May 102019

Foreword by Stephen Barker

I left School in 1979 and within a month joined the Royal Green Jackets in Winchester, after completing training joined 3 RGJ in Cambridge.

I Continued to serve until 1989 in which I saw service in Cyprus on the UN, Germany, Ireland, Falklands, Canada, and of course the UK.

In 2017 after many years of suffering, I was diagnosed with PTSD from three life threatening events during my service.

Part of my recovery at Combat Stress someone suggested I should begin writing. I have now published two other books called

‘The Lighter Side Of Cruising’ and ‘The Lighter Side of Cruising Part two.’

Both are available on Amazon.

During my last two week stay at Combat Stress in April 2019, I started to write Poetry for the first time with this book being the first.
As with all my books, 25% of the profit on each sale goes to Combat Stress.

Therefore, as part of my own recovery have put together what can loosely be classed as poetry.

Please enjoy the collection as we take you on a journey.

Steve Barker


Why Ho, What I’ve seen.

Grown men Cry, Strong men, weep, Of memories, all so real.

Some fear to go into the night, Why is sleep is a stranger to souls of war.

Ho, why do emotions treat me as a stranger.

Why can’t I have scares for all to see, Instead, I suffer in a world away from view.

Ho, why emotions do you treat me as a stranger.

Is that a friend or foe that dares approach my unseen world,

Instinct or fear, our battle plans are drawn, Stay away, our battle cry.

Stand down you souls of war, Just a friend who’s broken through your invisible wall.

Ho, why do emotions treat me as a stranger.

Stay Calm

No need to fear, no need to panic,
Stay calm, remember the training long since done,
Feel for the pistol, away from inquisitive eyes,
One more deep breath, settle the nerves,
Do your duty and watch the space.

Scan to the left, scan to the right,
Nothing to see, but cars all in a row,
People come, people go, bags full to bursting,
What’s in the bag, is it a bomb,
Stay calm, remember your training.

Scenarios run through the mind, but what if,
Sit back, stay calm, there is nothing to fear,
Count the cars as they come and park,
One more deep breath, settle the nerves,
Remember your training.

Eyes to the front, watch the shadows,
Rays of light dance off the darkened metal,
Check the door, count the bricks, all secure,
Nothing to see, but the weighbridge door,
Stay Calm, remember your training.

Time to scan once more, fist to the left then the right,
What’s that, in my field of view,
No need to panic, only three men, smartly dressed,
Feel for the pistol, away from inquisitive eyes,
Just for comfort, to settle the nerves,
Relax, Stay Calm, remember your training.

Men approach, time stands still,
The body begins to tension, adrenalin makes you blush,
Hairs once flush, now stand on end,
With sweaty palms, we grip the wheel,
Eyes never for a moment, leave the men,
Relax, deep breath, stay calm, remember your training.

But a moment past, three men, in the distance stood,
Now, but an arms reach away, they now stand,
The middle man, with outreached hand, a pistol held,
No time to act, no time for training long since done,
Only time to sit and stare,
No time for life to flash before your eyes,
No time to think of loved ones, on faraway shores,
Just time to watch the trigger pulled, its time to die.

No loud bang, no pain to feel,
What happened, I should have died, but I’m still here,
The sound of laughter filled the air,
Three men disappeared from my field of view,
Ho, why did I forget my training,
Stay calm, your still here, you survived.

Vehicle Check Point

Just a drive, no need to worry,
I’ve done it many times,
A trip to the country,
Through rolling hills and fields of green,
The sun shines, birds sing in the winter air.

The sound of Lock & Load breaks the winter air,
Open the gates, danger awaits,
Take a breath, check your weapon, its time to go.

Through the city, into the country,
Peace and tranquillity in abundance,
Follow the twists, follow the turns,
Throw caution into the wind.

Round the bend, come to a halt,
Bottom of the hill two lone figures stand,
Time to check all around,
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,
Check the safety, is there one up the spout.

No time to panic, just stay calm, remember your training,
Fear & calm, strange bedfellows, make,
The bodies numb, sweat trickles down the spine.

Inch forward one at a time,
One car cleared, another takes its place,
What if’s, play havoc in your mind,
Stay calm, remember your training.

The mind plays memories of happier times,
Of loved ones, past and present,
Things you should have said and done,
Will this be it, will I be remembered.

