Wednesday 26 January 2011


William Barnsley Allen

Awaking in the darkness, bathed in sweat
shivering-so cold-with thumping heart.
Blurred dreams, tinged blood red,
clutching the last strands of sleep
as I struggle desperately hard to stifle
the agonising horrific memories
unbidden, yet persistent.
There is no peace, in sleep
nor in waking.

Perhaps the cure is to face it - stop shutting it out!
Relaxing the tight mental rein,
unchecked, they flood in.
The sights, the sounds, the sickening smells,
the blood and brains, dismembered corpses
still warm
that once were whole, lived, drew breath,
hoped and dreamed as I do now.
All the while the endless screeching
of whizzbangs overhead,
competing with monstrous rattle of guns and shells
deafening, drowning out the dying groans
of the smashed humanity I'm here to repair.
My task is impossible
yet I'm forced to make the choice
of who to save and who let die.

Endlessly haunting me, their eyes
fixed and staring, mad with the horror,
imploring, wordlessly pleading for help
in their thousands - and I but one man.
Most are beyond human help,
life already ebbing away
into the crimson, putrid mud.
I have to be blind, deaf, as stone.
But inside, is a heart in shreds.
With trained eye, scanning the carnage
for those with a chance,
forsaking the rest,
when my ankle is grasped in a grip of steel.
Falling face down into the mire.
"Help me! Help me! For God's sake help me!"
He's screaming.
Rising up, wiping the blood from my eyes,
I look.
Half a man. No legs, just one arm,
Gripping me.
Screaming, screaming, screaming.
Why can't he shut up? Just shut up!
I can't get the grotesque thing off - it won't let go.
Kicking the hand with my free foot
savagely, brutally.
But still it holds fast.
Taking the gun from his side,
I deliberately put a bullet through his head
as I would a lame horse,
and I'm free.
Then violently sick.

A voice in my brain, taunting,
"You swore an oath to preserve life,
but now you've killed!"
Mercy killing?
Or murder?
Sanity slipping away.
Stop it! Stop it! Stop it NOW!
Shut it out again. Bury it,
back in the past where it belongs.
1916. The Somme. Back in its box.
Safely locked away.

Agony, searing through my chest.
Every breath like a thousand bayonet wounds.
Yet I have only one -
when patching up a wounded enemy,
he drove his blade home hard,
deep into my side.
Out of chloroform, they had to operate without.
I felt them tear the dying muscle from my living body.
Excruciating, indescribable agony.
Like now.

Shaking uncontrollably.
Must switch on the light,
blot out the night and all its terrors.
Reaching out, trying to steady my hand
and click.....bedroom bathed in comforting glow.
Calendar on the bedside table
seems to mock me - nearly fifteen years,
yes, that long has passed since it ended!
I should be free, recovered by now.
Yet here I am
in a personal living hell.

A million and one nightmare visions,
cries, groans, explosions,
relentlessly besieging my crumbling sanity.
In sheer terror I reach for the syringe,
The only relief I know.
Jabbing it deep into my bruised arm,
desperate for the liquid morphia.
Then a dose of luminol, just to make sure.
Oh, and perhaps a little from my secret stash of opium.
Never tried it in combination before,
can't do any harm I'm sure.
Not long now - please hurry!
Take this torture, this anguish
and let me rest.
Please, just let me rest!

Dear God, it's losing its effect!
Been fearing this for some time.
My entire body now racked with pain
and a brain about to explode.
Violently shaking, fixing another dose of morphia.
The abused vein collapses.
Must find another!
Can't wait. Hastily jab it into my left thigh.
Come on! I've had enough for two men
and still the agony persists.
Grabbing the whiskey bottle
straight to my lips,
Gulping, gulping, gulping,
now choking, as the liquid burns its way down.
The empty bottle falls to the floor
and shatters.

The tears are flowing now, unchecked,
soaking the pillow.
Don't know why.
Sudden impulse to open the drawer
beside my bed.
Reaching in, I take out a box.
Inside, wrapped in silk
is my most precious possession.
Unwrapping it carefully, I look at it.
My Victoria Cross.
Turning it slowly in my hands,
On the reverse "For Valour".
Wiping the tears with the back of my hand
to see more clearly.
"For Valour"! What hypocrisy!
Yes, I patched up some broken bodies,
Saved a few lives - but at what cost?
Who will mend the broken minds?
What kind of life is lived in a wheelchair,
in an institution, insane, totally dependent,
waiting for the only relief there is,

I should never have been a doctor,
shouldn't have been 'saving' men.
should have shot them all, then myself.
Dispensed true mercy.

Senses are blurring now.
Everything strangely out of focus,
can't quite understand why.
Nothing feels right.
Yes! That's it!
The pain.
It's totally absent - that's what feels so odd!
For the first time in all these years,
must have finally got the dosage right.
God be praised!

