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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Dash

Image Source:

Section Battle Drills are a fundamental part of a British soldier's basic training. They are, quite literally, 'drilled' into recruits until they become second nature. They are designed to teach the six phases of a battle and by so doing they maximise both the individual soldier's chances of survival and the section's chances of closing with and destroying the enemy.

This poem is based on an event which took place on a range in Brecon when my section corporal used a 7.62 Self Loading Rifle fired from just behind me to simulate enemy fire. Funny old thing; the second drill; 'Reaction to Effective Enemy Fire' (Dash, Down, Crawl, Observe, Sights, Fire) still rattles through my brain every now and again.

Dash

I ran.
Water burst in the air,
stone split and spat at my feet
sharp staccato cracks filled my ears.
One thought, no time for more,
Take cover
STONES FLEW
COVER
Down, crawl, observe, sights
... Fire.
Later as I checked my feet,
I found the hole
... in my boot's rubber heel.

John Carré Buchanan
27 December 2014

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Morning

Image Source:

Merry Christmas everyone, I thought I would post this short poem inspired by memories of my father throwing my new 'paratrooper Action Man' out of a first floor window, whilst I stood below looking forward to my go;-)

I hope you enjoy the poem and once again; Merry Christmas.

Christmas Morning

Giggles erupt from the huddle.
Excited nudges, toothless smiles.
The air fills with high pitched chatter,
as children talk all at once; no one listening.
Too much fun.

Shiny paper torn asunder, thrust behind.
Fingers break into cardboard boxes
to grasp treasures within.

Hovering in the background,
camera flashing,
parents revel in the joy before them.
A Christmas scene played out
in a thousand living rooms.

It won't be long before little voices everywhere plead;
"Daddy, please can I have a go?
...... IT IS MINE !"

John Carré Buchanan
05 December 2014

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Toy

Image Source:

I wrote this poem for the next Guernsey Poet's open mic, the non compulsory theme being; 'Toys'.

It is a sad fact that children in countries that have bee affected by war fall victim to ordnance which litters the countryside. I have based this poem in a non-specific tropical country but munitions left over from both World Wars still litter the fields of Europe.

The Toy

Quick bare feet flick red dust from the path
It swirls briefly in the warm dry air
then settles amidst golden grass

The boys jump back and forth across a ditch
the game, follow the leader,
faster and faster across the scrubland.

Sharp eyes scan the leader's foot fall
the young mind adjusts each step
to ensure it's placed precisely on the trail.

A ray of light cast eight minutes ago
by a burning sun, millions of miles away, stops the game
as a glint catches sharp eyes.

Young hands grasp the unusual, shiny, object.
They rotate it, examine it, shake it
and admire smiling reflections in its silver skin.

The chase begins anew; the cylinder - a baton
passed from hand to hand in a relay
which takes the two home.

A voice calls, they race inside
the new 'toy' tossed to a corner
where it bounces and spins on the earthen floor

Later, in the gloom, of the sparsely furnished home
father steps on a strange metallic object
and a bead of sweat runs down his back.

John Carré Buchanan
08 December 2014

Friday, 5 December 2014

Smiles

Image Source:

I was in town this morning looking at all the ‘tat’ that people are buying in preparation for Christmas. It was sad to think that so much of it would fall out of favour, be broken, or simply thrown away before the New Year starts. It was this train of thought that led to the following poem;

Smiles

Trucks spill their contents to the floor
little fingers pick through piles of fetid waste
to grasp at scraps others discard.
Not for these, shiny paper.
Not for them, a three course meal.
Here on a city dump
a doll with no arms,
a wheel with no spokes
or blocks with letters they can't read
bring wider smiles than many
on 'developed' streets.

John Carré Buchanan
05 December 2014

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Emotions High

Image: A Barroom Brawl - Anton Otto Fischer (1882-1962)

The theme for last nights Open Mic was; 'a poem based on an article in a newspaper or magazine'. The Guernsey Press headline; "Mourners involved in Town fight", caught my eye and the following poem was the result. I hope you like it.

Emotions High

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust;
to dust up.
Down into the ground,
down into town,
down the hatch,
light the match.
Emotions high
tempers fly
a fan smashed,
headline splashed;
"Mourners involved in Town fight"
police ask for insight,
whilst down with the worms
the departed turns.

John Carré Buchanan
7 November 2014

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Pause

Image Source:
 

I was in town this morning at 11:00 hrs. This gave rise to the following poem, I hope you like it.

The Pause

The siren wails,
Its caterwaul blankets the town
in the sound of yesteryear.
Then, at eleven sharp,
the dull thump of a canon
echoes through grey streets.
It bounces off granite facades,
sweeps over ancient cobbles
like an invisible broom
it clears the clatter and hubbub
of everyday life.
An eerie silence descends
as the metropolis stills.
People stop to reflect,
heads bowed,
thoughts, private.
The brief interlude ends
As the "All Clear" sounds,
Heroes remembered,
thanked,
as we, the free,
resume our busy lives.

