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A Journey Round My Skull June 9, 2010

Posted by astridjohnson in Books, Graphic Design, Poetry.
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Well, this is not my skull, but someone’s else. A person called Will.
The blog takes you on a beautiful and fantastical journey through book design and more.

Check it out:

A Journey Round My Skull

And while we are at it, a few poems. My husband brought me a book by Adonis. This is some of the best contemporary poetry. There is very little around with this kind of depth and spirituality. The reason maybe because he draws not on Western tradition but on a much older one. I do hope he gets the Nobel prize for literature soon. So here three poems from “The Pages of Day and Night” by Adonis or Adunis, as he is also known.

And after that a poem I wrote over a week ago during a writer’s workshop, The Rope Maker. The task was to write something with the following beginning: Attached to the Earth by a thread… and something Lovelockian developed.


Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said Asbar)


Choking quietly
with pain,
Adam whispered to me,
“I am not the father
of the world.
I had
no glimpse of paradise.
Take me to God.”


For once,
for the last time,
I dream of falling in space…
I live surrounded by colours,
like any man.
I marry the blind gods
and the gods of vision
for the last time.

A world of magic

Between the lord of days and me –
no hatred, no vendetta.
Everything’s over.
He’s barricaded time
behind a palisade of clouds.

My world goes on as magically
as ever. I contradict
the wind. I scar
the waves before I scurry
from my bottle in the sea.


The Rope Maker

Attached to the Earth by a thread
are thoughts about Gaia as a whole.
As fragile as these threads
is balance, equilibrium, survival
of a life form,
considered superior by many,
and quite foolish by others.

Some consider nothing and threads
would have to be massive ropes.

I am a rope maker.
With thoughts I am weaving a rope,
sturdy and visible from the moon,
looking fragile from a distance.


Barley and Random Bits June 6, 2010

Posted by astridjohnson in Books, Love, Poetry.
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Rich booty during a Manchester second hand book shop trawl. Old loves, like Isaac Bashevis Singer, Colette and Morgenstern and two little gems from the Thinker's Library, published in the 40's.

Ages ago now, a weekend with music and writing, my first wedding anniversary, not surprisingly forgotten by my husband but celebrated with a second hand book shop trawl and more recently a trip to witness my first proper wedding.

Mark’s youngest brother and his partner did the deed with the help of the CoE. Very entertainingly, the vicar and organist were late, I mean the Oh-I-forgot-it-was-at-one-o’clock kind of late and after having been fetched away from his lunch, mentioned for some peculiar reason Post-it® notes in his sermon. He went on to super glue and thus created the most subtle metaphor for enduring love I have ever heard. But the bride was beautiful in a proper white dress and the bridesmaids super sweet, escpecially my step daughter and her two cute cousins. I did cry.

During those days there were talks with Tony, my from Alzheimer’s disease suffering father in law, where I got glimpses of the person he used to be and maybe also the person he was allowed to be… more on this in another post.

And I am still not clear about what I really want to do, professionally I mean – to continue with artwork and design or new adventures… I am jumping over some planned online musings to briefly post this poem I read and liked. It is from Jackie Kay, a gutsy lady who I had the pleasure of meeting today at her book launch for ‘Red Dust Road’.

I stuck the following in my budding collection of Poems I ♥‘. I tasted the barley in my mouth when she was wondering about the name of the small soft bits:


Jackie Kay

Grandpa’s Soup

No one makes soup like my Grandpa’s
with its diced carrots the perfect size
and its diced potatoes the perfect size
and its wee soft bits –
what are their names?
and its big bit of hough,
which rhymes with loch, floating
like a rich island in the middle of the soup sea.

I say, Grandpa, Grandpa, your soup is the best
soup in the whole world.
And Gradpa says, Och,
which rhymes with hough and loch,
Och, Don’t be daft,
because he’s shy about his soup, my Grandpa.
He knows I will grow up and pine for it.
I will fall ill and desperately need it.
I will long for it my whole life after he is gone.
Every soup will become sad and wrong after he is gone.
He knows when I’m older I will avoid soup altogether.
Oh Grandpa, Grandpa, why is your soup so glourious? I say
tucking into my fourth bowl in a day.

