Sunday 31 January 2016

Bring It On

Poetry inspired by the visual arts

Every year the Hungry Hill Writer’s group based on the Beara Peninsula run a poetry competition inviting participants to write a poem inspired by the current art exhibition at Mill Cove Gallery.
The winning entries are compiled in a beautiful anthology along side their muse; photo of the original art piece.
This is one of my favourite competitions. An event at the gallery on the August bank holiday includes readings from the anthology, short-listed poems and an open microphone session.
Much as I would like to dash down to Castletownbere and sit in the beautiful Mill Cove Gallery overlooking the sea and get inspired by a close encounter with the original work I usually engage with my muse on-line.
Inspired by a Fidelma Massey sculpture The Marriage between the Sun and Moon here is a poem I wrote that was short-listed in the 2012 anthology Poets meet Painters. 

Bring it on

They say it won’t last.
Him with his webbed feet and shaggy mane.
The heat alone of him will melt me, they say,
erase my quarter, half and full phases,
my gibbous,crescent,waxing and waning moods.

Hang the consequences, I say, holding the apple between us,
 me, like Eve, tempting him-
A kiss about to weld us into a near perfect O.
Expulsion from Eden, tree of knowledge, forbidden fruit,
Bring it on, I say, bring it on.

To view the original sculpture go to.
For details of the competition see
To view Paintings and Sculptures see

Friday 29 January 2016

Who needs Dr Who?

When a memory catches me off-guard the culprit is often a scent or smell and the result is time travel without Dr Who's time travel machine.
Who needs Tardis when a whiff of coconut can transport you  through time and relative dimension to your first encounter with coconut shower gel circa 1978 or to a cheap beach package holiday in Rimini  spent basking in swathes of coconut oil?

Here's a poem that wafted out of the scent of a flower.
First published in The Cork Literary Review,Vol. IV


I didn’t want to be the little old lady who ends her days
pouring over a box of broken hearts
And so
I burnt, threw out, disposed of, as appropriate
All of you

One day
I stirred up a pot of dried flowers

And with just one motion of the finger
I conjured up

I had worn honeysuckle
That day

Next day I went out and bought a box of them
I planted them two feet apart
Three sides of my back garden.

And when I’m a little old lady
People will wonder why
I pour over leaves of honeysuckle.

Thursday 28 January 2016

Seasonal Love

The perennial source of inspiration for poetry has to be love. 
  • Lost love
  • Unrequited love
  • Requited love
  • Platonic love.....

I write best on a wave of either longing or loss
Satisfied with love I must be too busy enjoying it.
So here is one of my loss- love poems published in Women’s Works Vol 8

Seasonal Love

It was the fire in you that held me
until I got my fingers burnt.

What else did I expect?

I expected love
Spring seeding
Summer glowing
Autumn gathering
Winter hoarding.

You liked spring

But when we last met
It was a winter’s day.

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Poetry Prompts


This is a great way to get writing if you haven't an idea in your head.

A while back my brother gave me an old brass coal bin that used to sit in the family home.
It was a prize piece in our living room and far too decorative to use for coal.
 So..... my father kept his socks in it.

Here's the poem that grew out of the bin.

The Brass Bin
for my father

The clang of a brass bin-lid opening
Takes me back to you
Fishing a pair of black socks
Out of it

A cylindrical brass coal bin
Sporting sailing ships
Three of them heading for the Spanish Maine
Its ringed handles looped through the mouths of lions

Too good for coal, it bore your socks
I always borrowed them
And never gave them back
I think you minded-but never said

The clang of a brass bin- lid closing
Mouths shutting
And silence
And words never spoken

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Until the River Runs Blue

Competitions are a great incentive....even if you don't win them.

This story evolved from one where you were given the opening line and asked to keep going.
The competition was for children's fiction but this yarn took its own direction.
It gathered a few familiar fairy tale figures along the way.
The King, Queen, Witch,Wise Woman, Woodcutter et al

And it was set, of course, deep in the forest.

But essentially it is about:

  • Learning to stay true to who you are (once you find out !)
  • Not being seduced by the romancers
  • or deterred by the tricksters.

I put it up on Amazon but here's an extract.


In service to the hag the queen performed many tasks. She washed all the clothes, she cleaned, she choked in the dust raised by the hag’s broomstick, and she waited. She waited for the hag to fall asleep, but the hag never seemed to sleep. The hag hunted by night and in the daytime she locked herself up in her gingerbread house that stood on four monstrous chicken legs. The legs moved if the queen came too close and then the hag would awaken and give her more chores.
And so it continued for many days and weeks and months until one day the queen had an idea. She would befriend the chicken legs. She would feed them corn, she would stroke their oily sinews, she would become wily; for she was running out of time.