John Carré Buchanan
11 November 2014

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Fame

Last night I attended the local Open Mic evening. These evenings have a non-compulsory theme and last nights was; 'when I met someone famous'.

It struck me that, as an expatriate and an Army Officer, I had met a wide variety of 'famous' people, but I had also met many 'people of great value'. In my mind it is the latter group which is more worthy of acclaim. Whilst many famous people do a lot of good in the world it is ordinary people who are often best placed to add extraordinary value.

The following poem is dedicated to the millions of people of great value around the world.

Fame

Oh!
While we're all name dropping I'll have a go,
Queen Elizabeth, King Hussein,
Princes; Charles, Andrew and Pavlos of Greece.
Princesses; Aisha of Jordan, Diana and Anne
Politicians so many, I’ll name but a few;
Maggie, John Major, Ian Paisley - that’ll do.
From TV Kate Adie, John Simpson and Martin Bell
I interviewed Kenny Everett, Dame Jackson and Lord Weatherill.
Then there were sports folk, like Daley and Tessa
and dukes and duchesses, and one contessa
A slack hand full of generals, De La Billiere, Rose, Jackson
Church leaders I’ve met just two;
Robert Runcie and Desmond Tutu.
I’ve hosted bands like ‘The Sweet’,
and met Victor Meldrew.

I could go on but when all’s said and done
they're all just people like you and me.
Some fun to be with, others, just glum.

but the person I remember most,
wore mud streaks on a face like a ghost,
at six she'd lost her parents to a boy with a gun
and roamed dangerous streets alone.

We all have our heroes, the great and the wise
but A list or B list I’ve come to despise,
For when you’re out on your ear
and your folks have been shot
fame does not matter one single jot.

It’s how you treat others, that sets you apart,
true heroes fill the cracks in society
unsung, just getting on
and no one’s as important as;
a child’s dad or mum.

John Carré Buchanan
20 October 2014

Saturday, 18 October 2014

It's Only Pain

During the last year or so I have managed to wean myself off the prescription opiates and anti-depressants I was using to control CRPS. This had the added benefit of allowing me to stop seeing the doctors and nurses who were treating me using conventional pain treatment models.

Since I escaped their clutches, I have remained drug free, lost over 50 Lbs in weight and set myself the goal of completing a half Ironman (known as Granite man) next year. People who meet me often say that they are glad that I’ve recovered; unfortunately this is not the case. I still have CRPS, my pain levels remain super high and I still suffer from bouts of depression.

Chronic pain exists almost as an entity; it is not like acute pain which is designed to stop you from harming yourself. This has made training pretty difficult, as CRPS masks acute pain caused by normal training injuries. (When you’re standing in a fire it’s hard to tell you have a hamstring problem.) My solution has been to return to the premise I learnt as a young paratrooper; “Whatever it does to me, it can’t make me pregnant!”

The following poem is a candid insight into my daily struggle with CRPS.

It’s Only Pain

“It’s only pain”,
the mantra whispered again and again.
As if to convince me the waves are not there,
they just feel like a phosphorous flare.
As they flow and they burn
I just have to learn,
That; “no harm’s being done”.

Nausea wells deep inside
as the skin of my leg is gently fried.
Unlike real fire, nerves remain whole
so there’s no mercy for this tortured soul.
Twenty-four seven I have to endure
they tell me; “there is no cure”.
“It’s only pain”, I say it again.

I push and I strive
as I make to survive.
My mind carries just three thoughts
Ouch,
Why bother? and
“It’s only pain”,
said again and again.

John Carré Buchanan
18 October 2014

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Infection - Jihad

Image Source:

The news is dominated with the rise of IS in Iraq and Syria and to a lesser degree the spread of the deadly Ebola virus from West Africa to Texas. Whilst not related the two news items do bear a number of similarities, not least of which is a spectacular lack of action until things had got out of hand. This chain of thought led me to write the following poem;

Infection - Jihad

I creep, my insipid movement, invisible.
Who would notice me amidst the crowd?
Slowly, as I meet, I become; we,
and in turn; we become a force majeure,
invisible, but our strength grows.
Minute by minute, hour by hour,
the infection spreads
until the time is right.
Then we explode onto the scene,
overwhelm order and normality,
tear at the very fabric of the host
within which we, the disaffected,
hid, rubbed shoulders and spread.
Our aim; 'to dominate',
to destroy all that is not, us.

John Carré Buchanan
01 October 2014

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Breakfast News

Image Source:

I was in the Gym this morning and the TV was playing the breakfast news. The all too familiar image of cross hairs hovering as a smart bomb destroyed a compound played out on the screen. This gruesome clip was accompanied by the anchor’s sombre but upbeat soundtrack.

