Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Wheelchair

On occasion I use a wheelchair to help me get about. It is an amazing tool which provides me with freedom that pain often constrains. The difference in the way some people treat me when I use my chair is fascinating. This poem explores two regular experiences that really get under my skin; calling me a wheelchair and refusing to allow me to pass. My response to the second is childish but...

The Wheelchair

The accident damaged my legs
sometimes I use a chair
it's a tool, it gives freedom
but at a cost.
It costs my humanity.
No longer am I a man....
The mother to her child
"mind the wheelchair",
the flight attendant,
"we've got one wheelchair"
the police man,
"make way for the wheelchair,"
the youth in the pub
"mind your back wheelchair coming through".
Not the man - the wheelchair
The man is invisible,
society doesn't do disability.
it tries to ignore,
makes people vanish.
You get used to it, I'm almost immune;
but sometimes, I snap.
the polite "excuse me" deliberately ignored
leaves me trapped by a wall of legs.
The chair gets a mind of its own
control slackens from expert to disabled
the wheel 'accidentally' rolls over a foot
and in that instant I'm not a wheelchair
I'm the “bastard”
noticed, then grudgingly forgiven
because I'm just a wheelchair!

John Carré Buchanan
15 October 2017

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Space Junk

​This poem was written following the prompt; 'Dark Moon, New Moon' set by Poets United.

Space Junk

Dark moon, the stars twinkle,
specks of cosmic dust
on an ink black backdrop.
A satellite traverses the sky,
reflects light to an upturned eye.
Yes we even pollute the heavens.

Up there in the moonless void;
a glove, spanners, paint flecks, a toothbrush,
frozen drops of toxic chemicals
and shards of shattered metal,
circle the planet in a swirling mass
of supersonic debris.

Kessler theorised a chain reaction
where colliding debris shatters
into ever smaller pieces
each collision making more
of the speeding shrapnel.

The satellites we rely on
for weather, communication,
agriculture, defence,
location and even time
run a gauntlet through this heavenly garbage patch.

Our modern way of life is threatened
for without satellites; communication's lost;
markets crash, supply chains fail,
there's no internet, phone, there's no email.
and yet; out there, far beyond our own sphere...

we fly-tip on a cosmic scale
crashing space craft into other worlds
and our Voyagers speed onward
across intergalactic space
as we seek enlightenment
and new moons.

John Carré Buchanan
15 October 2017

This poem is linked to Poets United.

Saturday, 14 October 2017


Each year we produce nearly 300 million tons of plastic, half of which is for single use. It is estimated that more than 8 million tons of this is dumped into our oceans. The damage to marine ecosystems is devastating.

I find it incredible that despite knowing about the damage we are doing to both to the planet and our own food chains and ultimately our health we continue to pollute.

I have embedded Chris Jordan’s powerful video below; it shows the effects of our actions on Midway, an Island 2000 miles from the nearest continent. I urge you to take the time to watch it and I hope that this post makes you think about the products you use, you might not even know that your shower gel, toothpaste and makeup contain plastic microbeads.


Polly bag, plastic tag,
Bic lighter, Huggies diaper,
flip flop, bottle top,
Lego block, zip lock,
fishing line, bailing twine,
piece of rope, Stethoscope,
six pack, plastic cap,
coffee sack, bubble wrap,
tape cassette, gill net,
Kinder egg, clothes peg,
plastic spork, builder's caulk,
cigarette butt, cat gut,
Styrofoam, garden gnome,
orange buoy, sex toy,
soda bottle, hose nozzle,
used syringe, broken hinge,
pregnancy test, high viz vest,
plastic duck, hockey puck,
doorbell , shower gel,
facial scrub, washtub,
zip tie, dolls eye,
makeup, plastic cup,
nurdles, girdles,
tooth paste.
All of this is plastic waste.

The oceans churn to break it down
but plastic’s made to last.
Chemicals leach and particles reach;
the turtle, starved or made infertile,
the albatross chick slowly fed to death,
fish poisoned and mutated,
Cetacea and seals, who drown slowly in nets.
And mankind? well we do the human thing;
dump eight million tonnes of plastic into their oceans each year.

John Carré Buchanan
13 October 2017

This poem is linked to Poets United.

