Friday 31 August 2018


Who wants to be connected anyway?

When you get a Whatsapp
from your daughter
It’s always about
what you can do for her.
You think this is a universal
problem. At least you hope it is.
Today the request is for
anti-histamines and tampons,
To bring along when you meet her for lunch.

The mind grapples.
First of all- is there a connection
between menstrual periods
and the release of histamine?
Or could the Gods have conspired
to deliver two blows in one swoop?
And anyway, didn’t she pass a pharmacy
on her way to work?
And didn’t she know
that blood spill was imminent,
given that it flows in cycles,
more or less moon driven?

Whatever about anti-histamines,
You are well into your hag phase,
Though you think a packet of
her tampons may have slipped
behind the bathroom cabinet.
Removing shelves, you line up
an array of not-your-products.
(She doesn’t live there anymore, by the way)
2-in-1 nail varnish remover?
Hair touch up?
Derma spa summer revived?

You dip a ladle behind the cupboard
in the hope of scooping up tampons,
but drop the spoon instead!
So now you have to find
a hardware store and a pharmacy
on your way to meeting her for lunch.
Or you could simply slip your phone
behind the bathroom cabinet.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Thursday 30 August 2018

Kitty Antics

A familiar scene to all cat owners!

Kitty Antics

He comes in from the sleet
and rain and stands
while I towel dry him

And when he’s had enough of that
he lets me know,
his claws hungering for scratch.

Then he throws himself
on kitchen tiles. Fridge magnet
sprawl in front of target.

I shake nuggets into his bowl,
but he’s holding out
for something better.

I stroke his chin and tell him
what a fine fellow he is!
He purrs up at this

But when I walk away he knows
The game’s up. And from the other room
I hear the sound of feline crunch.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Cautionary Tails

Inspired by Andrea Cohen's "To an Ant Fallen in the Salt Shaker"

To the Cat who Swallowed a Wasp.

I too have mistaken it
For a fly. Its buzz

Incessant. Its flight
Maze path

Its speed

And the urge

To pursue

The mind cannot
Compete with that.

Common sense
Two steps behind.

But, beware,
If caught up in a chase

That is headlong
That allows no

Time out
That plunges you

On the doomed trail

Of a Pied Piper.
It’s likely that

You may be

If you had
Swallowed a fly

You may have
Come a cropper

But the taste

Would have been
More to your liking.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Monday 27 August 2018

First Love

Inspired by Nessa O'Mahony's "First Love" and Keats' "La Belle Dame sans Merci."

My first love? Since you ask-
was Maverick, gambler and gunslinger.
His poker hand could set Mississippi ablaze
and his wrist speed to holster was slick.
I sent him a pic of myself, aged nine
sitting on a rock at Portrush.
He didn’t write back.

My next love was hell bent
on Holy Orders.
I attended his ordination.
Enough said.

Then there was the bow-legged
Gilbert O’Sullivan look-a-like minus piano
Whose every stride I shadowed around the town.
My mother said I’d wear myself thin with unrequited lust.
I did. 

Until a hairy-faced biker
whisked me off on his Honda 50
and meteors struck and I saw shooting stars.
I came to on a cold hillside
alone and palely loitering.

I was a slow learner...

Copyright with Cathy leonard 2018

Thursday 23 August 2018


for my father

On Sundays we walked the line
from Drumglass to Edendork
You telling us of the time
you drove the  steam train
All the way to Cookstown.
Nettles stung our calves
as we leapt from one sleeper to another,
Sleepers that would later be ripped up
to bolster flower beds In suburbia.

On weekdays after school
we played at the freight train station
where you, as foreman, presided
braced and waist-coated,
Unloading and selecting goods for onward
delivery. Punching cards, whose presence 
or absence of holes, gave data. 
Overseeing the No 50
Fill up from the water tank.

We leapt on and off box cars
and covered wagons and hoppers
Until the engine began to groan
and chuff and emit steam
and hiss and lumber to a start,
Its cranks sprung into arm,
elbow, shoulder action,
Propelling the great wheels
around a parabolic
curve, under the Milltown
tunnel, heading for Derry

Until the ton miles hauled
per unit of energy consumed
was deemed too low,
The freight train redundant,
And you, after decades
of labour were let go,

The freight train station in Dungannon closed in February 1965. It was not until August 1965 that The UK Redundancy Payment Act addressed comprehensively the question of severance payment  for redundant workers.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Monday 20 August 2018

Trips Abroad

Fear of Foreign Travel

You looked for skylines
To feel you had arrived
And narrow streets through which
we passed two abreast
And roof edges and gable walls
And mosaics of terra cotta tiles.
Otherwise the space was too
Wide. The foreignness of it all
Too great. The chattering
Throngs too unintelligible.
You felt like folding up,
Folding in on yourself.
Crouched in a hotel bedroom
You wanted to take the return
Flight home..... until
You angled your lens to the roof
Tops and shot corners and edges
Patchwork pieces of the big quilt.
And frame by frame
You settled into being there
Into Lyon
Into travel.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018

Saturday 18 August 2018

Still in Search of roots

Prompted by a census 1911 search I took a literal journey to my roots.

In Search of Mother

A journey I would not have taken,
Cross border, cross time
Into a past best forgotten,
If not to find the place
Where she was born.

A gap, an ache, a yawn,
In the row that used to house
The Hursons and the Dillons
And the Kirks and the Stewarts.

Their back yards now strewn
With black rubber tyres, rusted wheel
Rims, discarded spares and parts.
Nothing to salvage here
of her beginnings.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2018