Teddy Bears

a poem by Jan Oskar Hansen

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 hadn’t been for TV.
Anyway it’s raining, it’s 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 she’s right.
Happy teddy bears he remembers them,
but it doesn’t make any difference
they too end up on the scrap heap of life,
just like the rest of us.