Poem Collection
by Jan Oskar Hansen

The Hangman

The gate leading into my motherís
weed infested garden had an arched
wooden beam above, she called it
a portal. As a child I was morbidly
gripped with death, often wondered
how it would feel like being on
the other side of life. One day, when
the other children in the street had
gone biking (didnít have one and
felt sorry for myself) sitting astride
the gate, I threw a rope across the beam,
made a noose and put it around my
neck, then the gate swung open, as
pushed by evil hands and I fell off.
The beam broke hit me over the head
knocked me unconscious. Woke up
trying to remember what I had seen.
Nothing. Had to invent a picture and
it resembled a tuck shop. Told mother
that St. Peter was giving away sweets
for free, she didnít believe me and was
cross because I had broken the beam.
Wonder what she would have said if she
had found me hanging from her portal.


The Cuckoo

Listen to the cuckoo sing
an early morning in April.
Cheeky bird, lovely voice,
plants, its eggs in other birds
nests and let them do parental
work. The female cuckoo is
a tart, its mate a careless
father. A flighty, flirty pair
they are, but thrill and charm
us with a pretty song.


First I Need...

It had been a long turbulent night
the morning was grim, peed into
the kitchen sink while reflecting
upon life. In running cold water
I washed my grey blob of a face,
no need to dress had slept in my
only suit. Muddy shoes the bed is
a mess. Enough of this vicious life
call A.A or the pleasant people at
the Salvation Army, anyone who is
willing to give you tea and empathy.
Sure Iíll ring but first I need a drink.


Fog

The heaven is depressed and
trees have to act as pillars to
prop it up. A sullen grey mass,
Neither day nor night, dripping
melancholy silencing birds.
Roofs in the village collapses
on by one, heavenís sorrow to
much to bear. Life is standing
still, the morning has lasted
for hours according to the alarm
clock on the shelf, which I call
a mantelpiece when feeling
domestic. And where is the sun?
it usually able to give the heaven
a mighty jolt. Anyway I can hear
the bread van, blaring horn, noisy
gear changes and blazing light,
fresh loaf and Danish pastry will
do wonders while waiting for
the fog to lift.


I Spy...

The dream is to be a spy, play
a double role, Iím used to that.
always watch the summary of
sport news on the TV, only so
I can go to the barber without
feeling inferior. Iím a dramatic
actor too the way I enthuse about
sport stars I have just learned
the name of.

The dream is to be an industrial
spy; steal the plan of a new type
of shoe from a big manufacturer
and give the plan to the struggling
shoemaker in the next valley for
exchange of a pair of high heeled
cowboy boots. Always liked
high heels used to walk around in
motherís until my feet got too big.

Iron heeled boots are fine too for
when I feel soldierly and dream of
being a battle scarred general, not
as often as before though have lost
my fascination with hostile toys.
Footwear is my downfall when I
spray-painted my shoes yellow,
green and red my girlfriend left me,
said I was a queer...A spy Iím


Saturday Night

My conversation with God is
one sided, I do the talking.
When I stop, a yawn rumbles
through the galaxy and God
falls asleep, under a blanket
made of bludgeoned baby
seals souls and the unnerving,
lone tune of eternity begins.


Sex

When you have performed
cunnilingus till the root of
your tongue aches and she
still hasn't had an orgasm,
then sex gets to be boring.


City Lights

From the sea afar I saw
the alluring city lights,
they promised sweet
wine and hot embraces.
A moth I was helplessly
drawn towards my doom.
When I, in the merciless
luminescence of dawn,
walked back to my ship
I regretted my weakness
and made a fraudulent
promise to my conscience.


The Lady

A lady from Macau came into my cafť
those who say that oriental faces are
inscrutable have not met a Chinese lady.
Shiny jet-black hair, love and life etched
into corners of her beautiful, dark eyes.
A green orb of fire, a halo of strength,
looks forty-five, but I think she's fifty.
Was going to offer her Danish pastry, but
then her husband came in, he loves her too.


Haiku

Transient beauty
Like buds on an almond tree
Petals in the wind.


The Space

The room is bare only a chair
in a corner, still warm from
the woman who sat there; she
wonít be back. The room is silent,
stuffy needs airing, a faint aroma
of perfume lingers; curtain less
window and grey dust on sill.
Walls, once white, now smoky
yellow, white squares where
family pictures used to hang.
I close the door it creaks, a last
fear ridden dissent and leave
the room to its own sadness.


