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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

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Happy Christmas everyone. I hope that you all have a peaceful Christmas day with your families and friends.

I would particularly like to wish members of the British Armed Forces whether serving in the UK or on Operations a very merry Christmas. My thoughts are with you and your families over this Christmas period.

I have written the following poem as a gentle reminder as to the meaning of Christmas, I hope you like it.

Christmas

Holy child born in stable,
modern family gorge at table.
Ox and ass the new king hosted,
Poor old turkey stuffed and roasted.
Gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh,
the ‘must-have’ gadget, for him and her.
A star and angels proclaimed his birth;
now Commerce plugs for all its worth.
This child, born in a manger,
is for most a total stranger.
He came to Earth to save our souls;
not to give us winter hol’s.
So take time on this holy day
To remember Christ – It is his day.

John Carré Buchanan
24 December 2012

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Ode to Fallen Heroes

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Ode to Fallen Heroes

Their ranks did not sway
like rows of wheat.
They did all our nation asked
and then; gave more.

They that were so brave,
faced the onslaught,
like poppies in a storm;
resilient to the end.

We that survive them
owe a debt we cannot pay,
save to enjoy the freedoms;
each and every day.

If you see a scarlet flash;
on hedgerow, field, or path
pause a while, give thanks
and their memory will last.

John Carré Buchanan
23 October 2011

World Domination Achieved - Thank You.

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Thank You

I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit and read this blog.

The Blog has now been read in 245 Countries which (according to Flag Counter) means that it has been read in every country in the world.

The blog has 73,096 page views in 34,288 visits which mean the average visitor has seen 2.13 pages per visit.

I am delighted with this result and would like to thank everyone who has visited and read my poetry.

I hope you enjoy my work.


John Carré Buchanan
11 November 2012

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Taking a Stand

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Two days ago I discovered that the local Scouts were not going to attend the Remembrance Sunday parade this year. I was more than a little bit upset about this and not being one to let things slide, I took the Scout leaders to task and reminded them of the importance of Remembrance Sunday and the crucial role the Scouts play in our community.

Last night the Scouts were told that they would be parading on Sunday.

I’m sure some of you will be thinking; ‘well done John’, but there will also be those that disagree with what I did probably thinking something along the lines of ‘busy body, should leave people to get on with living their own lives’. Whichever camp you belong to I would encourage you to attend remembrance Sunday tomorrow.

The rest of this post lays out why I believe we should attend, a belief clearly held by John Bailey who wrote the poem with which I close the post.

Laurance Binyon famously wrote the poem ‘For the fallen’ the fourth verse of which is frequently used in Remembrance services, I will base my thoughts on this verse;

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Unfortunately what too many of us forget is that many of the soldiers and civilians, physically or mentally injured in war will grow old. Many of them bearing horrific mental and physical scars.

These people, their relatives and supporters, spend years living with the aftermath of war. Unfortunately, for many once the obvious physical injuries have been treated the support dries up, for all of these people the injured and those that support them, age will weary them.

All too often combatants are condemned, criticised in the cold light of day for decisions made by our Civilian Political Leadership who ordered our forces to war.

As if taking the blame for the decisions of others is not bad enough they are also condemned for decisions they make when they were operating under incredible pressures often when they are in fear of their lives or the lives of those they protect.

What most don’t consider is that often the severest condemnations dwell, hidden, in the minds of the service personnel themselves.

Next time you are enjoying the going down of the sun, or when you rise in the morning of a beautiful new day, Please give a thought not just to the fallen, but those that survived, and those who place themselves at risk on your behalf today.

The following poem, by John Bailey provides a more eloquent way of asking you to attend a remembrance day service near you;

Taking a Stand - John Bailey

I ask you to stand with me
For both the injured and the lost
I ask you to keep count with me
Of all the wars and what they cost
I ask you to be silent with me
Quietly grateful for our lot
As I expect you're as thankful as me
For the health and life we've got
I ask that you wish them well with me
All those still risking their all
And I ask that you remember with me
The names of those that fall
I expect that you are proud like me
Of this great nation of ours too
So enjoying all its freedoms like me
Support those upholding them for you
I hope that you are hopeful like me
That we'll soon bring an end to wars
So you'll have to stand no more with me
And mourning families no different from yours
'Til then be thankful you can stand with me
Thinking of those who now cannot
For standing here today with me
At least we show they're not forgot

John Carré Buchanan
10 November 2012

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Fire – A Tale of Greed

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I have started a writing course in the hope that I can improve the content on these pages. The course covers both Prose and Poetry and having written several pieces of prose which other students on the course kindly said they enjoyed, I thought I would ask the readers of ‘Poet at Jaybern’ what they think of it.

I know it is not Poetry, but it fits with my aim of finding things I might like doing as I reinvent myself.

I would be very interested in what you think about my prose so please leave constructive criticism if you can. If you think it appropriate please don’t hesitate to say; ‘stick to the poems’;-)

I won’t cry too much ;-)

Fire – A Tale of Greed

Rudyard Kipling; ‘Jungle Saying’ from; ‘The King's Ankus - The Second Jungle Book’.

“These are the four that are never content, that have never been filled since the dews began; Jacala's mouth, and the glut of the Kite, and the hands of the Ape, and the eyes of Man.”

*****

We met first on the plains of Africa when lightning struck an acacia tree. In those days Africa was not known as Africa, lightning was Mother Nature’s anger and the Acacia? Well, things didn’t have names back then. The burning tree set the grassland alight and the wind carried me ahead of it. The creatures of the plains ran from me, where I caught them they perished. All the creatures on the plain knew to run from my twisting orange and red tendrils, as soon as they smelt the scent of my smoke they would stop what they were doing and run with the wind. I said all the creatures; but that’s not so, the short haired ape, just down from the trees was different for he was intrigued and was always first to return and he would play in my ashes, chasing and dancing with my flying sparks.

Yes man was different, he had greed akin to the Jackals mouth and from those early days he always wanted more. His instinct told him that if he could harness my power he would become master of all. He learnt to breathe life into my sparks and coax flickering flame from the wood and grass he gathered but this was not enough for him. He wanted me at his beck and call, and waiting for a lightning strike was not good enough. He learnt to carry me, using coals wrapped in tree bark and grasses and from that day on the night plains were lit up by spots of orange light and mankind and I learnt to dance together in the dark.

The rains arrived and man once again was alone in the dark. Then I was born anew, but this time it felt different. I had not been summoned from the heavens; some ‘strange’ spark had ignited me. Man had learnt that striking a stone or spinning a stick would create the spark or embers from which he could coax my flame. Henceforth we have seldom been separated.

