Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Bastard Tree


Our local poetry group, 'Guernsey Poets', has an open mic evening once a month. This evening's event was themed 'Trees'. Initially I thought about writing a poem on the beauty of trees or the horrific impact of deforestation or even the importance of trees as the lungs of the Earth but as I was putting pen to paper a vivid memory of a particular tree came to mind.

As a young Captain I was lucky enough to serve in Belize (Central America). I spent some time working in the Jungle near the Guatemalan border. It was here that I first met a tree, known colloquially as the Bastard Tree. The following poem explains all;

The Bastard Tree

‘The path knows to avoid me
It skirts my trunk as if to flee.
Its muddy course bending round
my fallen leaves upon the ground.

The steep slopes I enjoy the most
as better vistas they do boast.
It’s here I get a chance to play
a little game upon my prey.

My trunks a mass of needled spikes
A bit like ancient soldiers pikes.
I’ll catch anyone who deigns to touch
and they won’t like it very much.

Here he comes; his feet are slipping
my unseen roots prepare to trip him.
He reaches out to stop the fall
And that is when I hear him call.’

‘BASTARD TREE.’
‘Yep that’s me….’

John Carré Buchanan
18 May 2011

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Bush Pilot



I had dinner with some friends last night. One of them is a pilot working for Mission Aviation Fellowship. (His blog can be found here; Biggles Abroad I so admire the work he does I thought I would pen a little something to honour it.

The Bush Pilot

They wait.
Keen eyes search the horizon
hoping for a glint of reflected sunlight.
Sharp ears filter the sounds of the bush
listening for the distant drone -
that heralds his coming.

This lifeline,
remains open where others have failed.
Some barred by conflict
others closed by weather, disasters or
just – too far from wealth,
and so he comes.

Transforming lives.
Bringing help, hope and love.
Flying people to safety.
Delivering food, medicine, equipment,
insight and encouragement
to those that need it.

Excitement soars,
a silvery light in the heavens,
approaches like an angel.
Dust, hopes and cheers rise
as the wheels touch the red earth
and the bush pilot steps down.

John Carré Buchanan
24 May 2011


Dedicated to the Pilots and Support Staff of MAF.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Call

video

This poem is about my love for the Island I call home. It takes the listener through the four seasons of what I believe is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

The final verse is inspired by a line from the musical ‘Bard in the Hand’ by Ken Fletcher. It tells the story of a young Sarnian* who left the Island in search of fame and fortune in Shakespeare’s Globe. Ken wrote the lyric;

“Wherever we may roam; Sarnia always calls us home.”

Guernsey’s population is only around 67,000, despite this I have met Sarnians in Hong Kong, the USA, Australia and within the Arctic Circle, not to mention a good few in between. We are truly a nation of wanderers.

Given the opportunities the rest of the world has to offer it is perhaps surprising that so many of us return to the Island to settle down.

Perhaps, given our connection with the sea Guernsey has its own Sirens calling its wondering mariners back onto the rock.

*For those of you that are wondering; ‘Sarnia’ is the Roman name for Guernsey and Guernsey people are called Sarnians.

The Call

Ragged granite sentinels tear at the hearts of the huge Atlantic rollers driven in by the gale.
White horses charge towards the shore, spume flying from their manes.
A thunderous roar heralds their approach, and then, the deep muffled thump as the foaming mass explodes against the stone wall.
Spray is hurled into the churning grey sky before falling back in a sheet which covers the road and the wall, again and again.

The mournful sound of the fog horn breaks through the shroud of fog which lingers on the morn.
Water chuckles gleefully in the douit which runs beside the narrow lane as it flows to the sea.
The Fog burns off, Primrose, Bluebell and Buttercup bejewel the hedgerow and ducklings paddle in the shallow water.
Birdsong fills the quiet valley as migrant and resident alike celebrate new life in harmony.

Narrow paths thread through the undergrowth, clinging to the rugged cliffs.
Campion, Thrift and Gorse abound, their colours, a riot amongst the myriad of greens which clothe the steep slopes.
Here and there outcrops of granite adorned with splashes of Lichen erupt from the Bracken to bask in the warm sun.
Heady scents, vibrant colours, the sound and taste of the sea and the touch of the warm sun assail the senses.

The Jewels of the hedgerows and cliffs have faded as the bracken and trees rust.
Now they bear treasures of a different kind as Blackberry, Rosehip and Sloe are picked by beak and hand alike.
Fallen leaves litter the paths and lanes and smoke from the bonfires drifts on the cool air.
Hedgehog, Field Mouse and the distant church bell celebrate the festival of harvest as the nights close in.