Having witnessed the sort of damage the ordnance being used causes, I was suddenly aware of just how biased reporting can be. I don’t condone the actions of IS, they are horrendous and they need to be stopped, but I couldn’t help wondering why watching the deaths of numerous people could be considered reasonable breakfast fare whilst the death of one was not. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to see the images of hostages being murdered any more than I want to see exploding smart bombs but both pieces of film footage were designed for the same political / propaganda role and I personally don't want to see either.

This train of thought led to the following poem, which aims to remind the reader that all death caused by war is tragic, and should never be celebrated.

The Breakfast News

The unfortunate kneels in front of his assailant
dressed in orange.
Rhetoric flows as cameras turn
and then,
and then the world recoils in terror.
Images banned, taken down,
the action condemned.

Grainy crosshairs in black and white
float on our screens
hovering over a nondescript compound.
Suddenly the image flares
and fades back to a pall of smoke
clearing to reveal ruins and smoldering vehicles
overlaid by a gloating anchor's voice.

Injustice?
One solitary death, gruesome
condemned by those it aimed to terrorise
yet a compound, filled with mutilated corpses
and screams of the injured
sanitised by distance and a grainy shot,
is somehow seen as good.

John Carré Buchanan
29 September 2014

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go.


There is a romantic image of troops setting off to war in which marching men pass through cheering crowds being bombarded with well-wishes and flowers.

In my experience departures on Ops were more likely to be a lonely, thought filled, walk in the middle of the night. If the Quartermaster had done his job correctly he would have indented for cold and wet weather to maximise the benefit!

The walk would be followed by brief periods of frenetic activity interspersed with a lot of hanging around, soldiers call this; 'Rush to Wait'.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go.

He silences the alarm before she digs him in the ribs,
dresses swiftly in the dark and creeps downstairs
taking care to avoid the squeaky stair.
Quietly he steps into the cool nocturnal gloom.
His breath hangs on the chill night air.
With practiced ease he swings the Bergen to his back.
Turns a key in the lock and pauses,
eyes glued to the unlit glass
mind focused on the sleeping heads inside.
He turns, shrugs and fades into the shadows;
absorbed by the night.
All that betrays his presence
is the measured sound of boots upon the road.
Other humpbacked figures appear and disappear
fading in and out of light cones
cast by lamps which illuminate
coils of razor wire on the fence top
as it runs on in to the mist.
At the barrier he shows his ID and joins the throng.
Rush to wait......
Time ticks past, an hour in her arms;
lost.
He knows not when, or if,
he will hold her again.
Name called, he boards the bus,
fills from the back, sits, eyes closed,
sleep envelopes
a warrior off to war.

John Carré Buchanan
12 September 2014




This poem is linked to Poets United.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Ebola - Too Little, Too Late

Image Source:

I used to ship ore out of Guinea before my accident, as such I have friends and business acquaintances in the area and I keep an eye on what is happening in the country. It has always staggered me that despite so much of our industry being based on raw materials from Africa, we do not appear to take much interest in what is happening on this continent.

The current Ebola catastrophe is a case in point, it started in December 2013 and agencies such as MSF and the WHO have been calling for action for months. It is only now that the situation is untenable that the rich countries of the world are beginning to be shamed into action.

I wrote this poem to express my anger and also raise the question; is a crisis in Africa actually too good a thing for the West to stop? Cynical maybe, but ....

Ebola Too Litle Too Late

It started with the sniffles
but soon became much worse,
when blood erupted from her eyes
and internal organs burst.

By then her kids were sniffling
on their way to school
and others in the village
where dying, blood in stool.

The doctor, a shaman,
tried to lift the curse
but the spirits were too angry
and he only made it worse.

For months the world ignored it;
Africa’s just not vogue.
The infection secured its grip
A dark satanic rogue.

The infection spread like wild fire
clinics were overcome
and even the best trained medics
eventually succumb.

Families raided hospitals
to take their loved ones home.
They didn't realise a casual touch
would see them all entombed.

When foreign medics fell sick
world interest began to rise.
Whisked back home for treatment
a few of them survive.

The risk of cross infection
makes a handshake unwise
for hid within a proffered hand
Armageddon lies.

International borders close,
curfews are applied,
travel is restricted
yet still, people die.

Farmers can’t tend crops
The market stalls are bare.
With no planting for next year
there won’t be food to share.

Soldiers join the police on streets
As looters begin to riot
Anger and resentment rise
As fear ferments disquiet.

Hands reach for machetes
infected blood flows.
Meanwhile the world dawdles
as the African death toll grows.

Oh, it will come and bite us
When it lands upon our shores
Or a lack of raw materials
puts our industry on all fours.

But default on trade agreements
or fail to pay off loans
and the rich will get still richer
on a pile of African bones.

