Poems About Barry


Poems About Barry

Sadly, the following two poems are about the same person, the first patient I ever took a full history from – an elderly man who has influenced my life immensely. Although he had trouble with producing his words, right from the beginning of our conversation he had me in awe of his wonderfully positive outlook on life. Despite his diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer, he was in high spirits with a serenity about him. From the moment I met him, I knew that I wanted to put his speech into writing – and he was rather chuffed when I asked his permission to do so! He is someone that I will never forget.

Barry’s Aphasia

“I have it and it stays

with me,


next minute it’s gone.


It takes me back and

I’m happy.”


So, you stay happy

by thinking back to memories?


“Exactly love,

exactly right.


I still don’t worry.”

This somewhat cryptic poem contains the words that Barry spoke to me while I was taking his history, with the words in italics indicating my response. I was in awe of his positive outlook on life, despite his inability to express himself (he had expressive and receptive aphasia due to a recent subacute stroke), and his diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer. His sense of inner meaning and happiness is one I will not forget.



They say it’s gone to

your bones,



and stubborn.


I try to understand

your pain,


to search through

those smiling eyes,

and uncover

the truth that you

hide so well.


But I see no darkness.


I see no self- pity,


no misery

no anger,

no doubt.


No hint of pounding emotion

trying to escape from

within you,


a burning regret or



I see a sparkle.


A fulfilment in you


that makes

you immortal.

Again, this poem reflects on Barry’s positive outlook in life and the contentment of a life well-lived. He did not possess any sense of regret or fear, instead taking every day as it came and cherishing his time.


 – Jessica Ford

I am a 4th year medical student currently working in Tauranga. As this is my first year on placement, I have an interest in everything and am enjoying the fast- paced environment of the hospital! At the moment I am very drawn to women’s health, but am keeping an open mind as I make the transition into clinical medicine. I grew up in the beautiful Hawkes Bay, and my love of both biology and working with people from various backgrounds led to my journey into the medical world!

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