Collected Observations

Jan Hansen


Grazing Sheep

Rain fell on the mountain range, to the south of
the plain where the sun shone on grazing sheep,
a motionless shepherd, who wore a sheepskin
coat even though the weather was warm and
a lone umbrella tree. As I watched this bucolic
scene, from the siesta empty dirt road, a single
raindrop, gone astray, hit my forearm and for
a moment it looked like a costly pearl before
evaporating to a tiny white mark on my skin.
The shepherd looked at his hands then looked
up, no the rain wasn't coming his way, a statue
of peace again and his flock kept on grazing.

And Life Goes On

Manuel has been dead, in his coffin underground,
for three days now and his wife has reopened
the shop/café selling the usual stuff and receiving
hugs and sympathy from her clients; tearful she
is but enjoys the fuzz. Manuel himself looks
the same only his mouth is half open, death smile
of triumph you would think the stalker would
have been used to winning every war by now.
There is a slight noise outside the coffin as soil
shifts and settles and inside it a fly that slipped
in before the lid closed is buzzing a lonely tune.

Idle Moment

It's spring birdsong and all that I ought to be glad
but am not there is an empty space in my heart that
aches a dream, wishful thinking just once fall in
love threw caution to the wolves and sail with her
the one that lives in a cottage near a river and is as
elusive as a mermaid, on a sea of love till storms
tear the sails to shreds and in green clear sea sink
into eternity. Idle moment over now I have to go
paint that fence; she's been nagging me for days.

To Kiss a Frog

The winter lake is dry now, the little rain that fell
in May was of the mild type good for the roses
and soft as a Spanish princess's kiss when she is
not reading the news. Frogs are buried deep and
will rest, deathlike, as the Sleeping Beauty till rain
falls, but there won't be a handsome prince around
and kiss them into human forms. Breeze has dropped
and the thorny bushes that grow around the lake
are still and across the sky, that is now pale pink
thanks to the setting sun, a small airplane crosses
slowly- then it coughs, stops and falls, spiraling
silently behind a mountain, fodder for the evening
news. A red parachute descends a happy ending?
Pity the frogs they will never know

Friday Murmur

The carpenter has been and repaired the kitchen door
it didn't lock and blew open goats used the kitchen
as a shelter when it rain Made a mess scared Donna
the bitch, which hid under my bed, useless she is.
The farmer is clearing land big sandstones piled high
looking like badly designed pyramid, soon it will
be covered by weeds and wild flowers and be home
for rabbits. Nearly stepped on a baby rabbit today
it sat perfectly still hoping I wouldn't see it.
Picked it up held it in my palm where it continued
to sit still, poor little thing it didn't know that
I love rabbit stew. Put it down it could be that its
mother missed it sitting in the burrow counting
I had eight, one is missing it is Freddy he's always
late. Poor furry things way down the food chain
hectic lives loving in a rush and breeding rapidly.
Once I had a rabbit, it didn't miss nature much sat
happily on the kitchen table eating carrots, it was
killed by that door it blew open and when the rabbit
sat in the doorway admiring the garden a sudden
draught slammed it shut.

Supper At Eight

In Fallulja bombs fall, walls cave in and many people
are killed. A child fed up of being indoors runs out
into the yard, a mother runs after the child to get her
back indoors again and both are shot dead by snipers
dressed in camouflage uniforms. News on TV tells
us this we see collapsed buildings, burning cars and
football stadium converted to a cemetery. An item
of news and we continue to enjoy our supper, while
a general asks for more tanks a place where there is
no battlefield, only dark shadows, dust and death.

Then a young foreign soldier, captured by a group of
fanatical resistance fighters and in the name of their
God is executed on life TV Trussed up, slaughtered
like a pig at Christmas, and the horror we feel is real.
There is no escape our capacity for hate has no limit,
we are only able to love our own blood, respect only
our own culture and have contempt for those who
believe in religions different from ours.
Knee deep in human filth we
stagger through a life void hope and charity
only to fall down the tunnel of
endless time.

The Torturer (first part)

You are my prisoner I've the power to destroy you
or treat you well all depending on my mood of the day.
At last I'm in charge now I want you to confess, for
that I've to torture you, it's the only way I do not
believe in voluntary confessions. "The truth!" you
say, I don't care about your truth only in a confession
that tells me what I want to know. When it is over
we'll share a cigarette and you'll love me never have
you been so close to anyone before one body one soul
we are purged and I have shared you pain

The Torturer (Second part)

So here we are in court then, I'm accused of war
crimes and you're avoiding eye contact. Coward.
You talk about the banality of my work, I who let
you see into your own soul. Curled up like a baby
crying kissing my hand and in your eyes I saw
that you loved me. For days you sang like a bird
and you call my métier banal! In my cell I will
peaceful sleep, unlike you who will suffer nightmare
since betrayed me. Sooner or later I will be free
the authorities need a man with my skills.


Winter cold Montreal

On the flat land near the lake that in summers dries up and
tiny tornadoes blow throwing dust about, a grey woolly
donkey grazed, it had white rings around huge brown eyes
and looked like an academic coming out of his study after
spending fourteen years writing a thesis about mans
relationship with pigeons. There was also a deep sadness
in the donkeys eyes which reminded me of the Chinese
woman who when darkness hung around the docks held out
an arm wasted by heroin while clutching a deadly still infant
to her empty bosom. Had no money gave her my watch it
didn't fit her scarred wrist. Fly me to the moon, once she
had been a pilot in charge of her destiny, but then she fell
off the cloud of dreams and down to earth . And now dim
water beckoned. The donkey sighed began grazing again
ignoring flying pigeons and me.


After toiling for others the old farmhand
had now his own little acre near the dry
lake that shimmered weed green in late
afternoon. Yesterday he had ploughed
the field one narrow furrow at a time
it had taken eight hours and a half with
one share a plough and his ancient ass
the soil was rust brown damp and rich
now he was planting seedlings for this he
didn't need the animal that was tethered
to an olive tree just standing there eyes
half closed swaying softly to an inner call.
The farmhand straightened his back lit
lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply his job
done now it was up to nature, he scanned
the sky it was overcast, a bit of rain not
too hard would be fine. The donkey was
awake waiting to be taken home and
stabled it didn't like rain.

Days of Rain

Uniformly grey it has been raining for days
the only other colour is a plastic bag hanging
limp and from an almond tree and beyond
a farmhouse, disappearing dreamily in the mist.
Rain on my roof trickles into the cistern, free
heavenly water till they find a way to taxing it
Damp woolly backs endlessly graze amongst
olive trees their pastor is standing stock-still
under a black umbrella, a statue of contemplation
flanked by two wet dogs that would rather be
snoozing in the barn.

A walk on the sunny side

The landscape is green the breeze is still
cold but will warm up by the sun that is
getting hot now in late February now
that my almond tree has shed its flowers
and soft shelled nuts, silky by the touch
sprouts. She is at home doing her make up
there are streaks of white in her hair, I'm
no longer beautiful she says. Resigned is
her voice. "You are more beautiful now
than when I met you." She smiles " As
lovely as my almond tree" I say to myself
not sure if she likes being compared to a
mere tree. There is ease between us now
that we accept each other's foibles.
" Yeah, now that you no longer fear
competition" an intrusive inner voice adds.


Jan Hansen