Another one through, we’re getting close,
Mind back in the game,
Eyes fixed with a hollow stare,
Just ahead, the vehicle checkpoint stands,
One hand on the wheel, one sweaty grip on the weapon.

Why am I here, I don’t want to die,
Ho, I wish my brothers & Sisters in arms were now, here,
Instead, I sit here all alone,
No knowledge of what’s to come.

Two more cars to go,
The body stiffens with anticipation,
Heart quickens, with rapid breaths, it’s hard to breathe,
The two lone figures, now in full view,
Armed to the teeth, looking like police,
Ho, I hope that’s true.

Time to do or die, we’re in next,
One approach, the other stands clear,
Ho, I wish I wasn’t here,
Gently does it, no sudden moves,
Remove the ID from its place of hiding,
Stay calm, remember your training.

One last check, the weapons ready, just in case,
The window glides without a sound,
One grip on the pistol, the other on ID,
With a cautionary glance, our pass is seen,
The figure waves us through.

We are through, now with haste, we part this place of danger,
The heart rate lowers, a regular pace is set,
I made it, I’m still alive.

In to the Night

The sunsets over the horizon,
Beyond the dark grey building, of a war-torn city,
A four-man patrol returned to its place of sanctuary,
Each face etched with a thousand-yard stare,
Bodies dipped, a sign let out, they had lived to fight another day.

In the corner, alone soldier stood,
Mind, body & soul contemplating the night,
Of dangers yet to come,
A wishful glance, envious eyes cast over our brave patrol,
There they stood, body armour bulging,
Our brave Soldier, nothing but overalls to protect.

The time has come to venture into the darkness,
With memories of events, hours since past,
A mistake, an error, which could cost lives.

The plans for the night had been told,
Still, our brave Soldier ventured into the night.

An eerie Silence fell, over this war-torn city,
Only the sound of clanging metal, to break the silence,
Out of the darkness, a group of men appeared,
Dancing in and out of the shadows,
Still, our brave Soldier approached, his mission at hand.

Our Soldier had seen all before,
Like an angry volcano, rocks and stones aplenty came,
Deafening sounds as rocks struck home,
Fist a few, then came many,
Sounds of smashing glass came from the left,
This truck, not made for war.

On into the night, our brave Soldier went,
Past parked cars, each a potential threat,
Out of the night, a junction did appear,
Please let the lights be green, danger lurks on every corner.

Not far now, just a mile,
A new place of sanctuary will appear, a place to rest,
From under the dash, a radio crackled into life,
A voice, time will never forget, broke the air,
Time to stop, time to hide,
Don’t come closer the voice cried out.

Earlier a mistake, our brave Soldier made,
Plans were told, powers to be, ignored,
Loss of life, the price could have been,
A car, a bomb, now awaits our brave Soldier at the gate,
Thanks to the men at the gate, lives well saved that day,
Our brave Soldier lives to fight another day.

The Street

The day has come, no more time, no more excuses,
Covert plans, run within our minds,
All routes covered, none left to chance,
Deep breath, time to go.

We’re here, our goal, but a short distance,
Threats to the left, to the right,
Eyes scanning, all to see,
Deep breath, one step more,
People move, some slow, others quick,
Dancing in & out, our field of view,
Stay calm, you’re safe, one more step.

What’s that sound, minds flashback, to days since past,
With instinct, we head for safer ground,
No need to panic, no need to fear,
Just the sound of a car backfiring,
Stay calm, your safe, one more step.

Hyper-vigilance skills, once finely tuned, come into play,
Check the window, check the doorway,
Why’s that person there, Don’t forget to look behind,
Stay calm, your safe, one more step.

People come our way, senses intensify,
With skills once perfected, we scan the treat,
How many, what’s their mission,
Look for weakness, is that a limp,
Now they’re close, the body prepares in expectation,
The moment passes without peril,
Stay calm, you’re safe, one more step.

Not far, our goal close at hand,
In the doorway, trained eyes respond, to dangers a new,
Why’s that person, who, but a moment ago, not there,
Now, stands between me and my goal,
Scenarios run wild, within our mind,
Slow down, check the window, who’s close at hand,
Avoidance techniques long since refined, play our hand,
Stay calm, you’re safe, one more step.

We’ve reached our goal, we’re safe for now,
Time for grounding, time to come back to hear and now,
Time to practice lessons learned, at our place of safety,
Our task for today, now complete,
Stay calm, you’re safe.