My attention is drawn to the window now.
It's unusually bright outside
for pre-dawn.
The trees are glowing golden green.
I'm spellbound at the sight
of the dazzling brilliance
now coming in through the window
to fill the room and envelope me
in its still coolness.
I seem suspended between time and place,
hovering somewhere near a ceiling,
above a bed.
It's occupant is slumped,
half in, half out.
My training, instincts, urge me to help him,
but I can't seem to get down.
Can't remember how!

People are crowding around the bed now.
I recognise Dr. Sadler amongst them.
The patient will be quite safe
In his capable hands.

I can go now.

But I will never, ever,
let the World forget.......

Saturday 22 January 2011


How I wish my son hadn't read the news on the internet at college yesterday. Then I may never have heard about the theft of Wilfred Owen's medal and matchbox from his family's home. How anyone could be that callous is beyond me.
These precious relics are a memorial to the great World War 1 poet, who sacrificed his life for his country. The matchbox was his constant companion throughout the war. It was with him when he was killed while attempting to cross the Sambre Canal in 1918.
These aren't a few petty items snatched to make a quick pound or two up some dark alley. They are National Treasures, stolen from us all. This is sacrilege. Cultural rape.
I was in tears through most of the night. I couldn't sleep, couldn't get it out of my mind. It was devastating.
This probably seems a gross overreaction to an item on a news bulletin. Things like this, and much worse, happen every day. But I have a poignant connection to WW1. (If you are a staunch disbeliever of anything supernatural, then feel free to skip the remainder of this post.)

A few years ago, I began having nightmares of harrowing battle scenes. It reached a point where I dreaded falling asleep. Then the sightings began. I'd often catch a glimpse of a young man in khaki uniform out of the corner of my eye. His 'visits' became increasingly frequent, causing a sudden drop in temperature to the extent that I could see my breath. Electrical equipment was also affected by his presence. Lights in the house would flicker and dim as he passed.
It wasn't long before another member of my family, a child, began to see him outside the house. He described 'the brown man who walks really fast down the path to the front door', but of course no one ever arrived.
I felt quite ill-at-ease and had the distinct impression that I was being constantly shadowed, that he was anxious to say something. So I tried meditating. Communication was instantaneous and exceptionally clear.
He told me his name was William Barnsley Allen (Billie to his family and friends). He was born on 8th June 1892 in Sheffield, but his home was 6 Victoria Avenue, Scarborough. He was educated at St. Cuthbert's College, Worksop and entered medical school in 1908, graduating in 1914.
However, his career was cut short by the outbreak of the Great War.He enlisted, joining the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was sent to France in 1915. (I will relay an account of his experiences on the Front Line, and of his death in his own words in my next post.)
He also gave me a mental impression of his final resting place, a gravestone low and wide as if lying on its side. The name 'Earnley', and the date 27th August 1933 also seemed significant.
I thoroughly researched all the information received. Everything checked out. He was a genuine contact from beyond the grave.

I now visit his grave in the tiny churchyard at Earnley every Remembrance Sunday as a token of my deep respect for this man who suffered so much. Exactly how much will become clear in post 4.
I honestly believe Billie is trying to make us aware of the horrors and futility of war, and to show us how deeply it can affect even those who are 'lucky' enough to survive.

Perhaps it's time the world listened!


Thursday 13 January 2011


      Welcome to my first post. I really appreciate your company. I am creating this blog in order to fulfil a genuine need to communicate with like-minded people.
From early childhood, I have been feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Different, somehow set apart from the rest of humanity. Maybe this is partly due to an unfortunate tendency to think and feel too deeply, and partly due to experiencing various types of psychic phenomena throughout most of my life.
I suppose the best way to explain my mindset is to draw an analogy between it and the Tarot trump XII The Hanged Man. I, too, am forever trying to make sense of life from an upside down, unorthodox viewpoint.
It is a far from easy task, so I often feel frustrated and misunderstood. Communication with 'normal' people is near impossible.
This is why I write poetry. It is an excellent medium for safely reducing the impact of potentially lethal emotions, by giving them a voice. It is my safety valve.
Does possessing such an artistic temperament brand me a hopeless dweller in cloud cuckoo land? Not quite. After all, I am a woman. I am subject to the gravitational pull of feminine passions - in my case clothes, shoes, cosmetics and Krister Henriksson (although not necessarily in that order!). While I may appear crazy to some, I have this other very human side!

So, if anything I have written here resonates somewhere deep inside you, please get in touch and leave a message. I would love to hear from you - and on a more selfish note, would feel less isolated!
 So, until my next post, take care and have fun.