Jan O. Hansen
Jan O Hansen
Christmas Eve a festive street now empty an
old man with a long white beard, not as white as a fake one, dressed
in a faded army greatcoat carrying a bundle of folded up cardboard
boxes and a horse blanket, was looking for a warm doorway where
to spend the night. He had been invited to stay at a Salvation Army
hostel but this night, of all nights, he felt so sad that he wanted
to be alone. He had been made redundant because he wasn't unionized
and didn't have a college degree in psychology in order to speak
In his time children were asleep when he was
shinying down chimneys and he only spoke to the few who had sneaked
down into the parlor to have a peek. His reindeer had gone to the
knacker's yard and his elves were working as jugglers for a Romanian
circus. Thousands of fake Santa's had taken over his job clamoring
for pay rises every Christmas as their work was vital for the economy
and wanted to be recognized as middle class professionals. Yes,
times were different now he just had to accept that, but it would
be nice to be respected remembered and not be shunted about by impatient
As the old man was drifting into sleep a man
of about thirty came into the doorway, he looked somehow like Che
Guevara or was it Che who looked like Him.
"Yes, that's right I'm Jesus," the
young man said. "I just came to tell you that my Father and
I appreciate all the work you have been doing for children over
the years, it has been written up in a big ledger and will not be
Santa smiled, at last recognition, and fell
In the morning a couple out for a morning stroll
found him, an old man leaning up against a shop door. His soul now
a morning star, on his frozen face, a beatified smile.
Last night was restless a conveyor belt of
dreams, couldn't keep up.
Modern Times at a dream factory, in the morning only a few fragments remained.
George W. Bush playing the banjo,
he was an amazingly pleasant man with a ready smile,
but when I criticized Texas he got cross and
threatened to send me as an ambassador to
George went for a work out at his private gym
while Laura and I sat reading poetry to each
she cried when I read the poem about
an Iraqi mother that had lost her only son,
a helmeted sniper had shot him.
War Without End
So many sparrows fall from the late September sky
when one fell in front of me with a clunk, which made made me think
of 9/11 people throwing themselves out of windows and the worldwide
terror that this tragedy unleashed,
that day when the whole world, for a brief moment, mourned with the
Picked up the sparrow, it's chest heaving, seconds
ticking fast, I had been thinking of old dictators -
are we cruel to keep them alive? Sitting in small
cells eating muffins and thinking of the days when
their words were the law. Should we give them
a plot of land to till, to nurse life, not take it?
To rinse bloody hands in clean soil is also good
for us who have illegally occupied Iraq in a war and let lose the screaming
monster called terror that will, if we don't clean our hands, engulf
the whole world, but I hear a whisper that says:
"If we use the ultimate bomb we'll win the war."
So many sparrows fall from sunny September
skies, the one I held in the palm of my hand is
still, grey beak, job done and there won't be
more springs, it fought no wars avoided hawks
lived for the moment was not conscious of any
god . . . Laid the bird under a bush and walked on.
The Elves Pub
The cave-like Irish pub in Albufeira reeked of
cigarettes, spilt ale and the odor of people
who think that having a daily shower is a sign
of an unhealthy bodily obsession.
Pale lips in eerily white faces--born where it
rains and where the sun only reluctantly, between
showers, shines--parted swallowed dark liquid
as a band played nostalgia and an elf sang
Leprechaun giggled and served fried potatoes
but not for us, we're unseen, had intruded in
a dream the Irish dream when away from home
where nothing but sentimental tears are real.
A voice from a glorious past came and
whispered my name, she was not forgotten
only pushed into the corner of my mind
where golden memories live and know she's
I can see her wonderful face and
sense her aroma of spring.
Recent past, yet too long ago I've gone old and she is in her bloom.
Sweet melancholy, I remember my last summer
before the winter storms came and divided my landscape in two
what went before and now.
Ronel, a rare South African bird,
who came to the shores of my life
and gazed into the sunset of my youth,
how can I forget?
In a bar, near the docks in Mobile she sat,
a blond woman of forty-five who had lost hope that life would get any
We drank whisky and coke until we felt giggly and thought we liked each
Her rented room was a short walk from the bar and there we made love
but it was all so
tawdry and our silence after the act was as repressive as the heat outside.
Left as soon as I could, this unbearable
night, sat alone in a bar and drank iced Budweiser till it was time
to go onboard and cook breakfast for the crew.