The apes had long since mastered using tools. They would use sticks to fish for termites deep within a rotting log or like the birds make nests high up in the trees; but as Mankind learnt to use me as a tool I saw pride creeping into their eyes. I gave them light and warmth at night, I kept tooth and claw away from their door and they used me to heat food, which allowed them to eat things they’d been unable to eat before. Oh, mankind became proud and for the first time since the creator had set the great fire in the heavens, someone thought they owned me and that I had been tamed; they were wrong!

John Carré Buchanan
15 October 2012

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Images In Fire

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video

As part of a writing course I am doing at the moment I had to write a poem or prose, it did not matter, from the perspective of another; person, object or creature. I chose to write from the perspective of fire and wrote what I thought was a nice piece of flash fiction.

As I wrote it I realised that the ideas in my head were far too extensive to express in the 1,500 words limit, so I threw a few notes down with the intent of writing a poem when I finished my homework.

The concept was to imagine the relationship between mankind and fire, starting with the first use of ‘found’ fire (the result of a lightning strike), and moving on to the creation of fire. I wanted to finish the piece with mankind looking into the flames and seeing fire telling him what ownership of the secret of fire means.

I hope you enjoy the poem.

Images In Fire

Lightning strikes.
Lines of fire in grass
streak across the plain
driven by the wind;
leaving ashen land.
Gathered coals
lovingly nurtured
are carried carefully.

Gently life’s breath
turns white embers, orange.
Twist of smoke,
flick of flame.
One careless moment,
too much rain?
precious glow dies;
man’s cold again.

While knapping stone
A spark flies,
light dawns.
Spinning stick to bore a hole
He catches the smell….
… of fire’s soul
He takes the leap;
fire is man’s to keep.

For eons
the moon and stars
lit nocturnal skies,
lending pitch black nights
a ghostly silver sheen.
Now flickering orange
pin pricks dance on the plain,
as man sits and tends his flame.

Man knew flames bought
warmth, light and protection.
Now he learnt smoke had uses;
he could drive out game,
calm honey bees,
make food last longer
taste better, oh and it
kept flippin' mozzies away.

Man thought
he’d tamed fire.
His pride was clear to all,
but fire’s wild,
not easily tamed,
man’s in for quite a fall.
Keep watching fire
its flames tell all.

Amidst orange and red petals
dark shadows reveal the future;
forests burnt down
ghostly stumps,
no foot or paw print
on the ground.
The forest’s silent
for miles around

Then armies march
bombs fall on cities,
fire squirted as if water
with one intent – destroy.
Then perhaps worst yet;
while chimneys rain ash
walking skeletons queue nearby
A mushroom fire burns the sky.

Then huge machines
dig great holes
and take the tops off mountains.
Fires so hot they melt rock
and shining metals flows.
Sparks fly
as hammers pound
more machines to dig the ground.

Controlled fire has helped man
probe the universe afar.
One tiny slip and a space ship
becomes a shooting star.
Yet should evil be man’s intent
With fire, even a malcontent,
the greatest architectural feat
can burn and crumble to the street.

As early man watched
the flickering flame
images of the future came
things he could not comprehend
Showed fires part
in our worlds end.
Our sun becomes a red giant
and planet Earth will fall silent.

John Carré Buchanan
October 2012

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Storm in a T* Camp

Image By John Buchanan

When I look back through my life and remember places I have lived in they generally fall into two groups; places I liked and places I didn’t. There is however one place that was so uncomfortable that I feel it is unfair to taint all the other places I did not like by placing it in the same group as them. This place was a port in Croatia called Ploče, the year 1995.

The area surrounding the port was little more than a dumping ground for dead animals, toxic waste and anything unpleasant that someone didn’t want to pay to dispose of. The Royal Engineers reclaimed a sizable tract of land from this mozzie infected, swamp riddled, dump and turned it into a mozzie infected layer of white hardcore (which reflected the suns blinding light and scorching heat). It was here that a tented camp housing several thousand British troops was built. My lasting memories of Ploče include;

Accommodation was sparse; initially a couple thousand troops were crushed into a warehouse which had been shelled during an earlier raid on the port. Each person (male or female) had the width of their roll mat plus 2 feet to turn into a home. Once sufficient land had been reclaimed we moved into a tented camp which was more spacious, but came with its own issues. Towards the end of the tour (as winter approached) some Corimec (portakabins) arrived (pure luxury and as with all things of that nature ‘too little too late’).

Bordering the complex was a factory which belched choking smoke over us 24/7. It was rumoured that it was burning asbestos brake linings although that was hotly denied. That said a significant proportion of the force suffered from really unpleasant respiratory problems of one sort or another during their stay.

For the majority of the tour the living conditions were so bad there that there was a constant need for innovation, and ISO containers, shipping pallets, cardboard boxes and any other item not physically strapped down, quickly found itself being turned into part of a home improvement scheme.

Keeping thousands of troops clean in such a place was next to impossible, the Royal Engineers came up with the idea of using the cattle sheds as showers, The sheds, which had been used to keep cattle in until they were loaded on to ships had water pipes overhead, the Engineers found that a strategically placed nail every meter or so was sufficient to make a cold shower for a couple hundred folk at a time. Later in the tour a Territorial Army Bath and Laundry unit deployed and were quickly elevated to hero status along with the Posties and some of the Chefs as they bought with them the capability of producing a somewhat irregular supply of hot water.

I guess the presence of the French Foreign Legion was perhaps the greatest indicator as to just how unpleasant Ploče was.

The following poem outlines an event which I believe will be seared onto the mind of anyone who was there. It was this event that ultimately earned the camp its nick name ‘Ploče Death Camp’.

Storm in a T* Camp

MET said the wind would be high that night
airframes would need tie downs
Two thousands troops in the tented camp
were going to be blown around.

The sound of ratchets and sledge hammers
was a common theme that day;
as teams of sweating soldiers
toiled to square the camp away.

The tents were lashed inside and out
and nailed to the ground
with two foot long metal spikes
So they’d not be tossed around.

The girls in the tent next to us
were working on their tans;
we offered to assist them
but that wasn’t in their plans.

That night’s storm was vengeful
it hit hard and lasted long
and from the tent next to ours
came a noise most forlorn.

As four bronzed ladies struggled,
to bang stakes into the ground,
to stop their tent taking off
leaving them half drowned.

To venture out was lethal
as sharp debris flew around.
The generator kept failing,
and cables sparked upon the ground.

A sentry had his arm shattered
as he patrolled the camp that night.
The church had broken loose
and it hit him in full flight.

The cook house, a large big top,
was rent from floor to ceiling
its wooden posts were split in two
and through the air sent reeling.

The camp latrine made quite a mess
as the tanks bobbed from the ground
then tipped their fetid contents
into the water flowing round.

Things got very lively
as we fought against that storm
and kept our kit above the flood
whilst holding canvas down.

A hurricane lamp fell to the floor
and everything went pitch black,
the scent of kero on the wind
caused a mild anxiety attack.

Howling wind, lighting flash
driving rain and thunder
flapping canvas, shorting cables
and now the fear of fire.

