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
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
If you click on the link below you can listen to me read this poem.
This poem is linked to Poets United.