Saturday, 5 December 2015

A Guide To Extending Foreign Policy

Image Source:

Reflecting on parliament's decision to bomb IS assets in Syria I recalled several lectures I attended during my military training. These lectures contained a number of 'lessons learnt' (often the hard way) during past conflicts.

The complexity of the current situation is horrendous and resolution will require the full spectrum of political and diplomatic effort. That said I can't help thinking that our politicians should be required to attend the same lectures, particularly as they are the people who ultimately define what our armed forces are tasked to do.

My thoughts and prayers are with the men and women who protect our nation and of course the people of Syria and Iraq.

The following poem sums up some key lessons.

A Guide To Extending Foreign Policy

“War is the continuation of politics by other means.” - Clausewitz

There are times when action is needed
when you just can’t stand and observe
but if you plan to use Armed Forces
take note these lessons learnt;

Regime change is not your decision
no matter what you might feel.
You have to let the people decide
not grind it in with your heel.

Rich bullies are never respected,
their acts breed envy and hate.
Win the hearts and the minds of a people
and your efforts will carry more weight.

When fighting terrorists or rebels,
you have to comply with the law,
if you break it you may win a battle
but morally you'll lose the war.

Your allies’ views will be different
they may even get in your way.
Tread carefully when taking action
lest the cons do the pros outweigh.

Befriending your enemy’s enemy,
is rarely the best way to go.
If you can’t find an ally you trust
take care; you’re in the wrong show.

You can't hold ground from a plane,
with artillery it's just the same.
If you want to hold on to what's around
you’ll have to put boots on the ground.

If you’re in you must be; all in,
there is no other way,
the reward for a half assed effort
is to be bitten another day.

Yes - war is a messy business
in which everyone gets burnt.
So before you stick your oar in
take heed these lessons hard learnt.

John Carré Buchanan
03 December 2015

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Winds Of Time

Image Source:

In the scheme of things mankind has not been on earth very long and no matter what we achieve in the future the probability is that in a geological timescale we are likely to be a mere blip in the history of this planet. That said the lifespan of Earth itself pales into insignificance in grand scheme.

This got me thinking and a the following poem breezed into mind.

Winds Of Time

The Fulani knew my power
as hunched against my breath
they drove herds in search of pasture
that I’d not smothered yet.
You call me Harmattan,
though that is not my name,
for I was here before you
before the desert came
and when your bones are naught but dust
I will still remain.

The Clatsop knew my warmth
as I swept the mountain slopes
I melted snow before me
and bought false signs of hope.
You call me Chinook
though that is not my name
for my clouds enriched sunrise
before the dawn of man
and they’ll brighten western skies
when your last race has run.

Columbus and Magellan
thought they'd harnessed me
as they navigated oceans
in search of destiny.
You call me Trade Winds
but that is not my name
for I blew before the ocean's birth
when a mighty rupture came
and I'll be blowing still
when land joins land again.

I helped shape mountains,
I swept the plains between.
From ice cap to desert
I sculpted the terrain.
I breathed, before life,
before little pools of green,
before cells came together
to crawl out from the sea
and I was here a long, long time,
before apes climbed in the trees.

Yet even I will perish
as time alone survives,
for this planet will crumble
scattered amidst the skies
it's atmosphere burnt off
carried on cosmic winds.
Our atoms will float
through a universe sublime
waiting to be born again
in the ebb and flow of time

John Carré Buchanan
31 October 2015


With thanks to Richard Fleming for his help.

This poem is linked to the midweek motif on Poets United.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Bad Form


I dislike filling in forms at the best of times, but badly crafted forms really annoy me. This poem is based on one such form, enjoy;

Bad Form

They sent a form in the post to my house
with my name and address on the top;
"Dear Mr. Buchanan... complete and return...
if you don't payments will stop".
The first three boxes I had to fill in
we're; title, name and address,
then date of birth (day month and year),
.... then they asked for my age!
but not as a number, they don't want to pry,
just tick the appropriate range.
The reference they'd used; my account number,
the next box wanted that too,
so I spent 5 minutes digging it out
…. when I realised, the air turned blue!
Then came the boxes to date and sign,
I thought the chore was over, but
just below, yes, on the same page
they asked me to sign
on a dotted line..........
to confirm I'd completed the form!

John Carré Buchanan
09 October 2015

Monday, 21 September 2015

A Full Life


Two years ago a doctor told me that it was unrealistic for me, a fifty year old man, to want to live the sort of active life that I lived before my accident and that I should accept my lot.

