Monday 31 July 2017


Trying to organise my sheaves of scribbles into some sort of order, I came across some early poems which hopefully I haven't subjected you to before.
"My twenties" was a dark decade.....
And this poem was a response to a photograph of me as a disgruntled  20 something.


You sit at a picnic bench
in summer at Annamoe
Light not touching you
You smoke
but do not inhale
You are peeved
and you show it

Denim clad dungarees and check- work-shirt
Who are you trying to please?
Him, behind the lens
who sees you peeved
and revels in it?
Him, for whom you loosened and loosened until
you gave way?

No Blood, he said
No sheet red-stained to hang
in a marble-floored hall.
And you did not know why
Or what answer might hold

And so, you gave none.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Saturday 29 July 2017

On the Brink

I am currently trying to recall my cupla focal of Gaelic, so when I read Manchan Magan's article in The Irish Times, Can you bring a language back from the dead?
I was moved to write something.

They are on the brink
Mandaic, Champorro, Kashubian, Bukhari
Half of the world's languages
Stranded in a rock pool
Tongues culled
for the sake of:
Market Expansion


They are rescued by some language activist
Some Jessie Little Doe Baird
who revived Wampanoag from documents that survived its extinction
giving it an after life.

"It's a matter of justice," he says
This global salvaging:
of Diversity
of Folklore
of History
of Memory

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Meet the villain of the piece. Final part!... Promise....


As Gussy soared over Merrion Strand he almost dropped the wriggling duckling into the malodorous sea weed that lay strewn up on the beach. The stench was offensive, even to a gull with a high tolerance of stench. And to think that he and his clan were being heaped with the blame for this polluted eyesore!

 Gulls have lost the run of themselves, ran a recent newspaper headline. And when the twitterers got going the cry and hue for revenge reached fever pitch!

He and his fellow creatures were accused of pollution, of dispossessing children of their lollipops, of dispossessing adults of their sleep, bringing about sleep depravation in the whole of Dublin 4.  And then, if they were not pariah enough, there was a Special on the Late Late where Ryan Tubridy entertained that little precocious upstart Sally Holmes to a VIP slot! Her and her stats!

Gull droppings were 10 times more concentrated than human waste, making 40 million Ecoli per gull, she quipped, and then added a dozen other erroneous facts in condemnation of the whole gull species.

Ryan tried weakly to protest, quoting from Jonathon Livingston Seagull. But it’s penguins that are the whole rage these days and the little arrogant meddler, wearing a replica of her granda’s deerstalker cap and frock coat, just talked him down.

The stats were rigged; FAKE NEWS!!! He’d have to take it up with the Department of Truth. And meanwhile Sally Holmes’ online campaign, a veritable gull hunt, had to be stopped.

That was why he and his comrades had taken to the roof of Hawkins House, headquarters of the Department of Health.
Not to nest--- but to protest!!
Free speech for Gulls!
Equality for the avian species!
Justice for migrant birds!

And what happened then?

The wheels of government began to turn distinctly against them. There were calls for walls, nets, pest control measures. Calls for culling. Extermination of their race! Eradication. Genocide.

That’s when Gussy hit upon a plan.

Much as he’d like to discredit the penguin community, it was a long way to Dublin Zoo. And if the wind was westerly and gale force, he’d never make it. Seals were the nearest cousin to penguins that he could think of, and a colony of them was easily located within easy flying distance of Herbert Park.

His plan was to drop a duckling within bait stroke of a seal and then dive to the rescue. That should make the Six O’clock news. Sharon or Dobbo might even put in a personal appearance at the Forty Foot to interview witnesses. Seals would become the new scapegoats; gulls would be off the hook.

The problem was stealing a duckling first without attracting attention! And Sally Holmes had made gull-meat of that!


And now from our reporter in Dunlaoghaire

Sharon, can you give us the latest on this development at the Forty Foot?

Yes, Brian, it seems that Ma Doyle was sea bathing with her black flat coated retriever Molly when a duckling fell out of the sky within a snout’s distance of Molly’s bopping black head. Molly, being a retriever, went straight to the rescue but was intercepted by a gull that tried to wrestle the duckling from its rescuer. The dog was viciously attacked, but managed to hold on to the baby duck. The attempted abduction is the latest in a series of crimes committed by marauding gulls and has prompted the Minister for the Environment to call on The Taoiseach to call on the government to reconvene at the earliest opportunity to discuss the matter.

