On Seeing Sun Ra at Alvin’s

by John G. Rodwan, Jr.

 

Space might be the place

but there was no space in the place –

not on the stage, filled

with members of the Arkestra

as well as shirtless fire dancers,

and not at the tables, surrounded

by rapt responders.

 

I got in with a bit of luck:

I’d bought a ticket in advance, yes,

but sold it at the last minute

to someone waiting outside

when it became clear

that P-Funk’s George Clinton, who was on

the guest list, wasn’t coming

and a friend working the door

let me in in his place.

 

I can’t recall that guy’s name,

or who I sat with,

but I do remember

Sun Ra, crowned,

gold cape concealing

his wheelchair,

stoic at his keyboards, orchestrating,

as if telepathically,

interstellar cosmic bop

with horns, percussion

and Jaribu’s bass.

 

It wasn’t the first time,

or the last,

that the place to be

was on Cass

but seeing Sun Ra

launch his retro-futuristic,

earthy-ethereal

space mission at Alvin’s

was something else altogether,

something of this world and out of it.  

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