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


  1. I really like the free verse stuff you're writing lately. Nice work. It's straightforward, honest and heartfelt, and that comes through so much better when one isn't constrained by rhyme and meter.

    1. Andy, Thank you for your kind comment. I am glad you like the new style. I guess that I have Susan Jones to thank for convincing me to move forward and away from end rhyme. It will be interesting to see where it takes me.

  2. Ahh Digging in - done it a few times - but for me digging in will always be about a certain exercise at Thetford RMAS 86/3!! Keep on digging JB

    1. Yes, I remember Ex Marathon Chase, that was a chilly one, first and only time I was on an exercise that was called in from the cold. (Although I did do several that were much more uncomfortable) I almost used a photo I took from my trench looking out over the snow for this post. I will never forget our friends from Belize and Oman turn ashen grey as the temperature dropped through the floor. Great Memories.

    2. Ha - I especially remember Stevie Beek from the Jamaican Defence Force suffering. Had colder, more uncomfortable exercises and deployments, but none when we were forced to use circa 1958 kit!! Good old Sandhurst - sorry tiny bit sidetracked from the poem - excellent!! Always enjoy your poems when I can hear your defiance!!

    3. Them be the days..... Thanks for your continued support.

  3. Oh yes, that 'irrational' voice continuously lurks in the background waiting to pounce whenever you're trying to do something positive, and going back to bed always seems like the easier option BUT don't do it. In time that voice will find out whose boss and won't appear as often.

    Brilliant poem John. Despite what life throws at you, you just have to keep digging in. Giving up is not an option. Swimming is also a very good way to get exercise.

    1. Thank you Rum Punch Drunk, I am glad you enjoyed the poem.


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