That night lasted an eternity -
dawn bought an eerie calm
over the stinking cess pool
which our home had become.

The cooks’ stoves were under water
which meant it was three foot deep.
It also made them hard to light
So breakfast was real bleak.

While the water subsided
we broke out the canoes
to keep tired and hungry troops busy
and stop them blowing a fuse.

As soon as we were able
the clear up began full tilt
but it was several days before
the camp was totally rebuilt.

The storm was not the only one
that we endured that summer.
It left its mark upon that camp
Oh and what a bummer.

The camp had been called Red Dwarf
before the first storm hit,
but the troops re-named it‘Ploce Death Camp’
after it had been covered in shit.

Now, if you’re planning on camping
I have some tips for you
they were learnt the hard way
but, they come free to you.

Listen to the Met man’s forecast.
Build cess pits above the water table.
Shelter comes before the tan.
In high wind even churches fly.

But, perhaps the most important
The lesson I’d heed most
take this seasoned camper’s advice
and - Book into a hotel.

John Carré Buchanan
21 September 2012

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Review

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One of the factors of living with chronic pain is the need to constantly review where you are in relation to Goals, Drugs and Exercises. This week I have been working with my support team to confirm that I am getting the most out of the regimes that I use.

I keep a written record of my pain management which I use on a daily basis to pace myself and then on an ad hoc basis to inform the team. This covers which exercises and stretches I do, my pain levels at start and end of the day, the drugs taken, hours slept and activities undertaken.

This type of record is very useful as it provides hard data against which comparisons can be made, preventing emotion and feelings from getting in the way of what is really happening.

The multidisciplinary team discussed how things had been going. We agreed that there was a need to change both the medication and exercise regimes. We also discussed how attitude toward recovery, specifically my determination to minimise drug use and maximise the amount of exercise and activity I was doing, could affect recovery.

During an excellent, month long, pain management course I attended in the UK I was taught the importance of coming off drugs and making every effort to improve my personal fitness. Under normal circumstances this is widely accepted as being the best practice approach toward pain management.

However it would appear that the principles are intended as a guide rather than a set of rules. They are designed for the average man or woman in the street, and not someone with the drive and determination that has served me so well in the past.

Whilst the logic of what was being said was unquestionable, it was very difficult for me to accept. The turmoil it created in my mind drove me to write the following poem, perhaps other pain sufferers might find it interesting.

The Review

Today we talked meds again;
the doctors are giving me more.
They think a higher dose,
will make me happier than before

They haven’t factored in failure
the feeling that I bear;
when my body is so doped up
I feel like I’m not there.

They tell me how impressed they are
with the way that I’ve got on
pushing through the barriers;
but they say that way is wrong.

I learnt the hard way,
success requires hard work.
without pain there is no gain,
for glory you can’t shirk.

I strive to be a person
who will not accept defeat.
Who through sheer determination
This chronic pain I’d beat.

I was taught; to keep my body clean;
To avoid drugs where I can;
that morphine can not cure my pain
so exclude it from my plan.

The doctors say that normal folk
would find these rules so true.
but it’s my determination -
that’s made my plans fall through.

Now they’re going to dope me up
so I will not feel the pain,
but I sense the weight of failure
will drag me down again.

So if I make my next review
it’s likely I’ll be told;
to increase the dose of happy pills;
and they’ll see my world implode.

John Carré Buchanan
07 September 2012

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Gladiators

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Channel 4 have been running a superb advertisement for the 2012 London Paralympics which start tomorrow. The advertisement is based upon the fact that the British Paralympic athletes are superhuman. Think about it; just for a few seconds please stop reading and think about it;

These people have a struggle to do things many take for granted, things such as; getting dressed, traveling to and from work, even mundane things like having a bath or going to the loo and that is before they start training. Each of them has adapted to, and overcome their personal difficulties and then gone further and learnt to compete at the very top of their chosen sports. This takes guts, determination and a singular focus on their goals.

These people are truly inspirational. In my eyes, the eyes of someone who finds just getting to tomorrow a struggle, they are magnificent, and yes they are in every sense of the word, Superhuman. My poem is dedicated to all of the Paralympians representing Great Britain, Go Team GB.

Gladiators

They stand proud.
Clothed in national colours
they form one body,
and that body exudes confidence.
The smiles on their faces betray them!
For these are smiles that know;
‘I can – I will’ and ‘I have’.

This knowledge;
born of unfathomable hardship
underpins all.
True - carbon fibre, plastics and alloys,
support bone, flesh and blood
but all are useless
without the knowledge.

So believe, British Gladiators,
believe and be proud.
And I will stand behind you
with a Nation that believes in -
and is proud of - you.

John Carré Buchanan
28 August 2012

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Walk

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This poem was inspired by the line “We walked here when the trees were saplings” which I heard at a recent poetry evening in a poem called 'Sark Revisited' by Joan Ozanne. I decided to write about the woods I used to walk in on the ridge above Minden when I was based in Germany in the late 80’s.

During the many walks and runs I had along the ridge I used to marvel at the way in which the ground cover would vary. I remember the riotous colours of autumnal leaves, The way in which the trees could become coated in ice in the winter, the springs bluebells and snow drops and of course the magnificent views out across the green valley below when Hang gliders launched from one of the cafes in the summer months.

The poem caries several meanings for me, I hope you can find your own.

The Walk

I walk here; with you beside me.
Leaves tumble from the heavens above
as if bearing messages of love.
They leave a brightly coloured carpet of
rubies, bronze and gold at our feet.
Thinking of the riches
with which I’ve been blessed;
my mind wandered to a time,
when the woodland floor
bore diamonds and sapphires.
Yes;
We walked here when the trees were saplings
and looking back,
I wish I’d held your hand.

John Carré Buchanan
24 August 2012

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Endurance

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One of the skills I have been working on has been to relax into those moments when my body least feels like relaxing. This is an extremely difficult skill to master, but at the same time it is a skill which chronic pain sufferers need to master if they are to rest or sleep.

I have been taught many different ways of doing this, none of them work every time but my toolbox now contains methods such as; transcendental meditation, Emotional Freedom Technique, distraction, progressive muscle relaxation and breath control. Using a combination of these has helped me through some difficult times.

I would urge any other chronic pain sufferer to learn how to relax. I suspect that most readers will not truly understand this, but fellow sufferers will understand and hopefully be able to follow my advice.

The following poem aims to describe the conflict between pain and the ability to relax.

Endurance

The silence is deafening,
Silently the clock ticks,
The TV and radio lie mute
even the keys on the laptop
remain still.
Time just slips by.
Each exhaled breath
re-enters the world
at its own silent pace
as it slips through taught lips
in a measured, controlled stream.
The pages on his lap don’t turn.
It is as if time itself has stopped.
Yet in his mind a fire burns
The primal scream lodged in his throat
remains unissued, caught as if
it were that of a terrified young child
with a monster under its bed.
The constant cycle of the eyelids
As they contract and relax
betrays the singular effort
of a mind fighting for control,
relax, relax and again.