I believe that Sally Holmes was on the scene within minutes and is currently in pursuit of the offender?

Yes, Brian, Sally and Dr Whatsit in their drone balloon are now pursuing the suspect. I believe they are currently heading in the direction of the equator.

Thanks Sharon. We’ll have footage of the event and news on any further developments on the 9 O’clock news. The latest bulletin is that Molly, a setter-cross in fact, is to be awarded freedom of Dunlaoghaire. She is currently in St Michael’s A& E receiving treatment for her wounds which are not life threatening.

If anyone has found this report disturbing we would ask you to get in touch with the help-line 180020202020.

That’s all for now. Have a good evening and remember you can keep up to date with  the news on RTE News Now and RTE news app. 

Copyright 2017 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Follow That Gull...cont


Molly Doyle curled her black tail and settled for a bumpy ride in the back of Ma’s Toyota Starlet, aka TS: The Skateboard. Everyone told Ma Doyle it was time to change that car. Every bump, ramp, chicane and pothole on the road really did rise to meet them and all the occupants, especially canine ones, were jolted and shook till their molars chattered. But she just replied that the only other model she fancied was a Citroen Diane, Granny- smith- apple -green colour with a sun roof, or a red pick up truck, and since the former were almost an extinct species and the latter beyond her means she’d have to stick with the Toyota.

At least today Ma hadn’t flattened the back seat and availed of the hatchback potential of the TS. For when she did Molly found herself squeezed between the spare wheel and Ma’s emergency kit bag containing:

Emergency triangle
Tyre removal paraphernalia
Flask of tea -cold
Bottle opener
Stale biscuits
Wellies for Sandymount Strand
Knitted Connemara socks to go inside them
Rain jacket and umbrella, neither of which she ever used as Ma always travelled dressed in multi-layers anyway.
Basket of bottles for the bottle bank- reeking of stale Shiraz
Bag of Ma’s undersized clothes for Oxfam
The Forty Foot kit which comprised of:
Beach towel
Flip flops
Swim cap and togs, circa 1950
Plastic bag to place clothes in if it rained
Rock to place on plastic bag if it galed
A net to retrieve expiring crabs/jellyfish or whatever creatures that happened to find themselves beached beneath the James Joyce Tower.

And if there really was an emergency, like a flat tyre or an empty petrol tank, Ma always called the AA and acted stupid.

And besides the issue of all the clutter that lived in the boot of TS, that hatchback floor rose at a 25 degree angle, which meant that Moll had to hang on for dear life with her Newfie claws.

Now Molly was part Newfie, part Bernese and part Red Setter
and was tired of being hailed as a black flat- coated Retriever, even if one of this breed had won the Croft’s show as overall winner in recent times.
Overall winner- what did that mean anyway?

Today, before coaxing her into the back seat of TS, Ma had muttered something about “Chasing birds” and “Poor dears!” and “Time to put a stop to it!” and dragged her Forty Foot kit to the fore. She’d also been chatting on her granny phone with  Sally, which always meant trouble.

 Moll decided to get some shut-eye, since Ma Doyle was clearly off on one of her missions with her darling grand daughter Sally Holmes, and anything might happen!  Moll for sure would be called upon to perform daring feats of bravery and agility and sheer lunacy.

And besides, everyone knew that Gussy was at it again, and there was nothing Moll liked better for dinner than gull; rare or bleu.

Copyright 2017 Cathy Leonard. All rights reserved

Monday 24 July 2017

For Kid-ults

This week is for the Adult -kid...because I have written a short story which really wouldn't appeal to children, but isn't really for adults either.  A kid-ult story...See what you think...



Fuchsia lived in a hot air balloon- a very odd address for an elf you might think- but Fuchsia’s job was to cheer up unhappy children. A jaunt up Dunlaoghaire pier dropping free-range eggs on Lycra legged joggers, chill-axed skateboarders and bespectacled grannies usually did the trick. Fuchsia got no petrol allowance, but he did get mischief mileage expenses. So when he saw the red haired girl scowling in the middle of Herbert Park Fuchsia started thinking about mileage.

