For Brian Bourke

People sometimes get drunk on the music.
One early morning after the night
Before not having finished, the story
Goes that when a baby started crying
His father picked him up, tucked his bellows
Under his elbow and started playing him
Along with two fiddles, a tin whistle
And the piper who tuned in to the baby’s cries
For the ‘Walls of Limerick’.

When the baby, sick of the noise, stopped
They were halfway through ‘Shoe the Donkey’
And seeing that it did no harm swung
Into a storm of jigs, the baby squawking
‘Saddle the Pony’.
That boy is a slave now to fiddle
Harp, melodeon. Somehow in all those tunes
He learned to listen for his own note.
He lives on inland water where sound
Whether the listener hears or not
Is magnified and separate and moves
Over the air like a sky goat’s bleat.

He avoids the pipes. He has his reasons.
He has heard the story
Of the octopus who was locked into a room
For a week to practice.
When they let him out the pipes had learned
To play the octopus.
The thing about musicians is
They respond to glory.