Monday, 29 September 2014

The Breakfast News

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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.

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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

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Ebola - Too Little, Too Late

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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

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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

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