He was saving up for a trip Down Under to visit his cousin Eucalyptus. But what with the new baggage charges with Elfan Air, he was struggling to come up with the fare. He’d need flippers, snorkel, wetsuits, a ton of factor 50 sun cream, a designer collection of togs, fly swats and anti mosquito spray. 10 elf kilos just wouldn’t suffice. He’d almost have to charter an Elfan Boeing for himself the more he read about the Australian outback. He could, of course, take a chance and fly himself in his hot air balloon. But there were some dangerous winds to consider on route, the hot dry Sirocco and the strong cold Mistral. And besides, his pilot licence wasn’t valid south of the equator. Daring as Fuchsia was, he didn’t want to risk penalty points.

Beneath him now a small crowd was gathering beside the red headed girl. Gussy Gull was at it again. Spring time in Herbert Park meant Gussy’s chance to make front page in The Irish Times. The seagull’s wings rose on a level with the balloon and Fuchsia saw the fledgling duckling hanging from Gussy’s beak. You had to admire Gus. He never missed a photo shoot opportunity. Below him pocket cameras, iphones and smart phones flashed in tandem.
   “Follow that gull!” ordered Sally Holmes as she jumped on board the hot air balloon, even before it landed.
   “I’m not a taxi, Sally Holmes. And if I’d known it was you I wouldn’t have landed!”
   “You’ve just wasted five seconds, Whatsit.”
   “It’s Fuchsia.”
   “Fuchsias are either plants or colours. The plant is a shrub, mostly native to South America, 0.2-4 metres tall. The colour fuchsia was first recorded as a colour name in English in 1892.You, if I may point out, Whatsit, are an elf. Now do you really want to be responsible for that serial killer’s next offence? We have just lost another twenty three seconds. Gus took three right turns and four lefts so he’s probably headed for James Joyce’s Tower in Sandycove.”
   “How did you see that?”
   “Just trust me, Whatsit, and get going! We can still save the day and the fledgling.”
   “That fledgling’s already dead meat. We’re on a wild gull chase.”
   “From the traces of black eel on his front fore-claw I’d say our Gussy has already dined. He’s keeping fledgling for his break-time snack, which he imbibes at exactly eleven am.”
    “How do you know that? From the configuration of his wings?”
     “No, Whatsit. Because he said, “Roll on elevenses...” just before he struck.”
   There was no point in arguing with Sally Holmes. She missed nothing. It was all the fault of her great, great grandfather Sherlock, who had taught her to be a right little meddler.”
   Fuchsia reluctantly turned to his controls. “Three lefts and four rights did you say?”
   “Whatsit, you never listen! You operate from a fraction of your brain cell potential. It’s the opposite, exactly the opposite.”
   Here she was off again. No lines full of washing would disappear today, no perfectly directed water bombs would explode on unsuspecting heads. No fun at all, just plonking police work.

To be continued....

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Friday 21 July 2017

Dirge for a Lost cat

I wrote this when I was suffering the loss of kitty. Thankfully, as posted last week, he has been returned. 
But writing out the fears and apprehensions has always helped me to deal with challenging stuff.


He thought he had two eyes
as he sat in the window-sill
on long summer evenings
longing to get out.

Maybe to scale those walls,
leap fences, chase prey,
dodge foxes,
do what cats do at night.

And since they'd gone there was no
creak of porch door, tail strokes, hourly treats,
No "Aren't you the clever little man!"
when he returned from his neighbourhood watch patrol.

Now there was just, maybe, a twice daily feed.
No chat, no strokes,
and no outdoors, ever.
He'd have to take the first glitch of an opening and scram...

He didn't know it was just
a four day trip to the seaside.
He thought it was forever;
That they would never come back.

He didn't know there was a fox
waiting for him.
Or maybe it wasn't a fox.
Maybe it was a car tyre.

Or, hopefully, maybe,
a little old lay with a tin of tuna.
We'll never know, ever, maybe....

He thought he had two eyes.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Thursday 20 July 2017

Writing Competitions again....

This is a feel-good, predictable little piece of flash written for a competition. Whiskey of a particular brand had to come into it!


