Monday 17 June 2024

Hat Talk


A visit to Kate Betts' workshop in Harold's Cross with a couple of  friends turned into a bit of an adventure and prompted this little poem. For info about Kate and her work follow the link below.

Hat Talk

Today in her workshop we don boaters and crowns

fedoras, pill boxes, visors and perches

and the talk is of sinamay, hemp and parasisals

and net mesh and linen, wool, straw, angora

and the power of steam and pins to launch the two dimension,

from bend- to stretch- to rise- to jump- turn and glide -

and of fibres that lean to their own liking.


And so we pirouette before the full length mirror

talk of high couture, wedding allure and gala invitations

and A day at the Races crowned with feathers and fascinators

and the power of the hat to propel us in our imagination

to banquet hall- to cat walk- to red carpet gathering-

but we come home elated with our homely visors

patches of shade for Summer meanderings.

Oil painting in the background is oil on Canvas. A day at the Races by Claire Bunbury

Copyright 2024 Cathy Leonard

Friday 24 May 2024

The Immortals



My neighbour tends to buy me plaques

ornamental garden ones

metal versions of the creatures that stalk my garden.


There’s the pink cat on the back fence

paw perpetually  poised 

but doomed to never catch its prey


And below him the butterfly pinned

in seasons’ rusted hues, wings extended at full span

graced to ever evade pink cat’s maw.


I have added to these a quartet of cats

in a neat row but facing backwards

tails curled for an adventure never to be embarked upon


Much like Yeats' birds of hammered gold

eternally endeavouring

to keep that drowsy emperor awake


All this straining futility, immortal as it is,

is enough to remind me to savour

this morning’s breakfast tea and toast.

Copyright 2024 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Tuesday 21 May 2024




I do think about the fact

that these trees will still be here

the day after I die

and all these young people

who outstep me on my daily walk.


“Just wait!” I mentally call after them

 as they charge the inclines in top gear.

“Your time too will come.”


But I will not be here to see that-

for I will either be six feet under

my flesh feeding the wildflowers,

the anemone and lady’s mantle


Or I will be ashes

some at least to be scattered

on the West Coast of Ireland

where the Atlantic flings itself into Derrynane Bay-


And though I have not yet decided

on burial or cremation and time is running out

I have romantic notions either which way I go-


And after all this morose browsing

I determine to drink less wine, eat my five-a-day

and circumnavigate the park one more time

but at a much faster pace.

Copyright 2024 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Hey Google-

It was something to do on a winter's day

a visit to the Wexford Slobs Wildfowl Reserve

in search of a Greenland White-fronted goose

or even a Snow Goose or an American Wigeon, if we struck it lucky-

But the detour hit us the minute we set forth-

Road blocked following an Incident-

and no diversion signs yet in place

and two opposing methods of navigation in the car-

Me, old-timer,  reading the actual map

 and you, early adopter, with your google assist, 

I would have managed fine, laggard as I am,

if it hadn't been for the unmapped, unsigned junctions-

And so you took over with yer one telling us

to take a left five hundred metres ahead,

how far is that when travelling at speed?

Or take a right on to such and such a road, wherever the heck that is...

We arrived eventually via private land-No Trepassing-

a track that almost dipped into the mudflats- 

and the lowest geographical point in Ireland apparently-

disturbing every nesting bird on the Slobs along the way

and on arrival we saw a couple of swans you'd see anywhere,

at least to the untrained eye, and, from the observation tower, 

flights of birds that could have been anything-

we took the pics anyway.

But when you asked hey Google afterwards

as I navigated the road back, old style,

she told you that those swans just might have been 

Icelandic Whoopers or Siberian Bewicks...

Hey , Thanks Google...

Copyright 2024 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Friday 19 April 2024

Looking for Inspiration


Limbering up


It’s a cloudy morning in Mid-April

and after my diurnal walk around the park

to stretch my aging limbs

I return to my travel room, as I like to call it,

the one that has no actual function but performs several

and try to find a suitable subject for Calliope or even Erato.


Scanning the furniture, all of it second hand,

and therefore resonant with narratives

the cabriole legged table springs to the fore-

appropriate enough since a cabriole

is a scissors-like leap performed by a male dancer.


