Category Archives: The Barry Pankhurst collection

The Barry Pankhurst collection.

  An update on Barry Pankhurst’s output of poetry & all things dementia related, which has been helpful to those who have seen it who are in a similar situation to Barry healthwise. He has his own website now which is

From time to time I will continue to add his poems to his slot on my website. Although we have not met we have a friendship formed through our various health conditions. Mine, until 2009 was Alzheimer’s dementia, but due to relative stagnation I have been given a diagnosis of Asberger’s, A.D.H.D & bi-polar disorder & have been left in complete limbo as to what can be done about it. Barry, however, still has Alzheimer’s.

A grandfather’s gift from the Barry Pankhurst collection



For the past few weeks I‘ve been having recurring dreams about my late grandfather who himself had Alzheimer’s, there not in any way scary or morbid just a mixture of my memories about him, but I can see his him so vividly in the dreams as though he’s sitting watching me, then stretching out his arms beckoning me yet with the wonderful smile he always had on his face, its almost as though he’s saying I’m here waiting for you ‘when your ready lad’ (as he always called me)

A grandfather’s gift’


I can still remember my grandfather, so vivid in

my dreams, reclining in his armchair beside an open

coal fire, with a mass of silver grey hair and the

twinkling in his eyes, but he was slipping into an

illness, of which then I knew not why,


Unto all his grandchildren he was called by a pet name,

Pom-Pom, and up to this day, I don’t know from where

it came, he was a staunch upright figure with a positive

attitude to life, though having survived two world wars,

yet could still remain so calm,


He always wore a trilby being the fashion of the day, and

just like Humphrey Bogart, peak pulled over one eye,

endlessly puffing on his pipe, filled with the finest Black Bore,

or taking a pinch of snuff making us all sneeze and laugh,


By profession he had been a monumental letter cutter, a

craftsman, chipping verses into granite, marble and stone,

his hands had been so steady, but now they shock like a

wreck, so I sat down by his side, talking and filling his pipe,


I was telling him I’d now finished school and about to go

out to work so he tried to squeeze my hands saying, then

advice I have for you lad, ‘ears and eyes open to what’s going

on around you all the time’ ‘only speak when spoken to’

you’re there to work not talk’


What he had told me then still remains in my mind to this day,

but finally the day came when his own steps he had to climb,

and it was goodbye, but as he left, something strange happened,

of which then I was not aware, It was a gift, of his soul, and

the skills in his hands, he had passed onto I,


My mother always told me, you are your granddad right to a T,

could this be true, since a craftsman I became with my hands, I

smoked a pipe just like him, and yes, wear a trilby just the same,

Pom-Pom, have you remained in this life…

but as a spirit within me?


I’ve followed you in so many ways, right to the last detail you

could say, as now I have exactly the same illness Alzheimer’s

that took thee, so please keep a chair vacant within the wisps

of the clouds, then again we can sit together,

as we reminisce, puffing on our pipes.         




Dedicated to my late grandfather George Mills, (about 1893-1961)

The Storm from the Barry Pankhurst collection

A tropical storm can be beautiful, but also very scary, when all the elements unleash themselves at the same time, which can have an adverse affect in the dementia mind causing even more disorientation, so please if you’re taking care of a person who has dementia when you have storms in your area be understanding.

          The Storm

An evening storm is lashing at us from all around,

smells of the musty earth rising into the air,

yet children run and play in the long awaited rain,

no fear of the furious elements, growing, building above,

steam ascending from the ground, as the rain cools it down,

the wind like a crescendo, a gale of musicians in my ears,

trees swaying, branches cracking, in the ever gusting wind,

a once trickling stream, now flowing fast, not knowing where

to go, pulling along with it anything coming into its path,

never have I seen the weather so cruel as this before,

so is this just a storm, or is it the wrath of God,


I cringe in my chair, as lightning bolts streak to the ground,

claps of thunder, rolling, furious, throughout the swirling

clouds, lightning awakens, brightening the dark evening sky,

agitation, and confusion within me, I know not what way to turn,

the sounds of the storm playing as cataclysm within my brain,

when all of a sudden, all electrical symmetry is gone,

full of panic, I gaze around, now paralyzed in fear,

as trauma grasps my being, but I can not run and hide,

Oh what’s happening to me, as I was never like this before?

has the storm and Alzheimer’s awakened,

what I knew not to be inside.