The Shop

Remember the days, when duty done,
Terrors you faced, without a flinch,
There you stood, side by side, with brave souls of war,
Don’t let the fears of the day, overcome.

Deep breath, the hard part done, we’re here,
We stand, a quiet time, we wait,
Remembering lessons learnt, from our place of safety,
Grounding techniques, we search,
Our pockets, hands dig deep,
One hand a phone, the other our keys,
Deep breath, its time.

We’re in, threats lurk all around,
We turn left, then left, and left again,
Just in case people, are a following,
Standoff we must, our target, seen,
Watch and wait, until the cost is clear.

The coast is clear, time to move in,
Like shadows moving within the night, we approach,
Abort, abort, someone stands close,
Retreat to our standoff point, we must,
We stand and stare, we wait, until target clear.

At last, target clear, time to move once more,
Now with caution, we move in, our minds on our goal,
It’s just there, an arms reach away,
At last, our DVD obtained,
Time to beat a swift retreat.

Remembering training, long since past,
A different path, we must take,
Our mind into surveillance mode, has slipped,
People approach, first a few, them many,
Our eyes search around, a safer way, we must find,
Turning this way and that, our objective now in view.

Once again, our standoff position we must find,
Time to stand and stare, a quieter time we await,
The queue has gone, time to move,
Breathing techniques in hand, we stand and wait.

The body tingles, senses heighten, hairs stand on end,
Someone stands to close, in our protective zone,
Why so close, what do they want, don’t they understand,
Time stands still, while we wait,
One eye on the goal, the other on the person, so close,
We made it, we survived, let’s leave this place of danger,
Stay calm, it’s only a shop.


A chance has arisen to escape, my unseen world,
But, only for a moment in time,
Time to break free from my lonely world,
To you, a small invite, to me, a chance at life,
Just an invite to a local pub, to me the world.

One day to go, my mind has started, its unfair games,
Outcomes, some new, some old, play within my soul,
Fear has risen its ugly head, paranoia sets in,
Should I go, should I stay,
It’s an invite I want to go.

Zulu time, but two hours from now,
Time to get ready, but what’s that sound,
Need to do this, need to do that, maybe I shouldn’t go,
If I go, lousy time will be had, by all,
Excuses run rife within my mind,
Head for the shower, clean the body, cleanse the mind,
No more excuses, you have an invite, after all.

Zero hour, plans are made, nothing left to chance,
Not far to go, but still, our mind takes a different route,
Will I be left to ponder, on my own, will people talk,
Stay calm, you brave soul of war, it’s only an invitation.

We’re here, strange noises come from far and near,
The door, just there, you can do it, just one more step,
One brave step, we’re in, a crowded room, we’re faced,
With flashbacks, our mind seeks days long since gone.

In the doorway, we stand, frozen in a moment,
Eyes dart around the room, dangers we do seek,
Each group we scan in turn, dangers lurk all around,
All five senses, now in play, we watch, we listen,
Where is the escape route, just in case.

Don’t think less of me, if I sit with my back to the wall,
I’m anxious about what I can’t see, no control, you see,
But don’t leave me alone, come and chat,
Everyone having fun, despite my presence here,
Maybe it isn’t me, that destroys the night.

Thanks for the invite, but it’s time to go,
My past is back, with its vengeful stance,
Everyone in the room, now a potential threat,
Every sound, now echoing in my head,
Panic sets in, my way is blocked, I need to leave,
Please don’t think less of me,
Thanks for the invite, but I need to go.


Come with me into the shadows of the night,
Where terrors hide in the darkness,
For our brave souls, they lay in wait,
Many fear to tread, where they’ve been before,
Too many times they’ve danced in the shadows.

Those who dare to go into the darkness,
Sleep, but a short affair,
Two hours, maybe four, we take our chance,
How many nightmares will this night bring,

If you hear me cry out in the night,
Don’t feel pity, just a memory, just stay close,
For those, yet to venture into the darkness,
The journey they must make,

Some lay awake, into the night, they stare,
Others wait for the cold light of day,
At last, first light, the terrors of the night, left behind,

Time to greet another day,
But the day is just a double-edged weapon,
What terrors, wait for our brave souls of war.

Come Home

Come home you brave souls of war,
Leave the darkness, enter the light,
Without fear, without pain,
Tread a new path.