MIDWAY a Message from the Gyre : a short film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

Sunday, 8 October 2017


​This poem was written following a prompt of "Autumn" from Poets United.


The leaves are falling,
elephant, tiger, rhino, pangolin.
Look; the leaves are falling,
coral reef, shark, narwhal, dolphin.
Out there leaves are falling everywhere,
arctic fox, walrus and polar bear.
Yes it's a tragedy
but no one seems to care.
We reel in horror when it's a few of our own
but complacent we sit and watch
as the last leaves fall.
Golden frog, striped newt,
redwood, teak, mahogany,
dragon fly, carpet moth, honeybee…
Winter's coming
and this time; there’ll be no spring.

John Carré Buchanan
07 October 2017

This poem is linked to Poets United.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Peace Keeper

​This poem was written following a prompt of "Peace" from Poets United.

Having served as a soldier and officer in the British Army I found that about half of my operational tours were spent serving as a 'peace keeper' wearing the United Nations' blue beret. A thankless task which involved living in highly undesirable places while keeping two or more protagonists apart. These missions were often hampered by rules of engagement (ROE) which some bureaucrat in a nice warm office thousands of miles away had dreamt up. Sadly these ROE often meant that harm happened in spite of the UN's presence. Another feature of UN tours is that the kit always seemed to break as was the case with the Landrover in the image above. (Bosnia 1992).

The poem explores the dichotomy of professional soldiers keeping the peace.

The Peace Keeper

They trained him to kill.
To remove a face mask with his fingers,
slit a throat, sever a brain stem.
He can shoot centre mass,
advance with bayonet,
post a grenade,
take out a tank and make a bomb.
He's directed fire and lase'd targets.
They taught him to ambush
to advance under fire,
to suppress his own fear and press forward,
to fend for his mates - he will go it alone
and can kill with a shovel a stick or a stone.
His aggression's controlled, but
behind his tranquil eyes and square jaw
is a highly trained soldier ready for war.
Now he stands between combatants
capability checked,
the irony...
The rules of engagement in his pocket
and the blue beret on his head
make him the peace keeper.

John Carré Buchanan
15 September 2017

This poem is linked to Poets United.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Off The Wall

​Our next open mic has a theme "Off the Wall", this poem arguably uses this phrase in three different contexts! In addition Poets United gave a midweek motif prompt of 'Reunions'...

It is interesting to think that the Berlin Wall stood for 28 years (August 1961 - 9 November 1989) and this year marks 28 years since the momentous events described below.

My apologies for my German, I hope you like the poem.

Off The Wall

"Runter von der Mauer"*
the order barked to no avail.
Victoria atop the Quadriga **
looked down at the multitude.
Water cannon fired, then stopped.
Confused guards stood agog
as gates were thrown asunder.
The stunned crowd
emboldened, found Freedom!
They surged through the gates and danced.
Hands reached high grasping pulling
feet scrabbling, as people climbed
to dance on the wall.
Shouts, cheers, and tears of joy as
revellers wielded hammers and picks
to tear down, to reunite.
Cameras rolled; the world marvelled
as amidst the melee
this symbol of oppression,
where so many lives were lost
was breached by a crowd
of cheering, dancing, Berliners.
One generation on and
barring a line of stone
you'd hardly know it existed,
A nation reunited and
the wall's been well and truly off'd.

John Carré Buchanan
07 September 2017.

* Runter von der Mauer is German for "Get off the wall"'
** The goddess in the Quadriga atop the Brandenburg gate was originally named Eirene, The Greek goddess of peace. Following the victory over Napoleon (and her repatriation) the attribution was changed to Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory.

This poem is linked to Poets United.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


This poem was written for an open mic with cats as the subject, it is dedicated to Socks, my three legged cat, who thrives in the face of adversity;


I remember the day I found you
lying crumpled on the verge,
I'd been looking for your sister
when I somehow felt an urge...

There you lay twisted and broken
your life hanging by a thread;
I prayed that I'd not lose you too,
as I gently held your head.

They took your leg to save you.
As I watched you overcome
I marvelled as you learnt to walk,
then jump, hunt and run.