John Carré Buchanan
23 August 2012

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Flag Etiquette

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Flags play an important role in national identity. From colours on the battle field, to claiming land or identifying embassies flags continue to play their part. With this in mind I have to admit that one of my pet hates is British people flying the Union Flag upside down.

Flying any flag upside down is inappropriate unless you are in distress, as it represents a direct insult to the nation the flag belongs to.

During the recent bout of national celebration, starting with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and followed by the Olympics, I was dismayed at the number of people carrying flags upside down, particularly the small plastic flags sold on a short stick which had been manufactured incorrectly.

Failure on the flag etiquette was not confined to the crowds and athletes, I noticed that in the main arenas the flags flying around the stadiums and pools were inconsistent in terms of what was construed as up. This showed incompetence and laziness on the part of those that positioned them.

I find it sad that so many people in Britain do not even know that our flag can be hung upside down. To me this is something that should be taught at schools as flags play such an important role in national celebrations and forming national identity. Surely people who go to the length of painting the flag on their faces or carrying a 20 foot mast with a flag on top would prefer to fly it correctly. Anyway enough winging here is my poem;

Flag Etiquette

They stand and wave our flag with glee
these people, so proud of our country.
So proud they fly the Union Flag
upside down, as if it were a rag.

When a flag is inverted
people should be disconcerted.
For it either means they’re in distress,
or they wish an insult to express.

It’s not hard to get it right
It’s all about the amount of white
That sits atop St. Patrick’s Cross
(That’s the red one that goes criss-cross.)

On the side next to the pole
More white should top the red
Which means that at the floppy end
more white should hang below, my friend.

Oh, one other thing – my last;
To fly a flag at half mast,
Just drop it down the flags own height
from the top of the mast, that’s right.

John Carré Buchanan
19 August 2012

Friday, 17 August 2012

Harvest

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A friend of mine works for Handicap International; today he posted an article on Cluster Bombs which inspired me to pen the following poem.

As a veteran of a number of wars I have seen the effect of mines and other ordinance which litter the ground long after wars have been fought and ‘won’, (as if anyone can truly win a war).

I strongly believe that these weapons should be condemned by every nation on the planet and I would like to see the manufacture and use of such hideous weapons stopped permanently.

Unfortunately big money and a reluctance to enhance and enforce laws banning them means that their continued use, particularly in the fields of poorer nations, will lead to innocent people being maimed and killed.

Clearance of such ordinance often falls to self-help and / or charities such as Handicap International and the Mines Awareness Trust. I would encourage you to support these organisations.

Harvest

The grass grew tall this year.
Shadows flow like waves
across it’s golden heads,
as a warm breeze passes.

The hay crop’s lost this year.
Shadows cross his face,
across his sun tanned face.
As a deep frown passes

The war passed by this year.
Shadows flashed above,
the compound left in ruin
the field fallow evermore.

For the crop changed this year.
seed pods scattered wide,
hidden amidst the grass
hanging around to harvest.

The grass grew tall this year.
Shadows flow like waves
He’ll have to plant next year
as a warm breeze passes.

John Carré Buchanan
17 August 2012

Thursday, 16 August 2012

An Analogue Person In A Digital World

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Having not written much recently I thought that I would have a go at the themed poem for the next Guernsey Poets Open Mic. It is an interesting theme for someone who enjoys the digital world as much as I do. That said as I wrote; I did find myself coming down slightly on the side of the analogue world. I’m now looking forward to hearing what the other poets in the group made of the theme.

An Analogue Person In A Digital World

Everything’s going digital
It’s either noughts or ones
A string of undecipherable
Electronic off and ons.

An analogue wave is constant
It ebbs and flows with life
But the digital signal’s a sample
As if cut like a salami slice.

Analogue music is better
It has a much warmer sound,
but digital music is easy to download
or so its proponents expound.

Old TV’s used analogue waves
which always battled through
but a bit of stormy weather
and the flat screen says ‘screw you’.

You glance at the watch upon your wrist
If only to discover the time
in a digital world it’s 08:57,
in analogue - it’s just before nine.

The digital world has far more choice
Then most of us will need.
It’s driven by the rhythm of oscillating quartz
Which underpins our greed.

Oh - I’d rather live an analogue life
and savour every moment,
then live my life in a digital world
at the whim of a Japanese component.

John Carré Buchanan
16 August 2012

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Four Years On

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This post is written to thank all the people who have stood by me during the last four years. Without their love, guidance and support, I would not be here today.

Four years ago I was knocked from my bicycle on the way to work. What followed has been horrendous for both me and my family.

I have lived in continuous and severe pain which has gradually worsened since the accident; my medical support team tell me that it will continue to worsen. What should improve is my ability to live with and manage the pain.

I have lost my Job, the ability to do all the hobbies I once enjoyed, but far and away more important I lost the ability to partake fully in the lives of my wife and our two beautiful, loving young children. The guilt associated with being unable even to ascend stairs to kiss them good night is hard to bear.

I started writing in attempt to give myself something to do; I also conducted a massive soul search and realignment project which aimed to redesign my inner self, my soul, such that it could live in the new, less capable, body.

This uncomfortable and often dangerous journey continues. So far I have become a Christian, found new friends, who are there for me before I need ask. I have plumbed the very depths of despair and surfaced again. I constantly endure pain which despite using powerful Opiates is sufficient in intensity to make me black out at times.

Despite all of this I am still here.

The following poem is - believe it or not - a poem of hope; it serves to remind me that I never was a quitter. I hope you can find something in it too.

Four Years On

The memory is not important
Screech of breaks, shattered glass,
burst of fear, anger, pain;
that is how it started,
she just pulled out.

The loss that’s what truly counts
Feet pound along beautiful cliff paths,
bicycles, kayaks, water skis;
that’s what was lost,
everything I enjoyed.

No, It’s deeper, much worse
The essence of everything loved
Wife, Children, Friends, Job;
all of them suffer,
Torn asunder, shredded.

Self image, destroyed, hated
unimaginable pain, imaginable,
insomnia, tears, vomit;
these unwanted parasites,
devour all joy, never cease.

Every day, a new battle
continuous cycle of pain management,
exercise, therapy, stretches, drugs;
just to stay stable,
the gradual decline evident.

The one desire, end it, end it all
screech of brakes, shattered lives,
pain, despair, guilt;
tortured soul
fight, don’t quit, pray.

Put cares aside, trust the Lord,
true friends lend shoulders and listen,
plan, strive, achieve;
Four years on,
Pain worse, but hanging in.

