POEM: Reggae Shack

In 1999, Jen and I lived just over the bridge from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I played in a dance club on the island, and Jen taught ESL. There was a guy who frequented our club, and who was known to just about everyone who knew the island. He was your typical working-class islander, living the beach life to the best of his ability. He was a big reggae fan, and one morning, in the small hours, we was found dead outside a little reggae hideaway near the beach. This is his poem.

shack.jpg

Reggae Shack
by Jason Crane

2 a.m.

Waves examine the sand, retreat.
A bird nestles its head
into wings.

The air holds a final sigh,
a letting out of breath from
tired lungs,

the gritty sound
of reggae on worn vinyl
from a wooden shack
nestled in the trees
only a few feet away.

Bright smiles on black faces,
sweat on glasses of unlicensed beer.

Voices ease past the half-open door;
slip, unconcerned, into water.

Again, the waves glance at the sand;
the bird looks up, startled
by a dull wooden sound.

A head lolls against the tabletop —
spent, unknowing, spirit released.

He is found alone;
arms splayed out in
supplication, or exhaustion.

(July 1999)