Rory googled jobsearch again. He had finished his course in marketing eight weeks ago, and so far no luck. Some of his pals were already planning to join a friend in Canada or Australia. Working in the mines in Western Australia was becoming a popular destination for new Irish graduates.
   “Gran, what do you think of Australia?” he said over his shoulder to Granny Maire who was now pouring over the jobs vacancy pages in the newspaper.
   “What do you love to do? That’s the question.”
   “What does that matter? What keyword should I enter in this job search, Gran?”
   “Horses? You used to love horses.”
   “Gran. I’m serious.”
   But Rory entered horses and found himself staring at a complex array of jobs for a betting company.
   “I have to select a department now. What do you think? Dial-a-bet, Quantitative analysis, Risk?”
   “Are you sure you’re on the right site, son? What about equine management? Isn’t that the grand title they give to it now?
   “I think we’re on different pages, Gran.”
   “I’m seventy five and I’m telling you now, Rory O’Hare, you’re a born genius with horses and if you don’t follow your talent you will end up in a mine somewhere of your own making. Now it’s getting late and I’m having a night cap. Will you join me?”
   “You should be drinking hot chocolate at your age.”
   “There’s nothing that a drop of whiskey won’t solve.”
   “Get off my case will you, or I’ll end up in a paddock up to my knees in muck.”
   “Worse places to be. You never minded when you were a lad. You had a sparkle in your eyes then. Did you apply for that course?”
   “Goodnight, Gran.”
   Gran walked sprightly out through the door and into the kitchen where she would settle into her nightcap and the daily crossword. Rory’s eyelids were already drooping over the webpage. He read the long list of job titles ; business analyst, business intelligence analyst, E-commerce project manager. How did you get qualified for all of these posts? And who was getting the jobs these days? Nobody he knew.

  Maybe she was right. Maybe he should just check his emails for word about that place on the stable management course she’d coaxed him to apply for three weeks before. His friends had laughed, but something inside him had held firm through all the teasing and taunting. Rory tapped in his password.
Five minutes later he was flinging open the kitchen door.
   “Have you any of that hard stuff left Gran, because I think we have something to celebrate that really matters.” 

Granny Maire noticed that his eyes were sparkling.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Monday 17 July 2017

The Frenchman

This story was shortlisted in The Brian Moore short story competition and the Fish short story competition.
Competitions are great motivators!!!

The Frenchman

She would close his eyes in death; that was all she knew about him.

The Frenchman who sold her the cottage made a living from his vegetables. Set on the edge of Clare Galway the stone cottage with its Stanley range and converted hayloft seemed suspended in a time warp. Oil fired central heating was a promise and, for the moment, Sarah spent her days lugging buckets of turf and logs from the out house, feeding them to the black iron Stanley that choked and spluttered and spewed out wood smoke. She saw little of the Frenchman.


“She sallies about that cottage naked in the dead of night,” said the farmer.
“I’ve seen her in satins and bows and high-heeled shoes wavering in and out of the cow shed,” said his neighbour.
“She only got two letters all summer long and them nude postcards from abroad written in Italian,” offered the postman.
“Sure I’d hate to live near any of yous,” said Ruth the barmaid.
“She crumbled out of the car last week,” began the Frenchman.
“You mean clambered,” said the postman.
“No, I mean she was tired, or arthritic.”
“Ugly and arthritic too,” said the farmer into the bottom of his pint.
“She keeps herself to herself is all you can hold on her,” replied the Frenchman as he smoothed the plastic tablecloth with his fingers. He seemed to be patting down some imaginary fold with long sweep strokes; thirty years speaking English in this rural backwater and still his hands fumbled with something he couldn’t quite fathom.
“Hold on her? Would ye listen to yer man!”


“How do people die if they die with their eyes wide open?” she asked her friends in the city.

“A knife in the gut.”
“A jealous lover.”
“A shock to the system!”

All predicted sudden and violent deaths.


She watched him from her deep recessed cottage window; a tall lithe man pushing fifty, his spade sliding easily into the caked earth as he cut beds for winter seeding.

Swallows dipped in and out of the turf shed, wild pheasants ate the grass seeds she’d planted in late summer. The russeting oak cradled the blossoming holly and she nearly trod underfoot fungi bright as hot coals. Winter was coming.

She’d best stay away from the Frenchman, for how could she close his eyes in death if she never went near him; it was the intimacy implied in that gesture that bothered her.


She howls by the light of the moon.
She walks naked at sunset.
She has teeth like fangs.
She pees in the turf shed.
She’s a queer one for sure.
She works hard…
He means for a blow-in!

There was a light tapping at her door, playful like a tune. Sarah was stacking woodpile in the corner of the alcove where the black Stanley squatted, and through the half-door windowpane she saw the tall man standing. She looked into eyes that were black as the Stanley; his skin was rain beaten, and he held himself straighter than any man she could remember.