It was bought in the forties or fifties

somewhere along the Dublin quays by a friend’s parents

and sits now, centre leaf fully expanded,

holding up the internet and propelling me around the globe.


The sixties woollen blanket thrown across the couch

with its sombrero hatted figures, arms raised in what might be a Mexican wave

and legs gyrating to the rhythm of a series of musical notes

projects me into the upstairs room of a council house, circa 1967,

where I played Gene Pitney in vinyl and pitied the dilemma

of his spouse as he bailed out on her just 24 hours from Tulsa.



And apart from all this time travel there are the various prints on the walls

Parisian bouquinistes and Venetian canals, and postcards from friends

who actually did travel-You get the picture.

So you see the room may not be a suitable theme for po├ęsie

but it’s not called the travel room for nothing…

Copyright 2024 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

24 Hours from Tulsa

Wednesday 10 April 2024

The Patchwork


Each patch a slice of his life

a lens viewed at an acute angle

spliced,diced, drop-box explosion.

At first cut long and expansive

Aegean blue, teal, with just a hint of Arctic-

the steam train he drove all the way from Coalisland 

as it groaned and chuffed and hissed and lumbered

its cranks propelling the great wheels 

through the Milltown tunnel heading for Derry.

Her auburn hair cast  shades of cerulean over the next patch

and azure blue and powder blue and eggshell

recalling in glimpses the after taste of their first kiss

though the rail tracks stopped singing and his hands grew calloused

laying one brick on top of another like his father before him

and his grandfather before that

And then navy and shadow grey and one loss after another

and sage green when even she began to fade

Until finally a lattice of ochre on black

gaps and holes and footloose sleepers

where the tracks ended and he slipped over

the edge.

Copyright 2024 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Thursday 4 April 2024



While scrambling for paper to jot down the meaning, 

origins and possible applications of  the words aria and libretto

I came across a spiral bound notebook  containing evidence 

of several earlier jaunts into the unknown

Like a foray into weather terms in my native tongue-

geofar as in windy, cinealta as in mild-

a trip that was detoured by a fractured elbow

 and terminated by a bout of Covid

 And six months later an amble into the world of bird apps

and sound recordings of their matins, lauds and vespers 

that lasted five whole days and was aborted only by the fake detection 

of  a Eurasian curlew on our road-a highly unlikely location for a wader

And then an actual trip to Tuscany armed with a plant app this time

but finding only agrimony and hedge parsley and hartwort underfoot 

and in the air a few drafts of unfinished poems

never to be transcribed to posterity

And finally to my latest odyssey, a search for a quote  from Senator Windows

or any Windows for that matter, for a four pane sliding door 

which would bring the garden into the house or visa versa

with the proviso of... if I can afford this...

Which brings me back to that aria and  libretto

for an aria if you want to know is a self contained piece for one voice

and a libretto  the text of the opera-

information that might at least prove useful for a crossword...

Copyright 2024 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Friday 29 March 2024


Came across Basho recently. 

Some interesting facts:

He was the father of the haiku. 


The Edo Period in Japan. Also known as the Genroka period 

A high point in Japan's Renaissance similar to the Elizabethan Period 100 years before.

His name means a grand tournament in Sumo wrestling...Wow!

His most famous haiku is called  The Old Pond

Old pond

a frog jumps in

sound of water

or in Japanese

Furu ike ya

kawazu tobikomu

mizu no oto

So what are the rules for structuring a Haiku?

It has 3 lines

It has 5 syllables in the first and third lines

It has 7 syllables in the second line

Its lines don't rhyme

It includes a kireji or cutting word

It has a kigo, a reference to season.

The kireji had me perplexed but it is apparently a sort of spoken punctuation of one or two syllables that causes you to stop and think...a bit like the word but...

There's an interpretation of this haiku in the link below

So I decided to make up my own haiku which had to involve our one eyed Kit.

Our Kit on patrol

circles winter bird table

feathers fall from sky

Try it for Spring fun  

 head wrecking to be honest

but worth the effort....

Thursday 21 March 2024

Spring Buds

To dig myself out of this long fallow period

I picked up a poetry book by Billy Collins.