John Carré Buchanan
08 August 2012

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Otto And The Great White Duck

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My wife and I were visiting her parents in Norfolk, They were building their house at the time and so we checked in to a very nice local hotel which had substantial gardens complete with a beautiful duck pond.

We had chosen the hotel because they allowed their guests to bring dogs with them which meant that we were accompanied by Otto and Freyja our two Bernese Mountain dogs. On our last evening we enjoyed a superb meal in the hotel restaurant and then prepared to retire.

Naturally this meant giving the dogs one last walk around the garden. The poem below outlines what happened next.

By writing the poem I am not trying to celebrate what the dog did, there was no excuse and to this day I still feel a twinge of guilt when I think about it. What I am celebrating is the way in which the duck stood its ground and managed to survive a tussle with a very large Bernese Mountain dog and then had the affront to stand on the lawn the following morning as if to say ‘get off my Land.’

I guess I will always remember carrying a very muddy dog through the reception along the corridors and to our room whilst being covered in mud myself without being seen and without leaving a muddy trail to our door. It was truly a night to remember. The best bit being the duck was not physically harmed.

Otto And The Great White Duck

Somewhere in the dark a scuffle broke out
It involved my dog without a doubt.
There in the pool of silver moon light
Otto and a duck were having a fight.

With duck in his mouth, the mud he churned
as he fought to gain purchase, his efforts were spurned.
He thrust his head forward, again and again
to swallow the duck - in one, his aim.

I entered the pool’s deep black ooze
forgetting I was wearing my best evening shoes.
I grabbed the collar of the mud covered hound,
he twisted and squirmed around and around.

I towed him back to the grassy bank
And then it hit me, we really stank.
My wife arrived with a large beach towel
and great concern for the missing fowl.

Wrapped in the towel the big dog struggled
as to our room the package was smuggled,
Thuds, bangs and howls were heard for an hour
As the three of us shared a late night shower.

The following morning the hotelier was told.
His only concern was for his Muscovy old;
As we drove away with the dog in the back,
The great white duck let out a loud quack.

Which clearly meant; ‘and don’t come back’.

John Carré Buchanan
09 August 2012

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Ode to Narcotic Relief (ONR 20)

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One of the downsides of chronic pain is the need to use powerful pain killers which bring with them risks of unpleasant side effects and even death. Sufferers who have been taught pain management techniques usually try to minimise the amount of drugs that they use. That said even the best of us occasionally need to use drugs.

The type and dosages of drugs differ dependant on the individual and factors such as; the current state of pain, activity levels, state of mind and even something as mundane as the weather or barometric pressure.

I have recently taken a short holiday with my family which involved considerably more movement than I would normally undertake. During the break I had to significantly increase the quantity of painkillers I was using.

Whilst consuming the drugs I became acutely aware of the importance of getting both the dosage and the timing of each dose correct. Making such calculations is extremely difficult when every brain cell is screaming in agony. As if that was not hard enough the added temptation to take follow up dosages early is extremely hard to control.

On completion of my holiday I had to perform a vital task, namely work out a plan to safely come off the increased dosages, without going into cold turkey. Whilst doing this I became aware of just how dangerous these drugs could be in the hands of a sufferer of Chronic pain during a flare up or setback, this inspired me to write the following poem;

Ode to Narcotic Relief (ONR 20)

They bear a mark
ONR 20
and look so innocent
so tiny, so dainty.
Just knock back a couple
sit back, wait a while.
Twenty minutes later
I’m on the junk pile.
For perhaps half an hour
I can raise a smile,
Then the pain’ll be back
and I’ll taste the bile
and start to clock watch
whilst reeling in pain
waiting for the next dose
to relieve me again.
I’ll crave for more
But I have to take care
For these tiny capsules
could answer my prayer
and help me find peace
either up or downstairs.
They bear a mark
ONR Twenty
and as demon or friend
they could help or kill me.

John Carré Buchanan
03 August 2012

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sark Folk Festival 2012

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The beautiful Island of Sark lies 9 miles to the East of Guernsey. It is the world’s first Dark Skies Island having so little light pollution that the nights are practically pitch dark, with only the stars and moon to light the way.

The Island has no cars and the population gets around on foot, bicycle, tractor and horse and carriage. Over the last few years Sark has hosted a Folk Festival, something which given the Islands remoteness has been a logistical challenge.

This year I went over to the festival with my Family, a trip made possible by my new wheelchair. The Festival was fantastic, with a three stages running full time and a number of other locations hosting groups or soloists.

Having spent much of my childhood in Sark I was not sure what to expect when I went over, but it was fantastic. I had to use a considerable amount of medication and all the pain management techniques I know to survive the two days I was there but when I got back to Guernsey I felt that it had all been worth it. Unfortunately over the next week, which was dominated by a major setback that view changed and I doubt I will be able to do it again.

I started writing this poem whilst I was over there and finished it today, I hope you enjoy it.

Sark Folk Festival 2012

The field stretched to hedgerows
which touched the sapphire sky.
Tall flags rippled in the breeze,
they stood like masts
or man-made trees.

Musicians and singers plied their trade
in the bowels of white marquees.
Harmony flooded Island wide
As the festival grew
Tide by tide.

An eclectic crowd on Sark landed
dressed in many styles.
Jeans and T-shirts, hippie print,
and designer labels
that cost a mint.

Cowboy hats and summer scarves
dreadlocks and bands of posies,
They sat on rugs or camping chairs
Or danced and sang
To tuneful airs.

Rich and poor had gathered there
to share a field of music.
For what really mattered there in Sark
was that everyone
Should have a lark.

John Carré Buchanan
08 July 2012

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

On Being Mr Vice

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One of the more enjoyable events in military life is the Regimental Dinner. Each Regiment or unit adheres to a series of traditions. These determine such matters as who sits where, who might say grace, which dignitaries are toasted at the end of the meal and who, if anyone will be permitted to make a speech.

The President of the Mess Committee is ultimately responsible for the smooth running of the evening, usually assisted by the junior Subaltern, who acts as Mister or Madam Vice. This young subaltern may very well face a degree of trickery from his peers throughout the evening. This may be as simple as convincing them to say the wrong name when proposing a toast or something a little more drastic.

The poem below describes a number of the things I witnessed during Regimental Dinners during my career. There were many more, such as being encouraged to remove the Spurs from someone’s boots during the evening. This task, from which a victorious subaltern might emerge from under the table clasping a set of spurs, often ended with them finding that their entire place setting and chair had been removed from the table during their short absence. The rest of the evening could be spent squatting between two peers trying not too look too short or too tall!

The poem below tells of an unfortunate Mr Vice who having survived an evening was foiled at the last when the port decanters caught up with each other in front of him, an 'offence' which often cost folk the price of refilling the offending decanters. I hope you enjoy it.

On Being Mr Vice

The Subalterns are having fun
Ribbing him about the Dinner
Mr Vice is bricking it
Knowing he’ll end a sinner.