The primeval scream that arose from a heart offended shut down the town's
grid for hours
Delicate diaphanous glinted in the morning
as I walked on a narrow overgrown lane,
only suitable for cart and mule. Under a giant
carob tree a flock of meaty birds sat huddled
seeing me they panicked and took flight.
Shots echoed through the valley and meat for
those who don't need it fell from the sky,
picked up by eager dogs and dropped in front
of their respective masters. Good boy.
I had forgotten, this is the time of the year when
businessmen and politicians take a few days off
for their sport.
Homo Erotic Dream
The taxi I was riding from one town to another was snug and warm and
outside was cold with too much snow,
then along a tree lined road where hundreds of rows sat as waiting for
something to happen, the concert to start or a tragedy to unfold,
settling themselves on branches and murmuring politely to each other,
the taxi stopped and the warm shell became an icebox.
The driver had a big blanket, which he put over us both, he had called
for a tow truck but it would take some time as the snow plough was
so we sat here then, the driver and I, like a gay
couple hiding our love from a world that didn't accept us.
We could so easily fall into he longest sleep,
so we spoke about our lives and hopes for the future
and close we sat as it was steadily getting colder.
The plough came, sprayed the taxi with snow
but the tow truck was close behind
and in its warm cabin I quickly fell asleep
and dreamed of a tropical island, hula girls
but the picture was somewhat disturbed by a naked, pot bellied man who
came out of the water with a fish spear in his hands and over his head
flew jet-black crows.
A Rain Heavy Day
On a map of the world was written:
"To Navigate is necessary, to live is not"
this daft saying is accredited a Portuguese explorer which proves that
you need not be brainy to be brave.
Look at this man who was pulling his own sledge across the north pole
he needed a triple bypass after that,
mind time is different now he had a mobile phone and could call up his
At the restaurant where I was lunching today the waiter was late serving
me he spoke on
as did the girl at the coffee machine
wondered if they spoke to each other
people feel freer to express themselves when talking into their hands.
Diner's phones kept ringing giving them self-esteem:
"I'm a duck therefore quack"
When paying I only gave the waiter a few cents, but gave a 5-euro note
to the beggar outside
he didn't have a phone and must be feeling left out
Givers of Alms
Patronizing people, give a beggar
a few coppers, grandly tell him not
to spend it on booze.
What wrong with those people, don't they know
the cost of a good bottle of wine?
Adopt A Sniper
The black clad woman in her courtyard,
solid gates safe from the clamor in the street and
small arms fire,
was hanging up washing-- sheets and pillow cases. Suddenly she froze
and held on to
the clothes line
she struggled to stand upright but her knees wouldn't carry her,
the line broke as she fell backwards,
a blood-splayed sheet fell on top of her,
an instant shroud.
The young soldier rested the long barreled rifle with telescopic sight
in the crook of his arm and lit a cigarette.
"You shouldn't smoke so much," his best buddy said,
"gives you cancer."
The mist is leaving the woods, spiraling up,
vanishing as a dream and fairies too are
disappearing into their caves.
Heard them last night,
to unearthly music they gracefully
danced and whispered my name.
I resisted the temptation to join them,
if I had they would have spellbound me and I would have walked through
days in a haze only coming alive in the forest at night.
The fairies have taken his soul, people would say, send him away!
And I would be a shell, a lost mind,
a pale shadow, you may have seen, that sits
by an institutional window and dreams.
In the grey morning light the great ballroom looked forlorn smelling
vicarious human passion and expensive Havana cigars.
The toilets in the big house were all blocked
and stinking of overflowing excrement,
some had used towels to dry themselves
others, their fingers, which they then dried
In a society with many unwritten rules about how to behave with grace
and decor the toilet was the only place they could let go and feel,
and for a few minutes rebel against stifling norms. A plebeian wouldn't
have liked it here, unsure
of etiquette and disgusted by stools in bathtubs.
The great door to the ballroom opened, men came took chairs and tables
away and filled the floor with straw and sawdust it was time to show
the great house's purebred horses which could spring in the air and
do, for a horse, complex dance steps and the ballroom was soon filled
by horse manure that unlike human excrement was
The horses, although beautiful, were tightly reined by riders in splendid
a plebeian here, where form and elegance outweighs content, wouldn't
he might have been tempted to let lose and ride
out of the big door and head for open land till he came to a meadow
lush meadow were he and the horse could rest,
but that would have been seen as an Unforgiven gaffe and he would never
be invited to dance at the great ballroom again.
