Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Third Bench

Image Source: John Buchanan

Yesterday we had beautiful weather here in Guernsey and I took the opportunity to take a stroll out along the cliffs at Icart. In recent years there have been times when I wished the cliffs were steeper here, but yesterday I was determined to take a walk.

The Image above shows both the third bench and the view from it. This view has travelled all over the world in my mind. It has been used as a benchmark against which to compare all other views. In my opinion, it has seldom been surpassed.

According to Google Earth, the third bench is one hundred and eighty meters from where I parked the car, which means that my round trip was three hundred and sixty meters, it took me about two and a half hours.

On my return home I wrote the following poem, I hope you like it.

The Third Bench

I went for a walk today,
out on the cliff paths.
As I hobbled along
the familiar foot worn path
I could hear the gulls mock me.
I'd plant my sticks carefully
then advance my left foot
just a few inches and then
I'd move the right, just a touch
trying to stop my trousers
brushing against my skin.
Then, braced for what was to come,
I took all my courage in hand,
and placed my right foot.
Instantly pain seared up the leg
like a bolt of lightning,
it surged through the knee
and scorched my soul.
My body screamed at my mind to stop
It refused, forbade a pause,
not before the bench,
the third bench.
Plant the stick, breath, left and then
bite hard on the scream.
Sometimes a moan or gasp escapes.
Tears of frustration wet my cheeks.
I used to run here,
‘used to’ is no good.
I will make the bench,
the third bench.
I was less than ten meters out
when a dog walker crested the hill in front of me
one hundred meters away.
He walked slowly with two Malamutes.
Left foot, place my sticks, right foot
another searing blast of pain
one step closer to the third bench.
I move the sticks again,
the walker passed me,
passed the man with tears rolling down his face
and I took another step
toward the third bench.

John Carré Buchanan
06 April 2013


  1. Ozzy (adrian Osborne)..7 April 2013 at 15:48

    John, whilst the work is easy to comprehend, it is difficult to read, painful...was that your intention ?

    1. Adrian,
      Thank you for your comment. I guess that the simple answer is yes.
      I am using my blog and my poetry to help me to find a new me, one that can live in the body I was left with after the accident.
      It is a tough journey, one that I am told will get tougher as the years pass, yet one I am determined to make. This poem is about achieving goals in spite of overwhelming difficulty and, yes some will find it hard to read, but if I am to do a good job as a writer I need to communicate triumph over adversity and where triumph involves walking a mere few hundred meters, the adversity needs to be substantial.

  2. Ozzy (Adrian Osborne)7 April 2013 at 23:24

    I dunno if this will make sense ? but, I was kind of walking along with you, I wanted to tell you to stop, but I think that would of been selfish of me....I hope you manage to absorb those views many times my friend !!

    1. Adrian, Thank you. A friend of mine actually passed me with her children and dog, and being concerned she popped back to offer support. I thought she might suggest I stop and I realised that achieving the goal was so important that I had to go on. I realised at that point that a failure would put me on the cliff top. Fortunately she realised how determined I was and having offered a few words of support she left me to crack on.

    2. I have read a lot of your poems and blogs now JB, and for me this is one of your best, as it is the the one that reminds me most of you. Both you and your poem reminded me of a much used quote:
      Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior. Heraclitus.

      Anyone that knows you from your military career will know that you were one of the warriors - always remember that, whatever your circumstances, whether you need a stick or a wheelchair, this poem shows you remain that warrior. Keep Going

    3. Hovis, Many thanks. This has been the hardest thing I have ever faced, P company was a breeze compared to 5 years of CRPS. Support such as yours is very much appreciated. I guess I will have to write one about rolling cars on the E30 sometime ;-)

    4. Ha ha - would love to read your verse on your memories of that event!!!

  3. Ozzy (Adrian Osborne)8 April 2013 at 19:17

    Crack on mate, all the best !!


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