When he pulls back his chair
Will his cutlery come with it?
Has someone used catgut
To really land him in it?

Or when shaking out his napkin
Will a cloud of talcum powder
Coat his pristine Mess Kit
make the mess laugh louder

Perhaps the dental Officer
Had doctored his wine glass
Making a tiny hole in it
Through which red wine will pass

Will his little bell chime
When he needs to shake it
Or did a fellow Subbie
stick the clanger or take it.

The President rings his bell
The Vice rings in response
And grace and later toasts are made
He does not falter once.

The port decanters are on the move
Mr Vice has not been watching
As they reach him all together
He hears the crystal ring.

Having survived all the trickery
He'd relaxed and become distracted
and now the cost of the port
will from him be exacted.

John Carré Buchanan
26 June 2012

Friday, 22 June 2012

Alliteration Based On The Letter ‘T’
The Thirst

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The other day I wrote an Alliteration based on the letter S, This was quite a bit of fun, not to mention a bit of a challenge, so I thought I wold have another go at it. This one based on the letter T is about the way the plains in Africa become more dangerous as the rains make them more beautiful. Touareg are a type of African cow, as for the rest I’m afraid you will have to use a dictionary, but trust me it does make sense.

Alliteration Based On The Letter ‘T’ – The Thirst

The Tumultuous Thunderclap
Tears The Torrid Troposphere.
Thick Thorn Thicket Trammeles
Tightly Tethered Touareg.
Tentative Tears Tumble
Teasing The Thirsty Terra.

Then The Torrent Triggers.
Trickles Twist Together,
Then Tributaries tear trenches
Through The Terracotta Terrain
The Tide Tremulously Trumpets.

Thirst Tempered,
Tasty Tussocks Thrive.
Transient Throngs Traipse Traditional Tracks,
Trailing Treacherous Toothed Terrors
Tactically Tracking, Targeting,
Then Terminating The Tenderfeet.

This Time,
The Time Torrents Tempt Tender Tucker
To Transform The Tortured Transvaal.
The Technicolor Treasure Trove
Turns To Treacherous Tracks.

John Carré Buchanan
22 June 2012

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Alliteration Based On The Letter ‘S’
Slip Slop Slap

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On Monday I went to our local Open Mic Poetry evening. It turned out to be a cracking evening. At the end we decided that the theme for the next event would be to write an alliteration poem using a letter of our choice. I decided to try writing a poem using only words beginning with the letter “S”. I hope you enjoy the poem.

Alliteration Based On The Letter ‘S' - Slip Slop Slap

Silver Stallions Surge Shoreward.
Spray Sprung Skyward, Splits Sunlight,
Sending Sparkling Shards Soaring,
Subverting Sapphire Sky’s Splendour.

Slip Slop Slap, Sun Screen Splatters,
Sharp Sand Sticks Spoiling Smooth Silky Sheen,
Sand Scratches, Scours Sensitive Skin;
Swim Strips Sand, Starts Swirling Sunblock Slick.

Satsuma Sun Scorches Stark Shoulders.
Sombreros Shunned, Scalps Smoulder.
Sunblind Survey Supresses Scarlet Shene;
So Sungod Spurns Suncream,

Sunburn Sufferer Seeks Shaded Solitude;
Sipping Sundowner Sporting Swizzle Stick.
Salve Smothered Scarlett Shoulders Sting,
Sizzling Sucker Swears Softly – Schmuck.

John Carré Buchanan
20 June 2012

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Sea Shepherd


To Learn More About Sea Shepherd: Click Here

I unashamedly support Sea Shepherd.

Their mission is: To end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.

The following poem (believed to be written by Captain Paul Watson) outlines the situation Captain Watson is currently in and the reasons for it, The poem speaks for itself, which is something the oceans' ecosystems are unable to do without the help of organisations such as Sea Shepherd.

Please take the time to read it and to visit their website by clicking on the image and/or caption above:

Sharkwater

In the cold hard face of adversity,
Strength is often found in diversity,
Passionate pens unleashed, our voices raised,
Of this global response I am amazed.

I appreciate the many letters,
Requesting that they remove my fetters,
My awful crime was I that stopped a crime,
I intervened against shark killing slime.

A decade ago I saved hundreds of lives,
I took away their evil finning knives,
No injuries caused and no damage done,
We stopped their slaughter and their savage fun.

My “crime” was it cost the poachers money,
The powers that be did not think it funny,
Favours are paid, politicians have their price,
Knives remove the fins in a single slice.

A decade passed before the gavel fell,
Why now? No one yet can explain or tell,
Without a notification given,
A bogus charge politically driven.

They tossed me into a tough German jail,
To prevent me from saving shark and whale,
The whalers smile and the finners smirk,
Feeling free to go insanely berserk.

They did not expect the massive response,
Nor such a compassionate renaissance.
They did not think that the people would care,
If the sharks die, who will care or despair?

This lord of the sea is viciously slain,
A massacre ecologically insane,
Tons of shark fins from Costa Rica`s shores,
Buys tons of corrupt political whores.

Costa Rica screams for righteous revenge,
The “rights” of fishermen they would avenge,
Justice screams out for the sharks and the sea,
No fair trial for the sharks or for me.

Gojira invited me to the stage,
Rock, the medium to express our rage,
The voice it builds and ascends,
Who knew that the sharks have so many friends?

From around the world many voices came,
Has the “green” German government no shame?
Costa Rica what are you thinking?
The world`s shark population is shrinking.

And yet they do the shark poachers bidding,
Who the hell do they think they are kidding?
Costa Rica is not so green and pure,
Truth can`t be found in a tourist brochure.

Truth is found on the Puntareanas dock,
A hundred thousand shark fins dried in stock.
For decades the law has turned a blind eye,
It seems everyone wants a piece of the pie.

A poacher complains, the courts mobilized,
A warrant for Watson is globalized,
Despite Interpol negating the request,
I am now a reluctant German guest.

The German people see that this is wrong,
Their support for my case is very strong,
The government claims they can`t interfere,
So this could drag on for more than a year.

A political prisoner I have become,
And to defeat I shall never succumb,
Thus opportunity presents a chance,
For this great cause for the sharks to advance.

Pamela Anderson sets the tone,
With her famous voice raised, to make it known,
Michelle Rodriguez speaks from Southern France,
Condemning Costa Rica with a glance.

Brigitte Bardot`s strong voice rises from France,
Greens Bove, Cohen Bendit take a stance.
The Five Nations Mohawks lend their wise voice,
We will make our stand, we have made our choice.

Brazil`s Senate speaks up in my defense,
The voices rising ever more intense,
The Senate of France states their support,
This illegal extradition to abort.

The shark finners placed a bounty on my head,
They want me returned and they want me dead.
I shan`t give them any satisfaction,
This case is a global call to action.