The queen knew what the hag was doing to her; she was wearing her down. Already the queen was tired performing all the chores and she hardly slept at night lest the hag should return and cut her throat. So she grovelled. She fed the chicken legs with fat, she stroked and patted them. At night she played hopscotch with them and always lost. She flattered and deceived until one day she saw that the legs were asleep, soothed by her own balm. Taking up a knife the queen stole into the hag’s den.

Monday 25 January 2016

Actual yarns-Knitting in garter stitch

And what about those actual yarns???

 I'm trying to revive my near-extinct knitting skills so I took myself off to Winnie's Craft Cafe where I sipped tea from a china cup, munched on a delicious shortbread freebie and lost myself in colour and texture. A feast of yarns,patterns,crafty gifts, toys and kits.
The knitting experts there suggested easy knits to give me a quick fix and encourage me to keep clicking.
I chose easy knit accessories in garter stitch, no jumpers just yet....


Initial panic. Cast on 16 stitches -thumb method....What's that?? Luckily thumb remembered.
Same flutter with panic when time came to cast off. Got there.Phew!
Then a fringe problem with a scarf.
Went onto You-tube and watched a video called Knitting help-Adding fringe.
Needed a crochet hook. for this. Thumbs a bit clumsy but managed to make an uneven fringe.

And the results are a bit rough !!!              But hey, I'm a beginner.....

Check out Winnie's website for details of the free knit working evenings,courses,online shopping,location etc...etc

Tree in Winter

Trees in winter. Wish I could sketch those gnarled blackened barks split down the middle.
Siamese twins warring with each other.
Tai-chi masters;gathering the stars;bowing to the moon
Shadow boxers
Shadow dancers.

But instead here is a poem:

Tree in Winter

Stripped bare of leaves and illusions
I take the brunt of winter gales
And though you do not see the moment
when I shift my limbs, fraction by decimal fraction
to better bear the weight of leaf and loss
You will see me any winter’s day
Offer my mute twisted appeal to the sky

copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016


Saturday 23 January 2016

In Through The Bunny-Hole

While my father sewed my mother did the knitting.
"Every Aran pattern has its own story to tell," she told me.
And so ...this poem...first published in the Cork Literary Review 1V
The title came from that knitting rhyme she taught me when I was a child, and some of you out there will remember it.

In through the bunny-hole
Round the big tree
Out through the bunny-hole
And off goes she.

In Through the Bunny- hole

My mother never taught me how to KB.
 I can slip knitways and knit two together
even through back of loop.
I can pick up and knit and turn and purl and turn and slip
and pass slip stitch over.
Enough to make bobble and cable.
Enough to make story.

They say that every Aran pattern tells its own tale.
I see us sitting, generations of women,
clicking fluently with our fingers
of where we’ve been and where we are going
while our tongues trip over new syllables.

My mother never taught me how to KB.
She never needed to speak of village clearance
or emigration
or a woman in white foreboding ill
or a thrush heralding good fortune…

But what if I do?

For details of Cork Literary Review and competitions go to

Friday 22 January 2016

Quilt Maker


My father could cut fabric with either hand
taking cognisance of grain, warp, weft and diagonal.
I remember newspaper triangular patterns.
His tailor’s chalk left white crosses in its wake.

He figured dimensions in his head, but cut
with precision - no strip or machine quilting then
when we cranked the handle that thrummed out blocks
each with its own story to tell.

He finger-pressed frocks and cast-offs that conjured up
memories - sharp and ephemeral the way scents do -
pin-stitched and back-stitched, summers pinioned.

He knew that if pulled along the diagonal
the fabric would stretch
as memories do now across the bed.

Copyright 2016 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved


Why a blog? Why me?

I could just keep a notebook, a diary, a scrap book album….
But I’ve decided to “get with it” and blog
I’m a bit long in the tooth to be getting with it.
I was going to call this blog- It’s never too late-
But instead I’m calling it Bake-A-Yarn
Because I like to bake
And my recently revived knitting skills, somewhat rusty, have become a compulsion.
And then there is the old stalwart, the figurative yarns, the stories, poems, tall tales I want to share.
So this blog will be a bit of a mish-mash mosaic of whatever creative endeavour I can manage to come up with.
Hope you enjoy

And more importantly.. I hope I enjoy.

And a big thanks to Marie-Helene for setting me up with a blog...