A Lament 

By
Jan Oskar Hansen

 

I have bought an air-condition unit for the kitchen,
It hangs there high up on the wall making me feel
Prosperous, the women in the village have been in
Seeing it, since I used to be a chef and do bake my
Own bread, the men think I’m a queer, don’t mind
Their wives swapping recipes with me…

It’s strange, is it not? Forever I was a chef in hotels
And posh restaurant, not well paid and cooks where
Not seen, the person sweating smelling of booze and
Being unappreciated; alas, now they are superstars
Their love life is reported in magazines. Yet, when
My women go they leave a scent of mimosa behind. 

 

The Witness 

Doorbell rang, a police officer was selling tickets for some
do, forgotten what, he wore a smile, but was also armed, so
I bought a ticket. I admired his gun, told me he practiced
every day and was a crack shot. “Can you hit the tomcat that
crosses the road?”  (The cat belonged to the nasty woman in
the house opposite mine?) “No problem,” drew his gun, shot
once and the cat rolled in the dust.

The woman came out she had a shotgun, aimed it at the officer
who ran to his car calling for back ups, she missed and went
back into the house. Five minutes later 24 patrol car drove up,
sirens and screeching tires arrived first; every car drove over
the cat till there was but some loose fur flying in the wind and
48 shooters were pointing at the woman’s front door; local TV
was also present, this was a scoop. 

“Come out lady, we know you are in there, you have tried to
kill one of our officers.” “He shot my cat, she said.“ “We can
see no cat in the road, there is a bit of a tail here but that can
belong to a raccoon, or we’ll throw a stun grenade through
the window, your hair will be a mess and we know you have
been to the hairdresser for a perm this morning, a grenade”
will mess it all up again”

The lady came out, saw me in the doorway and said:
“He is my witness, he saw it all.” 48 blue uniforms and 48
guns glared at me, I shook my head, in denial, made a shrug,
the woman is mad, and closed the door. The judge was lenient,
the lady is middleclass, her husband wear a suit and works in
a bank; he let her off with a caution, smiled and gave her tiny
a kitten, and everyone, in courthouse day, cried and applauded.  

 

Motorway  Driving 

After driving on the new motorway, called autostrada here,
I began to panic; there was endlessness about it no beginning
no end, no exit, I was trapped forever doomed to drive fast
for no reason whatsoever, I began to see spirits of those who
had driven too fast, as holistic beings perpetually repeating
the accident that made them unseen, I heard metal shrieking    
in a heart rendering agony only things made of earth can do,
unlike plastic that is a product of deadness and suffers no pain.
Blood filled my windscreen first as drops, then it became as
tropical rain, a deluge, a river of blood of the innocent and
the guilty, all expendable figures, as we tacitly accept this;
the automobile is power the whole society, all what we are, is
built on this shaky foundation. But we know nothing else and
will continue till the last drop of oil is extracted from the soil.
And as we sink into nihilistic despair the gypsy will continue
his slow progress, cart & horse, across the green landscape of
eternity       

 

Senryu

To live sans regrets?
Possible if your heart is cold
And compassion’s frozen 

 

Haiku

Summer is still here
Hoof it up from noon till five  
As October sleeps    


Haiku

Morning, yet still dark
Daylight hides in the basement 
Thunder rules O.K.

 

Senryu

When Castro was young
Few cars drove on Cuba’s roads
Still driving though. 

Rendezvous

Cloudy, with rain, New York in October; dusk I stood outside
Radio City Music Hall and waited for no one in particular.
Jack Dempsey was walking by he had a strong masculine face,
smiled to everyone, which made sense, as everybody knew him,
beside him walked Alan Ladd, a tiny man with a big man’s face. 

I felt like an inhabited, lonely island in a stream, “Hemingway?”
“No, not at all, and let me finish. A sea of people parted in front of
me joined up again, as a mighty river behind me that flowed down
the sidewalk reaching a group of excited, people,
clicking cameras and flashlight that lit up even the faces of the notorious.