There I stand in the busy airport, eyes closed, listening.
From far away, across the ocean, I hear a call,
A call I once was told would come;
For no matter where I roam, Sarnia always calls me home.

John Carré Buchanan
06 June 2010

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Le Guet


Le Guet

Grandpa often took us to Le Guet,
Those are days I won’t forget,
For hidden there amongst the trees
We lived many boyhood fantasies.

He used to walk once round the wood
whilst Mark and I played Robin Hood.
Then he’d stand a while and watch us swing,
As if we were the Jungle King.

And then he sat atop the watch tower,
whilst we took on a ‘super power’
and scaled the ladders deep within;
without a care for life or limb.

With sticks and needles we’d build our dens
and hide away from all our friends,
and all the while he’d sit up there
and at the rugged coastline stare.

And now in turn I sit and stare,
and breath the beautiful fresh sea air.
I watch the waves wash on the shore
And think of all those years before.

John Carré Buchanan
19 June 2010

'Image courtesy of VisitGuernsey'

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Pebble


I have just returned home from the Guernsey Literary Festival. Four days of excellent workshops, readings and camaraderie. The last event I attended was a poetry reading in a cafe where those that had attended the festival were invited to read some of their work.

Searching through my book I could not decide what to read, until I put my hand in my pocket...

The Pebble

The little pink pebble
Was found on a beach
It lives in my pocket
My thoughts to impeach.

Created in fire
at the dawn of the earth
It cooled to granite
With much bigger girth

It was covered with algae
When life first began,
It saw off the dinosaurs
and the ascent of man,

The rough granite texture
Has been smoothed with time
its Feldspar and quartz
Give off a faint shine.

My existence is shorter
Than this tiny stone’s
and it will be here when
I’m nought but bones

With hand in my pocket
Its cool form I feel
It gently reminds me
My life is for real.

When I feel down
As I often do
I touch its smooth surface
And admire the view

When I am low
and life’s not worth a damn
It’s touch hits my thoughts,
Like a battering ram

Think of those things
that bring me great joy
of being a Father
or when I was boy

Or think I’ll grow rich
And drive a nice car
I Let it remind me
We are who we are

A negative thought
Like; “it’s been a crap day”
can turn to remembering
a romp in the hay.

There’s always a friend
To give me advice
but my little pebble
will always suffice.

So remember this poem
When next you're alone
bend to the ground
and get your own stone.

John Carré Buchanan
23 June 2010

Friday, 13 May 2011

Truths


One of the techniques I have learnt for dealing with negative thoughts is described in the poem below;

The idea is that you hold a picture of a stream in your mind and allow leaves to fall on to the water and drift downstream. As each leaf passes you imagine placing a troublesome thought on it and watch the leaf and the thought drift away. Sometimes the leaves stick for a while as if caught in a small eddy, but eventually they will slip onward along with the water and from your mind.

This technique has often helped me to reverse a slide into depression. I will not lie, it takes practice, but it does work.

It helps if you know that; Thoughts are not Facts. You are probably thinking; ‘what is this guy on?’ but think about it. You can worry about a negative, unhelpful or harmful thought and end up so stressed that physical changes occur in your body. Alternatively you could think rationally about how to deal with the problem and reduce the impact on your body. You might also be able to think about something different and avoid getting wound up completely. (This is not the best approach if something has to be done.)

Consider this example; “I think I have Cancer.” Now think that over and over again and you are going to end up worried. Now try “I don’t like the look of that lump, it’s probably nothing but I better go to the doctor and have it checked.” The third approach ‘Time for another Ice-Cream”, is not particularly helpful in this instance. By changing from the first thought to the second thought your stress levels are much more likely to be lower and you end up getting a diagnosis. Remember; Thoughts are NOT facts. Now for the poem;

Truths

Chrystal clear water glides past,
gentle eddies swirl,
light dances,
constant, beautiful.

A leaf falls,
laden with a thought,
it drifts, rocking,
twisting, bobbing,
carrying its load onwards.

Watching the stream
leaves slip past;
the mind returns to the water,
clear and calm.

Sometimes a leaf catches
its thought fused,
holding the mind,
stopping the flow,
obscuring the truth.

Let the leaf go,
note the difference
between a thought and having a thought,
and you’ll realise;
thoughts aren’t facts.

John Carré Buchanan
11 December 2010

Sounds of Water - Petit Bot


Sounds of Water - Petit Bot

The sun blazes down
warming the granite stones
at the top of the beach
on which I sit.

