The mist has lifted. Already warm,

the pavements gleam in favored patches

and the smoke from last night's celebrations

hangs rich in the air. Entries away,

a barman is piling a skip with bottles,

their clink an occasional music. I keep thinking

of those rare discords you passed off as jazz.

(You laughed but were surprised when they struck clean.)


On such a morning one could

wish for sound. No word, sense, noise:

just sound, its resonance a space

like countryside behind dispersing fog

real and inaccurate and full of promise.

And before the wish, simply pleasure,

odd wakenings collided into chords,

warm and inconclusive minor sevenths.


Now like a river the town gathers

apace, moving away from itself without

knowing, as everything on such dismembered

nights measure themselves by distance -

the gambler's gap between musicians; the split

before a chord when everything hangs,

and a finger-film of sweat

can tilt or right the axis of a song.


And where you are the sky spreads

evenly, an empyrean gold to blue,

time neither puzzle nor sequence.

As you bank, the horizon pivots

silent and obliging; your path unfogged,

curved and certain as a phrase mark

or the running swell between shores. You traverse

the same daybreak, the same high tide.


Ted Mc Carthy  lives and teaches in Clones, Ireland. His poems have appeared in magazines in Ireland, Britain, Europe, Canada and the USA.  He has had two collections published, and is currently working on a number of film scripts.


This poem was written with a friend of mine, Jimmy Mc Caul, in mind. Jimmy is a musician with whom I'd played off and on over several years. He'd sometimes spoken of learning a few numbers by Pat Metheny but never got round to it, and ended up emigrating. We hadn't intended paying the Pat Metheny track 'Daybreak', but over time, it spoke to me of absences, plans which never came to fruition; but also of larger ambitions fulfilled. And also listening to music as a kind of exile from the real thing.




Copyright 2009