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POEM: to swing you in the arms of the stars

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A poem dedicated to the jazz musician Sun Ra, written after reading an article by Nate Chinen.

to swing you in the arms of the stars

you don’t need a rocket to get there
there wouldn’t be any there there if you got there

but HE would be there in a long robe
dime store rhinestones a glittering milky way
HE is a high priest with a congregation of everyone

arms lifted to create a horizon, the sun medallion
set into HIS space pope’s mitre
your eyelids are getting heavy, it’s all getting heavy

doo-wop be-bop swing and free
Space Is The Place for you and me
and HE and we and Muhammad Ali

the Black Christ descends from the highest peak
of the Andes, looks around slowly, sees
nothing of interest, climbs back to the summit

for some, it is just too much chaos
but there was order, too, and beauty, and reason
a cover story for those long kept under the great white thumb

isn’t the homesickness of 746 million miles
better than the sickness of a home in Alabama
where being a little green man would be preferable to being what HE is?

sure, HE had a name, HE was her man, her little boy
a baby from a womb not covered in stars
but released in blood and tears like all the rest

pushed into a world not of HIS choosing, HE chose not to be of this world
adopted for HIMSELF a new birth in the undiscovered country
fell from a new womb with the slight bounce of nine percent less gravity

as has been previously noted, we are spinning on a marble
that is whirling around a fire
the hole in the middle of the universe surrounded by black wax

HE pressed grooves into that wax and drew forth sound from the needle
while the tables turned – the polarity reversed – up was down
the black man was a cosmic prince, the king of the moonlit desert

couldn’t Pat Patrick wail over this awakening?
couldn’t John Gilmore swing you in the arms of the stars?
couldn’t HE tell you what your blood knows but your brain fears?

on the summit of the highest peak of the Andes
the Black Christ is clearing brush to make a landing place
for the ninth rocket, the one that will carry him away

we travel the spaceways from planet to planet
humming a tune born of a south too deep to bear
midwifed in stardust and held up in the harsh light of the sun for all to see

Published in Audio Poems Jazz Music My poems Poetry


  1. Songtsen Songtsen

    All great poetry is atrocious at first.

  2. Among the many enigmatic things that Sun Ra said, was something to the effect that we need to do the impossible because everything possible has been tried & failed.

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