Series Editor - Jim Bennett

Introduction by Jim Bennett


Hello.  Welcome to the next in the series of CITN featured poets.  We will be looking at the work of a different poet in each edition and I hope it will help our readers to discover some new and exciting writing.  This series is open to all to submit and I am now keen to read new work for this series.


You can join the CITN mailing list at - http://www.poetrykit.org/pkl/index.htm and following the links for Caught in the Net.



and we ate avocado and ice cream

and ginger cake and eggs

and we resisted the light and the noise

mad mad scrambling love

until sated, sated

the sentries of our senses said




                 from; Mad Love by Graham Buchan





Cremation in a Monochrome Landscape

Jazz Days

Mad Love

Iran, 1979

In bed with Shostakovich

On the train from Scotland

The Movie of my Life

The Road from Konigsberg.

This Watch

We found…..





Graham Buchan came to poetry late, having written factually for the film industry for close on twenty-five years. He also writes short stories and reviews. With the tall-lighthouse he has published Airport Reading (2004), There is Violence in these Vapours (2007) and In Bed with Shostakovich (2009), and he has appeared in five anthologies and two dozen magazines. A regular reader in London, he has twice taken his work to Austin and New York. ".... a poet who has got it all – irony, wit and lyricism, with a dash of dark realism thrown in for good measure." (John Clarke, host of Jewel in the East, 2008.)








Cremation in a Monochrome Landscape

George Cowling March 2nd 1920 to December 24th 2009


We would bound down the stairs


after the shout: Uncle George is on!

and there

on the valve-driven fourteen inch black-and-white Bush

was you, authoritative but friendly

pointing with your pipe

charcoaling lines onto the map

and warning the nation’s wives about their washing.


You would have enjoyed this snow.






Jazz Days


No smoking on this flight.

No smoking on any flight.

But enough alcohol to kill a sheep.

The stewardess’s smile could crack the airframe.

I want to take her to a smoke cellar

where the sprawling piano melody

is as infectious as gonorrhoea

and the wild rhythm staples the pulse

and she burns her lungs with flaming French cheroots,

and bites my ear

and pushes me to the cloakroom to force her thighs.

And the hard thick leather tongue of Africa

slides below at thirteen thousand metres

and differing factions there

insist on their own music.




Mad Love


Oh we had joy

making mad mad scrambling love

unstrapping our prostheses

you held me in your heroin arms

and we rolled across eggshells and half-read novels

before candles and xylophone

sipping the sweet sweat and licking our tears

and we washed each other’s hair in beer and egg yolk

and blissful blissful sleep

where we scampered through each other’s dreams

and exchanged our circulations

and blissful blissful waking

to more mad mad scrambling love

as the lemmings dropped down from the attic

and we ate avocado and ice cream

and ginger cake and eggs

and we resisted the light and the noise

mad mad scrambling love

until sated, sated

the sentries of our senses said


And we stared past the twinkling veins in each other’s violet irises

past the dense blank pupil

into the deep darkness of the soul

or the deep blankness of no soul

and we knew

we were still





Iran, 1979


This gun feels so clean

this gun feels so shiny

this gun feels so heavy


I like this gun more than my prick

I like this gun more than my beard

I like this gun more than my wretched upbringing and my poverty

I like this gun more than my education


This gun slugged the General

and took the eyes of the Police Chief


There is blood on tiles, chairs, filing cabinets.

There are bodies on the floor and in drawers.

We show the bodies to the world’s media.

We love our revolution.





In bed with Shostakovich


I listen over and over to Shostakovich’s Fourth,

that wild hairy unkempt teenager of a symphony

- the problem child - the one he had to withdraw

after the debacle of Lady Macbeth

because he knew it was eclectic and it was formalist

and it would have incurred the wrath

and there would have been a knock at night, the silent car

and the Gulag, the White Sea Canal,

or a bullet in the basement of the Lubyanka

because all of Meyerhold, Karms, Zhilyaev, Sollertinsky, Mayakovsky, Mandelstam, had been, or were to be, tortured, shot, suicided or ground into death.


And I listen over and over to Shostakovich’s Fourth,

which lay hidden - the wild genius of it - for twenty-five years

until well after Uncle Joe’s death

(and what a fucking holiday that should be)

the Great Leader and Teacher (the cunt).

So I listen to Shostakovich’s Fourth

the huge, wild, disparate aggregation of it,

the young composer assembling chunks, like bric-a-brac, jamming it together,

some lyrical, tender, some vulgar, some jaunty, impish, playful,

some terrifying, some utterly utterly despairingly sad,

the whole wild bag of it,

a piece I’ve known for decades

and sometimes loved, and sometimes railed against

and was frustrated by

and now I think I get it, I think I get it,

it coheres, it persuades

and this is the soundtrack of the twentieth century

the whole bloody twentieth century

which I think of as my century, my century

(because I feel increasingly like a guest in the twenty-first)

and I listen, and I listen, to the whole hour-long slammed-together brutalist mass of it

and as it finally winds down, after all the tumult, the shrieking, the bombast, the huge sudden climaxes, the shrill piccolos, the pretty dances,

as it finally winds down

there is plaintive woodwind over a pulse of throbbing lower strings,

still alive, still joyful – children in a meadow…..

and suddenly, again, the juggernaut,

trampling through everything, grinding through everything, obliterating everything,

loud, brash, unrelenting, it sweeps through, in grimacing triumph,

and leaves what?....

the pulse, again, but slower,

like a failing heart,

and at the end, at the very end, the celesta, the beautiful, ethereal celesta,

a rising fragile figure on the celesta,

and at the very, very end, the very, very end,

a lone, weak, muted trumpet,

shallow breath,

and again, at the very, very end,

again, finally, at the very, very end, the fragile, frail, forlorn celesta,

and everything that was: civilization, creativity, courage, love…..

all has expired.