“It’s you so,” she muttered opening the door.
“No, a life-size model! The Irish! They love to state the obvious or talk in riddle. “I’ll do it now, in a minute,”” and he laughed, his black eyes twinkling.
“Have you something to tell me or not?” asked Sarah bristling.
“You’re a sour woman, or is it dour? I’ve come about the system,” and he waved his hands towards the Stanley. “I notice smoke from your chimney and I see you have it fired.”
“You’re an observant man,” she quipped back.
“What I mean is the electricity is cutting and the pump is not functioning and the system…” Words fluttered and danced. She could see him tilt and turn the spade this way and that, testing; words sliding across the blade, settling only when he had done explaining.
“You didn’t interrupt me!”
“Sure why should I? Thank you. I understand; about the system. And it’s dour, but sour works too.” And she closed the door on a bemused expression.


They say she has a hoard of illegitmates in the city.
They say she killed a man by simply sitting on him.
They say she has the evil eye and can cast a spell.
They say she stacks money in the chimney.

“She listens,” said the Frenchman.


She had never been wrong before; her intimations she always trusted.
But he appeared more often now.

Did the flue need cleaning?
A tile had fallen off the roof.
The hedge needed trimming?

And so he came, feeding her stove and her emptiness with hands that smoothed and folded imaginary contours on her cotton tablecloth and, stroking it, he told her his story. And once in the telling his eyes rolled upwards in their sockets and her heart stopped; she leaned towards him fumbling.


Swallows dipped in and out of the loft that night and the lovers flew with them. They flew out through the roof and waltzed on the Milky Way; followed the quest of the plough and ended up in the Northern Star. Then they fell into a deep, deep sleep.

“La petite mort, we call it.”
“Little death?”
“And la grande mort, that’s death; the end or the beginning.”

Sarah began to laugh; her rolling laughter scattering the swallows that nested under the eaves. And then the tears came, and the falling of the ache she had been holding.

“So you’re not dead yet,” she said placing her palms over his eyes.
“The Irish!”

“I know! We always state the obvious…”

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Friday 14 July 2017

Sherlock's Back

Happy to report that Sherlock, our one-eyed Moggy, is safe and sound and back home again.

He was found by scouts a few days ago at their camp in the Dublin mountains near Ticknock. We don't quite know how he got there, as it's a 10k trek, or what he has been up to for the past 3 weeks!
But the scouts looked after him well until the scout master brought him to the SPCA yesterday. 

And thanks to the microchip I got the call.
Thanks Everybody at Larch Hill Camp!!
We hope he earned his Badger Adventure Badge.

Tuesday 11 July 2017

Shadow Dancers

Wrote this story a good while back and it was short listed in a Cootehill Arts Festival writing competition.


She loved trees in winter. The gnarled blackened barks split down the middle. Siamese twins warring with each other. She saw dancers, warriors, tai-chi masters; gathering the stars, bowing to the moon. Shadow boxers, shadow puppets.

She photographed these, dozens of them and hung them in her hallway. She painted the walls in coconut twist- pale cream with a tinge of pink- and gave them up to her shadow dancers.

Then Michael asked her to give up her coconut twist bungalow and move into his spacious flat overlooking the bay.

“It doesn’t make sense. You’re always here anyway!” he argued.
“That’s not true.”
“Mostly true?
“Sometimes true.”

She liked his huge bay window pouring sea light on his bed every morning. She liked his high corniced ceiling, his cast iron fireplace with the Victorian tile inset. She liked his steel sprung sofas and marble topped tables with carved mahogany legs, his stone hot water bottle and his silver hand grinder. She revelled in the wine- reds and night-sky blues of his Kashmir rugs and the smell of dust that clung to his heavy window drapes. But most of all she loved his frayed wallpaper where cupids and shepherdesses disported themselves recklessly on some Elysian plain.

Her shadow dancers could not compete with these Grecian foibles. They needed a blank space on which to sketch their stark poses. She wondered how long Michael would allow this glorious revelry to continue. He didn’t seem to notice their state of disrepair and disarray. And that was the problem. Michael didn’t seem to notice anything.

He would happily hang her shadow dancers on these walls and not see how ugly their choreographed limbs would look set against the pastoral anarchy that reigned here. Michael did not notice such things.

