Friday, 18 August 2017

No turning Back

Here's another poem inspired by a painting a couple of years ago.

The Oh So White Road

I’ve never seen a road so white.

But Hansel’s pebbles must have gleamed just so
under the moonlight.
And the forest trees as tar-thick-dense
as the ditches that line this road.
And beyond these, the silkscarf fields
as tempting as any gingerbread house.
And the future, over the brow of the hill,
beyond the icy treacherous descent
of wicked stepmothers and oven-crazed hags,
as quest deserving.
And once they scaled the pole-staked invisible fence
between do and don’t
Hansel and Gretel knew
as we all do

That there’s no going back.

Based on the White Road

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Last Word

I thought I posted this before, but the post has the dying languages!

The Last word

In Boro the verb to love flows wide upon the tongue;
Onguboy –to love from the heart
Onsay – to pretend to love
Onsra – to love for the last time

and like the thirty one words for seaweed in Irish
that whiten without dissent upon the foreshore, *
the tongue in Boro begins to stiffen

and so we lose that which holds memory as a landscape might
and a Korean child’s tongue is surgically lengthened
that he may, one day, say “right.”

Boro- a  language in North-Eastern India

*Death of Irish” by Aidan Mathews: ‘The tide gone out for good,/Thirty-one words for seaweed/Whiten on the foreshore.’ (In Penguin Contemporary Irish Poets, ed. Derek Mahon, 1990.)

Friday, 11 August 2017

Plague Door

Again a poem prompted by a photograph of an old door in Italy covered with Grafitti. I thought about the crosses that were once drawn on the doors of plague victims and the poem evolved from there. The plague was initialled believed to be a sign of god's wrath. Lisa Tivey has a studio, The Open Window Gallery, in Rathmines, Co Dublin and another, Holly Tree Studio, Bantry, West Cork.

Plague Door

The plague is not fussy, just hungry.
And this door never did recover from its daubed
red cross, its pile of bodies, black ulcerated, buboes
the size of an apple. Punishment meted out
by heavenly bodies, atonement for our
inequities, the wrath of God against which
no appeal prevailed.

Centuries later it comes back.
No paint to daub on paint peeled door.
Just nails and planks of wood and
ghosts quarantined now, as they were
then, when no-one would trade or breathe
contaminated air or share their
misfortune. And then for bedevilment
some flippant boy, some modern day town watchman,
a pot of errant paint in hand, daubs willy-nilly,
stigma, that proclaims you dead.

Inspired by Lisa Tivey’s Calabrian Steps

Thursday, 10 August 2017


This was written for a Poets Meet Painters Competition. 
It was inspired by a painting by contemporary Irish  artist Nicola Slattery titled Sleeping Woman. 
Unfortunately I have no image of the painting, but you can check out her website or google Nicola Slattery.


Wrapped in a patchwork
the woman dreams of a farm divided
from son to son
and crafts it whole again.

Its boundaries and banks neatly stitched,
she works the soil into holdings of forest and fallow
and russeted crop and verdant green pasture
and, in places, bright crimson petals boldly sewn.

And in this way she claims back
 a daughter’s inheritance denied.
The only sheep she can tend, the ones she counts,
as she falls asleep at night.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Away with The Fairies.

When I read this article I thought of Robert Frost's Mending Wall, to which my response is deeply indebted.

It's been getting great coverage in the news.

Mending Road

Something there is that loves a dip in the road
That sends the ground swell under it
And makes a hollow even two cars cannot pass abreast.
No-on has seen it made or heard it made.
But in the morning it is there.
And on a day agreed the Council came
With diggers, more than one, to repair it.
At a cost to the tax-payer of forty thousand euro.
But when they turned their backs it was there again.
"There's something in these places you shouldn't touch."
"Sacred," he would say. "Is it the work of fairies?"
They say in their defence,
" It's a deeper underlying subsoil geo-technical problem."
But they'd rather he would say it for himself.
They see him there, like an old stone-savage armed.
"I'd rather starve than knock a fairy fort!"
He will not go behind his father's back
And likes having thought of it so well he says it again.
Something there is that loves a dip in the road.
"Is it the work of fairies?"

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Manchester by the Sea

“Where is this going ?” is my usual wail five minutes into any movie. I’m a pain to sit with. 
But half an hour into the movie Manchester by the Sea, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan 2016, and I was still asking.

Casey Affleck was dragging his famous drawl through the script. His lack lustre body language, except when sprung into violent action, was in keeping with the drawl. He plays the part of a Boston janitor , a jack of all trades, who performs tasks as various as plumbing, electrics and shovelling snow. Of course there is going to be a disgruntled, rude tenant. And Casey/Lee is not renowned for keeping his cool.

So we have a character, dull of expression, dull of tone- until you press his buttons, and then wham!
It’s not that original. The sulky angry young man? Brando did it. James Dean did it. Ryan Gosling had a fair whack at it. John Osborn in 1956 staged it. 
SO, did I want to sit up to midnight to unravel the angsts of another angry young man?

And then there were the flashbacks, fairly persistent and disruptive. In truth, I’m not much into flash back. Give me a tale told straight. Linear - my preferred direction. I know it makes the viewer work harder, makes them have to scramble about…and, indeed, the story was so dull it was at least ... a diversion …

Well, to make a sad story short, I headed off to listen to my Pema Chodron tapes instead. A review of them to come on another day.

It's fair to say that I’m a prejudiced biased observer. I don’t need car chases, or swash buckling heroes, though I am partial to both. And, in spite of all the fishing scenes in the early screen shots, I failed to be hooked.

For a positive review read the link below. It did receive Oscars I think?
And I didn't, after all ,watch it to the bitter end.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Sea Eagle

During the Open Sea Swim Season, as in now, a couple of amateur photographers, to the delight and sometimes dismay of race participants, snap pics and post them on the Leinster Open Sea facebook page. Here's a flavour of what happens....


He scans the ocean waves
His clear eye discerning the perfect frame
The most jaded, the most compromised
Dragging themselves to shore
Where his telescopic vision
Pinions them to his reel.

Sometimes he captures all of us
Waves slowing us down
Bending us
To the centre of his gaze.

Or scouring among spectators, he snaps 
Incipient lovers, indifferent infants,
Shysters who cannot evade his scrutiny.
Scoops to add to his lair;
His facebook eyrie.

And afterwards we are glad.
Glad of this calibrating and combining of elements
That snatch these moments in time
And preserve for us these memories.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017