With Germany as our new working base,
We `ll expose this nature raping disgrace,
My trial will be Costa Rica`s trial,
For their foul crimes against Cocos Isle.

This sad requiem for the Tiburon,
Orchestrated from Frankfurt and Bonn,
Music reaching the world`s collective ear,
It`s not the shark, humanity must fear.

We fight to bring down the pirates of greed,
Our passion is what the ocean does need,
So we will fight this judicial assault,
With this strange case there is so much to fault.

If I am to be martyred to the courts,
The facts shall be in the daily reports,
This incident was captured in the doc,
We have evidence, they have only talk.

No injuries caused and no damage done,
Yet to my head they want to place a gun,
In a nation where dirty money rules,
The system is controlled by bought off fools.

Will Germany send me to the unknown?
Assassins may await where I`ll be thrown?
Should I be martyred for the shark and whale,
Berlin will have allowed greed to prevail.

Will the shark`s red blood stain the German flag?
With tons of fins shipped to Asia in bags,
Will Germany betray our noble cause?
For nothing more than Chinchilla`s applause.

How many sharks slain by humanity?
We must end this deadly insanity.
By challenging the fierce powers that be,
In our fight to save sharks in the deep blue sea.

Paul Watson
June 2010

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sovereign's Parade

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I passed out of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in April 1987; the Sovereign's Parade was reviewed by HRH Diana, Princess of Wales. The Parade was also watched on by the King Hussein of Jordan and members of the Greek Royal Family as well as Parents and loved ones of the cadets who were being commissioned that day.

Amidst all the pomp and circumstance there was one moment of levity which passed unseen by the spectators. The only evidence being jiggling bayonets which glinted in the sunlight as the Cadets holding their rifles tried to stifle giggles.

The words uttered that day remain in my mind just as fresh as the day they were made, because I believe if the question had been asked of me, I might have been still standing there trying to think of an answer. I hope you enjoy the poem;

Sovereign's Parade

We were immaculate,
dressed in our best Blues.
with bulled up boots
and shiny belts
and creases in our trews.

We’d marched around
in quick time, and we’d
done a lap in slow
and now we were positioned
for her to say hello.

The Companies were positioned
with the Women’s on the left,
they were viewed before us
which caused what happened next.

She took the time
to stop and chat
as the ranks she did review;
the General and entourage,
where hovering just in view.

She stopped just next to me
To have a chat with Bill.
At first I was disappointed
For I had time to kill.

“Do you get much time
to play with the girls?”
Her plum voice did enquire
I quickly bit my cheek
and started to perspire.

How was Bill to answer that?
I knew he thought the same!
for there was a very pregnant pause
……….before she asked
again….

By then I could taste blood,
my cheek I’d bitten through
as I fought to keep composure;
and then she asked anew.

But the third time it was different.
The question changed a little,
“Do you play with the Girls much?”
I could see the General bristle.

The General, and the entourage
where cringing in pain
as they prayed for an answer
before she asked again.

Then a spark of inspiration
leapt into Bill’s brain
and he confidently reported;
“As much as I can Mam;
as much as I can!”

As we sniggered silently
She move on down the line
and her entourage
- smiling now
followed close behind

The Academy Sergeant Major
lent in to have a word;
“F’ing good answer that, Sir,
F’ing good answer!”
And everyone who’d heard it silently concurred.

John Carré Buchanan
10 June 2012

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Royalty

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The Subject for our next Open Mic is Royalty, and I have decided to pen a quick poem on the subject.

As an Retired Army Officer I am proud to be both British and a Royalist. Despite being laid up with a flare up over the last week I have enjoyed watching the coverage of the Diamond Jubilee.

Three things spoilt my enjoyment of the events which I watched on Television, these were; the appalling lack of knowledge and presumably research displayed by the BBC’s reporters who for the most part babbled on inanely and failed to deliver any truly interesting commentary. Secondly the vast Number of British People who insisted in flying the Union Flag upside down (Yes there is a right way up.) and Thirdly a number of stupid idiots who insisted on carrying placards protesting the fact that the Royals dodge tax and are a waste of their hard earned money. (I suspect many of these imbeciles have been sponging off the social for years anyway!)

It was with the third point that I thought I would write the following poem which is factual and demonstrates that without even including the influence that the Royals have on foreign trade, their input to the country in terms of tourism and tax on their land equate to an estimated £115 per UK citizen per year whilst the cost calculated on the same basis is about 65 pence a year.

I hope you enjoy the poem;

(for the less knowledgeable; the broad portion of the white cross of St Andrew should be above the red band of St Patrick, and the thin white portion below, in the upper hoist canton commonly called the corner at the top nearest to the flag-pole.)

Royalty

To a child it’s about
palaces and crowns,
diamonds and rubies
and rich ermine gowns.

Immaculate soldiers
stand for hours on end.
with rifles and bearskins
our Queen to defend.

As adults we join
One of two schools
Republican or Royalist
- and the others are fools.

I’ve met the royals
At home and abroad
I’ve watched them work
And I loudly applaud

Of whirlwind visits
their lives consist
meeting and greeting
through night and day shift

One day the commonwealth
The next they’re back home
Surrounded by policemen
Wherever they roam.

Republicans argue that
they’re a waste of hard cash
but glance at the numbers
and that becomes trash

Every day of their lives
they serve our great Nation
they secure foreign investment
and enhance job creation

Each year they’re taxed
Two Billion pounds
That’s five times what they cost us
an investment most sound.

American Tourists
who flock to see our Royals
add Seventy Billion
to our National spoils.

Our royalty secure billions
for our National coffers.
They add political stability
no republic can offer.

They stretch British influence
around the world so wide.
They provide a National focus
In which most take great pride.

So stuff those who say; ‘Humbug’
and whinge about monarchy
put voice to our Anthem
and pledge them your loyalty.

John Carré Buchanan
07 June 2012

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Demons Vs Love


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During the last couple of months I have been using a tricyclic antidepressant which has been shown to have an analgesic effect for some chronic pain sufferers. Unfortunately in my case the drug did not have the desired effect and changed my already dismal sleep pattern making me slip into sleep at irregular intervals both day and night.

The nocturnal snoozes became a real issue for me as I found that when I woke in pain I was incredibly difficult to gain control of harmful thoughts and prevent the inevitable slip into a dangerously depressive state.

During this period I spent most nights racked in pain, unable to sleep, fighting horrendous thoughts; thoughts I took to see as ‘demons’. Fortunately during the days I had the support of family and friends. This allowed be to recharge my emotional batteries sufficiently to survive the following night.

This poem aims to describe my feelings during this period and also show the importance of both faith and love in the healing process. I dedicate it to my Family and Friends who have had and continue to have, my back since this ordeal began.

Demons Vs Love

Curtains have closed,
teeth have been brushed,
Goodnight kisses shared.
The house falls quiet,
now it’s time:
demon time.

