Jason Allen

Red Sun

        Happy is he who, like Ulysses, has made a beautiful journey
           - Joachim du Bellay

Evening sizzles
  in its bowl of quietness

A coach picked him up 
	midway along his journey

His headset is on
	and he’s listening to rocksteady

all the way; the music 
	forms a pith as voluptuous

as a womb that would cling to him
	the highways darken, heading into night
	
Where was it
	that his heart first opened?

His past leans against him
	and he is a boy sitting at the edge 

of a serpentine road watching as the red sun 
	ushers in a balmy night

the world was a working man that naturally 
	took his rest. 

Under these skies he constantly journeys
	Note after note his year orchestrates pages

of manuscript on numerous paths 
	as he crisscrosses highways without respite 

The skies in Oxford and Paris 
	ferry a string of seasons

His past leans against him, crowds him
	The hunger of his ancestors mingle with his own

hundreds of voices burn
	within him

Like Ulysses he travels the world
	to find his way home

He calls up the tongues within him; 
	perhaps he will finally learn to speak

for himself
	to cast his little box of hurts

into the Seine, or turn it into a cathedral 
	like Notre Dame

perhaps he will learn to speak 
	the way he would like to

in his language, to say my mother and father
	forsook me and strangers took me up

to say I am a man 
	who doesn’t know where he’s from

His past leans against him
	He’s 10 years old

In the heat-swept afternoons in Porus Jamaica
	the sawmill seems to suggest orotund sounds

when the shavings curl
	from the woodworking tool

They bring vowels to him, sounds come
	without him understanding how 

He perceives something 
	of a new language inside him 

that demands to come out
	and who has placed it there

That he does not know. Is it the hunger 
	of the silent dead grumbling?

He cannot resign himself
	To look for his father 

In every port, on every coast
	in every casement of bone

The poverty of fatherlessness
	is an elation he embraces

He has zero knowledge of the point 
	at which he came to be 

and this is empowering. A song, a moment of music
	arising from the depths of a soul

a song that won’t be quiet 
	that’s what he is 

He is happy to make this journey to France
	The hills go along within him

he is extracted from space and time
	It’s this feeling of extraction, of liberation

of going between countries so much
	that he doesn’t know 

which one he’s leaving anymore
	But he holds on to this weightlessness

He holds on to the rocksteady
	he holds on to the red sun

wondering what he’ll find here
	as dusk fills his body

and the red sun vanishes into memory’s night
	as he steps out of the coach

and stands on the corner of a street

Leaving is voluptuous, like silk
Happy is he who, like Ulysses, has made a beautiful journey.

Jason Allen is a Jamaican poet who lives in Leeds, United Kingdom. He is a 2016 Callaloo Fellow and his work has appeared in sx salon and is forthcoming in Callaloo. Jason is also a Leverhulme Research Fellow in the Centre for World Literatures at the University of Leeds.


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