John Carré Buchanan
15 September 2014

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Drum


Whilst swimming this morning I became aware of my pulse beating away in my head, this triggered a thought process which resulted in the following poem, I hope you like it;

The Drum

The drum beats,
B-boom, B-boom,
its steady rhythm
constant,
metronymic,
filling the body
with a soft, deep, pulse,
B-boom, B-boom.
At full charge,
or a mere murmur,
it matches the pace of life;
as the drummer beats
the backing track
through the whole gig.

John Carré Buchanan
04 September 2014

Monday, 4 August 2014

Treaties (1914)

Image Source: Brooklyn Eagle in July 1914

Today marks 100 years since Great Britain declared war on Germany.

'The Great War', sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, was perhaps the inevitable outcome of a series of alliances and treaties.

The war claimed approximately sixteen million lives, and a further twenty million were wounded. It also set in motion events that would change the social and political landscape of Great Britain for ever. Sadly despite being called 'the war to end all wars' human kind does not appear to have learned it's lessons.

Treaties (1914)

Princip fired twice
and the couple died.
Tempers flared,
war declared,
treaties, alliances kicked in,
allies fell in.
Men fell in,
to the mud,
the gore,
the war supposed to end all war.
At home;
women stepped up.
Land tilled,
bombs filled
and on the fronts
their loved ones - killed.
In a war supposed to end all war.

John Carré Buchanan
03 August 2014

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Mogadishu - 09 December 1992

Image Source:

This poem is a different take on ‘the beach’ theme for the next open mic.

It is a sad fact of life that people have different objectives when undertaking a common venture. This was demonstrated on the 09 December 1992 when the US Navy Seals and Marines landed on a beach near the international airport at Mogadishu as part of Operation Restore Hope.

Prior to the landings the ‘powers that be’ briefed the world’s media and local warlords on the impending operation. This lead to an absurd situation; where highly skilled warriors attempted to make a covert landing on a beach under the glare of the lights and cameras of the world’s media.

It must have been extremely nerve-racking for the men involved.

Mogadishu - 09 December 1992

Silently they cross the sea’s gloss black surface.
The dinghy propelled swiftly through the darkness
towards the shore line.
Beyond the surf;
the matt blackness of the beach rises to dunes,
silhouetted against a moonlit sky.
His heart quickens, this is it,
His mind’s eye sees the next steps;
through the surf, the silent dash across the beach,
senses alert to the slightest sound or movement.
He grabs his gear, readies his weapon,
prepares to tow the boat through the surf,
eyes, ears, vigilant.
A glance left and right to ensure the team is ready
then break from the cover of the inky water
to cross the narrow stretch of sand.
Suddenly his world erupts in dazzling light.
Night vision destroyed, his ears tune in,
voices, running feet.
He prepares for a firefight but this is no enemy.
Questions shouted, cameras, lights.
He stumbles to his feet rushes up the beach
searches for cover.
The media horde chase – press in – shout questions.
Here in the darkness stealth comes to an end.
Here on a beach near Mogadishu
he digs in, his life risked;
for the sake of a photo opportunity.

John Carré Buchanan
20 July 2014

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Beaches

Image Source:

I wrote this for an open mic with the theme; 'The Beach'. I believe it is self explanatory.

Beaches

Suddenly the trees parted
the road just stopped.
Lying there in front of me
a pristine curve of golden sand,
turquoise water fringed with lace,
lapping gently under graceful arches
topped with palm fronds.
Paradise.
But look closer.
Look amidst the tide line.
Amidst the Raffia, drift wood, coconuts, shells,
fishing net, buoys, lighters, syringes,
a lone, tar covered, flip flop.
Look closer.
Small clusters of bone and feathers
grouped around piles of plastic.
The rotting carcass of a hawksbill turtle
head and fins entangled in faded blue nylon.
Look closer still.
Tiny coloured grains pollute the sand
kill tiny creatures
PCB's, dioxins, benzine,
leach into the sand, the water
poison micro organisms
which underpin the food chain.
Poison plankton, poison fry, poison tuna,
poison man;
and the TV ad asks us to fund cancer research.
How perverse.

John Carré Buchanan
19 July 2014

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Sculptures In Eden


A few weeks ago I visited a friend who lives in a lovely house set in a beautiful garden. On stepping out of my car I was immediately aware of birdsong which seemed to fill the air.

Whilst we sat and chatted over a coffee, I couldn’t stop admiring the garden which had a number of stunning sculptures in it. The garden inspired me to write this poem.

Sculptures in Eden

Manicured lawns drop toward still water
tightly constrained beyond the tree line.
An Acacia shaped Hawthorn leans casually
to cast dappled shade and invite a picnic rug.

Light, dances in the watery mantle of a sculpted orb,
ethereal images flicker deep within the crystal ball.
A robin briefly joins the axe head on its pine-butt plinth
his steely facsimile glints in its gleaming cheek.