On the train from Scotland


On the train from Scotland

an elderly couple

both stooping

helped each other to the loo


If passion kindles a marriage

and love cements it

I thought it must be kindness

that sustains it


They looked kind, these two

and the man

engaged a young lad opposite

in long conversation

about his love of sport


Fields and trees

slipped past

as the wet sun sank

and the dirty jaw of Kings Cross

- not a kind place -

waited to suck us in

like a strand of spaghetti






The Movie of my Life


The movie of my life

will be directed by Martin Scorsese

with Al Pacino in the difficult central role.

Bernard Herrman would be disinterred

to write the score, as would

Jason Robards, to play my father -

a wise, kindly man, still with a twinkle in his eye.

And Anne Bancroft: my elegant, ageless mother.

Kevin Spacey would be my best buddy,

Sharon Stone the girl I meet in the hotel lobby,

and my beautiful but long-suffering wife: Michelle Pfeiffer.

My  bratty kids would be played by......

bratty kids.

I would emerge

as an immensely complex character

particularly as I would stumble through the whole film


What the Hell am I doing in America? 




The Road from Konigsberg.

Acknowledgments to Philip Gibbs’ Thine Enemy



Some were Nazis; some were not.


The young women are at the edge of the city, digging trenches.

Our brave boys further: in forests and villages,

ready to repel the onslaught from the east.

But it is cold, so cold.

The snow obscures the outlines of the castle.

The electricity is off. Father is out,

scavenging for wood: bomb-blasted branches,

charred timbers, boxes, sticks, anything to ignite the poor stove.

We are allowed 180 grams per day of bread.

I heard this morning that Lotte, dear Lotte, had killed her children and herself.

We, too, have capsules.

No-one can leave. The officer who ordered the shooting of civilians trying to escape has himself committed suicide.

Four thousand on the hospital ship. Two torpedoes.

All dead in the icy wastes.


Some were Nazis; some were not.


The orders have been withdrawn. Huge columns struggle out of the city:

motor cars, carts, carriages, walkers. Two hundred thousand citizens:

elderly men, professors, artisans, grandmothers, night club girls, women of class, children.

Prisoners of War – French, English, minded by elderly guards who saw it all before in Flanders.

A few bedraggled Wehrmacht cut off from their units.

The pace is plodding, intermittent.

I see our column on the frozen road, kilometres into the grey distance.

It is so cold, so cold – snow sneaks in past the cracks in the canvas.

But if we pause we are butchered.

This morning, two women, both mewing like animals. They carried bundles to the drifts at the edge of the road, fell over them wailing, and were hauled back by the strong arms of farmers. Babies.  

Father leads the horse. With me in the cart is Rosa, my cousin, and her two children. Also Hilde, our maid, and her infant.

We huddle, and shiver, and cut the hard bread into tiny pieces.

Out of the lead sky come fighters – Yaks – screaming like piccolos.

Their guns patter and flash.

The column is shot to pieces. Some die where they sit.

Strong ones run for cover in the copse across the field.

A horse falls apart – purple entrails spill out and soak the snow red.

The frame of a cart still burns in defiance of the cold.

Death comes with the ticking of a watch.

And now a bomber, low. I see the stick of bombs, how gracefully they glide.

Vomited up is earth, snow, limbs.

We are eels feeding on a nightmare.


Some were Nazis; some were not.


Father died near Konitz, later named Chojnice.

(All the villages, town and cities here would become Slavic.)

Borders will move - maps are always political documents.

But we head west, head west, to Berlin: to drawing rooms, music, to family.

But we hear Berlin is bombed to powder by the English: the survivors live in cellars, starving; tobacco is the only currency; women in furs sell themselves for a meal; and those that don’t die of cold die of disease.


Some of us were Nazis; some were not.


But Konigsberg, ah, Konigsberg.

Gott in Himmel,

Kaliningrag, Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad! 





This Watch


This watch

is a good watch.

It’s a Swiss Eternamatic.

When I take it for repair

the man purrs with delight:

‘I did my apprenticeship on these.’

It runs a little ahead,

like a friend making sure I get on with my life.


The polished back of this watch

graced my father’s arm,

a gift from my mother.

The original bracelet

snagged his hair.

It felt his pulse.

They ticked together

for six short years.


I’ve worn this watch

since I was a lad.

It’s mechanical,

I think: it must wear out,

but we tick together,



I almost lost this watch

rescuing the damn cat from the river.

It cost fifty quid to dry it out.

I wondered for a while:

was the cat worth

more than my memories?





We found…..



We found

falling in love

as easy

as falling off a log


We found

falling out of love

as inevitable

as falling off a log


What we didn’t learn

was balance




Publishing history;


On the Train from Scotland. Published in The Daily Express, There is Violence in these Vapour (tall lighthouse),  Airport Reading (tall lighthouse)
In Bed with Shostakovich. Published as a pamphlet by tall lighthouse
This Watch. Published in The Austin International Poetry Anthology, The Redbeck Anthology of Contemporary Cats, There is Violence in these Vapours (tall lighthouse) and Airport Reading (tall lighthouse)
Iran 1979. Published in Poetry for Lebanon, Unpublished, There is Violence in these Vapours (tall lighthouse) and Airport Reading (tall lighthouse) NB Unpublished was the name of a publication.
We found... Published in Poetry Nottingham International
Mad Love. Published in The Wolf, There is Violence in these Vapours (tall lighthouse) and Airport Reading (tall lighthouse)
Jazz Days. Published in Envoi and There is Violence in these Vapours (tall lighthouse) and Airport Reading (tall lighthouse)  


4 - Afterword

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