Monday 30 May 2022

Beara Tales


Clickety Click


I’ve been making rabbits’ ears all during Covid.

I just didn’t know it until I met the Crafty women of Beara

with their talk of gauges and fibres and fleeces and spinning,

alpaca herds and plastic sewing machines that can knit socks in twenty minutes,

the very ones that take me two weeks to complete.

And the rabbit ear, if you want to know, is the loop you’re left with

when you finish off a sock toe with the Kitchener stitch.

So say the newly dubbed Lauragh Loopers

as they spin yarns and tales with their clickety click

in the shade of the Caha Mountains and into the twilight.

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Friday 20 May 2022

Track and Trace

I have a love/hate relationship with parcel post.

I don't mean the actual courier service itself

but from the moment I paypal my package into being

I expect delivery

I stalk my own email box for status updates:

item dispatched from

item with customs

item in transit

item real-time-updates

item EDDs and ETAs -

My finger on track to a repetitive strain injury

with all the one-click-updating.

You'd think it really mattered

like a blood test result, exam result,

job news, baby news, any news-

It's the delivery of an on-line purchase

And I could just go to the shops 

But the box does come in very handy....  


Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved                                                                                                               

Thursday 19 May 2022

Love Story


Many of us are familiar with those stories of how they met. Our parents I mean. That love story that is hard to imagine as they appear to never have been young.Here is one of those...


Nearly Not There


If my mother had not gone to the Pictures that night

or had gone to the Castle, instead of the Astor

and if she had arrived five minutes later than she did

my father would have been ahead of her in the queue

and would not have seen the fire in her hair

catch the light of the evening sun,

and could not have followed her gaze

to the pair of shoes, or was it a handbag?

in McKinley’s shop window,

and would not therefore have said,

“Would you like me to buy that for you?”


And if his boldness had unleashed distain

and not laughter, my non-existence

would have been ensured.

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Down the Rabbit Hole

Today on my walk it felt that the grasses and weeds had sprung a couple of feet since yesterday... It did rain... a lot... but maybe it had something to do with the man on the mower from the Council who cuts trails in the woods at this time of year, swaths bordered by tall grasses. I posted a poem about this a few weeks ago.  ( City Parks April 25th..)

Either way I'd fallen down a rabbit hole and without drinking potions or eating cake I felt smaller and the woods grew taller... Hence this wistful little poem.

There's comfort in small

in a world that is tall

asleep in silk butter 

cup, flanked by high

nettle-sipping on 

cowslip or sweet

meadow- swatting 

a dog tail as it 

swishes by-

oh to be small

or something that can fly....

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Tuesday 17 May 2022

On Meditating


I’m always making resolutions,,,

Drink more water

Eat those 5 A Day

Blank the likely lads...sugar, caffeine, alcohol....

Not forgetting the 10,000 steps….

This year I added yet again,,,,  Practise Meditation.

I've been trying to do this for a very long time and ....

but I think the most user friendly inspiration on this subject comes from Pema Chodron.

See links.

 Pema Chodron

And in the meantime here's a short report


On Meditating


I squat in half-lotus

Sort of

Count the out-breaths

One to five

Eye gaze-lowish


Hands- relaxed

Thoughts -police

Cloud by cloud

Wave by wave drifting by

What's for dinner?

Remember to ring Helen

Back to the out-breath

One to five

Fuchsia boxing the wind outside

What rhymes with wind or rain or tide?

Label it “thinking”

Think about shopping

Backwards this time

Ten, nine, eight…

What quiche to make?

Seven, six, five

Will I walk or drive?

Four, three, two

Or make a stew?

Until- before long

The gong...

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Monday 16 May 2022

Poems inspired by paintings


This was written for a Poets Meet Painters Competition and published in an anthology for winner/shortlisted poems. 