This glorious opera house, filled with bel-canto
is a living metaphor for the flooded vale below.
A tranquil oasis, envisaged and sculpted by man
yet filled with beauty crafted by a greater hand.

John Carré Buchanan
27 May 2014

For Pam

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Robin


Today I made yet another trip down to the idyllic Moulin Huet Tea Room. Whilst I was there I was inspired to pen a short poem about one of the garden’s residents, who was intent on letting everyone know that he owned the joint. He also graciously allowed me to take his photo.

I hope you enjoy the poem.

The Robin

The Robin owns this place
it's clear for all to see
if he isn't on the bench
he's perched up in a tree.

He hops and jumps and glides about
to search the leafy shade
for morsels of his favourite food
a banquet ready-made.

His pips betray his presence
before you see him clear,
with fiery flash, his Scarlett bib
announces; 'I am here.'

Then the little fellow pips
with voice both loud and true,
as if to say; 'well ok;
I'll share my place with you'.

John Carré Buchanan
02 July 2014

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Just Another Morning

Image Source:

I was thinking about the periods of separation faced by military families and in particular how the minutia of routines might mirror each other despite living in different environments.

These thoughts sparked the following poem, I hope you like it.

Just Another Morning

She ties laces on scuffed school shoes,
he shakes bugs from his boots.
She packs a lunch into a pink rucksack
he stuffs batteries and ammo.
She climbs into a family run-around,
whilst he climbs into a Mastiff.
Dodge traffic on a school run
dodge pot-holes, donkeys and IEDs.
Their radios play the latest hits
but in his world; the hits, hurt.
Kids dropped, weekly shop,
patrol through a crowded market.
walk the dog, back home for coffee,
canine sits to indicate, *
time slows
and thoughts turn to each other.

John Carré Buchanan
29 June 2014


* Sniffer dogs are trained to sit to indicate that they have found an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).



This poem is linked to Poets United.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Tide Line


I took another trip to Moulin Huet today (yes I am that mad). Looking out across the bay it was impossible to miss the tide line on the granite cliffs, created by the rise and fall of the tides over millennia. This led me to write a poem, I hope you like it.

Tide Line

The granite bears a tide line,
black as black can be,
as if some dirty giant
took a bath in the sea
and left a scummy tide line
on the lichen covered rocks.
But, if you look closely,
take off your shoes and socks
and scramble on the foreshore
you're in for quite a shock.
For here in this narrow band
twixt lichen and the sea
limpets and anemones cling
like jewels for all to see,
and in the little rock pools
amidst the coloured weed
guppies, shrimps and little crabs
take shelter from the sea.
Yes the granite bears a tide line
as black as black can be,
a line which hides great beauty
the treasures of the sea.

John Carré Buchanan
27 June 2014

Monday, 23 June 2014

Just Sitting

Image Source:

Whilst sitting at a the Moulin Huet Tea Rooms listening to some excellent live music, I looked out over the bay below and saw a lone skier.

I had been trying to write a poem about the music, but ended up with this one instead. I hope you like it.

Just Sitting

The bay laid out below
Rhibs, gin palaces, dinghies
their blue and white hulls
a uniform, reflected in the still water.
Further out a wakeboarder
wipes out, again.
I feel their frustration,
I know that frustration,
and knowing...

For there was a time...

There was a time
when I would cut the wake,
my rooster tail danced
from side to side,
a curtain of diamonds
which chased me
and Illuminated my life.

The boat curves gently
it's serpentine wake
envelops the skier,
returns the rope;
and building speed
the dance begins again,

and I,

I watch from my chair
with a tear in my eye.

John Carré Buchanan
21 June 2014

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Music With A View


I went to the Moulin Huet Tea Room yesterday to listen to the fabulous Ukuladeez launch their new album. They were joined by The Crowman and Esther Rose Parkes who had come over from Jersey.

The trip down to the Tea Room was very hairy (I was in my wheelchair and gravity was stronger than traction), as for the trip back.....

but what an afternoon, we even had a fly past from a Merlin helicopter.

While I was there I wrote this poem.

Music With A View

Strings vibrate the air,
the garden fills with music.
Cocked, sun-hatted heads,
listen appreciatively.
The perfect view,
constrained by the steep valley
opens to the bay,
guarded by granite cliffs
whose Jagged teeth pierce the horizon.
Within the garden,
bordered by hydrangeas
the crowd gathers,
and the excitement grows.
The band strikes up
harmonies fill the air,
heads nod, feet tap, shoulders sway.
Stunning view,
beautiful garden,
and foot stomping music.
A perfect end,
to a perfect day.

John Carré Buchanan
21 June 2014

Friday, 6 June 2014

D-Day ~ Ode to Heroes


Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-day (6th June 1944). The day on which Allied troops landed by air and sea as part of Operation NEPTUNE which was the landing phase of the broader invasion of Normandy known as Operation OVERLOARD.