Still Water

A light breeze kisses a mountain lake,
a ripple of delight . So deep felt is
the caress that the lake undulates long
after the breeze has gone.


Iím Not Impressed

My great grandfather was a general
but Iíve got wings they are at ease
today which is a relief the night is
murky and it rains.

I only fly at nights donít want to spook
neighbours they have got shotguns and
are a trigger happy lot especially if they
think that Iím a condor.

If Iím wing-shot, say, and fall onto
A green meadow how to tell them that
Iím an angel grounded by the Almighty
after defying his limitless powers?

With diamond studded scissors he
clipped the tip of my wings and sent
me back to earth (that was fifty years
ago they have grown full size now.)

I like to fly summer nights, winters too
cold have to wear a woolly overcoat with
holes in which hampers my graceful
flight and feathers fall of wings

Iím the shadow that lightly obstruct
the moon and gently caress your face
when you look up and see a fallen
angel that loves mankind.

My great grandfather was a general
kicked to death by his own horse,
the family still talk about him with
hushed awe...Me, Iím not impressed.


Train Station

We have said our goodbyes,
the train, leaving at half past
eight, is a bit delayed...long
pauses nothing more to say.
We look everywhere but at
each other, fumble for my
keys which I know are in my
left jacket pocket. A whistle,
a jolt the train leaves we look
at each other smile and wave.


The Last One

Try to dress with care, press my
only suit and polish dusty shoes
for the funeral of my last friend.
Canít find a mournful tie spray-
paint a yellow one black while
thinking of the silly way he had
died; drowning in his own vomit.
Mind it would have been worse
if it had been someone elseís.
Try a wry smile...fail. Only a few
will attend the ceremony, drunks
got few friends and I will have to
help carry the coffin and thatís Ok.
"A nice bloke when sober, a very
funny bloke when half drunk and
a bloody nuisance when pissed."
His epitaph. My own loneliness is
a steppe cold wind that grasps at
my heart, he was the last one now
Iíll have to drink alone.


Village Life.

Peace in the village was shattered
by a womanís hysterical cries, her
drunken husband had thrown her
out and locked the door.

From every house women came
surrounded the abused and gave
her comfort till she sobbed with
ease and told them what he had done.

Someone gave her a bed for the night
and the village sighed, dogs, greatly
disturbed, kept barking for a while but
eventually they too fell asleep.

Next morning she was back preparing
her husbandís breakfast dutiful wife
as she is and nothing more was said,
at least is not in public.

A week later, by the water well, peels
of female laughter, the type that can make
a man blush, the offended one was showing
off her necklace and matching earrings.


Wonder.

On the calm water in
a fiord four nuns and
their stern abbess sat
in a boat an afternoon

The sky and the sea
mirroring each other
fell so madly in love
that they merged.

Four nuns and their
abbess steering clear
of clouds vanished
into a heavenly light.


Fearless.

She stood in the open doorway
smoking a cigarette, her face
pale, but her lips were deep red.

She wore a butcherís apron and
from a knife in her right hand
dark blood dripped.

She inhaled slowly blew smoke
rings into the air she had nothing
to be afraid of anymore.


A Cat

A mouse chased by a tomcat,
stopped and said: "Iím a cat
too only smaller than you, so
letís stop this running around,
live in peace and harmony"
While the cat ate the mouse it
struck him, for a moment that,
perhaps he was a cannibal?
Nae, we cats got furry tails.


Familiar Noises

Itís been raining, no dogs bark
yet, the afternoon is sepia and
subdued. The freezer hums and
the kitchen tap drips, everyday
dins I that normally not notice
are welcome now after a dizzy
spell, helplessly shaken and
terrorised by cruel chest pain.

Mother sparrow is coming out
from under a roof tile and loudly
thrills keeping other birds away.
Can hear her fledglings incessant
peeping, she and her mate have
busy weeks ahead of them. My
brow is damp after the attack and
their commotion gives me comfort.


Haiku

Iím a candle
You are the wick of my life
Together we dissolve.

Iím you fantasy
Together we give birth to dreams
Our perpetuity.

A parasolís wide branch
Casts shadow on a white wall
Your face is hidden.


