Cherished Pulse

Cherished Pulse
by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Cover art by Vicki Thomas

Cherished Pulse is the first in the Celebration Series of chapbooks. It looks at love from a wise, mature, sensitive perspective. Never sentimental (forget Hallmark), the poems explore love in its many guises — cherish, longing, sensuality, and that sacred place between desire and consummation. For less than the cost of many greeting cards, Cherished Pulse makes the perfect Valentine’s Day or Anniversary gift. Pair the book with a rose, and you’ve got the ideal gift for the special someone you love.

Click on the cover to purchase a copy or for free samples

A few reviews

“A sweeping journey across time, taking the reader through exotic places, to revisit and ponder on places and phases of the heart. My favorite among the collection is Carolyn’s silken dream “déjà vu?” which is reminiscent of my own imaginative creations. Tender, revealing, colorful – definite mastery of poetic imagery: Cherished Pulse is both a gift for the self as well as a unique gift to touch someone else.” Samanthi Fernandoon

“A well written book of poetry by two Authors with different writing styles. I am a fan of Magdalena Ball and am new to Carolyn Howard-Johnson, I was not disappointed. I have to give my top three favorites by each Author. I highly recommend to poetry lovers of all ages. Now for my favorites (was not easy to chose!). By Magdalena Ball; Great Sky, Personality & Body Language. By Carolyn Howard-Johnson; A woman’s Heart, Dreaming Lilacs & Loving Lance.” Sheri A. Wilkinson

“This chapbook of poems is a delicious serving of loving and lovely thoughts, memories, and images of love shared and remembered in a breathtaking way, as in these lines from “Aurora” by Magdalena Ball:

“Red, green and purple curtains
waved above you”

“If I could capture that spectrum of
atomic neon sign of lost wonder”

As an sf writer, I so appreciated the cosmic comparisons in Ball’s poems. The first group of poems is by Magdalena Ball; the second group is by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. All the poems flow and entice you into a world of longing and caresses. Howard-Johnson’s poems reflect the imagery of nature, as in these lines from “Dreaming Lilacs”:

“hearing bougainvillea’s fuchsia
song, taking shortcuts
across the lawn to kick
through jacaranda’s silent
petalfall. Like Van Goh’s flowers
twist their faces
to the sun, … ”

These gentle, but stirring poems are a sweet gift to yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a young girl to show her what love really means…” Joy V. Smith

“I don’t read a lot of poetry. I know little about the various poetic styles and proper formatting for each. But I do know what moves me. This collection does that. Because I read a lot of suspense and thriller novels, reading fast goes with the fast pace of the plots. With this book, I had to remind myself to go slow. The words here are a literary paintbrush and the image they create should be savoured. The two authors have very different styles, but they are equally gifted. Overall, Magdalena Ball’s work feels broader, her words more abstract in approach. Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s work has a narrower feel, her words a bit more direct. Choosing a favorite would be impossible, since both move me in different ways. They are a well-matched team, beautifully complementing one another. Whether you’re a lover of poetry or a casual fan, this collection is one I highly recommend.” Darcia Helle

“Magdalena Ball’s poems in this collection display a considerable interest in, and enthusiasm for, nature, both on this planet and in space. This is appropriate for “unconventional love poetry” as love for someone else often makes them seem to be everything (ie, the universe); it is also not what we expect since, on the face of it, love has no connection with outer space or the natural world on earth. This particularly appeals to me. The awe in which we hold the cosmos together with its beauty and loneliness also make it ideal for poems about love. For instance, “Galactic Collision”, one of my favourites, is about the virtually catastrophic fusing of two people in love with each other. The comparison of a human heart to a black hole is amazing, bold and apt: after all, a black hole is so powerful that nothing — not even light — can escape it. And true, deep love, draws us in and won’t let go. She then goes on to underline this by going to the other end of the scale: light (“black hole/ expanded into a cartwheel blaze”). Love it.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, on the other hand, explores the inner recesses of the human world: the heart, the mind and the home, neatly complementing and counterpointing Ball’s macroscopic world-view (or should that be “universe-view”?). As they say, “Home is where the heart is”. Howard-Johnson’s skill is in choosing original settings for poems that address different sentiments from the expected. It is also evident in her relaxed style, which cuts to the emotional crux of her works in a simple yet elegant way and embraces the real issues rather than the simplistic pseudo-sentiments of most commercial greetings cards. For example, the bittersweet “Dreaming Lilacs”, primes the reader to expect a poem about intoxicating, fulfilled love through its vivid evocation of place and utilisation of all the reader’s senses (“It’s you who had me dreaming lilacs,/ breathing April’s sweetest tears, tasting sugared lemon rinds,”), then reveals that it is really about expired or unrequited love (“… As if you/ were with me,/ as if you loved me.”). Brilliant. All in all, a superb collection: different yet not totally unfamiliar. Roll on the next collection!”  Mark Logie

“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and poets live in the ether. Then again, so do greeting card companies. How many variations of “Hoping you have a Valentine’s Day as special as you are” can a sane intelligent person stomach? Guys do not want to give or receive these empty Cupid cutesy cards, and here’s a secret: women don’t, either. Perhaps we’d better just stick with chocolate. There is another alternative. Award winning (and happily espoused) poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball have teamed up with online gift-giving giant Celebration Express. Celebration will be featuring their new e-book of poetry Cherished Pulse, a book full of intense, beautiful, and unconventional poetry about love — the kind that doesn’t appear in valentines that are available at card counters. This excerpt from “Great Sky” by Magdalena Ball is raw, real and honest:

Red and white bravado may be gone
with the purple clouds
and cracked leathers
of our childhood
but hunger remains.
Don’t let age blind you.
Under my crepe paper skin
lies a beating heart


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

After unrealized passion
my head finds the curve
of his armpit. There
where my ear presses
his warmth, a sensual sound,
cherished pulse. Not
what he wanted
but enough for me.

Cherished Pulse contains the kind of poem you’d send to a loved one if you could find something that isn’t bedecked with doilies, glitter or strewn with clichéd rhymes. Cherished Pulse also contains original watercolors by an award-winning Los Angeles area watercolorist, Vicki Thomas.” Kristin J. Johnson