Barley! That’s the name of the wee soft bits. Barley.


Pretty bridesmaid Izzy at the wedding.

Mark and his father Tony.

Marriage and Misunderstandings October 18, 2009

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This “butter and verse” thing came up one morning, when, in a reflective mood, I was saying to my beloved that we were married for better or for worse. I did say it with such a strong German accent…

For butter and for verse

2,5 grammes,
cold from the fridge,
melting slowly in the mouth,
for myself, secret, occasional delight.

15 grammes,
melted and cooled to skin temperature,
dribbling slowly over the tip
of my breast, warm and smooth.

An image for you.

25 grammes,
dissolved in unctuous risotto,
to sustain and nourish you,
with my heart and soul.

Cooking for Now October 18, 2009

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I got the job as a vegetarian chef at The Eighth Day café. Physically still very demanding with some room for creativity, this is a good stepping stone to something else. Watch this space… off to cook a risotto and tend to my sprouts…

Cook’s Poem

My sweet and most steady companion,
old, no ancient friend from Afghanistan,
700 years before we could even conceive
these modern wars you gave us
warming sustenance.
You are strong and full of purpose.
And you will remain my first love.

Seductress, creamy white thighs behind
purple veils, needing bitter salt to avoid
your bitterness. Smooth and silky the result,
when China was the Empire,
as it will be again.
You are mysterious and subtle.

And your kiss made me feel so sensuous.
Little playthings, tiny pearls,
can hardly catch you in the water,
your flower called the shade of the fount of life,
originating from the African planes with
instant potential to feed the millions.
Your are exotic and alien here now.
But you are like a new child to me.

All grains and vegetables have history with men.
And all men have history with men.
And cooks read the future with love.

How It All Began September 1, 2008

Posted by astridjohnson in Love, Poetry.
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On 2nd September I met Mark Johnson for the second time, at the Proms. That was the day we fell in love and both our lives changed irrevocably. He is an accomplished pianist and has a beautiful blog with daily music improvisations. The next day we met for lunch and he asked me to write a poem everyday, which he would publish on his blog (very romantic, a friend told me, and I think I got it then). Ultimately he is encouraging much more than writing poetry, he is encouraging me to express my creativity, and in some sense to come out. So, here we are. Now I am sometimes writing poetry, not necessarily every day, about love. It makes sense, I experienced a lot of it.


Poem: 3rd September 2008


Listening without radio

Listening without radio,

To the rustle of trees and sluggishly slurring server,

An entire symphony within, full for no reason.

I am a finder.


From the piece about love – Falling in love slows things down, speeds them up and sharpens awareness. Everything becomes precious. It opens ears to hear sounds you have been closed to because of the ongoing internal monologue and wilful distraction. It has the same effect as meditation; you are more alert to what is occurring outside and within. (And you are high as a kite of course and have to write poems.)

I might as well have said: I found you, Mark, and my love to you and your love to me is filling me up. And I am stating to myself and the world that I have found you, because things only get really interesting when we have found. This is where the stories begin, where you start to create and play. Searching is an important part, mostly a painful and arduous undertaking. You can get addicted to searching and be lost forever. That is why it is important to boldly acknowledge that you have found.

It is interesting, people I showed this passage to related mostly to finding/constant and never ending searching. I was taught about finding by Andrew Cohen, my former spiritual teacher, and he made sure we, his students,  understood that we were finders, because something gets set into motion and you move forward from then on. So I am used to this concept in the spiritual domain. I was intrigued to find that it applies also to the interesting and often fraught area of romantic/sexual relationships. Now it seems it only makes sense to be in relationship when know you have found, on a very deep level. In these first few days of having met a lot of communication happened. On the 4th September I told Mark, in plain prose, after he told me that he wanted to be with me, that on that first day I had gone to sleep, totally at ease, knowing that I had “found”, not from a place where anything was lacking. That is the surprising and precious event: this abiding love affair of ours is a precious gift on top of everything else!

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