A National Hero

Here lies a pretentious poet
who wrote so well about his
nation that everyone waved
flags and gladly went to war
and lost, but that was not our
poets fault.


Sunday Forenoon

From the open terrace door sunlight
splashed onto the floor, so hard that
dust arose whirled around a bit and
settled more or less whence arisen.
The light didnít reach the inner room
where it was semi dark and a man,
on a sofa, fully dressed except for
shoes awoke. When he got up and
closed the door, dust did its ritual
closed eyed dance, unseen but for
a cat, curled up on a chair, watching
damp footprints. The man, back on
his sofa, lit a cigarette looked for
an ashtray didnít see one and used
an empty teacup instead. Inhaled
greedily stared at nothing, rubbed
his feet together... yawned, crushed
the butt into the cup, lay back tried
to sleep, but that wasnít easy, Ďcause
a restive silence buzzed in his head.


The Andes.

Up the steep slope the old locomotive
hissed tugging wagons of useless gods
to a forsaken mining village on a bleak
plateau that had nothing to offer but
thin air a metropolitan sized cemetery,
full of workers that had been promised
gold and an enormous indifferent sky.

Then the steam train ran out of coal and
began a backward descent, faster and
faster till it jumped its track and ended
in a deep abyss, when granite crunch
steal it makes a terrific noise the echo
of doom reverberated till it drowned
in a lazy river by the mountains foot.

In the silence that followed one could
Hear, from the conductor transistor radio,
an operatic song " You are my love...
forever weíll be together..." The driver,
who had jumped clear, was greatly
relived hearing this song, thinking of
his wife, children and the long walk home.


Teddy Bears

They are demolishing the old terraced
houses by the docks giving way to
something modern. Gaping holes in
walls workers gone home for the day
I can see an upstairs bedroom faded
wallpaper of smiling teddy bears, grey
now but still smiling. I can imagine
that the child that once lived there was
a boy (what do I know about little girls)
and that he had dreams of greatness,
fireman or a brave soldier, as it is he
ended up working at the nearby factory
made redundant early, unemployed till
he reached retirement age, both betrayed
by and a betrayer of childhood dreams.
A grumpy old man who drinks morning
tea at a Formica table when not sitting
watching TV and sinking into apathy.
The picture box, that great pacifier, more
people would have been out in streets
shouting slogans demanding justice and
democracy for all (meaningless words,
vague and not understood) if it hadnít
been for TV. Anyway itís raining, itís
cold and who wants to go out and meet
other losers. Money is the problem he
could have done so many thing if he only
had a windfall, buys lottery tickets every
week...nothing. You never have luck,
his wife says, while smoking yet another
cigarette...She always says that and it
always makes him angry knowing sheís
right. Happy teddy bears he remembers
them, but it doesnít make any difference
they too end up on the scrap heap of life,
just like the rest of us.


The North

On the polluted slacks
a majestic skeleton of
a ship arises, waits for
high tide so she can
weigh anchor and set
sail on a short voyage
from strife torn Jarrow
to Amsterdam. On her
bridge the master sees
the river Tyne expand
followed by amber dusk
that erases contours of
industrial decline and
makes the slacks into
a dreamy waterscape.
When night has settled
and fine rain hangs in
tired air, she has sailed.


Sun Tan

Fair lady
Godiva
On her bike
Wanted
A dark tan.
Pedalled
Up and down
The lane
Oblivious of
Passers by.
When she was
Done and
The sun gone
She had
A heart shaped
Spot on
Her bum.


Adoption

We had seen a baby girl we wanted
to adopt, went to the people who
deal with these things, filled out
a bundle of forms."... You are a
hospital porter and your wife what
does she do?" She works as a part
time cleaner" Two nice ladies came
to inspect our modest high rise flat,
thought the babyís room too small,
but told my wife how clean it was.
Then they told us that a famous
television star and his new bride had
adopted our child, we saw them in
a glossy magazine she held the baby
and he held around her, both smiled
brilliantly telling the world how
happy they were. (That was then, they
are divorced now) my wife cried and
said. "They have stolen our baby."
The people, who deal with adoption,
told us to be patient and wait. Yes, we
waited so long that in the end they told
us weíre too old. My wife doesnít cry
anymore.


The Gang Of six.