After I was struck down
you tucked in close beside
silently gave me the courage
my demons to deride.

You've been a good friend to me;
as I struggle to overcome
you've shared with me the strength
to survive and not succumb.

My fingers massage your scars
beneath your silky fur
and you sooth mine
with your reassuring purr.

John Carré Buchanan
20 August 2017

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Assassin

A poem on the joys of owning cats, if in fact it is possible to own a cat!

The Assassin

Briefly the silence is broken,
the click - clack of the flap,
then nothing.
Peripheral vision might catch a flicker
or a deepening shadow
as he slips through the kitchen
not wanting to see or be seen.
Later; much later,
you'll find him in your favourite chair
curled in a sleek ball
eyes closed,
daring you to stroke him
with his nonchalant air.
And there on the floor
an unstuffed trophy lies,
surrounded by its own feathers
having uttered its last tweet.

John Carré Buchanan
19 August 2017

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Empty Nest

This week my wife and I became 'empty nesters'. The experience prompted this poem;

Empty Nest

And now they've gone.
Where the stairs thundered,
Where guitars or music blared,
The chatter at the table,
Excited voices through ceilings,
The summons from the kitchen
not needed.
The slammed door,
the morning rush,
the toilet flush,
I sit and wonder
the cacophony of
twenty one years

John Carré Buchanan
30 July 2017

Friday, 7 July 2017

Black Dog

This poem is written on the Open Mic theme; 'Dog'.

Black Dog

I have three black dogs;

A little one called Loki
a vibrant ball of fun,
then Ame, getting old now
she has a smelly bum.

The third is mean and vicious
it stalks me most the time
its growls are seditious
it's demeanour is malign.

In the end; It will kill me,
a conclusion long forgone.
I wish that I could shake it
but the bastard's name, is John.

John Carré Buchanan
05 July 2017

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Reunion

I wrote this poem following a reunion I attended last week.

The Reunion

One by one they file in
a quick cheer, insults traded
firm hard shakes, back slaps,
the call for another pint.
A roll call of sorts;
'whose arriving? when?'
Old friendships rekindle instantly
time itself rewound.
The circle and volume grow
tall tales and beers flow
onlookers eavesdrop and wonder;
for this form of friendship
is too special for ordinary folk,
these comrades share bonds
stronger then the very lives they tie.

John Carré Buchanan
25 June 2017

This poem is linked to; Poets United.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Sitting On The Pan

Image Source:

This is the second of two poems I wrote whilst traveling to the UK yesterday. I hope you like it.

Sitting On The Pan

The flight's all boarded, nice and neat
everyone has got a seat
inflight checks have been done
a safety brief for everyone
no one listens, they never do
well ok, perhaps a few.
A speaker crackles into life
the captain says we face more strife
a short delay while a slot is found
the aeroplane is stuck on ground
the door is open for fresh air
and avture makes that air smell queer.
Eventually things fall in line
I can't help think, "about bloody time!"
the plane's pushed back as tables stow
upright seats, we're ready... Go!
the mewling baby's fallen quiet
we're on our way, what a riot.

John Carré Buchanan
22 June 2017

Departure Lounge Blues

Image Source:

I flew off Island yesterday to go to a reunion, the trip did not go as smoothly as I had hoped, on the positive side it inspired two poems, here is the first;

Departure Lounge Blues

I'm waiting on a flipping 'plane,
the retched flight's delayed again,
it always seems to be the same,
departure lounge - waiting game.

No water through security,
replacement available; for a fee.
They say the wifi here is free,
but can't log on it's so dodgy!

The tannoy squawks into life,
"don't leave your bags or there'll be strife"
and calls delaying flights are rife.
For some this is a way of life!

Frazzled parents, excited kids,
business men, deals on skids,
and tempers rise ....... God forbids;
lean back, breath and close eyelids.

Then comes the call, the flight is ready
the rush and crush as folk so heady
board the flight that's not quite ready
and in the rush someone left teddy......

John Carré Buchanan
22 June 2017

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Parás On Parade

The rubber on the end of your sustainable wooden pencil may look harmless but it is the result of an industry which is having a significant negative impact on the environment.