To me his suggestion was like telling a lion to eat grass, it wasn't going to happen. I decided then and there that I had had enough of doctors and their drugs. Two years on I have just completed my first major goal.

I hope this poem might inspire someone else to grab the bull by the horns and find the courage to go for it.

A Full Life

They said;
"After this you'll be able to live a full life."
But what did they really mean?
How did these overweight, red faced,
middle age men define "live"?
I'd never run again.
I'd never climb, or swim or jump
Or live....
but in their view,
why would a fifty year old want to run, climb or jump?
They had consigned me to their bin
their 'has been' bin.
Leave life to the young,
accept the constraints of a failing body,
fade into the mass.
So I said "NO".
I threw away their drugs,
dug deep and fought to live life again.
Baby steps at first
then as meters turned to K's
I felt the real me rise again.
Quiet determination at first
and then a blazing;
"I CAN"
"I WILL"
as the pain burned deeper
the fire within grew
and the "I CAN"
became "I DID"
and now I am ready;
To LIVE.

John Carré Buchanan
02 September 2015

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A Lucid Moment


When I started this poem I intended to examine the frustrations of growing old, losing one’s physical abilities and being left with only memories. As I wrote I realised that a far greater tragedy would be to know that you are losing those memories. I hope you like the poem;

A Lucid Moment

I never thought I'd live so long,
I didn't really plan to
I lived my life at full speed
taking risks I aught not to.

I jumped from planes
and scaled tall cliffs
I dived beneath the sea
I even stood in foreign lands
while people shot at me.

I climbed tall mountains
crossed deserts wide,
and forded rivers deep.
I hacked a path through jungles
where scary critters creep.

I loved once
with burning fire
but sickness took my heart’s desire
and I was left to live alone
with a broken heart, turned to stone.

Yes,
I planned to be a candle bright
to live life short and sweet.
but now I have the tee-shirt
life ain't half as neat.

I had a young man’s mind
In an old man’s frame
I wanted to play;
Not remember the game.

Yet now life’s dealt its cruellest blow
It stole memories formed long ago
and left me alone to sit and stare,
a frail old man
in a green armchair.

John Carré Buchanan
16 September 2015


If you click on the link below you can listen to me read this poem.



This poem is linked to Poets United.

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Weekly Shop


Walking around a supermarket the other day, I couldn’t help overhear a couple of women complaining vociferously about various items not being available on the shelves. This proved to be the spark for the following poem, I hope you like it.

The Weekly Shop

Keen bright eyes take careful aim
as the long thin pipe seeks hidden game.
Cheeks bulge, then, with a puff,
the speeding dart finds the scruff.
Deadly toxins still the beast
the hunter’s earned his next feast.

With smoking leaves and homemade axe,
high on the cliff, a young man hacks.
Angry voices fill the air
as honey bees protect their lair.
The raider drops his hard won prize
towards his family’s upturned eyes.

With nimble fingers they pluck at shrubs
collecting berries, leaves and grubs
or use sharp sticks to dig the soil
for roots and tubers they really toil.
Termite, lizard, frog and beetle
are normal fare for many people.

Heavy plant roars and rumbles
as from its bowels rubbish tumbles.
Across the piles of fetid waste
figures dash with frenzied haste
to gather scraps, with naked hands,
that filled the city’s garbage cans.

A wonky wheel on the trolley
woke her babe which sucks a dummy.
She moves along the sterile aisle
and flashes staff a plastic smile,
selects produce that bears no scar,
then pays and races to her car.

John Carré Buchanan
04 September 2015




This poem is linked to Poets United.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ruins In My Mind

Image Source:

When I return to Guernsey my family moved into a house which, in the words of the estate agent, "had lots of potential". In order to realise this potential a number of walls had to be moved and knocked through.

One morning while taking down a wall a large amount of rubble and dust piled up in the hall. As the dust cleared I had a flashback which stirred up some unpleasant memories, thoughts I had long since locked away.

Every now and again, as I walk through the hall, the sights, sounds and smells of the original event, strangely combine with those of my house renovations in my mind. It was one of these flashbacks that inspired this poem.