Four of us and Snowy makes five,
standing under an portico, that leads
into a disused warehouse. Usually
we are a gang of six, but Peter is away
this week, trying to get sober paces
his bed-sit till he screams in despair and
joins us again. A police car drives by
shiny buttons smile patronisingly, we
return the smile and the wretched day
falsely part clouds and beams.

Snowy passes our bottle around heís
large idiot man who doesnít need
a drink, we are his only friends. Count
our money enough to buy two bottles
of 60%, but we are known faces at
the monopoly, our townís only outlet,
they wonít give us any. Those who
need booze canít get it, like banks,
they only give you a loan if you donít
need one and we are getting desperate.

The trick is to find a friendly bloke tell
him a sob story and get him to go buy
the stuff, followed by Snowyís ominous
shadow just in case he gets any funny ideas.
Near closing time we find a responsive
soul just as well empty bottle and silence.
The evening is safely wrapped. Next day
is bank holiday everything closed, a hell
of a day for drunks doomed to live in one
of Norwayís malicious little towns.


Haiku

Sun dries small footsteps
On the pond lilies tremble
My sonís, last summer.

Motherís sunny smile
Forever in a frame of spring
She sang me lullabies.


Implements

A rake and spade lean against
a lemon tree, its fruits are
beacon on misty blue.
Rain trickles down wooden
shafts, the lawn sighs as does
the gardener when glancing
through yesterdays newspaper.


The Day Nothing Happened

Carl, Eric and I sat on a storm fallen tree, on
an elevation overlooking our townís shunting yard.
Mars and the sun was warming us, not just hanging
about being pale and insipid. Birds were busy picking
tiny twigs ready to do be a part of the endless cycle
of reproduction. While sitting there and feeling
at ease with the world shunting a bottle of vodka
between us Carl got so overwhelmed that he began
crying talking about his little boy his ex wife wouldnít
let him see and about Jesus. Eric and I ignored him
and talked "If" politics setting the world to right.
When the bottle was empty and we had drunk
the beer we had in a bag, weíre tired and walked
down to the yard, climbed into a nearly empty
goods wagon and went to sleep.
Later a guard awoke us told
us to get lost ...and weíre in another nameless town.
Walking around this awful place we came across
a corner shop that sold beer. The grocer wouldnít sell
us any since it was after six oíclock, but we kept staring
at him till he relented. Followed a disused rail-track
till we found workman hut broke open itís lock and
settled for the night. Awoke early Carl wasnít there
but outside asleep with his head on a track waiting for
a train that would never come. Eric and I cheered
him up gave him the two last bottles of beer.
Since it was morning and the same birds appeared
to be picking the same tiny twigs we began walking
home. Carl having survived
a suicide attempt was cheerful told us daring stories
about himself, tales he had wanted to tell his little son,
which we didnít believe a word of, yet entertaining and
the good sun warmed our backs.


The Berg.

The house of my childhood was
a sepia seeping place with a back
yard full of rats breeding as fast
as the humans who lived there.

The house was near a berg that
had a chasm like a half smile,
I used to hide there when wanting
to be alone, planning my escape.

Twenty adults and children sharing
one loo, a bathroom, my mother
explained was for rich people she
used cleaned one when in service.

The berg was not a mountain only
a big rock, now dynamited to give
way to progress, crushed memories
not even the very old remembers it.


The Army Man

Sixteen years in the forces
honourable discharge, sergeant
stripes and Silver Star.
Found life in a mundane world
complex, paying bills, buying food
which the army had done for him.
Lost his credit rating, and without
civilian discipline couldnít hold
down the lowly jobs offered.
Tried to reenlist but the army
wouldnít have him this time...
too old at thirty eight.
Depression and booze did the rest.
Now he is a drifter with a silver star
pinned to his old combat jacket.
No one needs an old soldier.


The Lobby In Washington

When Hitlerís horde invaded
Norway in 1940 my father blew
up a train, they shot him for that
calling him a terrorist disturbing
an otherwise quiet occupation.
Mind, he was a communist and
was never given a posthumously
medal after the war, when flags
snapped in Mayís breeze and
everyone claimed to have been
a daring freedom fighter.

I think of the brave, condemned
people in the ghetto of Warsaw
who stood up against a mighty
foe and kept the ogre at bay for
days. I think of Palestine and her
betrayed people called terrorists
by a powerful enemy, but Iíve to
be careful and not voice my protest
loudly, otherwise the cynical, who
play the holocaust card will call me
an anti-Semitic opponent of Israel.