It was inspired by a painting by contemporary 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-sleeping woman

Sleeping Woman

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


Sunday 15 May 2022

Eavan Boland-Sunday poet

Eavan Boland, born in Dublin in 1944 died suddenly from a stroke in 2020. She was for many years the lone female voice in an all male Irish literary poetry canon. Her most popular poems are about motherhood and love but she has also written on political/historical themes. See Child of our Time and Famine Road. I like her Pomegranate because it's such a wise poem reminding us to step back from our children's lives and let them make their own mistakes...a hard one to do.Recently came across a poem called The Necessity for Irony, also about her daughter in a little volume of poems edited by Carol Ann Duffy.

The Pomegranate

Saturday 14 May 2022

The Sherlock Saga- Episode 7



I haven’t mentioned Grump much in this tale but he and I came to an understanding that if we just stayed out of each other’s way all would be well. However Grump is an avid footie fan and race goer so much of his TV viewing is pulse racing and my curiosity being what it is led to the inevitable stand offs when I felt compelled to investigate that liminal space between the TV table and Cheltenham racecourse, seeking the magical portal above, below, behind and in front of the plasma screen that would transport me to a fairy tale ending astride Honeysuckle. 

Mum was much more understanding of my natural instincts and humoured me greatly when watching wild life programmes and the Den on Sunday- for my excitement reached fever pitch when those two aliens, Zig and Zag, pushed their snouts into the screen and I was certain that they were about to cross the threshold and land into our sitting room, with or without a space shuttle.


Life settled into an easy rhythm without incident, bar the above spats with Grump, until Mum and Grump decided to take another holiday and I was left with Red. Even Miss Molly was included in the seaside expedition and the Longfellow was off somewhere throwing a ball around a pool, maybe sitting on a horse at the same time...water polo they called it. So I began to see red myself and decided that a little venturing out and about wasn’t unreasonable.


My first outing took me to a street a block or two away where the waft of beef roasting lured me into Billy’s Fine Diner, it was the fine dining sign that clinched it for me. And the chef, the eponymous Billy, was a cat fan and gave me a bar stool view of the kitchen proceedings. He surmised that I must be a stray and provided me with two square meals a day, of 5 star Michelin excellence. He even posted a picture of me on the restaurant Facebook page…and I rose to instant fame. People all over the area were dropping in to see the one eyed cat on the bar stool.


A few days later I was still unclaimed, for Grump and Mum didn't have a Facebook profile, Red had barely noticed my absence and Longfellow was still throwing balls about a pool. I was happy in  my new forever home until yer man from the local garage who came in for his lunch announced that he recognised me from two streets down and that I was a stray impostor. Billy was a bit taken aback by this for I was beginning to draw in a new clientele so I decided to hoof it out of there before I was turfed out.


It was a hot summer’s day, ice-cream weather, and some of the cars had rolled down windows and inviting cushions strewn in their back seats. One such, an apple-green Mini Cooper, attracted my attention and with my usual agility and determination I leapt through the open window and settled myself in for a long nap. 

I didn’t hear the engine purr into action, it must have been an electric vehicle, but next thing I did see when I opened my eye was the high gates of that animal institution I had nearly ended up in before. It was looming ominously on my right hand side. The car came to a halt soon after and I readied myself in self defence mode to resist incarceration, so when the door opened and a scream ensued I leapt out and dived straight into the bushes.


(To be continued….)


Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Friday 13 May 2022

Letting Go

The Skelligs from Lamb's Head...Kerry

This little poem was written a few years ago but still stands the test of time for me...

Letting go

The older I get

the more I know
what I don't know

And when I've said
that doesn't help

And done
I can do

And finally

of saying
or doing

Then I know
I'm getting

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Thursday 12 May 2022

Covid Pickings


Flash Fiction is usually confined to under 500 words. I'm fond of the genre because I don't have the energy, usually, for longer narratives. Here's one, literally picked up in the park...