The felling of primary forests to plant plantations has a significant impact on biodiversity and the chemicals and water used to process the latex also damage the surrounding land and watercourses.

Rubber, having been treated with harsh chemicals is toxic and the disposal of it in land fill or as rubber tire marbles on our roads is also cause for concern.

This poem, written for our next open mic which is themed 'rubber', aims to highlight the plight of the trees. As an retired member of the Parachute Regiment I couldn't resist the name which is explained in the footnote.

Parás On Parade*

Like captured soldiers they stand in ranks
Their lifeblood drips from open wounds
carved into their skin,
tapped to small vessels,
collected, processed and turned into
tires, boots, balls and rubber bands.
For thirty years they'll stand;
and then - exhausted
they'll be torn down, replaced.
and their offspring will endure
The same fate; so that we
can erase our mistakes.

John Carré Buchanan
17 June 2017

* The Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) is the preferred source of commercially grown natural rubber latex.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Double Maths

Image Source:

​The subject for this month's open mic is 'rubber'. This poem is my take on the topic, I hope you like it.

Double Maths

The black gown swept in,
flecked in dandruff and chalk
and the dance began again.
Function, cosine, blah blah blah.
The chalk bounced on the blackboard
its staccato bursts leaving
a nonsensical trail of symbols
hurriedly transcribed to paper
by confused students
before a felt lined wooden block
turned it to a cloud of dust.
The protestation from the back;
a voice asking 'what...'
cut off by a barked 'SHUT UP'
and a flying blackboard rubber.

John Carré Buchanan
09 June 2017

This poem is linked to Poets United.

Saturday, 20 May 2017


​The subject for this month's Open Mic is 'teeth'. This poem is directed at the ivory trade but could equally apply to the destruction of many other animal and plant species around the world.


The grass here is lush this year
where last t'was trodden down.
The soil this year is richer here
since poachers bought them down.
Amidst the grass great boulders lie
that were not here before;
before the crack and thump,
the panga's* ring and chainsaw's roar
that soaked the soil in pools of gore.
All that's left of them this year;
white boulders strewn in rich grass
and the sound of distant pianos.

John Carré Buchanan
19 May 2017

* A panga is another name for a machete.

This poem is linked to Poets United.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


A poem on the way fear is used to oppress the masses;


There's nothing like a little fear
to keep the proles in check.
Just keep them feeling frightened
so that you can skew the deck.

Dictators and governments,
ancient kings and queens
all have used the ‘bogeyman’
to help achieve their dreams.

To catch or kill a terrorist,
or keep the fuel tank full,
they'll let you steal their liberties
and not think rational.

They’ll let you tap their telephone
and track their every move,
they'll even pay the media
to keep them in the groove.

A constant stream of atrocities
fills their every screen.
Yet they're much more likely
to die without a scream.

The world is more peaceful
then it's ever been before,
a violent death’s unlikely,
as is pestilence, disease and war.

Yes: there's nothing like a little fear
to keep the proles in check.
Just keep them feeling frightened;
… My turn to skew the deck

If you're a tiger, a snow leopard,
butterfly or polar bear,
You've every right to be frightened
for man's greed outstrips all fear.

John Carré Buchanan
23 April 2017

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Too Much Chocolate

Our next open mic happens just after Easter and the theme will be ‘Too Much Chocolate’.

Chocolate contains cocoa, sugar, palm oil and milk (cattle), four ingredients that are responsible for huge tracts of primary rain-forest being destroyed across the globe. I thought this poem should represent the voices of forests and their inhabitants. I make no apologies for the last line.

Too Much Chocolate

Last week we heard a distant roar
that drifted on the air,
it crept ever closer
and bought with it despair.

The pillars are still falling
and all around us now
the constant whine of chainsaw
lays our forest bare.

You'll turn it into pasture
or cover it in palm.
Drag away the timber
to turn into a barn.

In places you'll plant cocoa,
where it shouldn't really grow
and it will leach the soil
and the insects they will go.

Then the birds that feed upon them
and the plants they pollinate
will vanish in a moment
from the hell that you'll create.

This Easter as you celebrate
the life that was reborn,
remember us, I beg,
for you decimate our forest
for a f***ing chocolate egg.

John Carré Buchanan
08 April 2017