It's not that I don't read any other poet, honestly,

it's just that most contemporary poets are often for me obscure.

I do have to look up the odd word or two of Billy's like burgeoning, 

which brought to my mind someone wielding a wooden club

but actually means increasing rapidly 

coming from the old french word borjon- as in Spring bud.


And I'm probably thinking of the word bludgeon anyway-

see the difference a letter or two can make in a fallowed mind!

And then there's Billy's references which invariably take me on a google flight,

as with his mention of Saint Denis, the third century Christian martyr.

Did he really pick up his decapitated head and proceed to make a speech 

to the motley spectators on that hill in Montmartre?


So by and large, as you see, I get an education or an insight

or a trip down google search and at least feel,

after weeks of  being ploughed and harrowed,

the burgeoning desire to sprout something...

Copyright Cathy Leonard 2024 All rights reserved

Thursday 29 February 2024

First Day of Spring

I don't know why I bother to listen to you

day in day out, like Cassandra foretelling disaster,

for you bamboozle me with your talk of

winds falling back, increasing strong to gusty,

heavy showers with risk of flooding

becoming isolated, possible frost

with a chance of hail, a mix of low cumulus

with sunny spells, fronts moving in

across and away, for it seems to me 

that you're covering all your bets

and honestly I didn't hear you say

after the Six-One News yesterday

that I'd wake up to snow today

Copyright Cathy Leonard 2024 All rights reserved

Saturday 24 February 2024



Target- Papatowai


I who never travel much these days

have been tracking the movements of my antipodal mate

on the other side of the globe, Down-Under as it happens,

and perhaps at this moment walking upside down to me

in a place whose name means “forest meets sea”

and where the thirty or so local inhabitants

and more particularly you, my upside down shadow,

could be enjoying the sun setting over Tahakopa Bay,

for it’s twenty two hundred hours there and still twenty one degrees Celsius,

and according to my intelligence you may have spent the day

checking out Cathedral Caves and McClean Falls

Florence Hill Lookout and maybe even the Lost Gypsy Gallery

and you probably undertook the Shank’s Bush Nature trail

and discovered the middens left by your early Maori ancestors

in the place where the bones of the moa, those flightless birds

now extinct, were once found

while I sit  here in single digit temperatures, in my dressing gown,

munching toast and swigging tea, doing this virtual reconnaissance

through you, my antipodal doppelganger.

Copyright 2024 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Wednesday 14 February 2024

A Poem for Valentine's Day


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.



 Copyright 2012 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

 First published 2012 Poets meet Painters Anthology


Based on The Marriage between the Sun and Moon By Fidelma Massey

 To view image click on link 



Sunday 4 February 2024

Sunday Morning

 It's Sunday morning, early February,

the wind shaking the branches outside...

doesn't it know it's Spring

officially at least?

and I have nowhere to be 

and I'm sipping tea

and reading poetry

and where else should I be? 

and what else doing?

Bu there's the imagined taste

of caraway seed on my tongue 

from the cake I plan to make, maybe today,

and there's the half- knitted sock waiting

for completion and a mate

or I could vacuum the carpet

or rake the ashes from the grate

or take a shower using that lemon soap

 the very same as the cool wrappered one 

that Leopold Bloom bought in Sweny's

on that memorable day

though I find that it falls short 

in the area of lather

and emits not much of a lemon tang

and transports me nowhere at all...

So instead of enjoying the ease 

of a lazy Sunday wintry morning 

I am wracked by thoughts

of actions not performed

and journeys not taken..

Copyright 2023 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Thursday 1 February 2024

Brigid's Day

Today is St Brigid's Day in Ireland and considered to be the first day of Spring....well maybe....

Since we were given a Bank holiday to celebrate (just last year), the country has risen to the occasion and festivals are sprouting up everywhere. Traditionally the only way I ever celebrated was to gather reeds and make Brigid's Crosses, see poems below. 

The Cross is meant to protect against fire in the home and every year we burnt last year's cross and made a new one. We kept it simple. 

But I learn now that in Kerry villages are awash with biddies wearing white outfits and sporting elaborate straw hats. They rove in droves from house to house singing and dancing into the wee small hours over a period of four nights. I had no idea that we were missing out....