Leave behind the shadows that dance in the night,
Forget the voices, that play tricks on the mind,
Leave the nightmares that haunt the night,
Come in from the cold, you brave souls of war.

Forget the battlefield, but remember the few,
Replace the images, with ones a new,
Patrol, no more as you walk the streets,
Be vigilant, but walk not in fear,
It’s time to come home, you brave souls of war.

Tie up that black dog, its walk complete,
You’re alone no more,
There is a place for you, right here, by my side,
Together, we can walk a new path,
Time to come home you brave souls of war.


Don’t sit there alone, without emotion,
Remembering the things you’ve seen & done,
Terrors that make you scream, but in the night,
Sights that would make everyday folk, run with fright,

Talk to your loved ones, before it’s too late,
Tell them of the horrors you’ve seen,
Ones that make you call out in the night,
Tell them of sights, intense in your mind,
Why you fear to venture into the night,

Don’t hide the events, of days long since absent,
Open your voice, to those that will listen,
Let the tears flow, don’t be ashamed,
Those that love you the most will not judge,
Welcome them in with open arms,

Have a place in your heart, for loved ones, driven away,
Terrors you have witnessed, you couldn’t talk
Outbursts not meant for them,
The days you sat and wept, not destined for them to see,

Feel the warmth, feel the love, from those you’ve let in,
Terrors may still haunt our days & nights,
Now with a loving hug, our problems shared,
When we sit alone, in our solitary world, we relax,
They now know, It’s our place of safety,
You did your duty, it’s time to talk.

Stay Close

When you look at me, what do you see,
A vigorous person, full of life, full of joy,
Look deeper, past my mask, what do you see.

Just there, inside my mask, a soul lost within their mind,
A place, nightmares run wild in the night,
Terrors of the past, play havoc, throughout the day,
Stay close, we need you now.

Don’t be fooled by our mask,
Those who’ve seen war, behind our masks we must stay,
Not for shame, not for guilt, Inside we cry in pain,
Our aim, protect you from horrors, we’ve seen,
When our words cut the air, our actions aggressive,
Remember, they’re not meant for you.

When we call, please make time,
It’s taken us an hour to call,
At first, it may seem hard to comprehend,
Time to listen, we need to talk, of terrors seen & done,
A friendly voice, all we need, in our hour of need,
Stay close, we need you now.

If you see me all alone, sit by my side, stay awhile,
But don’t get angry, get not upset,
If a barrier between us, I do make,
Read between the lines, it’s not there for you.

If I retreat to my safe place or cry out in the night,
Please don’t leave me, or go away, stay by my side,
It’s lonely, trapped here, within this world of torment,
Please stay close, we need you now.


As you venture onto your solitary path of recovery,
Stop, but for a moment, take a look around,
Who’s that, who dares, to stand close,
It the darkest days, all seemed lost, they were there,
When you retreated to your safe place, who was there.

Some have been there all their lives,
Others, but a short space in time,
Without hesitation, when you needed someone,
They were there, no price to be paid,
They wiped your tears, they held your hand,
On them days, when all seemed lost.

When you were on your own but wanted to talk,
Who was there, but a phone call away,
In the night, when you called out in fear,
They were there, but a short distance away.

On the days when life seemed too hard to bear,
Who held out, that supporting hand,
No price was paid, no price was asked,
Without question, there support, they gave,

When you desired nothing more than a loving hug,
No need to ask, they were already there,
With there care, our road to recovery, assured,
If only, we could give back, just a small amount.

Love for our family, so much we owe,
They were there, in our darkest hour,
Our daughters, our sons, partners to,
Without them, our road, a hard path to follow.


Our long road to recovery has arrived,
With trembling hands, we read,
Not one, but two weeks we must go,
Question formulate, within our minds,
Am I worthy, what of the brave souls, limbs they’ve lost,
More justified, this place of healing.

Our acceptance letter, given, but a cautionary glance,
Fear of the unknown, takes hold, within our minds,
Will, I need to bare all I’ve seen & done, for all to see,
Terrors kept inside, for so long, now to be exposed,
Will, I need to talk, in a group, not doing that.

The day has come, at the front gate we stand,
One deep breath, one step more, family close at hand,
With trepidation, we enter this place of healing,
A welcome smile, a friendly voice, meets us at the door,
Our body, but a moment ago, numb, now relax.

Our farewells said we’re left alone, time for calm,
A moment in time passes bye, we wait,
A faint knock at the door, a friendly voice, calls out,
No need to panic, it’s only a nurse,
Go with them we must, our state of mind, assessed.

