Saturday, 22 February 2014

Fighting Alligators

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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

Image Source: John Buchanan

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

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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

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