And there was Marilyn walking towards me, but as she came so
near that I could touch her; I was pushed aside by rude journalists
who shouted silly questions at her:
“Are you getting married?
Who’s your latest boyfriend?”

I was her boyfriend, we had a secret understanding.
Marilyn didn’t see me that twilight moment,
but her perfume dreamily swirled around me
as I entered the cinema to see Casablanca  
Epigrams

 

Rome News

The Vatican is a landlord who wants to evict the poor
From their rented homes, so the church can re-rent its
Property to the middles class, at a higher prize; without
The poor, the church is a defunct, a fading irrelevance.    

Berlin News

In Germany each civil servants uses 8 sheets of toilet
Paper a day, with exception of the ministry of defense
There they use 8.8 sheets a day, we can grasp that, but
Why are we being fed this stream of irrelevant news?

Norwegian News

To give Al Gore, a man who didn’t have the stomach
To fight for his presidency, the Nobel Peace Prize was
A populist certainty. But what else can one except of
A country that also gave the prize to Henry Kissinger? 

Existentialistic Epigram 

On the kitchen table a yellow honey melon,
It struck me if I suddenly died, an elliptical
Fruit would be the last thing I saw; so I cut
It in half removed the pips and ate it.  

 
Tanka

The storm had abated
Dark night, no electricity
Heard rattle outside
Reached for my teeth and torch
By the door fall leaves huddled      

 

Epigram

Our democratic leaders tell us to fly less, something
About carbon footprint in the sky; yet they are building
Bigger airport for the anticipated increase in air traffic;  
I think they are ignoring their own sensible advice

 

The Sweet Eaters

Once again
Diwali
is here,
shops are
full of sweets.

No thank
you I can’t
have any;
but in order
to feel
a part of
the festivities
I munched
on a bit of
diabetic chocolate.

Sickly sweet
And it had no
morality
an enemy
of good taste,
guess I will
never be
a Hindu now. 

 

After the Meeting (resentment)

At the AA meeting, my dog, I had taken her with me as support.
looked around and went over to a tall, elegant man with a wave 
of white hair and refined air (I’ve none) and sat there looking up
to him adorningly. On the way home I told her to sit in the back,
this confused her as she usually curls up on the seat beside me.
There was an awkward silence; her ears were up, knew something
was wrong: “So you think I’m bald; let me tell you this; that man
is a doctor and kill people when he’s drunk and perform heart
surgery ” Not addressing the dog directly, but I said no more as
I sounded ridiculous. Back home I drank vodka, with cola light
and ice, the dog had to sleep in outside, on the terrace.  

 

Tanka (Rejection)

Thanks for your poems,
Sorry, we cannot use them
Wish you luck elsewhere,
Even though we strongly doubt it 
No one can be that crazy 

 

Senryu

Over seventy seven
I count the days left of life
Love died years ago.  

Senryu

Old men’s last boast
Telling all how old they are
Words of brave despair

Senryu

They call me Tom here.
People used to call me Sir   
Then I got old


Prince Oskar  

I sat in a smallish café, near the harbour, when two
flunkies came in followed by the queen of Denmark,
who headed straight for the loo; the pair in suits was
guarding the door. When her majesty came back out
she saw me and came over; I kissed her hand it smelt
of the soap for the masses, but when mingling with
her expensive perfume, gave it a brief exclusive air.

We had coffee and spoke of the old days, but a whisper
had blown through the street, people had become aware
of her presence, time for her to leave. When I had read
my papers and asked for the bill, the manager wouldn’t
hear of it, “a friend of the queen it was a great privilege
to have me.” I didn’t tell him I’m Denmark’s best kept
secret, a product of her father’s youthful indiscretion.
      

