Thursday 22 February 2018

Ceili Dancing

The Dancing Man
For J

Her poem about you
Pale faced, lying in a hospital bed
Tube fed
It’s not how I remember you
At a Ceili in a Parish hall in Sligo.

You were The Dancing Man
Promenading to and fro
7’s to the right, rise and grind
7’s to the left, grind and sink
Making stars in both directions.

Or wild haired and spouting your doctrine
of the Divine in rocks and sod,
Striding across landscapes
like some latter day Shelley
or Bronte hero.

Women fell in love with you wherever you went.
“He should carry a Government Warning Label
like a cigarette packet,” one of them said.
You made your own then, your fingers tuned
to the pinch, roll and flick of it.

No cigarettes now. And you don’t even miss them.
Clipped wings, what you miss is the buzz and swing
Forward, diagonal, set in place
Threading your needle

To The Haymaker’s jig.

Wednesday 14 February 2018



Outside my window a veritable bird’s nest
Of a tree droops its errant offspring
Over the garden wall.
Never checked or pruned
Its interlace of branches fans the sky.
Supporting it, and at its centre, like Atlas,
A moss- green trunk stands motionless.

Atlas is about my age
Planted here the year I was born.
Do his arms ache, like mine,
Holding up his world?
Or has he learnt ease with stillness?
And no longer frets, as I do
At the antics of offspring?

But holds fast to himself
And knows that they too
Will learn stillness over time.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Getting Unstuck

As he tries to move on
The cat’s claw
Snags in the blanket

And for a moment
He is blind-sided
Panic flits through him
He thrashes about

Not realising yet
That he can just let go
That the trap is of his own making
That he needs to let
Call it instinct or innate wisdom or memory

What to do next

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

And for some inspirational advice on Getting Unstuck see Pema Chodron

Monday 12 February 2018

Erratic Boulder

The winter sun does not reflect itself
in my furniture, dull with the passage of time.
Nor on the tiled floor, glazed
with thirty years of foot tread.
Nor even in the glass of a picture frame
that should reveal grey tectonic plates of sky
drifting westward.

Instead of which a grime coagulation
gathers at its corners, like flames,
Threatening to consume us-
A young couple in our prime.

We are at an erratic boulder
discarded eons ago by a river of ice
I can't remember its name-
Somewhere in County Down

I am sitting on this relic cross-legged
You are standing beside me
My arm is on your shoulder
Your two hands clasp my left knee
My head is in the clouds
Your head is tilted
We are both smiling

Behind us a path leads to this erratic
obstacle that we have become
The future is blank, a camera lens reflecting
where we are now

And people have been here before us
The rock is graffitied, the path is worn.

You will keep me on this pedestal for some time
I will fall off
And then the marriage will begin

And our journey will be much like that
of many other couples living in our times
We might learn something from that

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Saturday 10 February 2018

Breaking Silence

At 5am on June 13th 2012 Hanna Sheehy Skeffington smashed windows in Dublin Castle in protest at the exclusion of women from the voting process in Ireland. Follow links below for background story.


Her slippered feet made no sound
On the cobbled ground of Ship Street
Where windows hung still -curtained in sleep
Where no one saw or heard her creep

The Castle must have held its breath
Following her furtive progress
Recalling other dawn raid forays
Sixty Longships bent on glories

Stick armed, like them, she raised her arm
Shattering Dublin castle windows
Shaking dust from imperial curtains
Breaking the clipped tongue of women's silence

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Empty Nesting

The blackbird's yellow beak is rearranging
the contours of my back-lawn
scavenging for worms,gathering moss
preparing for Spring and a new cycle

I do not yearn for nest-making
but long instead to shed
to stand- still 
and let- fall.

I have gathered too many twigs
and spider-webs and caterpillar-silks
I have lined my nest
with too many feathers.

Let the cuckoo do what he does best
and usurp my leaf-woven-haven
And let me, thus emptied, soar
wing-span sky-spread.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Friday 2 February 2018


Yesterday we gathered to make Brigit's Crosses again to welcome in Spring.
I am posting a couple of poems posted before at this time of year.

 Brigit’s Cross

Its strength lies in the fold.

You bend the rush firm and hold,
fingers fastening it to the centre.
Turn it clockwise and return,
again and again.

It’s the last rush that decides whether
your lattice will hold
or fall apart
or hang slack

woven through with chinks of light.

At Imbolg

Stooped to the rhythm of sickle
we gathered rushes from the bog.
Or, with our hands, pulled stems
that raised wheals and reddened palms.

We lay them in piles.
Then folded and turned and turned
and folded until we made a centre
that would hold against fire.

Not knowing then that she was daughter of Dagda
Celtic Goddess, Crone turned Maiden each Spring
and that we were cutting deeper than bog
i mbolg, at imbolg.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016