Now there are no distractions.
one mind stands alone
protected by thought.
Demons rage wildly;
fuelled by pain
and a burning desire for freedom.

Rational thought crumbles
as demons swarm over it.
Anger, grief, guilt, loss, despair;
they’re all there like rats and they
scurry and gnaw at the fabric
of the thought shield.

Counterpoint after counterpoint
are rebuffed and defeated.
The organised mind is shredded.
Every tear produces new edges
which cut and grate the soul
until it begs for release.

Night after sleepless Night
the exhausted mind
struggles to repel demons.
Day after day
cracks in the shield
are repaired by their love.

John Carré Buchanan
31 May 2012

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Of Happiness

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Of Happiness

Ebony hair stirs softly on a zephyr.
Laughter dances at the corners of emerald eyes.
Ruby red lips part to reveal a dazzling array
of almost perfect pearl white teeth;
and the world…... brightens.

They lie beside each other on the grass,
naked feet casually raised to the firmament.
Elegant fingers craft a daisy chain
which she places on his head with a giggle,
He holds a buttercup to her chin.

Four twigs tumble to the gabbling brook;
whoops of joy echo in the verdant valley
as feet patter across the bridge.
Eager eyes scan the chuckling water
and an excited young voice calls; ‘I won!’

Hands swing in unison, fingers entwined,
untroubled feet rustle autumnal leaves
as they flash gold, and red and tumble aside.
Two clouds of breath linger on the chill air
melding to one, as they fade.

With eyes closed he basks in the winter sun,
the scent of her perfume when first they met,
the ecstasy on the face of the new mother,
and the smile on her lined face;
as she held his hand and gently slipped away.

John Carré Buchanan
20 May 2012

Friday, 18 May 2012

A Prayer

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A Prayer

Floating,
muffled sound,
grey darkness,
through soft shut lids.
Warm body,
cold thoughts.
so cold they burn-
as they roll over me;
like water on a
wave washed shore.
I am laid bare.
Warm body,
cold mind,
oh;
that the body were cold?

John Carré Buchanan
18 May 2012

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Bilbo – A Hamster's Tail

Image: Bilbo by Elanor Buchanan

Last night my daughter’s hamster, ‘Bilbo’ died. He had lived a fair life for a hamster and his passing was not wholly unexpected. He was buried under a rose bush in our garden and in keeping with his name Elanor read the following words from J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ over his grave.

‘End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... And then you see it………White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.’

I must admit that Bilbo’s passing seemed to affect me more than it did Elanor, who had been expecting him to die as he was very old for his breed. I kept feeling jealous of Bilbo as he has moved on, whilst I remain here trapped in a pain riddled body longing for an end to my current life.

Before I reveal my poem I should explain the references to the Lord of the Rings. Both Elanor and I have a great love for these books, indeed Elanor’s own name is derived from Tolkien’s ‘The Return of the King’, when at the end of the book Frodo suggests Sam’s daughter should be named after a flower in keeping with the old custom in the Shire. Sam agrees, but says; ‘if it’s to be a flower-name, then I don’t trouble about the length; it must be a beautiful flower, because, you see, I think she is very beautiful, and is going to be beutifuller still.’

Frodo suggested the name ‘Elanor’ after the sun-star, the little golden flower in the grass of Lothlόrien, both Sam and I agreed.

And so to the poem;

Bilbo – A Hamster's Tail

Sometime during the night
the rhythmic tapping ceased.
That irritating, yet somehow comforting pulse
that played every night; stopped.

The nocturnal cacophony;
click, click, click of the water bottle valve,
grate of enamel on bars, rattle of a turning wheel.
These barriers to sleep; ended.

Snuggled quietly in its den
the soft, sand coloured fur became still.
No longer did it trap the warmth that rose from within.
The warm bloods circulation; ceased.

There, on a star filled night,
while the cats prowled the house and garden,
and the family and the dog slept peacefully,
Bilbo the Syrian hamster; died.

The sun rose into a clear blue sky,
A sand coloured body was buried under the rose bush,
as for Bilbo; he sees; ‘White shores... and beyond,
a far green country under a swift sunrise.’

John Carré Buchanan
13 May 2012

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Liberation Day

The Guernsey Flag

Today Guernsey is celebrating Liberation day. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Sarnians around the world a very happy 67th Liberation Day.

Liberation Day

A flag flies free
Over Sarnia chérie
Williams Gold Cross
On the red of St George
Enrich the beautiful blue sky
As they dance on a breeze up high

Our Elders remember when it was not so
when an imposter deigned to overthrow
When the red, black and white
Proclaimed German might.
Five years oppression
and depression

Then came the red white and blue
to bid the Germans adieu.
and from that day
the ninth of May
is celebrated every year
and on Liberation day Sarnians raise a cheer.

John Carré Buchanan
09 May 2012

Friday, 4 May 2012

In Case Of Emergency Break Glass

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In Case Of Emergency Break Glass

The box in my mind is inscribed with six words;
In case of emergency break glass.’
The memories stored within
are designed to bring me home.

Neptune hurls his cavalry at our shore
Fearsome white stallions charge
Manes fly, eyes roll and hooves pound
as they attempt to breach the wall.

Off shore, silent defenders stand, fast.
Rugged, Red , Granite shoulders
bear the brunt of the attack.
Whilst their claws tear the hearts
from the attacking steeds.

And then in the aftermath Primrose,
in the hedge rows Bluebells in the woods
And Daffodils in the fields
Tranquillity and beauty divine.

Here in these memories; I dwell
Here; I have legs that work.
Here; there is no pain.
Here; I am a man again
My blood flows; released by shattered glass.

John Carré Buchanan
04 May 2012

Thursday, 3 May 2012

He Who Pays The Piper

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The poem below is about a real person, I had the good fortune to work with him during my last tour in the Army. His unusual way of indicating that he had had enough was truly brilliant and I thank him for the many hours of useless discussion he saved me from.

He Who Pays The Piper

Peter’s experience was legendary,
he was the guru in his field.
To his knowledge and experience
even consultants would yield.

He would attend meetings
as his boss’ right hand man,
where he’d clarify things
the hierarchy didn’t understand.

Ever the diplomat,
Peter would hang his head
To hide his disbelief
in what Some “experts” said.

But once he’d heard enough
he’d make his contribution,
and leave them all astounded
at his elegant solution.

It was always pretty obvious
that the meeting should end,
but the high priced help
had their egos to amend……

Now Peter was a busy man
he hated wasting time,
so he showed that he’d had enough
in a manner most sublime.

He’d reach a finger behind each ear
and remove his hearing aids,
then he’d lean back in his chair
oblivious to the ensuing tirades.

One evening whilst we were having a beer,
I asked him about this habit.
He said; ‘I don’t pay good money for batteries,
To waste them listening to fools rabbit!’

John Carré Buchanan
02 May 2012