Of the 160,000 troops who crossed the English Channel on D-Day, approximately 12,000 were reported as casualties with 4,400 confirmed dead.

Most of these men would baulk at being called heroes. In my opinion these men, who despite all odds delivered troops, took bridges and secured the drop-zones and beach-heads that day, are all heroes.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.”

D-Day – Ode to Heroes

Doors opened
commands flew
helmets surged forward
and the view cleared.
Darkness rushed past
and then a blast of air
tumbling…
Tumbling…
Check canopy,
kick out twists,
steer away,
and the ground rushed up
thud, roll, release, RV,
then push forward.
Capture, destroy,
clear drop zones,
gliders disgorged
as the push continued.
Capture, destroy,
bridges over Douve, Caen, Orne, Dives,
the battery at Merville
as their comrades fell
they pushed forward.

The ramp lowered
commands flew
helmets surged forward
the view cleared
sand, water, wire, smoke, bodies
stretching….
Stretching….
Push forward
into chest deep, cold water.
So cold.
Heavy battle dress; sodden
dragged down
stumbled forward
friends all around
with grim faces
over the hornet buzz of bullets
the crump of artillery and bombs
came the skirl of bagpipes playing
whilst sand laden water leaped
and men fell, torn apart
screams rent the air
and still they drove forward
on UTAH, OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO, and SWORD
they pushed on,
as comrades fell
they overcame the urge to hide
and ran, staggered and crawled forward

When their countries called
they stepped up
they paid an unimaginable price.
Some pay it still.
These men, Heroes all.
We will remember them.

John Carré Buchanan
05 June 2014

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Little Ted


I thought I would pen a small tribute to my oldest friend. The image above proves that even at fifty he still has more hair than me;-)

The poem is an acrostic based on his highly imaginative name. I hope you like it.

Little Ted

Lying in a cot
I comforted the infant.
Through years of dormitories
tucked away, safely hidden,
loved. Always loved;
even when he’d grown.

Trusted to guard his offspring;
exuding the love absorbed over
decades, lived in a child’s heart.

John Carré Buchanan
27 May 2014

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Twitcher

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For a short period of time in the early 90's I was a Primary Forward Air Controller (PFAC). This was an exciting and very challenging role which involved guiding fast jets on to their targets. Problem was; once an attack had taken place and the pilots had flown away the PFAC would still be on the ground within sight of the enemy and they would be looking for him.

For some reason this role sprung to mind when I was tasked with writing a poem themed 'birds' for this months Open Mic. The poem took 15 minutes to write, I hope you like it.

The Twitcher

The birds flew in just after dawn.
They skimmed the treetops,
left ripples on the surface of the lake.
The first, and last, their prey knew of them
was a mighty, stomach wrenching, roar
as they flashed past;
leaving dust and devastation in their wake.
Up on the hill top
he tucked the laser away,
confirmed the kill,
then crawled over the brow,
stood and broke into a tab*.
Job done,
bug out.

John Carré Buchanan
19 May 2014


* Tab; A term the Paras' use to describe a run carrying full kit. A bit like the Royal Marines' 'Yomp', but faster ;-)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Broom Cupboard


When I joined the Army in the early 80's many of the directing staff (DS) at Depot Para were Falklands veterans. They had experienced war at it's most primal level and were determined to ensure that the soldiers they trained were, to use the Regiment's motto, 'ready for anything'. By coincidence the platoon was destined to return to the same battalion as the DS, which naturally drove them to push harder and ensure that their protégés did them justice.

In this incredibly hard environment there was a need for recruits to vent and the DS used an unconventional (and very unofficial) mechanism for allowing us to do so. As such the broom cupboard became a place where differences could be settled and respect could be earned away from prying eyes.

It was also a place where I learnt that friendships forged in fire last forever.

The Broom Cupboard

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Behind the closed door
differences were settled.
The bully, strong, confident,
bought crashing to the floor
by his victim
and yet, no face was lost.

Amidst the brooms and polish
fists flew, differences were sorted;
the result stayed silent,
save for the unspoken respect
forged in the dim confines
of a place where rank
meant nothing.

John Carré Buchanan
10 May 2014

Friday, 18 April 2014

Passover - In The Voice Of Judas

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I was asked to write a poem about Easter in the voice of Judas Iscariot for a 'BBC Guernsey Radio' show being broadcast on Easter Sunday. I found that the task was harder than expected because despite Judas' key role in the Easter story, there is not much about him in the bible. This is complicated further as the accounts of what happened all differ. In addition there is the added complication of a Gospel that has been attributed to Judas, a fact which if accurate could raise questions about the timing of his death.

I have tried to show the turmoil that might have taken place within his mind, a construct that allowed me to bring in a variety of differing 'facts' without siding with any particular account. That said, I have used the word 'passover' in the title because in most of the accounts Judas is dead before Easter.

