From Gerry

Proving the power of poetry to unlock talent, Gerald King shares a selection of poetry written as part of our work to rewrite the story of dementia
words – gerald king
location – glenrothes, scotland

My name is Gerald King, I am 61 years old and I was diagnosed with young onset Alzhiemers disease at the age of 55. I was introduced to poetry through a series of workshops that were being held by boom saloon during the Covid pandemic. The workshops involved sessions with different young poets from all over the UK and Canada. Through these workshops I was introduced to Rhyming, Limericks and Haiku, to name but a few; but my favourite was always Rhyming.

I had been a song writer in my younger days, assisting in writing lyrics for a band that I played in. I have always loved music; it’s a huge part of my life. But don’t get me started on why I don’t want to be subjected to Vera Lynn just because I have dementia… I’d rather listen to Coldplay at Glastonbury thank you very much. There’s a lot that people can get wrong about others by generalising as opposed to taking the time to get to know them. We’re all human, and we’re all different.

Writing poetry not only brought back a lot of memories of playing with the band, it also opened up an avenue for me to come to terms with my dementia by laying down my thoughts, feelings and memories on paper and to take the time to look at things differently. It’s amazing what poetry can unlock and help you come to terms with; reading Ghazi Hussein’s words reminded me of this, they are utterly fantastic.

Being involved with boom saloon in their workshops and beyond empowered me to try something that I never thought I would enjoy, poetry. I didn’t think poetry was for men…. how wrong can you be?! My poems have allowed me to express myself in a way that I could not have done verbally. They have allowed me to tell stories and express my feelings, whether good or bad. They have allowed me to describe what it feels like for me to be living with a diagnosis of dementia. I also find it very fulfilling and it makes me feel accomplished when I write what I might consider to be a nice piece of writing.

I would like to thank boom saloon and all the young artists who took time out of their busy schedules to help me indulge in what has become one of my most enjoyable passions. I always think it takes special people to work with people living with dementia. However, finding young persons who are keen and willing to encourage and enable people living with dementia to flourish and feel that they have something to contribute is very special indeed.

Together, we’ve been working on something very exciting and important to showcase what is still possible when living with a diagnosis of dementia. It’s something I never thought in my wildest dreams would ever be possible and I look forward to sharing it with you soon. I won’t say too much more just yet but for now here are some of my poems which are a sneak peek of what’s to come. I hope you enjoy them.

Kind Words, Kind Thoughts, Kind Deeds

Never underestimate,
The power of a smile.
A small but simple act,
That makes it all worthwhile.

A soft and gentle touch,
To wipe away the tears.
Kind compassionate words,
To take away the fears.

Firm outstretched arms,
To gently hold you tight.
An embrace to keep you warm,
On a cold winter’s night.

A kind, listening ear,
That hears everything you say.
A still and silent tongue,
That does not judge in any way.

So a simple act of kindness,
Which makes somebody smile.
Can take away the pain,
And make a life worthwhile.

Just A Shadow

When you look at me,
What do you see?
A shadow of the man,
I used to be.
As time goes by,
Do you wonder why
Life seems to disappear
In the blink of an eye?
As day after day,
My mind begins to fray.
There’s no reason, no rhyme,
Just simply made that way.
Do I make you sad
Leave you feeling bad?
Do I drive you insane
Slowly turning you mad?
As your teardrops rain
On your broken frame
A smile long gone
Face etched in pain.
Don’t dim your light
Keep shining bright,
Sometimes we need to break,
In order to fight.
You’re the reason the one
I’m depending on,
You’re my guiding light,
Who keeps me strong.

Oh Nightingale

As darkness turns from night to day
And winter turns to spring
I hear a special song that’s sung
As the lonely nightingale sing.

Calling for his long lost love
To fall under his spell.
Enchanting melody sung so bright
A story of love to tell.

Sing for me, oh nightingale
Let me hear the sounds of the earth.
A tune that’s sung to tell the world
Of love, of life and of birth.

A song of heartache sung with joy
Of two lovers kept apart
The ever hopeful nightingale sings
Songs straight from its fiery heart.

But always will I hear the song
Of a nightingale in pain
His melody unanswered, all alone
His sweet song sung in vain.

My Shoes

You walk within my footsteps
We wear the same shoes, you and I.
Although our paths may differ
At journey’s end we both shall lie.

Our footprints forge impressions
As we stride across the sand.
In these ever changing times
We walk together hand in hand.

As waves sweep gently on the shore,
Our footprints slowly washed away.
No trace of us is left behind
As the sun sets on another day.

When darkness turns the day to night
Grey shadows cloud my mind.
Fading memories of impressions made
Of our footprints left behind.

So I look towards the break of dawn
As swathes of light embrace the land.
Night shadows banished, washed away
As we forge new footprints in the sand.

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