“Grandfather Sea has new eyes now”

The water is a mirror, I’m scared to break the surface,
but our boat just glides through the waves like it owns the place.
On the sea surrounded by sleepy gulls and my grandmother’s handwriting was not where I thought I’d spend my evening, but I’m glad I’m here.
My grandad is steering, like he always is.

Grandfather sea, the saltwater man.
I’ve written poems about him before, said he is like the ocean he grew up next to;
only now do I understand how right I was.

He’s not made of salt water so much as shaped of it,
unpredictable and stormy, wondrous and wild.

I look at how he grips the steering wheel, trained hands that know how to navigate rocks and isles and deep velvet oceans.
It is in his fingers, his eyes, his back,
like riding a bicycle is in my legs.

I used to compare him to the sea;

His heart forceful like the waves, voice quick like sea foam, all excitement and loud words and dark coffee spluttering in a coffee maker.
Now I see the ocean in him, in the pull of the currents towards his home.
I see the sea in how he glides through the ripples, I see the waves in his mind as tension in his hands.

He looks at old horizons with new eyes, navigates charted waters without her telling him where to go.

The water is a mirror, I’m scared I’ll break the surface,
but his surface is one i’m just starting to chip away at.

I went out for a little trip on the fjord with my grandad the other day, and had some time to reflect as we were … driving? We talked about stuff you can only talk about when there is water all around you, and we sat in comfortable silence, silence that felt like home. It all made me think of a poem I wrote about my grandad in my first year of uni, and how both my voice and his focus has changed a lot during the course of those three years, and especially this last year; a year filled with permanent changes that have affected all of us. All of this reflection resulted in this work-in-progress poem! I hope you like it!

Have a wonderful day,

-Andrea

“I said there’s no getting rid of me now to which he replied I’ll hold you to that”

and when we’re fifty-three
we’ll have a house with a sea view and a stove top kettle.
There’ll be a cat called Steve
and you’ll put on red slippers to fetch the newspaper.
I don’t know where we’ll be,
Portreath, Marrakech, Porto,
all I know is that I’ll race you to the cupboard every morning
and you’ll hide my glasses every evening, we’ll make every day a game.

And when we’re sixty-two
we’ll sleep naked like starfish in the middle of the bed
and your heavy hands will follow my wrinkles,

trace the stories in my worn thin skin.
For the one million and thirteenth time,
I’ll stroke your balding head,
and go in for a kiss
but lick your nose
instead.

And when we’re seventy-four
I’ll smack your butt in the kitchen,
as you take out the turkey,
and our daughter of forty-three will sigh and tell us
get a room,
so we’ll sneak away to the pantry,
and steal kisses by the roast potatoes.

And when we’re eighty-one
I’ll ask you if you love me
and you’ll say
nah, you’re just handy to keep around,
so I’ll stick my tongue out at you,
and you’ll put your hand in mine,
that space that’s made
just for you.

(An edited version of an old poem, picture from Pixabay)

-Andrea

“Poem for the thighs”

Tea stain scars run down my thigh,
and the new skin growing
feels soft under my hands.
He has never touched this skin,
never let his fingers linger over it,
or kissed it with seafoam lips.
It’s like a teacup in my lap was what I needed,
to discard him,
grow out of him,
to make me see that the spot he used to rest his hands on,
isn’t there
anymore.

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This picture’s not mine, but it can be found here,
and for more poems, both text and video, click here!

-Andrea

 

Poetry Platform @ the Railway Inn

Before I came to uni, poetry was one of those things I enjoyed reading and listening to, but never did myself. Even though I read the works – and listened to the words – of all these wonderful poets I found online and in the library, writing poetry still seemed like something angsty teenagers did alone in their rooms. Then I got to Winchester, and I attended my first ever Poetry Platform. The Poetry Platform is a great open mic night, where poets from all over Hampshire can come together for a monthly night of wordery (this is a word now). I loved it from the beginning. The vibe of “everything’s okay here”, the little stage that welcomed everyone, how there was always room for one more person.
The entirety of first year was spent watching everyone else perform, while I was trying to build up a portfolio of half-decent poems in the creative writing course’s mandatory poetry lessons. I started loving those lessons too. Seeing poetry so alive,  and workshopping other students’ lines, sentences I could only dream of writing one day, made me fall in love with poetry as a medium. It’s a love affair I hope will last a lifetime.

I don’t call myself a poet. There are way more talented people, those who can express everything they feel so elegantly, who’ve just got words flowing out of their brains in poetic sentences every minute of every day. However, I do love putting together simple, uncomplicated poems, poems that ponder on how we all more or less fumble through life. My poems are rarely very deep, they don’t often tackle very heavy subjects, but after a performance the other day, someone told me they thought my writing felt like “a hug in poem form”, something they felt they could relate to, and I loved that. That’s exactly what I want my “art” to be. Something to make people feel nice and warm and good.

Here’s a video of a poem I did on this month’s Poetry Platform. I’m still working on the title, but it felt like a fitting poem to do on my (most likely) last performance at the Railway.


(The song is “Har du Fyr” – Hekla Stålstrenga, a beautiful song about your home always being there waiting for you, no matter how far off you venture.)

It’s all a bit soppy, but my three-year England adventure is coming to an end, so I feel like I’m allowed to be.

(For more poetry, both page and stage, check out my Published Pieces and Performances page!)

-Andrea

“After Nils-Øivind Haagensen”

jeg skal holde deg til du sovner

she puts her hands on his face,
strokes dry skin and chapped lips

hva om jeg ikke sovner

354 days clean
nearly a year of no burning throats or broken nails
and clinging to porcelain life lines

jeg skal holde deg

“why today,” he thinks
but “don’t hold me,” he says
as he expects her to shove his shivers away
but she doesn’t

I`ll hold you till you fall asleep
What if I don`t fall asleep
I`ll hold you 

Andrea Wold Johansen 008

This is a poem from a creative portfolio I handed in for a second year poetry module. It’s always weird to look back at old writing, but I guess that’s a good thing; progress and learning and all that jazz.
The single stanzas in between the verses make up my all time favourite poem by Norwegian poet Nils-Øivind Haagensen. The last verse is the poem translated.
It  simply goes:

jeg skal holde deg til du sovner
hva om jeg ikke sovner?
jeg skal holde deg.

And that’s it. No title, no capital letters or any sense of who the characters speaking are, still it’s got such a strong story to tell. I love it.

-Andrea

“Norwegian winters”

They moved into number 24 at the age of 23.
Brown doors needed new locks, the garage was falling apart,
but they rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
When Winter and his winds flew down from the north
and blew snow right in where the windows were supposed to be,
they dreamt of a red-brick fireplace and a double bed,
a door you could close and proper curtains.
Outside, the snow grayed like a father of three,
and the leaves wrinkled up like fishermen’s hands
as icicles hung from the roof;
swords and slippery ladders.

He brought hot chocolate in pink elephant mugs,
and an extra pair of socks for cold feet.
She went to bed on the living room floor,
a single mattress with room for two.
It was one of those nights, where the snow and the street lights tried to outshine each other,
and the wind played lullabies through the cracks in the ceiling.

Come here, she said from her spot on the floor,
it’s a night for stomach kisses and seven pairs of mittens.

Andrea Wold Johansen 003

-Andrea