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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, 3 September 2017

The Seven


I wrote this poem in 2011 and forgot to post it, it is about the men and women who repatriate servicemen who have died on operations.

The Seven

The blades spin to a stop.
The ramp is lowered.
Immaculate, the seven march forward.

Minutes pass.
Solemnly the seven emerge,
bringing their comrade home.

Hands rest on the shoulders
bearing the casket
offering hidden comfort.

For these brave men
bring a comrade home
draped in a Union Flag.

As eight they served together
deep friendships forged in fire
like brothers; but unrelated.

Grim faces hide churning emotions.
Tears may flow, but not now,
for this is not the time.

The slow-march ends.
Their comrade is lowered and
passed into the waiting hearse.

A bugle sounds.
Their friend is borne away
leaving the seven behind.

They’re left to face the demons
of loss and guilt and fear,
duty over; it’s time to share a beer.

John Carré Buchanan
14 January 2011

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