Ruins In My Mind

Blood trickled through the dust on a lifeless hand
sticky crimson turned black
as it dried in the grey stone dust.
And there; a shock of hair,
matted, covered in blasted stone.
here in the rubble of the wall I'd taken down
here in the hall of my own home
memories of a past
I thought I'd forgotten.
Ghosts of horrors past,
resurrected to haunt me,
resurrected to taunt me,
in the ruins of my mind.

John Carré Buchanan
16 August 2015

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Buzzword Bingo

Image Source:

For weeks now the media has been full of quotes and comments made by politicians and commentators alike. Their constant use of buzzwords reminded me of a game I once witnessed and inspired the following poem;

Buzzword Bingo

The consultant orates confidently from his platform,
flip sheets and models abound.
Whilst down in the masses, (who've heard it before),
a game's been passed around.

Delegates studiously take down notes
pens all of a quiver,
ears hang on every word
as his wisdom is calmly delivered;

"... this global solution"
heads nod and agree
"demonstrates a holistic approach",
some can't hide their glee
"delivering a one stop shop",
you could hear a pin drop.

Proudly he notes the air of excitement,
they're eating right out of his hand,
so he goes off script in a vain attempt
to 'leverage his own brand'.

"BINGO!" She cries, to accompanying groans
and a ripple of laughter ran 'round
up on the stage, the bluffer felt caged
by his ego so cruelly drowned.

John Carré Buchanan
27 April 2015

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mirrors

Image Source:

The Theme for our last Open Mic was 'Mirror'. To be honest I forgot to write anything for it, so whilst waiting for the evening to start I dashed off this acrostic (the first letters of each line spell mirror).

The image I have used displays visually the idea I was trying to get across. There are several more excellent images on this theme if you follow this link.

I hope you like the poem.

Mirrors

My face glares back at me
Image of yester-year
Registers in my mind’s eye
Rugged chin, bright eyes
Oh why do mirrors always get it
'rse about face.

John Carré Buchanan
09 March 2015

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Benches Galore

Image Source:

In April 2013 I wrote a poem called 'The Third Bench'. The poem described a short but very painful walk I took to a bench on a cliff path near my house. For some it was not easy reading. Two years on and I've been at it again...

This time I have had a year of intensive training, a new approach to pain management (called; avoid doctors and drugs at all costs.) and a huge lump of determination. When I got back I was in agony, the pain has not changed..... but my attitude, well perhaps you should read the poem; I hope you enjoy it.

Benches Galore

I’ve been working out hard
in a pool and the gym.
Has it been worth it -
the effort put in?

A jog on the cliff path
I’d best take a phone,
‘coz if I break down
I’ll be miles from home.

Last time I tried this;
I made the ‘Third Bench’
but things got real ugly,
and I cried like a wench.

I start out slowly
my sticks left at home;
I will need them later
it hurts to the bone.

I grit my teeth
ignore the pain.
Think; ‘I am the master,’
time and again.

I manage the steps,
a bit clumsy, it’s true
they’re steep and uneven
there’s more than a few.

I pass couples, families,
walkers with dogs,
we hop to the sides
a little like frogs.

Then I steam past it,
I pass the ‘Third Bench’
but this time;
this time, my heart gives a clench.

‘coz I’m on the way back
with a leg that’s real sore
and I’ve hardly a care;
I’ve passed benches GALORE.

15 February 2015
John Carré Buchanan

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Morning It Snowed

Image Source:

Living on an Island which celebrates being liberated from German occupation and having witnessed the effects of modern genocide in the Balkans, I recognise the importance of marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz which takes place today. My heart goes out to all those affected by what happened during the holocaust.

It is a disgrace that whilst the world, quite rightly, remembers the atrocities which took place under the Nazi regime, there are a number of countries in which genocide is occurring today. To our great shame, these atrocities are being allowed to occur by our governments and media who for the greater part turn a blind eye.

This poem, written 3 years ago, is for those affected by genocide wherever and whenever it has occurred.

The Morning It Snowed

His shrunken frame stood tall
She noticed dandruff on his shoulders
And brushing it watched it fall
evoking memories that still appal.

White flakes tumbling to the ground.
hollow eyes peering from windows
seeing where they were bound
as the ash settled all around.

The stench hung on misty air
walking across the courtyard
as quickly as they dare
their heads bowed low in despair.

Smoke belching from the tower
bearing souls away.
Hour after hour
ash settling on the ground like flour.

Yet they survived the Genocide
when the Devil’s dandruff
covered the countryside
leaving its wounds deep inside.

John Carré Buchanan
13 July 2011