 

The Long Farewell

We had only met a few days ago, and were in love, had
plans but first she had to go see her father who lived in
another town. At the railways station we kissed again,
she entered the carriage and found a window seat; and
we were waving farewells. Only the train didn’t leave
and our smiles became fixed, one cannot stay there all
day waving. Her eyes strayed to a magazine on her lap,
I took an interest in passers by, but every so often I had
to look up, smile and mouth; “I Love You.” Finally, to
our great relief, the whistle blew, steam engine hissed
and I waved till I was sure she couldn’t see me anymore       

 

The Long Fall

This Indian summer keeps rolling along as
rivers run dry, nature licks morning dew and
asks: “What has happened to the rain of fall?

Autumn without precipitation, the old can
recall that it has occurred before, had it been
a first, we should rightly be deeply worried. 

Rhododendron have red flowers, sky is blue
with fluffy, grazing lambs on, but I do ask:
“Where have the frogs in the dry pond gone? 

Suave is the breeze that blows across the lane,
too urbane to play with dust; it effete strokes
my face, and tells me not to fear the morrow.  

 

Senryu (Valley)

But for the beach
My valley would have been
A deep inland sea 
,,,,,,,,

But for the mountain
My valley would have been
A cacti landscape

,,,,,,,,

But for the widow
My valley would have been
A place of bliss 

,,,,,,,,

But for the old king
I hide in a vale of shame  
As his bastard son

 

Forgetfulness

I have to remember the sentence that just came
floating into my head, I’ll write it down as soon
as I get home, I’ll repeat it a few times, that helps.
Look at that crazy driver! No wonder there are so
many accidents on the roads; I have forgotten
the shopping list. Damn, now I have forgotten that
sentence too. Must remember to have pen and
paper with me at all time, that’s no good you can’t
drive and write at the same time. Totally blank,
just gone, all I can recall is that was the first line
of a four line epigram  

 

Senryu

Borrowed a ladder
Painted the whole house lilac 
Epigram forever lost

 

Tanka

Painted the floor green
Sit in a corner and wait
Quick drying paint
Four hour it says on the can
Where I sit it’s a life time.    

 

Thirsty Cars

Those steep, tiring hills going home, I had been in town
bought a new kitchen sink, the second one in forty years,
nothing lasts, that’s how traders make their ill-gotten
gains. My car was exhausted trailing smoke, to lighten
its burden I alighted walked in front as it followed me
slowly. On a flat stretch it teasingly overtook and drove
in front of me and down a track into a deep ravine where
feral donkeys live and run unlicensed garages I wasn’t in
the mood to play “follow the leader,” so I walked home
past wayside bars where cars guzzled Brazilian cane fuel
and flashed their indicators, I ignored this depravity and
hasted away. Midnight, when my car pulled up outside,
it had lost the kitchen-sink and was splattered in manure
of the long eared members of the horse family.   

 

Mysterious is Love

At the supermarket today I fell in love again. I was standing
there, by the frozen fish, when I looked up and saw her by
the fruit section, weighing a bunch of bananas in her hands;
she sent me a brilliant smiled and I fell instantly in love with
my own image. I thought of Josephine Baker, the famous
dancer, and the mysterious triangle in the Caribbean where
ships and planes suddenly disappears and never seen again.

To be sure her smiled was meant for me, I turned and looked
behind me; a row of milks, on cooling shelves, strawberry,
banana, chocolate, vanilla, melon, apple, blueberry and,
ordinary white milk, a rainbow coalition of milks, all from
the same cud chewing ruminant. Looked back at her, she was
moving away from me, picking up a bottle of washing up liquid;
now she was an ordinary housewife in need of a perm.