Passover - In The Voice Of Judas

It shouldn’t be like this.
Our leader, Jesus,
We needed to take the initiative.
I just wanted to shake things up.
It’s time to rise up.

I shouldn’t feel this, this guilt.​​​​
Our rabbi, Jesus,
recruited - ME; Judas.
He knew I would give him up.
He even told me to do it ‘quickly’.

It shouldn’t be like this.
The others call him; Lord.
Is that possible, the Son of God?
The scriptures foretell a betrayal.
Did God intend me to do it?

It shouldn’t end like this.
I like the guy, he’s incredible,​
the miracles, ideas, His grace.
He gave me; a thief, the purse.
Did I let Satan tempt me?

I shouldn’t be so confused.
This ‘man’ – Jesus,
What’s he all about?
What have I missed?
What’s going on?

It shouldn’t be so irrational.
Three years and I don’t know
if I helped or betrayed my friend.
Could Jesus be the Son of God?
Why don’t I understand?

I shouldn’t feel like this.
Who is the man I kissed?
Teacher? Leader? Son of God?
Was it at his behest, or did I betray him?
and why; for God, Satan, my own greed?

It shouldn’t be like this.

John Carré Buchanan
24 February 2014

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Fighting Alligators


The old adage; ‘when you are up to your arse in alligators; it’s difficult to remember that your intent was to drain the swamp’, is so true of living with CRPS.

Whichever form of treatment you prescribe to, there are side effects. All too often it feels like your sole purpose is to fight, not to win but just to slow the inevitable decline.

This poem is born from such feelings, I hope you like it.

Fighting Alligators

Drip, splat. Drip, splat,
droplets begin to merge,
a thin film forms.
Drip, splash,
now it has volume
still the rain falls.
The depth increases,
slowly, relentlessly,
I’m buoyed from the floor,
forced to tread water
in the filthy mire.
The swamp deepens,
it fills with claws and teeth.
I'm forced to fend off alligators
while the rain falls.
Claws rip, teeth gnash
the fight drags on.
Resolve, strength, my very soul,
sapped- by the incessant onslaught.
I begin to flounder,
every ounce of strength
expended in a fruitless struggle
to stay afloat, to fight alligators.
Each scintilla squandered
just to experience the languid
dismemberment of body and soul.
What's the point?
Stop kicking.

John Carré Buchanan
21 February 2014

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Colours


I wrote this poem for the next Guernsey Poets Open Mic. It is on the subject of 'Colours'. I hope you like it.

Colours

Phosphorus flares illuminate
with eerie shimmering light
ethereal clouds that drift
like spectres on the wind.
Angry orange tracer
leaps skyward from the ground
a sudden flash of brilliant white
leaves eyes awash with stars.

Moonlit shadows flicker,
amongst the tussock grass.
Where a company on its belt buckles
slowly makes advance.
Then on his chest a poppy blooms
it's petals scarlet red.
By morn' it's dried to rusty brown
against his kaki vest.

Black ink on creamy parchment
convey the fateful news.
Rosy cheeks turned ashen grey,
Tears from green eyes flowed,
they rolled past her soft red lips,
to the turquoise blouse below
to form a stain, like drops of rain
above her heaving breast.

A life time later; upon her chest
a plain red poppy’s pinned
beside ranks of rainbow ribbons
on which his medals swing.
All around the white marble;
troops, dressed in gleaming best
rally on the colours - their colours
and remember comrades lost.

Yet beneath that clear azure sky
amidst all the pomp and ceremony
A single teardrop breaks free
from a bright green eye.
It slips gently past thin red lips
where a glint of sun its prism splits
into a whole spectrum of colour
which sparkles as his soul goes by.

John Carré Buchanan
13 February 2014

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Puška


I once stood in a market place surrounded by people, who had just fled a nearby village. They carried whatever they had been able to grab before they had been forced from burning homes, they were almost all women and children.

I was part of a small team and we were very much on our own. After a while things got quite unpleasant and we were forced to withdraw. The strange thing about that day is that the events which inspired the following poem where the most pleasant, yet harrowing, part of that day.

I hope you like the poem.

Puška*

They stand in front of me
wide hollow eyes search my soul.
Grubby faces, ragged clothes, empty eyes.
Itchy fingers point,
the word "puška" comes again.
In my hands it's a tool of the trade;
yet their young eyes have seen,
their young ears have heard
and their, so very young lives, have lost.
"Puška"
I reached into my pocket
pulled out marbles and squatted.
There in the dust we played.
That day I lost a few marbles,
learned the word "puška"
and the hollow eyes still haunt me.

John Carré Buchanan
10 February 2014

* Puška - Rifle

Friday, 7 February 2014

Digging In

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I went swimming this morning and, once again, found myself knocking off lengths with an internal dialogue in my mind. The irrational voice begged me to stop and go back to bed and opiates. The rational side of my mind outlined the health and pain management benefits of exercise. As the dialogue continued I just kept swimming, and dug in.