She takes it personally. The fact that Rory’s mother goes to all the trouble of sticking that white label, with Rory’s name etched in upper case in indelible ink, on Rory’s water bottle for the match, in the event of Rory’s pre- or post-match thirst, and that not only does Rory chuck the labelled bottle on the pitch, post-match, but doesn't even drink the water. And that Niamh or Jack or Susie shed their jackets like scales around the park every weekend. That one of them manages to forget one of his/her shoes. That another one brings a can of dog food for Rover and, once emptied, tosses it under the park bench. That their orange peelings dot the grass like miniature aliens. Don’t they know how long it takes orange skin to decompose? And that paper cups and pizza boxes clog up public bins and cause litter jam. And there’s Rover’s poo bags, sometimes the poo, let’s not even go there! And she piles the football match cones that they forget to return outside the club house for next weekend’s match


Some of the water bottles, unlike Rory’s, are keep cups or whatever they call them, the term keeps changing, but metal and expensive and meant to be reused and not relegated to land fill. Not to mention the items shed by their older siblings- the empty beer cans, bottles and cigarette packs, student IDs, condoms and clothes, let’s not go there either... 

From time to time and not often enough she finds money. She tried a Sum of Money Found notice in the corner shop once, but they all claimed it. So if it’s small change she lights candles in the church to Oscar Romero, newly canonised champion of the poor and dispossessed, and if a note, she uses it to buy more plastic bags.


They asked her once if she ever found anything interesting. She immediately thought of the turquoise painted stone. It was a movement at the time- people all over the country painting stones and hiding them for anybody to find, a way of connecting when touch was considered to be a National Health Hazard.

East Coast Rocks. Keep me or rehide. Please post a pic.

She kept it and posted and reached out and touched Mary in Arklow.



And then there’s the people who do stop, despite government guidelines, to say, “Thanks Missus, you’re doin’ a great job!”  Or give her the thumbs up from a distance of two metres.


And as she picks up after them she recalls how she used to roam through fields at the back of Union Place or Quarry Lane, playing some game whose rules she didn’t understand, chased by boys who never intended to catch, dropping memories like stones as she ran, and now sixty years on re-finding them as she makes her way back home.


Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved.

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Flash Fiction


As I'm in the flash fiction mode this week am reposting this piece. Written as an exercise to take an abstract quality, a line of speech that relates to it, and write a 300 word piece. Mine is a bit short.

The Catch

“Just don’t tag me!”

She gives her best smile, exhibiting her orthodontically straightened teeth, white strip polished. She’s had her eyebrows threaded, eyelashes tinted, hair highlighted and curl-tonged. The fake tan is an alpha beta glow pad gradual glow and her dress was ordered on-line from Blingalicious, a specialist in the business. The accessories glitter in their pearl beaded coordination, the Sahar Pumps from Shoedazzle and the online bag from zazzle. With her head tilted at an angle that implies insouciance, equanimity you wouldn’t discern her unease. She can vouch for the outfit, the tan, the teeth, even the hair, but the camera is merciless.

The digital versions of herself she can edit, splice, zoom, cut, enhance, even detag.  The Parish face book page she could possibly hack. Livefeed no worries and the you- tube version is at least ephemeral; whatever number of hits it attracts. 

But this photographer with his panoply of lenses and tripods looks like the hardcopy hardass album option. The stalwart. She watches him scanning, arranging his frames, his telescopic vision pinioning her to his reel. She smiles and wriggles, light waves bending her to his gaze. She tries to evade, but he snaps and scoops. Calibrated, he will add her to his stash, his facebook eyrie, his studio mausoleum.

And the problem with group confirmation pictures was that she could end up, tagged, in the front page of the weekly mass bulletin under the indelible scrutiny of peers, parents and parishioners for perpetuity.

 Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2019 

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Are We Nearly There?

No poems tailed me back from my morning walk today but a rambling sort of script that I sense is more likely to be a piece of flash fiction and will require a few drafts and a few days to sort itself. So in the meantime I am reposting and perhaps editing some earlier poems. 