He did not know when her stillness needed to be stirred. He caught none of her shifts in mood and she could find none in him. She found his will to complacency a lump of unleavened dough between her fingers, and knead as she would, she was unable to make it yield to her touch. There was no yeast in it. She decided to cover the dough and leave it and hope that it might prove.

And still he asked her to give up her coconut twist walls and still she could not explain and then it happened.

She returned home one day to find a gin bottle in the middle of the floor and the DVD player pulled out of its niche. Her wardrobe had been ransacked. Her favourite coat, a shabby Avoca tweed, her beloved Canon camera and her shadow dancers were gone. In disbelief she scoured the hedges, gardens and laneways in search of them.

“They must have been disturbed,” pronounced Sergeant Doyle. “They usually take the electricals. A tweed coat? That’ll be to wrap up the booty. And were the pictures valuable?”
Valuable? Margaret thought about the word. Latin in origin? Valuare, valuatum. She couldn’t remember.

“No. Yes. I mean to me.”
“Are you sure they didn’t take cheques from your cheque book? They remove them from the back so that you won’t notice.”
“No. They’re all there.”
“And the camera?”
“I liked it a lot. It takes time to get to know a camera. Like a relationship.” On seeing his blank expression she added, “It was a Canon. I’d have to look up the model number.”
“And its value?”
“I’ve had it a while.”
“The insurance company will need a statement with figures and model numbers.
You wouldn’t think of getting an alarm system?”

Alarm bells punctuating the night silence, disturbed by a breeze or a wrong sequence entered after a late night out. No she wouldn’t consider it.

 She wrote poems about the burglary and read them to her creative writing group. The words looted , plundered and violated figured a lot. Someone asked her if she’d been raped. Margaret was stunned into a silence that could not be stirred.

 She sat on her haunches in corners of the house and never went out. She took sick leave from work. She dreamt of a house with no doors, an open skied cylinder leaking rain on its heirlooms. She woke up sobbing, her whole body aching with the pain of something that felt like loss. She developed a chest infection that would not clear.

Michael bought her a new camera which she wrapped in a woollen jumper and stowed  under the bed for safe keeping. He watched her lying inert for hours, unresponsive and silent. He lay beside her at night waiting for the moment when she would waken, choking on her dreams. He watched the silent tears that streaked her hair grey overnight.

She threw away her bohemian attire, her scalloped edged jumpers, her sequinced cottons reeking of sandalwood. She wore polo neck acrylics and polyester trousers in shades of grey and brown. Michael gave up his sunlit-frayed shepherdesses and moved into the coconut twist bungalow in suburbia. Margaret went back to work.

She stood in front of a group of Second Years, every muscle in her body taut, her teeth clenched, trying to hold their concentration in this jug that was the class room; knowing that at any moment the jug would spill over or even crack.

“Miss, Can somebody open a window, I’m roastin’!”

“But it’s freezin’ Miss!”
“There’s a wasp in your hair, Sarah Casey!”
“Oh Miss!”
And she watched the liquid rise in the jug and dribble all over the floor.
She was aware of the profile of the Deputy Principal in the glass panel on her left, always patrolling the corridor for just such leaks. The thought of shadow dancers flitted and vanished.

“Now that’s enough girls,” she said quietly, too quietly.

If she was lucky the bell would ring. Books would shut, catapult into desks. Lids would slam, desks scrape and a flurry of girls would squeeze themselves through the doorway and expand into the corridor.

The Principal was glad to get rid of her.

Michael now did all the cooking and cleaning and washing. He weeded the garden and planted spring bulbs. All winter the new camera lay in its nest of wool beneath the bed and still Margaret mourned. She watched triangles of light brighten at intervals the neighbour’s gable wall. She watched the dying fuchsia boxing with the wind and thought to write a poem. She watched Michael come and go. It was like the time she had broken her arm and was untouchable. They watched each other now through this barrier of a broken arm’s length and waited.

A kitten circling the tall stalks of spring daffodils caught her unawares. It may have been his shade of tortoise shell or the pose in with which he gathered himself for pounce. She reached for the camera, fumbled with the unfamiliar dials, her mind dazed with the possibilities. She pressed a button and the thing sprang into action.

“There’s a handbook to go with it,” he said from the doorway. And looking at his face a knowing stirred in her.