I found myself thinking of other times when I have had to ‘dig in’ to get something done in spite of pain or discomfort. Once out of the pool and in full ‘recovery mode’ I kept thinking about ‘digging in’ and my mind wandered to the wilds of the Brecon Beacons. This resulted in the following poem, I hope you like it;

Digging In

Horizontal sleet bombards bare faced mountain slopes.
Lines of iced water score the view,
Through this scratched lens, the tableau appears featureless,
monochrome boulders interspersed with clumps of grass.
Here in this barren wilderness, they dig.
Shovel and pick toil in the rock strewn soil.
Hands slip and blister on mud covered helves
as the steel glances, bucks and jams again and again.
Slowly, painfully the bodies sink into the mountain.
The relentless internment matched only by driven rain.
The light fades, and somewhere out in that cold dark night,
they dig on.
In the morning's steely grey light,
tired eyes peer, from beneath mud streaked brows,
into that same rain scratched lens,
as they wait to move out,
then dig in again.

John Carré Buchanan
07 February 2014

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The Glacier

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Chronic Pain often results in sleep deprivation. This leaves me lying alone in a darkened room, long after the rest of my household has retired. These periods of time are when I feel the effects of CRPS the most. The potentially lethal combination of pain, depression and tiredness grate on the very fabric of my soul and survival becomes a major battle, often one I don’t particularly want to win.

I was engaged in yet another round of mindful thinking last night, trying to rationalise the thoughts; ‘why does time always drag so much?’ and ‘can’t I just skip to the end?’ I explored a number of different answers before deciding that the most appropriate answer at that point in time was; ‘because life is shit and no, not yet.’ Not perhaps the most mindful answer, but certainly one that felt closest to the mark at that specific point in time.

I penned a few notes to help me address the questions when I was in a better frame of mind, and these led me to write the following poem.

The Glacier

Seconds drift slowly by.
Layer on tortured layer.
Gradually minutes form
then grate past, slowly.
A relentless, glacial, plod.
Onward, onward, then, on.
Minutes form a solitary hour.
Slowly the mass builds,
each second layered on the last.
A clock's hands glide smoothly,
yet beneath the glacier
immeasurable forces rip and tear.
Ice gouges bedrock and rents
shards from the once mighty granite,
leaving nothing but pulverised till
strewn at its terminus.

John Carré Buchanan
01 February 2014

This poem is linked to Poets United.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Swim


Over the last five years I have gradually become less able to engage in physical pursuits. Swimming has been suggested a number of times, but as the moving water in a bath or shower is like fire on my leg I could not face a pool….

My New Year resolution was to lose weight, this meant getting off drugs, eating less and being more active, a very tall order indeed. As doing nothing was not an option and I was starving and still not losing weight, I decided to give swimming a go; it has not been a pleasant endeavour.

Fortunately I used to be a good swimmer and despite not being able to kick, it's way too painful, I am plugging in the lengths. This poem came to me whilst trying to ignore the fire flowing over my right leg.

Oh and the mile…… Dream on.

The Swim

Stroke after stroke
windmill sails
heavy limbs drawn behind
On, on, left, right
Head turns rhythmically
Air drawn, held, expelled
still the arms turn
Reach, push
Water flows past
Length after length
Slowly moving towards
the mile.

John Carré Buchanan
09 January 2014

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Please

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My continued battle with CRPS has been particularly difficult recently. My decision to go drug free has had mixed blessings as cost/benefit analysis of side effects versus pain relief and depression plays out.

It has taken eight months to come off the opiates and anti-depressants and my first 'drug free' day (ie. no base line) was marred by the need to resort to breakthrough opiates during the evening, a fact that depression was quick to focus on.

Last night as I sat head in a bucket and racked in pain I wrote the bare bones of this poem. It is not cheerful, but it goes somewhere towards illustrating what living in constant pain is like.

Please

Dreams lie scattered, shreds in life's wake.
Tattered and torn, an ensign in a storm.
Cut the halyard, set it free
to soar - unbound - on the tempest.
God on high, hear my prayer;
Cut the halyard, set me free.

John Carré Buchanan
25 January 2014

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Elevator Music

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A friend of mine has encouraged me to have a crack at writing poems which do not use end rhyme. This is perhaps the start of something new. I hope you like it.

Elevator Music

Water dances over the stone obelisk
making sweet music as it tumbles and turns.
The joyous sound, natural, calm, peaceful.
A tranquil environment, sit, lighten the load.
Yet, there is an alien tune, an intruder.
Insipid, plink plonk of piano, sax, bass.
Riffles of Jazz on endless loop.
Someone, somewhere played this
image of a dark smoke filled room.
Worse still, someone bought it
and inflicted it on tranquillity.
Why?
Turn it off, let the natural order return.
Let the rivulets run.

John Carré Buchanan
15 January 2014