My Brotherís Wife.

My brother, the warrior, died on
a distant battlefield. His wife sleeps
in the garden tonight on a blanket
by the pond, sheís my woman now.
Gave herself to me but for her heart
and a memory that canít be erased,
when natureís war thundered overhead.
In moonlight sheís a statue of ebony
with a Janusí mask of hidden longings
She dreams and smiles, a beam from
a heart full of love for her warriorís
shadow, as clouds drift passed the moon.
Awakes when the fiend, in the nursery,
cries. I have seen those eyes before and
know that my brother will never die.


Fame.

Cameras clicked,
Flashing lights,
I drowned in
The totality of
Adulation.
The front page
Of a newspaper
Carried my
Picture, smiling
Without any
Hesitation.
Alone in
A hotel room
I couldnít find
Myself and
Despaired.
The loneliness
Was now
Unbearable.


Dream In the Afternoon

Laying on a bed of late blooming
flowers and yellow straws I looked
up and studied clouds formations.
Europe, The Far East and America
were linking fluffy arms with
The Middle East as they drifted
indolently across a UN blue sky.

Then, in the undergrowth a snake
hissed, startled I got up, the breeze
had a deep chill within, clouds where
now military hostile and uniformly
grey drifting miles apart. On field
long legged sheep grazed unaware as,
always, that fall is slaughtering time.


What Some Call Love

You are no longer here gone to
the wilderness of melancholy, to
the undergrowth of abusive love
where tiger claws are poisoned
with a craving for total submission.

I will not follow you there where
love is brutalised and chained to
basement walls, where the sunlight
of spring cannot reach in the bleak
dungeon of sick minds

If you are able to release yourself
from the shackles of masochism
I will show you where the nascent
of the river love begins and together
we will see the birth of rainbows.


...And Then Rain Stopped

Iím standing under an awing sheltering from
the rain, drops, clear as glass-pearls, the type
given to the innocent of the jungle, in exchange
for expensive fleece, drip from the awingís border
merge with dirty water on the pavement, forming
an antís Amazonís mighty flood, runs into
the gutter and down a sewer were hydrophobic
rats try to escape a watery death. Coarse fur and
scabby tails despised by man occasionally get
revenge by carrying the plague. Empty street only
a parked car that inside looks like a waste bin.
Shuttered windows in the building across the street
, but for one where an old lady sits and waits for her
relatives who will not come in her lifetime.
She doesnít read or watch TV, just sit there and
gets smaller every year, waits for a knock on the door
or for her heart to flicker and stop like the burnt out
candle that she is. The rain stops and biblical clouds
part, sunlight floods the street and a river of light
runs down the sewer, were a family of the unspeakable lick
grey fur and clean narrow faces, for a moment not
fearing man. The old lady doesnít see the sun she
doesnít see anything, not even the ancient wall paper
or pictures of those long since dead and there sheíll
sit getting transparent till someone breaks down her
front door.


Born to Fly

If I were a bird I would have golden
dandruff on my wings, sleep on Mars
and lick frost of stars. Fly down to
earth, sit by a childís bedside and tell
a story "Mama, last night I spoke to
an angel" The childís mother will smile,
and think that her son was fantasising
yet again.

Or transform myself into a shiny black
wing flapping vulture walk beside
a drunk till he promised not to drink and
treat his harassed wife well.

If I were a bird I would live inside a pink
cloud; join the angelsí choir till I got so
bored that I wished god would come and
pulverize their bloody harp and strike
them dumb.

Come to think of it, if I really, really were
a bird I would live in fear of man pluck my
feathers off hide my wings in the cupboard
and live inside a business suit.


The Garden

Heavenly water has transformed my garden
from a dusty square to an enchanted Eden,
where white doves have sprinkled musical
notes on a carpet of minaret gold

The romantic asked, " Is my lover here?" and
cried morning dew. The amorous, absorbed
the gardens beauty till rosesí petals curled in
horror and its pond shrunk to a stagnant puddle.

Doves left in droves when city pigeons came
ducks quacked and took flight on clumsy wings.
The incurable sighed scattered wholemeal crumbs
into muddy water and thought of suicide.