She knew that the dough had been left to prove for long enough and she stretched out her arm towards him.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Sunday 9 July 2017


It was one of those jobs that didn't quite fit in with my CV, but was somehow part of the journey. A stint in a shop that sold alternative books, remedies, crystals, salt ionisers.....

The Crystal Gazer

Mildred Moody opened the shop door slowly, hoping to avoid the tomb-creak that usually ensued. She dodged the chimes that somebody insisted on hanging at eye level just inside the doorway. A glance at the notice board told her that somebody had rearranged it again. First of the month, every month, some insistent body reorganised the business cards. Mildred would now have to scour through row upon row of them in search of her own, just in case somebody had decided to shred her this month.

She closed her right eye and screwed up her left one. That way she could make out, eventually, the gold rimmed edges of her own business card, almost obliterated by a brash rainbow offering of Indian Head Massage, Reiki and cellular healing.

“I left yours up, Miss Moody,”  chirped a voice from behind the cash register- Tara, the owner’s teenage daughter, headphones in situ, painting her nails black, tuned to Spin 103, while Terry Oldfield poured tranquillity around the shop floor.

“You should move those chimes,” grunted the little woman in the second-hand Mac and down-at- heel Clarks Springers and clutching a Tesco bag-for-life.

“Magda says the sound of chimes breaks up stagnant energy, Miss Moody.”

“Your mother may be right, but somebody will lose an eye!”

That said Mildred turned towards a shelf arrayed with precious stones and crystals. Glittering amber, carnelian and obsidian winked at her from glass bowls. A particular amethyst caught her eye. In its polished face she could just about make out what might be the head of a hyena God. Anubis weighing hearts at the time of the passing over. Anubis trapped in a crystal time frame!

Mildred felt for the coin in her coat pocket. Her fingers swept the expanse of pocket lining until they encountered an unexpected gap in the seam. Without moving her head Mildred looked sideways at the girl behind the counter. Tara was talking with animation on her mobile.

“Bored - speechless. Two customers- all day. Weirdos! Quess who’s here again?” The voice dropped. “Yeh, the loop. She’s seeing visions, in stones! Says they talk to her. Yeh, I know!”

Mildred’s fingers crooked and burrowed deeper into her coat lining. Just as she reached the edge of a coin the chimes rang out and Mildred lost contact. A young man in a business suit and pink tie blustered in.

The amethyst was winking furiously at her. She turned her back to the counter and reached for the stone. The business suit was checking out the CDs.

Temple of the Forest? It sounds relaxing, but is there any water sound in it? I hate the sound of water.”

“No idea,” the girl replied.

“Perhaps I could hear a track or two?” the suit persisted.

Mildred heard Tara’s sigh.

“Call you back in a sec,” she said to her friend on the mobile.

“Are these ionisers any use?” he queried.

The business suit was going to be a problem.

“I’ll find you a leaflet.” Tara vacated her perch behind the cash register.

This was Mildred’s chance. With a deft move she bagged the amethyst.
High heels clip clopped behind her.

“Can you put that stone back on the shelf, Miss Moody!”

“I can’t, as a matter of fact. It’s probably stuck in the hem of my coat. Besides it was  an experiment in energy transfer…..”

“I’ve heard it all now!”

“If you attune yourself to the crystal it can be moved along any axis, Tara.”

“Well then, I’d be grateful if you would attune it back to the shelf.”

“Attunement uses up a lot of energy, my dear, and, for the moment, I’m zapped.”

The girl’s painted nails tapped with menace on her hip bones.

“She’ll pay you next time,” came a voice, apparently from Mildred’s pocket.

The tapping stopped. The business suit dropped the salt crystal ioniser that rained orange splinters onto the shop floor.

“You heard Anubis! I’ll pay you next time.” And Mildred, negotiating her Clark Springers through the salt crystal shards, headed for the door. Chimes rang out as the door creaked to a close.

The high heels headed for the notice board, and the black painted nails prised out a gold rimmed business card that read:

Mildred Moody
Ventriloquist and Crystal Gazer
Fortune Teller and Soothsayer.

Holding the card ceremoniously between painted thumb and forefinger, Tara picked her stiletto steps through the glittering glass strewn across the shop floor. At the back of the shop she opened a door and leaned over a toilet bowl. The nails released their prey and the card fluttered into a swirl of flushed foam.

“It’s called Bull shit, Miss Moody!”