An onshore breeze
drives the surf in.
Here you can hear Neptune’s pulse
crashing on the golden sand.

The roar of the surf
dominates the bay,
all other sound obscured,
as the ocean roars in.

Yet, step back
lie on the grassy bank
and listen to fresh water tumble
under the café.

It has a softer roar
but more sustained,
as if not needing
to take breath.

Here water nymphs
dance their day away.
Their joyful voices
begging the cool water to stay.

The distant pulse pervades
“Come…. Come…”
and once again
the water hurries on toward the bay.

John Carré Buchanan
10 May 2011

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Where The Sea Meets The Clouds - (Turmoil)


Having been through a rough patch recently the last few days have been brighter.

I was thinking about this earlier, trying to establish what had changed. Initially I assumed that having left the rat race I am now devoting more time to pain management and consequently living with pain is becoming easier.

I pondered this for a while, aware that it was true, but there was something missing. It was then that I remembered a poem I wrote in 2003 and I found my answer.

Where The Sea Meets The Clouds
(Turmoil)


Wind tears at my coat as I stand on the cliff top watching the clouds advance,
the swirling grey mass, now no higher than the cliff itself, draws the steel grey sea upward,
upward until it merges with the sky in a seething mass of grey.
Closer at hand rain squalls lash the boiling sea, which shatters on the jagged rocks below.

The wind hurls its sodden load in my face and I turn for home.
Hearing a cry from above, I look up to where a gull battles the wind,
as I watch it struggle it’s obscured by the deepening gloom,
Head down, I press on.

The cold grey wall draws nearer, obscuring everything,
Stop….. look….. No, not everything,
out there on the left, a silver light dancing on the sea,
and beyond it, the horizon is clear, for those who wish to see it.

John Carré Buchanan
November 2003

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Icart Tea Gardens


I wrote this poem sitting in one of my favourite places. A secluded tea garden, lovingly coaxed into existence, near the top of some of the most spectacular cliffs in Guernsey.

Icart Tea Gardens

Blue ceiling,
Green walls,
Soft music,
Tranquillity.

Gentle breeze,
Busy Bees,
Verdant leaves,
Bird song.

Strident Echium,
Pink Campion,
Towering Blackthorn,
White Oleria.

Gentle murmurs,
China clinks,
Buttered Gâche,
Great Ice-Cream.

John Carré Buchanan
10 May 2011

Monday, 9 May 2011

6A


We are often too busy to stop and look around and actually observe life. When I used to travel a lot there were frequently delays and all too often I would getting frustrated and wound up.

On the rare occasion that I was not rushing to get to the next meaningless event in my life, I would just sit back and watch the world go by. This is something I do a lot more of nowadays, I wish I had taken the time to do more of it back then.

6A

Old lady in front of me
with purple hair aglow.
Young man beside her
a face I think I know.

School girls sharing homework,
mild panic in their eyes.
Businessmen on Blackberries
yet to wear their ties.

The bell up front sounds again
and “High Viz” brushes past.
How I love this people watching
It’s really quite a blast.

John Carré Buchanan
30 August 2010

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Train Trip

video

Train Trip

There are no trains in Guernsey, but I have always found traveling in them interesting. 

The views you get within the cities and towns are always so candid as the rails tend to run behind factories and houses giving insights into what goes on behind the facade.

Once out in the country it is a case for sitting back and letting the world flash by, and perhaps doing a little people watching.

John Carré Buchanan
09 October 2010

Senses


Senses

I’ve seen sunlight glint on mountain tops
and in the oceans deep
and through a verdant canopy
I saw night’s diamonds peep.

I’ve seen lions on the plains of Africa
and a herd of galloping steeds,
and a moot of wheeling starlings
looking to roost among the reeds.

I’ve heard many a dawn chorus
and waves crash on beach,
and the rumble of a kitten’s purr
like thunder out of reach.

I’ve felt the cool breeze kiss my skin
and rain trickle down my face,
the sharp prick of a rose’s thorn
reminds me of its grace.

I’ve tasted the sweetness of a strawberry,
and fresh lemon from a tree,
the salt bourn on the ocean’s breeze
is like a tonic to me.

I’ve smelt Jasmine on the evening air
and spices in a market,
the scent of the tropics after rain
I’ll bear till I’m in my casket.

How can these memories all be lost
when I’m at last departed?
I’d like to think that by some grace
my journey’s only started.

John Carré Buchanan
03 January 2011

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