Anyone with kids will identify with this one.

The Rear View Mirror

(for Eoin)

Eyes would meet in the rear view mirror.
He, strapped in his child seat,
Wearing his teenage mutant hero turtle costume
Leonardo or Donatello or Michelangelo
You can't remember which.
And he'd ask, "How far is it?"
And you'd pretend to know;
"Just around the bend or nearly there."

And years later, still back-seated
But wearing that teenage boy long lost look
Staring out the window at his dreams
Whizzing by and no longer asking,
Knowing your bends were hairpin,
And treble at that.

And now empty grey upholstered seats
And no queries about destination
Or time or speed or direction;
Just him up the road ahead of you
Waiting for you to catch up.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016

Monday 9 May 2022

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair....


I have at last finished the shawl from the ball.( see post.April 11th.)

 As it grew and grew I began to call it Rapunzel, and though it lengthened and lengthened it took a long time to reach the bottom of that tower.

However as my knitting tension is loose I probably made the shawl even longer than required to enable the prince to come to the rescue...or at least to come for a visit, for I revisited the fairy tale and found that he rather complicated the poor girl's life than anything else, causing her to be cast out into the wilderness and the cold minus her hair.

As in all fairy tales the ending is happy enough, if somewhat unlikely, but from my revisiting of the tale I'd say she saved him rather than the other way around.

Read it for yourself below.

And more pics of Rapunzel below. It's a shapeless object, amorphous might be the word for it, for its tentacles seems to err and stray and generally meander without obvious purpose, perhaps due to my mistakes in the pattern? but once wound around the neck I don't think anyone will notice.

 A bit of a shapeshifter too, sometimes a bird, sometimes a witch on broomstick. 

Optical illusions being all the rage....What do you see? Apart from, hopefully, a shawl!!

Sunday 8 May 2022

SUNDAY POET- Fleur Adcock

Miss Molly on a farm in Portmagee, Co kerry.

Fleur Adcock (b.1934) is a New Zealander who spent part of her childhood in England. She worked as a librarian before becoming a free lance writer. She has written ten books of poetry and won several awards including an OBE in 1996. 

Her poems have no air of stridency."I should like them(the reader) to relax and listen as if to an intimate conversation."

Listen to her poem On Leaving the Tate and let that final line resonate:

"Art is what you choose to frame."

She has an interesting tip for aspiring writers:"The bath is a very good place for getting inspiration."

I must try this.I would probably use less water in a bath than I do in a shower.

To listen to her reading her poems follow the link below.

Saturday 7 May 2022

Making Poetry relatable

Looking for poetry outlets I came across a lot of journals publishing poems that to me were obscure. I like poems that speak to me without having to scratch my head too much...

So I found this little gem of a video featuring the shortlisted poets reading their poems for  Ballyroan library competition 2020. Hope you enjoy...

Competition shortlist read their poems 

Friday 6 May 2022


 It's that time of year in Ireland when we do actually get spells of glorious sunshine. 
I'm sitting out back reading a book or whatever and my usual multi-layers just have to be shed. 
That's when I go in search of the summer stuff. 
If I'm lucky it's not in the attic. 
Some of this stuff actually dates back to the last century and is worn threadbare. Not that our summers are so long, quite the opposite, but because summer here is ephemeral I simply don't buy and I wear the same clothes year in year out. 
At times my style, or rather lack of, gets even to me and I bin my glad rags. 
So when summer arrives again I can be sorely caught out....rag-less and full of remorse...
The pic above is the harbour at the end of Lamb's Head, Caherdaniel, Co Kerry.


I thought for a head-spin second

that in one of my holier than thou

moments of purge

I’d binned my twenty year old black T-shirt.

Worn stratocumulus in places

and wringer-stretched to my thighs

rather than shrunk neckwards.