An October Morning
The sky is clear and the sun warms my face, this
October morning that smells like spring.
Rain later the forecaster on the TV had said enjoying himself in his
But not all is well in Paradise
there are hunters about
shotgun pellets fly over my head,
do they think I'm a bunny rabbit?
Better wave hanky,
or perhaps not they will only think it's a bird, those old men, dressed
like combat soldiers and smelling of morning wine.
Come with me all creatures small
and the came,l too, that fled from the Swedish circus 5 years ago,
I know you are hiding in the gloaming
pretending to be a boulder.
In my garden you can stay till nightfall,
I'll give you clover, breadcrumbs and apples,
there is even a sand heap at the bottom
of the garden so the bactrian can feel at home.
But you wont and you're right not to trust me, cooking pot is empty
and I haven't eaten for 3 days.
When Alice went to dance at the new restaurant
she discovered that she didn't have any clean
She washed seven pairs hung them on a line but they didn't dry in time
so she borrowed her brother's boxer shorts then, dressed in her black
little number and was ready to go
When dancing an English waltz the shorts fell
down around her ankles and tripped her up and
the world bore witness that Alice had a cute
A man picked up the boxer shorts and said:
"Who, do these belong to?"
"Not me," Alice said,
"because I'm a girl."
She sits asleep leaning against the trunk of a tree,
wears a green cotton dress with printed flowers on.
I think she's sixteen her aroma is of newness,
firm her breasts, thighs and legs.
I feel dizzy hold on to the branch of an olive tree, look around, no
my lips are dry and my heartbeats hammer
holes in my eardrums.
Am sure that I've loved her once before,
but that can't be right it was a summer many, many years ago.
"What are you thinking of?"
"But I know her."
"Doesn't make a difference"
Nature is silent, waits, will this be another act of
She awakes, smiles, totally unafraid of
my presence slowly gets up walks away.
The dark green jacket the widow who has
long since stopped grieving gave me has,
although made in Swiss and expensive
( according to the widow), a military cut.
When wearing it I tended to click my heels,
salute smartly and dream of invading Sweden.
I haven't got the jacket now the griefless
widow took it back (dry cleaning, she said)
Yesterday I saw a man standing by a corner
wearing the cleaned jacket and involuntarily
clicking his heels. Just as well I'm a pacifist
now and have joined an anti war poetry site.
Forenoon after Rain
In a pothole, after rain, a tiny fish swam in circles
looking for a stream when not snapping at minuscule flies.
Quite safe for now as long as drivers were alert
and steered clear and not ploughed into the hole with a murderous front
wheel if I swallowed the fish whole would it swim around in my belly
till I went angling and sneezed into the sea?
It would then have a story to tell and other fish would say:
"Lies and bloody poetry"
It's best chances would be if a whirlwind came twisting along sucked
it up and dropped in the nearest river so it could find its way to the
ocean, grow to be a big fish that eats tiny ones.
Garston (Liverpool) is not sun soaked Spain, rows of
terraced houses brown bricks crying into sorry looking front gardens.
Not a potpourri of colors, here were only drunks sing, but I did see
a tuft of grass behind a filling
station and a red door, a beacon of hope, in threadbare blandness.
Must belong to an Indian family, young losers,
in the street outside, were throwing verbal stones. No one paints a
door red in Garston and gets away with it.
Amongst the powerless and passively resentful there was a bakery that
sold fresh loaf that tasted of summer when spread with a thick
layer of New Zealand butter.
I Remember Father
I remember my father in the doorway of
the basement, black hair combed back in
a v shape from his long forehead, a frail,
mephisto reeking of home made wine.
and behind him, the night. Mother said that
he was an alcoholic.
In the night we could hear him fighting and singing with his mischievous
Then one evening an eerie silence wafted
up from the basement, in the morning
mother went to fetch uncle Carl, but there
was a small window on the wall only a boy
of eight could get through, I found him
hanging from a hook in the ceiling naked
as the day he was born. I remember father,
behind him the longest night.
||The Owl And
Dreamt that I was dancing a sorry sight of steps,
mouth half open,
Asked a wise old owl in a tree:
" Why am I so ugly?"
"It's because you are not happy within your skin,
think that you are a handsome prince and look
into the mirror in the morning."
I did and met a grumpy elderly man three strands
of hair trying in vain to cover a white scalp,
luckily he wore pajamas or I would have fainted.