See link below for information on Saint Brigid.  

On Making a Brigid’s Cross


Its strength lies in the fold.

You bend the rush firm and hold, finger fasten to the centre, turn clockwise and return, again and again.

It’s the last rush that decides if 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 and folded
and turned and turned and folded
until we made a centre

that would hold.


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 Cathy Leonard 2016 All rights reserved

Friday 26 January 2024

Trying to Stay Present


Staying present is a damn tricky business-

Take for example cracking an egg,

the unwanted rush of anticipatory challenge,

like how to manoeuvre albumen that drips 

and clings.

The sound of same egg cracking 

propels our kitty, who was basking in the moment,

 into a paroxysm of drool-

ejects him straight out of  zen mode 

and into the kitchen.

Or take Kitty again, 

this time pawing the plasma screen

during Living the Wildlife, 

in an attempt to traverse that liminal space

between TV table and the wild-

while you, attempting to capture the moment,

reach for the camera icon on your phone-

but before that's done the moment's gone

and all you get is a tail 

disappearing behind a tweet.

Copyright 2023 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved

Saturday 13 January 2024

The Kill

He would have had his head tilted 

listening for earthworms.

He wouldn't have noticed 

a shadow hugging the ground

or heard the short wings 

swooping the air 

propelling the raptor forward 

its long tail fanned out 

to break speed.

The last thing the blackbird saw

was the yellow eyed sparrow hawk

fixing it in a deadly stare 

before claws descending 

left feathers shorn

blacken the air.

What we saw 

looking out our kitchen window

was a hooked beak delve 

into bird skull 

and strong yellow legs pin

their prey to the ground.

It was too late to save the songster 

and probably unwise.

Copyright 2023 Cathy Leonard 

Wednesday 3 January 2024

On reading Yeats

 If this waning gibbous moon has a bird's eye view

it must be perplexed as to why we build 

only to destroy, that we learn nothing

from his story or hers, that we take pleasure

in inflicting pain, that we lack 

the imagination to imagine 

what it must be like 

just a few lines of longitude away 

watching death strike from the sky, 

that from generation to generation

the same evil rises to the surface 

that Yeats' rough beast still slouches 

towards Bethlehem to be born.

What we know is that this moon instead of waxing into full

will soon slide like the cat's tail around the door post

at  dusk and into the darkness,and that the New Moon, 

for all its sound of promise, will be invisible ,at least for a time,

to the naked eye...

Copyright 2023 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved.

In these current times I am reminded of Yeats' The Second Coming. See full text below.

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Christmas in the Red

It's all about robins this year, she says,

the little winged messengers from the other side,

on her wrapping paper, in her cards and red breast effigies 

bedecking every bough of her sitting room

and she's all in red, the only colour that works, she says

and it's terminal, they say, but can't say how long...

how long she has to wear red and chirp on.

(For Maire, R.I.P. April 14th 1950-April 8th 2023)

Copyright 2022 Cathy Leonard All rights reserved  

About Robins

Christmas card by The Art File

Knitting Again- Happy New Year

 With the house full at Christmas, apart from the little tribute to my sister, I've just been knitting socks. I still recommend the West Yorkshire Spinners range of 4 ply sock wool. It comes in beautiful colours and washes well.

I did however come across a pattern book How to Knit Socks: Three Methods Made Easy by Edie Eckman 

and tried 2 ply, a wool and acrylic Stylecraft bought at my local Winnies Wool shop.

There are some beautiful patterns in the book including socks which require cable and grain stitch, all well explained.

I used 3.5mm needles for the Cable knit socks though I was persuaded to buy a circular needle, not yet embarked upon.

I  did like the results.

And have embarked on the Harris Tweed Rib Socks. 

For these Edie recommends Superwash merino wool/nylon blend yarn.

I am having great trouble finding the yarns recommended but I am using Rainbow 4 ply sock wool by Hobbi, a danish supplier and bought online.

So until the house clears out and I get my head back it's going to be knitting...

Also discovered a website Domestika where you can buy online courses for around 10 euro in all sorts of art and craft....and writing....