The one for which,

despite all my on-line browsing

on Twin Strangers and ILookLikeYou,

I couldn’t net a doppelgänger.


It was a second of hair-shirt outrage

and I have form in this area;

there was the tan linen jacket

that had morphed into my torso

and the cream cotton trousers

memento of Summers eternal

too threadbare to even recycle

and still seasonally mourned.


When I finally turned it up

having up-ended a whole drawer full of Summer

it was like hearing Kitty thud through the cat flap

after an long unofficial leave of absence

or a last seen today at … on your WhatsApp profile

after a long haul flight.

Still on the radar after all this time

my twenty year old long black T-shirt

and no need to make amends.

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Thursday 5 May 2022

Who wants to be Home Alone?


I'm stocking up on beans for the trip abroad,

your trip, my beans, 

Beanz Meanz Heinz, not sugar-free.

For though baked-beans-on-toast gets very bad press

it's one of my favourites and knocks years off me

which very little else does these days

and takes me back to the '60s-

not to free love and burnt bras unfortunately-

but to that glorious crush on the geography teacher.

It was our weekly if not daily fare, the beans I mean,

and I'm looking forward to a week of nostalgia

when you take off to Mallorca

Even though I know 

that within a hot second of Home Alone

I'll be phoning a friend.

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Talking to yourself


Talking to yourself aloud used to be a sign

that you were:

Not the full shilling

A sandwich short of a picnic

Sixpence short of a bob

Or had a few slates missing.


Now everybody’s doing it

and their Smart-Chat punctuates:

your early morning ramble

your Daily commute,

(an honour once the preserve

of Spanish students on TEFL courses)


It could be useful, mind you,

to whip out the phone, earbuds lacking

when your personal space is threatened

by  chatty neighbour

or  ranting spouse.


Better to be

Hit on the head by the sail of a windmill,

(the Dutch equivalent to not the full quid,)

than to endure sabotage.

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Tuesday 3 May 2022

The Net


I wonder how Shakespeare did it

or Wordsworth or Hopkins or Clarke

masters of semantic shifts,

innovators of compounding,

discoverers of the true sense or sense of truth

the root, the stem of words-

without the use of the internet?


When I go to the woods and a poem stalks me

and a line or two of it tails me back home,

something on the theme of Nature’s blessings,

I have my cable internet simulator

The YouTube dawn chorus from all over the country

and ten free hours of rain sounds from the meditationrelaxclub


And when I ask Google why leaves bud break in Spring?

I get one million, eight hundred and eighty thousand results

In under a second and discover that the word bless

has made a semantic leap, that it used to mean to mark with blood

which puts a different take on my morning stalker.



Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard

Monday 2 May 2022

A fog of Inspiration


One Long Take


I once read a poem about writing a poem

where a bloody-mouthed, deep-fanged muse

held the poet in its jaws.

It seemed a bit OTT to me at the time.

But lately a big cat in the underwood

is stalking my every move

urging me to spew out

what I’ve taken in.

Or else!


So here goes… 

The mist this morning 

has muffled every sound but that of birdsong,

counterpoint to the habitual

honking car horns, screeching brake-bikes,

rolling perambulators, smart-phone-loud-speak.

And fog bound I see in single shot coverage

the oak tree not yet bud-broken

fresh ivy tendrilling its bark

and sprouting at its root a suckling conifer

and, discordant too, the bike-lock minus the bike

and the empty park bench tipping into the fog.

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Sunday 1 May 2022

Jane O Wayne -Sunday Poem

 I heard of Jane O Wayne when reading Zaro Weil's poetry last Sunday. I couldn't find a lot about her but follow the links below to read two of her poems. She has 4 collections published and has won some  prestigious awards including the Marianne Moore Poetry Prize

I liked the use of a quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez here.

"The secret of good old age is simply an honourable pact with solitude."

Also liked this poem written for Maths teachers.

In Praise of Zigzags