Published on Academy of American Poets (

Skit: Sun Ra Welcomes the Fallen

Jupiter means anger. Sun Ra does not. Sun Ra dances the Cake Walk on Saturn’s pulpy eyes. If you believe that, I’ll tell you another one. The first is 13 and the next is 20. They were not good boys but they were boys. They were boys who died for this thing or that. The next was 16 and the last was 18. One had a cell phone. One had a gun. On earth, a goose opens its chest to a sound. The goose takes the bullet this way.  A sacrifice denied to the wind since there is no such thing as sacrifice anymore having succumbed to fever and the millennium. The bullet is all consequence. Sun Ra refuses red—long and high, low and deep. His arms are long enough to embrace them.


Copyright © 2016 Ruth Ellen Kocher. Used with permission of the author. 

About this Poem

“This poem makes myth out of tragedy as a way to cope with the sublime horror of our racial reality. We hear stories of black men and boys being gunned down every day. Most of us wake up in the morning without expecting such a narrative to unfold in our own lives but, for me, and most other Black Americans, the body in the street is my husband. The body is my son. The body is my grandson who was sitting with me last night on the couch eating pizza. Sun Ra is a fantastic and mythic hope, a cosmic embrace, that refuses the familiar narrative of slain black bodies.”
—Ruth Ellen Kocher


Ruth Ellen Kocher

Ruth Ellen Kocher is the author of several poetry collections, including Third Voice (Tupelo Press, 2016), Ending in Planes (Noemi Press, 2014), and Goodbye Lyric: The Gigans and Lovely Gun (Sheep Meadow Press, 2014). She lives in Colorado.

Date Published: 2016-02-01

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