Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Gutting a fish

Inspired by a piece of ceramics by Claire Finlay

And Fish Might Fly

Did you use a sharpening stone?

You must have laid the fish flat -
but instead of puncture wound at anus, cutting
through paired pelvic fins, slicing
the thin abdominal wall, incising
the ventral surface along the horizontal until
you reached jaw, spilling

guts and blood and slime -
You hacked clean through the centre
No delicate flick of knife at dorsal fin
but vertical cleavage through back-bone.
Nor did you turn the spine of your knife
against the grain of the scales, and flay until
you shed silver.

So you have it now -
without entrails, with head
and tail and scales intact-
A hybrid thing
with a beak like a bird
and a butterfly tail-

Fish that can fly

Inspired by Fish - Claire Finlay
see images for Claire Finlay ceramics
Claire Finlay Ceramics

Monday, 21 August 2017

Marriage of Opposites

I posted this poem before but here is the sculpture that inspired it. Fidelma Massey's Marriage of the Sun and Moon.

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 with Cathy Leonard 2017
Based on The Marriage between the Sun and Moon By Fidelma Massey

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Tour of Beara

Photograph courtesy of Marie Helen Brohan Delhaye

Tour of Beara
for Marie-Hélène and Claire

It was a whistle-stop tour of Artscape
Talk of brushes, mediums and textures
Odourless turpentine, shades and perspectives
And then the literal tour
And snaps of every mountain, gap and valley
Glade, slope, dip and bend in the road
Galleries themselves and gallery friends
And artists and artists’ friends
And waking to easel- chat and Plein- Air- settings
Impromptu sketches and portrait sittings
Sketch pads and notebooks and rainbow splatterings
And from this flurry, this gorgeous art-smoothie
I glean this one poem:

Not about landscape or artscape or cloud- hugged mountains

But about you: Soulscape, soulmates,friends.

Friday, 18 August 2017

No turning Back

Here's a poem inspired by a painting The White Road by Roxanne Fitzmaurice.

The Oh So White Road

I’ve never seen a road so white.

But Hansel’s pebbles must have gleamed just so
under the moonlight.
And the forest trees as tar-thick-dense
as the ditches that line this road.
And beyond these, the silkscarf fields
as tempting as any gingerbread house.
And the future, over the brow of the hill,
beyond the icy treacherous descent
of wicked stepmothers and oven-crazed hags,
as quest deserving.
And once they scaled the pole-staked invisible fence
between do and don’t
Hansel and Gretel knew
as we all do

That there’s no going back.

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2017

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Last Word

I thought I posted this before, but the post has disappeared....like the dying languages!

The Last word

In Boro the verb to love flows wide upon the tongue;
Onguboy –to love from the heart
Onsay – to pretend to love
Onsra – to love for the last time

and like the thirty one words for seaweed in Irish
that whiten without dissent upon the foreshore, *
the tongue in Boro begins to stiffen

and so we lose that which holds memory as a landscape might
and a Korean child’s tongue is surgically lengthened
that he may, one day, say “right.”

Boro- a  language in North-Eastern India

*Death of Irish” by Aidan Mathews: ‘The tide gone out for good,/Thirty-one words for seaweed/Whiten on the foreshore.’ (In Penguin Contemporary Irish Poets, ed. Derek Mahon, 1990.)

Friday, 11 August 2017

Plague Door

Again a poem prompted by a photograph of an old door in Italy boarded up and covered with Grafitti. I thought about the crosses that were once drawn on the doors of plague victims and the poem evolved from there. The plague was initialled believed to be a sign of god's wrath. Lisa Tivey has a studio, The Open Window Gallery, in Rathmines, Co Dublin and another, Holly Tree Studio, Bantry, West Cork.

Plague Door

The plague is not fussy, just hungry.
And this door never did recover from its daubed
red cross, its pile of bodies, black ulcerated, buboes
the size of an apple. Punishment meted out
by heavenly bodies, atonement for our
inequities, the wrath of God against which
no appeal prevailed.

Centuries later it comes back.
No paint to daub on paint peeled door.
Just nails and planks of wood and
ghosts quarantined now, as they were
then, when no-one would trade or breathe
contaminated air or share their
misfortune. And then for bedevilment
some flippant boy, some modern day town watchman,
a pot of errant paint in hand, daubs willy-nilly,
stigma, that proclaims you dead.

Inspired by Lisa Tivey’s Calabrian Steps

Thursday, 10 August 2017


This was written for a Poets Meet Painters Competition. 
It was inspired by a painting by contemporary Irish  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.
Nicola Slattery images


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