Barry January 2007



Yuletide lament from the Barry Pankhurst collection

Christmas 09Christmas 09Yuletide lament


Oh miasma in my mind, aurora of a festive sky,

your mist in my eyes now shrouds my Noel sight,

thence clarity is gone from pure crystalline thoughts,

and with a shuffle walk that was once a St Nick stride,


With tremor in my hands that can not be controlled,

lay hold of pen, nor grasp Christmas knife and fork,

raise up a flute of wine unto the eager festive lips,

without constantly shaking for that quenching sip,


Though Christmas approaches yet I can not retreat,

betwixt memories of past and my ultimate fate,

when the memories were crisp as a flurry of snow,

but now smoulder in lament upon a Yule log hearth glow,


The pungent pine with its charismatic scent of a wine,

embraces the nativity star during the season of advent,

whilst Christmas lights create a tranquil vision of bliss,

yet my mind withdraws from the twinkling more perplexed,


Many presents lay scattered around the base of the tree,

wrapped and then bound with loving ribbons and bows,

make a reflection of my own childhood Christmas past,

but now withered fingers are defied by such knots…


As I sit and dwell upon these awesome festive nights,

children’s stockings hung waiting on the mantel for St Nick,

I panic and twitch within bewilderments crimson cloak,

since blood and Christmas both portray in the deepest red…


Now as I gaze at my family the passions of my life,

tears whelm within heart for the Christmases of yore,

whence all was joyous in my thought, yet now I view fright,

for I dread the day I forget Christmas delights…


So with the joys of the season from blessings of the birth,

let the Christmas spirit live ever on in your heart,

thus I wish you sweet dreams and a sounder goodnight,

and pray unto God, this won’t be my last yuletide…


Barry December 09




Some of the comments given to this poem:


Hello Barry,Such pain cloaked in such beauty.




Barry, I am going to dare ramble a bit to you here…. I find your poetry quite stunning and to be honest completely overwhelming at times….. It’s been a long time since I commented on any of your poems or your ‘style’ (which is so close to many favorites of mine from the past). It’s not because I don’t like your poetry and don’t appreciate it (quite the reverse) … it’s because I’ve just needed to wrap myself up in reams of ‘emotional cotton wool’ for a while ……You have an essence of capturing such complete ‘rawness’, open honesty, and tremendous courage in such beautiful language which I find breathtaking …..I find Christmas a time of gifts and hope … (not the parcels – as you say, the very ‘blessings of a birth’) and I just wanted to thank you for continuing to share your gift of poetry and expression here….I wish you much peace this Christmas and beyond….

With thanks, Karen,



Barry, I think this is my most favorite poem of yours so far, it is truly wonderful. I believe the second to last verse says it all for those who are affected by this disease. Thank you once again for sharing. My thoughts and love are with you and your family during the festive season.
June x



I’m speechless!! Wonderful


Memories of the seaside from the Barry Pankhurst collection.

Memories of the seaside

Normans bay, East Sussex


So many childhood memories flashing in my mind,

and yet even with my dementia, I can still recall the

aromas of the seaside, Oh such happy times, early

walks along the promenade, a daily newspaper to

buy, the sea air gusting in your face, that salty taste

on the lips, bringing tears to the eyes, tingling rosy



All the smells of the brine, mixed with seashells lying

open on the shore, seagulls squawking overhead then

searching smelly seaweed, for a morning feast, of days

on the beach, deckchairs with windbreakers to surround,

a bucket and spade ever ready, to bury Dad, or castles

to build in the sand,


Pots of tea to drink on the beach, for a deposit of five

shillings, nights on the funfair rides, the smell from

electric, and rubber of bumper cars, then dad would

give me two shillings, to play in the penny arcade,

but the laughing policeman was always my favourite

by far, drop a penny in and his chuckling laughter

did start, as he swayed from side, to side,


For hours I’d stand playing, as mixed aromas of delight

filled the night air, I can still smell the fish and chips

frying, candy floss being spun around, golden crunchy

toffee apples, hot sugary doughnuts, and flaky 99 ice

creams, the smell of hot dogs cooking, with onions pilled

high, the mustard drizzling down,


The smells from the rock shops, but just how do they

get the name inside, Oh alas, alas, such happy bygone

days, yet now I have mixed dementia, and my body

sways more like the laughing policeman, but the aromas

and memories within my mind, will forever linger on,

of happy childhood times.


Barry August 09

Normans Bay, East Sussex