Time has come for interaction, fellow Veterans met,
Past fears put aside, they’re just like me,
An unbreakable bond, our souls of war, sustain,
On eggshells, our Veteran tread triggers not yet known,
Time has come to venture into the night.

With apprehension, we wait, the start of this new day,
The days plan, all laid out, for all to see,
As time slips past, fear of the unknown runs wild,
The hour fast approaches, time to meet our demons.

In the room Veteran sit, each, their backs to the wall,
Each an individual, But with a common goal,
We need to know, why terrors play havoc in our minds,
Time has come, no more running from our past.

Silence fills the room, all unsure what to say,
It took awhile, help from a friendly voice is all it took,
Slowly our voice could be heard, we’re not alone,
Too many days passed, believing, it was just us,
Crying out in the night, horrors faced, each & every day,
We’re not alone, it’s not just me.

We leave the room, our shoulders, a heavyweight lifted,
Fears were unfounded, no need to panic,
For once a glimmer of hope now surrounds us all,
The next meeting, we wait with anticipation.

One to One

We enter the room of despair,
There we sit in fear and anticipation of what’s to follow,
Time is near, panic raises from deep within,
The body stiffens with anticipation.

The sound of rooms being unlocked,
Come from deep inside your head,
Questions attack from every angle.

Tears flow in your mind, from events long since past,
Still, we sit alone in the room of despair,
Nothing but our thoughts playing their harsh games.

The heart quickens, sweat flows from your brow,
While your eyes accelerate towards the door,
At first a squeak, then a rush of air
The door opens wide.

Stand down you souls of war, It’s only the therapist,
They’ve come to talk, of terrors you’ve seen,
Let them in, share the pain.

In My Head

There in my head, again,
Nowhere to run, Nowhere to hide,
There is nowhere to go.

Words sharpened to a point,
Like surgeons, they hack away,
First to the left, then to the right,
They’re coming at me from all angles,
Quick, put up a defence, don’t let them in,
There’s no way out.

There in my head, again.
My feelings are out for all to see,
At last, they are out, calm and peace are back again,
Tears shed, muscles stretched,
The mind has relaxed.

They were in my head again.

Place of Safety

Dawn has broken over our place of safety,
The air, full of anticipation,
Some with fear, some with joy,
Its time to leave our place of safety.

Echos of encouragement fill the morning air,
From angels that keep us safe,
Others from brothers & sisters in arms,
Within our place of safety.

Remember lessons learned,
Take that brave new step,
Into the world outside, with heads held high,
Its time to leave our place of safety.

Armed with knowledge a new, courage aplenty,
Say our sad farewells,
We head off on our brand new journey,
Our place of safety left behind.

Don’t panic, don’t fear
Them angels, but a call away,
Within our place of safety.


Onward boys, from this place of learning,
With heads full to bursting,
Lessons learned, ideas aplenty.

Dangers may lay on the road ahead,
Encouragement echoing from far and near,
Each step forward is a step from the past.

Go forward with hope aplenty.
It’s there, just ahead,
The life you’ve been looking for,
Remember the past, not just the bad,
It’s there, just one more push.

Well done, you’ve reached that point,
Feel the pride, feel the joy, time to celebrate,
Remember most, of all those still on the road,
Share the head full to bursting.

Go forward with hope aplenty.


In the silence of the morning light.

The eerie mist of war has risen from its slumber.

The Guns have fallen silent.

The only sound is the defiant sound of nature welcoming the morning.

A solitary flash in the distance disturbed the peaceful scene.

But, stand down you souls of war.

Its only Simon on another photo opportunity.


The last rays of light disappear over the horizon,
Strange, unearthly sounds echoed out of the darkness,
Blankets of mist lay, where dogs fear to tread.

An eerie silence surrounds all that dare to listen,
Alone soldier with his battle-hardened Chihuahua
entered the darkness.

Stand firm came the cry,
Brave souls tensioned in anticipation,
Forward you, souls of war, into the darkness, for Queen and Country.

An unearthly sound came from the darkness once more,
Brave souls shuddered where they stood, on their piece of little earth.

Forward you souls of war,
Out of the mist, an unholy sight emerged,
Stand down you souls of war.

Its only George using his dog to clean a tank, a
Guardsman to the end.

©Steve Barker