Trees on a hill

The pair of hugging trees
looks like lovers, but they resent
each others presence;

meager soil, not much nourishment
around, nature doesn’t take any
prisoners… (off with their heads)   

lately though, one looks healthier
than the other, it is winning this battle
of survival,

but will hold a dead body in its
muscular embrace, till the man with
the chainsaw does his rounds;

usually in winter when trees are
shivering and the foul smell of log fire
drifts their way    

 

Inquisitive Neighbour 

The couple, who have moved into the yellow house by the river
that has been running dry for the last two year, are not young,
late middle age if you ask me, which you will not do as you
don’t know me, because I’m the man, hidden behind a great oak
at the edge of the forest, that is big as I have been relieving myself
up against it for over twenty years, but if they are married they
have not been so very long as the keep kissing and cuddling a lot
when painting the house inside, I only know this because they have
no curtains yet. She, a widow and he a widower who met at
a dance (I’m guessing here) for lonely people, their love was met
with disapproval by their adult children who tend to think they
know what is best for their parents, so they left snow,
frost and cold hearts, came to the Algarve.
Yet they are prisoners of their past, in time their children will come,
there will problem their offspring will be waiting for signs of weakness,
forgetfulness a slurring of words any excuse to send them to an old folks home.
But as for now they are blissfully happy,
but I do wish they will buy curtains, or paint the house’s façade ochre.

  

 
The Perpetual Question

I journeyed through the night wanted to go back to the past and ask my first love a question that had dwelled, if not festered, on my mind for forty years. She was in her sister’s house and looked at me as she didn’t remember, so I introduced myself. “I know who you are, she said,” “but aren’t you a bit old to be traveling so far?” “For you I will journey as long as it takes, I came to ask you a question did you once love me?” Before she could answer her father came in, looking like Prince Philip, and the pair of them left arm in arm. Her brother in law, who wrote about astrology- a friendly man- promised me a great future, this to assuage my distress.

I walked out of the town and came upon a agricultural landscape with fields after fields of carrots, salads, potatoes, broccoli and cabbage, the farmer, it belonged to, told me he once had a herd of 120 prime milking cows, but had turned vegetarian because of mans cruelty to animals, he had had them slaughtered and put in a mass grave where
a carpet of soft greenness grew, grazed by no one, but happy bunnies.
 
I met my beloved again, in a bar, she was in a better mood and alone; I was about to ask her my perennial question; when a small, blond woman came between us and said “I have loved you all my life, but you don’t even know where I live!” Ignored her turned to my first love again, but her face was in  deep shadows, she was fading fast; I concentrated hard, but couldn’t bring her back, but I knew the answer and it saddened me greatly.

The bus driving back to my own time was leaving, the little blond woman came with me,
but as we journeyed she got older and older, when we arrived she was so ancient and couldn’t get off the bus.
The driver, a man with kind eyes and philosophical beard, whom I had seen in many disguises before, promised to drive her back wench she came. I had no ring to give her, gave her a shiny euro coin. When she looks at the coin and wonder where it came from
she will realize that I never loved her. She will sigh deeply; perhaps even blubber into her hankie and marry someone else. 

    

 

The Autumnal

The trees, in the park, that bears lilac flowers and look
pretty in summers, are shedding their ochre leaves.
It is November but summer is still clinging on, a losing
battle, shakily pale in the morning, gather strength and
throw masculine heat about at noon, but pales after three
blending in with autumnal evensong.

I picked up a handful of leaves they felt soft and rich by
the touch, should I take some home, better not they will
end up on my bookshelf, curl up dry and die; reminding
me of years spent on iron decks in the company of men
who spoke of nothing but the last whore they had had in
some harbour hotel.

And I had stayed away from family and friends so long
that when I came home there was no one left, I was alone
walking in streets that resented my company.         

  

A Sunday Moment

A large white butterfly with round markings,
like eyes, on its wings, will that be enough to
keep predatory sparrows at bay? It sat on
a rhododendron twig looking pretty amongst
wine red flowers. November, this butterfly
really has no business being here even though
the day is warm as a day in May; I ought to
catch it with my wife’s hairnet stick a needle
through it tiny heart and display it in a glass
on the mantelpiece where it will look sad, out
of place and remind me of my own mortality.
My, butterfly blessed you are not looking like
a common fly or worst of all a cockroach;
so fly off now before the sparrows see you