Number 27,
a workman says, we laugh. Jokes are numbered so we don’t
have to tell them. God, how I hate being here in a bus of
men who no longer fight, I can’t stand it, get up out of my seat want
to escape, “what’s wrong, someone asks.” Noting I have a
cramp in my legs. Look for a string to pull, to make the driver
of this bloody bus stop, but there isn’t any, it only stop outside
the factory gate and then it’s too late, I haven’t got the courage
to walk away - give a two finger salute and walk tall on my own sweet
way. If I had the nerve, I would have to walk for miles through
a misty, industrial landscape where those who can’t cope with
the ordinariness of this life call you lazy if you have dream of a better life.
Tomorrow, when the bus drives through my street, I shall not be on it,
and whatever my mother says I will not apologize
and ask them to take me back.
The Good Worker
inston, the handy man,
is hundred years old and
still doing his job;
when his wife died he came
to work … and her funereal
he arranged after work.
Low paid and smiling
an ideal worker they put
a picture of him in the canteen;
I have bad news for Winston
tomorrow he will be replaced
by a robot.
I have a telecommunication system built into my
When my left shoulder tingles there is a call
if I haven’t got time to answer, a message
is left in my brain and will beep when I sit down
for a coffee.
If I want to call up someone I just
have to think of their phone number and thought
when the someone answers I talk to my right
shoulder or leave a message.
Busy people often
suffer headaches, those who can afford to can rent
a brain, usually a low paid woman’s, who sorts out
the messages and passes me those of importance
and as I have full access to the rented brain,
delete everything so she wont know anything of my
business and private affairs,
should she leave or find
When the shipping tycoon, in my hometown, died they
dipped him (Best suit and shoes) in liquid plastic and
when dry they put him on a towering plinth so he could
watch over us for all time.
A night bird, (perhaps an owl), pecked holes in the statue’s
shoes, the body inside, now slime, ran down the plinth into
the drain and down a gutter, the plastic casing imploded and
Birds took a great interest in the statue and soon covered
it in green and grey droppings and so it was high up in the air
and difficult to clean, birds were therefore declared
illegal immigrants and shot dead.
hung like a condom in the window sill of a house scandalized
by unproven rumours.
Since seedy facts about the tycoon’s
shady dealings and sexual custom (paedophilia) had since,
come to light - as foam in a sewer- no new statue was erected.
Silent sea dark and deep, on your surface I skimmed
for years, feared you too, sleepless nights, mountainous
waves when my only defence was luck; romantically
thought that you had secrets to divulge when hearing
whispers in the tropical night. Now I know it isn’t so
and that makes life sadder than it ought to be, endlessly
wet you are Sargasso weed, fog and terrifying sharks;
like everything else, you suffer from advanced pollution
but when I hear the melancholic fog horn sing, late in
the night, I wish I were skimming your surface again.
The Worth Of Money
The Danish queen, on the fifty kroner note,
shrugged and apologetically smiled when
the liveried waiter said that it was not enough to
buy a bottle of wine. Pinched the queen's
cheek till she blushed, put her cigarette on
an ashtray and combed her hair, reluctantly
handed the waiter the note; as he waddled
out into the kitchen I got my money’s worth
by drinking left over classy wine, on tables
soiled by the feast of the rich.
Streams of Life
God, make my mind an oasis of peace
but don't chime your admiration for me
from bell towers when I walk away from
"Campo Alegre" back to my ship smelling
of your summer. This Paradise where pigs
feed on erectile condoms, floating in ditches
of useless dreams, here the river is rum that
makes the silent sing. Turned when morning
broke, for a last look, this place of fractured
dreams and infertile illusions, you blessed
me by covering up the scene of spent lust in
a blanket of virginal mist
Out of a low hanging cloud an angel's soft hand
reached down and tickled an unwary creamy cow
with a duster made of falling stars glittering dust.
The ruminant arched its massive body in intense
pleasure, resembled a clumsy forenoon tired cat.
The cow laid green spotted eggs, other milk
producers came, stood in a circle and waited for
a miracle to occur, when it did, the eggs
cracked and out came a pair of Shetland ponies.
This confused the bull, but not those with udders,
which blasé shrugged and resumed grazing while
waiting for milking time at five
After the battle
In thickets slain soldiers soil the snow,
looking like manikins dumped from a
helicopter gunship, the sky is soon grey
Those who do the dying
The Humvee stalled, driver killed,
the two soldiers left were told to surrender
to a gang of merciless street fighters,
unbelievably, they did.
The gang now vented its hatred of all things western
on two boys from small town America,
the army's cannon fodder,
the losers of all wars.
Asked for mercy, cried, the first boy;
as the other looked on,
his throat slit.
the innocence of the lamb.
The surviving soldier now quivering,
couldn't retain his bodily fluid,
how they laughed, the bearded men:
"American soldiers are cowards."
He didn't hear them;
he was running in the woods, near his home,
a squirrel in a tree saw him.
He looked up and waved.
A freezing whisper flew into the room;
the unforgiving shuddered.