"I did", said the owl,
"only to teach you a lesson that you have to accept the way you look
or be sad the rest of you life"
"Silly old owl that's Readers Digest stuff"
I resentfully said, broke the mirror with a gavel
and auction off the bird.
The War Is Coming Your Way
It's a crisp beautiful morning perfect for walking
the dogs, except there is a sadness hanging over
last night in shadowy rubble strewn rooms
two bullets found their target
one for a female aid worker from the west the other for a wounded Arab
the world shrinks as the war expands and
slowly we're taking sides in a culture clash?
Them and us,
"they are out to kill us," both sides say the same.
Bombs are falling, legless infants, headless bodies.
Dust, heat and hate.
The war is coming your way.
A Nordic bay a day in May seven young nuns sat in a rowboat singing
hymns the sea a mirror reflecting the sky.
Their dreams were of serving the icon they had
wed and their faith left no room for doubt. Suddenly the boat was erased
by the sharp sunlight, not a trace, the sea was a mirror.
Faith had overcome the impossible
simple truth is a servant of belief and not of cold facts.
The nuns had created their own vision of heaven and they will be happy
there as long as none of them doubt their own creation,
if that happens the illusion will be broken
and they will fall back to earthto find their convent turned into a
a world where money is God.
Paradise lost, they will beg for scraps of food and no one will know
where those strange old women came from.
On a large green field, near a housing estate
not yet sold to developers, a man grazed his
25 sheep, which was practical since he lived
in a tiny cottage at the edge of the field, he
also had a small barn where the sheep stood
safe when storms raged.
In a rustic landscape that was slowly changing into a cityscape the
field was an oasis surrounded by ugly buildings and noise.
One day, inspectors from the local council came and told the herder
that it wasn't hygienic to have sheep so near the houses and they gave
him a fortnight to get rid of his sheep.
With the field empty people began dumping old furniture, wrecked cars
and conked out freezers. Yet, green juicy grass still grew amongst the
rubble, enough to feed 25 sheep, but that wasn't hygienic.
The Long Walk
The street was endless I couldn't see where
Shops closed, no one about and the sun glared relentlessly erasing contours.
Don't know why I come to be here, only that
I was lost, behind me a mist of memories
a world of archived dreams, dry roses
forgotten between pages of yesterday's ledger.
I could only walk forward hoping to find
a side street that had shadows so I could see
and find my way back to the point whence I got lost.
The fear of loneliness was acute and silence
overwhelming I cried but continued walking
The Marlboro man is a marine now
helping, destroy Fallujah in order
to save it.
But we are worried, this sends a wrong message to the young, smoking
is bad for the health.
I wonder if the marine who shot and
killed the wounded fighter, instead of
helping him, is a non-smoker?
The cameraman shouldn't have shot
things like that happen
in a war after a long day.
Tanks shell houses at close range not
knowing whose inside, often civilians,
but they are not counted in this war.
There are sights of a headless corpse
in the street or a sad one of a one legged
baby in a hospital bed. Tough!
Will there ever be a pay back time?
A day of reckoning by those who began
this madness? Don't make me laugh!
The congress dance and soon it will be
Christmas. Will it be a white one?
The Iraqi Quislings, who are nominally
in charge of that country,
are to accuse Saddam Hussein
for crimes against humanity-
of which he's guilty -
and so are they overseeing
the destruction of villages and towns.
100000 of their own people have
perished in one year,
they shrug and say:
"So be it"
The winner gets to write the law, but
will theirs be a pyrrhic victory?
You sit writing sweet poetry about love and
a tame nature where bees don't sting, but
you close your eyes to Iraq because you don't
want to dwell on life's unpleasant things and
you believe that all will be right in the end
Uncritically accept official lies that only a few
civilian have died in this unlawful Iraq war,
that will soon set the world on fire. So write
your sweet poetry, dippy poets, pretend that
everything is well in your enchanted garden.
The Long View
I had gone up north thought of buying a house
the one I could afford was too small and had
a wardrobe in the living room that couldn't be
opened -- when I tried skeletons rattled.
On the roof that was flat and spongy the vista
was magisterial a long fjord and a mountain
with snow on top, thought of saying something
deep but I was too cold.
Since I had forgotten how I go up on the roof
I had to jump down
the fall was long,
but beautiful as descending through a kaleidoscope
made of eleven rainbows.
I looked around and was now in an olive grove
eating an apple and all around me long legged
No reason for me to feel guilty for not waxing lyrical about a long