space is the place/an ode to Sun Ra

A little past midnight in the early hour of 1980 New Year’s day, I saw a performance in Washington, D.C., of the late jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, and poet Sun Ra while tripping on acid. This is a tribute to that memory.

Sun Ra
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
space   		is the place
oh 		        Sun Ra
	                and your Arkestra
where  	        jAzZ	
	               BloWs the truth
teach me TRUTH.
Sun Ra Arkestra: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
where	             your RhYtHmS
	                     with 	joy
teach me JOY. 
Sun Ra
Image by Alexa from Pixabay
where 	your     fingers
	                      that piano 
	                      with	love 
teach me LOVE. 
Sun Ra
Image by Михаил Серебреников from Pixabay
space 	               IS THE PLACE 
cruise 	               for     answers
	                       for	wisdom
teach me WISDOM. 
Sun Ra
Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay
sail 	              into SPACE
	                      the tinsel sparkled robes 
	                      the egyptian motif
	                      the space-travel headdresses
		                     you wore 
		                     on your way home
		                     to SATURN
	                      teach me 
how to find HOME.


The following was inspired by “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion for my English 404 Creative Nonfiction class.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’ve been told that the inspiration for writing is everywhere. Just open your eyes, I’ve been directed. The person or object in front of you, even when it’s a computer screen or the view of the backyard through your office window. Look up in the sky like when you were a kid, and you stared out your bedroom window and conjured up images from the cumulous clouds above the Patterson Projects in the South Bronx. It doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as you write something. Oh, they’re very insistent. The inspiration is there and everywhere. I must open my eyes, ears, and mind to the possibilities.

For a long time, I couldn’t write a thing. Well, that’s not accurate. I could write a love letter, a script for a radio show, a television news report, a technical or policy paper, or maybe sneak in a poem or two. Still, these were either the duties of a job or some frivolous moment to fill while I waited for something more serious to come along. Filling time. That’s how I sometimes thought of creative writing. You know, the writing where you open your heart and soul and scream words onto a page until they click into moving pictures. Or, to put it another way, they can walk into living worlds and settle down to rest as long as they want.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

A million other writers and I have said it before, writing, authentic writing that spills out honestly when you grab the courage to free yourself, and your soul will follow, is difficult. Almost impossible if you’re not honest with yourself. Writing on demand can seem easy when you’re just pecking away at the keys in the hopes that something comes out and all that seems to appear on the screen in front of you is gibberish that even your eyes can’t translate. But you did exercise your fingers and proved that you could type. Yeah, that’s one way of looking at it.

When I was a television reporter, and I had to crank out two-three scripts in the span of a couple of hours (without the aid of a computer or Grammarly), you had notes, and maybe you had a chance to watch the news film (probably not) or the video (doubtful). You had to tap your memory banks, write a story based on fact, make sure it made sense, and ensure that it weaved with the visual element into a minute-and-a-half report that was succinct and clear enough that someone at home would take that time to watch it. Not sure I would call it “creative writing,” but you did hope it moved someone’s feelings or mind an inch. This is before the internet when people did sit in front of a television at an appointed hour or at least had it playing in the background over dinner and watched and heard crime stories or scandals or some stimulating “if it bleeds, it leads” news report that had spun out of your electric typewriter only an hour before. My goal was, to tell the truth in the best way I knew how and my inspiration was the reality I had witnessed or at least gotten other witnesses to share their stories.

Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay

The Creative Writing I do in college is different and more challenging. Some people can do any number of processes, exercises, and techniques to get their creative juices started. I start writing simply enough. A title. A thought. An incident from my past. A word. A single word. What’s important is that I start typing. Type. Type. Type. Take a breath and then start typing again and be confident enough to ensure that a stream of sentences flows across the screen and that it makes some sense. Okay, maybe not at first. It’s my first write. Perhaps it will be gibberish at first. It’s a beginning.

Then, I go over it, the writing. Sometimes, I’ll study it on the screen, making immediate changes as I go along. Or maybe after the fourth or fifth versions (I’ve done upwards of twenty versions during the course of writing a piece), I’ll print it out and read it aloud, listening to the cadence of the words, the connection of those words, the specific words themselves, hoping that I’m not repeating the exact words, nouns, prepositions, adverbs, complex sentences that run into each other because I sometimes forget that there are such things as periods or commas or semi-colons. Grammar not being my strong suit sometimes. Always thinking what’s a better way to say something (Word Hippo is my thesaurus friend). To visualize it first and then splash it across the page so that whoever reads it stops for a moment to absorb it, to bring it into themselves and allow it to fill their head and soul with the music of the words and beauty of the picture that is flashing before their imaginations. That’s when you know. Yeah, it’s all good.

Lifelong Learning
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I don’t want to stop there. I want to be continuously inspired to make the words sing louder, and the picture is brighter, the colors forcing you to look at them while at the same time they burn into your very essence and your heart dances gleefully and more heartedly than the first time you read or heard my words.

There’s so much more to learn. To exercise my fingers across this page, to tap that thing inside all of us so that those unique words just come forward and wrap me and you in ecstasy.

Yeah, that would be good.

Sh!t On My Mind

On my mind
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Election day in California has come and gone, and it’s time to get back to the vital matter at hand, summer. You know, trips to the beach, the desert, camping, mountains, blockbuster movies, and don’t forget, predictions of doom for the midterms in November. Hell, I can make vacay and doomsay at the same time. In between house and summer break stuff, I’ve been sorting through a bunch of sh!t on my mind. For example, who won the Heard-Depp defamation trial? And why should I care?

The Economy

The economy
Image by S K from Pixabay

The good news: the unemployment rate is now 3.6% from a high of 14.7% two years ago. Do you remember when everyone was so happy to get those Pandemic checks and small business grants and rent moratoriums? Now, economists and critics swear that all this has helped lead us into the inflation crisis we’re facing. Putting too much money into people’s pockets and the economy spells trouble like gas and food prices: Doom and gloom. Yet, I have seen more people in stores and restaurants in a long time. I was just wondering what all of this means.


Image by Gentle07 from Pixabay

I read that Democrats all over the country because they favor social justice approaches to, well, justice. The prevailing narrative is that all this has led to an increase in crime. So, the pandemic and the crazy that followed have nothing to do with it. The solution is more police and locking people up (any people, it seems) and throwing away the key.

For example in New York City.

“For the month of April 2022, New York City saw a 38% decrease in homicides (31 v. 50) and a 29.1% drop in shooting incidents (105 v. 148) compared to April 2021. Overall index crime increased by 34.2% in April 2022, compared to the same period a year ago (9,463 v. 7,051) – a total driven by a 43.5% increase in grand larceny (3,867 v. 2,694) and a 41.5% increase in robbery (1,261 v. 891). Burglaries also increased by 39.4% (1,209 v. 867) in April 2022 compared to last year.”

But then, you come across stuff like the following. I guess one’s perception of crime depends on where one lives and not just what one feels.

“According to polls from Axios/SurveyMonkey and The Economist/YouGov, around 9 in 10 Americans feel very or somewhat safe in the communities where they live. At the same time, Gallup polling shows the gap in perception of growing crime in the U.S. versus crime in one’s own neighborhood has never been wider.”

Here’s their list:

  • New Jersey is the safest state, according to our scoring system. It separated itself from other leading states with a significantly higher score for law enforcement officers per capita.
  • Eight of the 10 safest states are in the Northeastern region of the U.S. (as defined by the Census Bureau), including the top six states on our list. The list also includes one state from the Midwest and one from the South. No states from the West made the top 10.
  • Maine had the best score of all 50 states for violent crime per capita. Massachusetts had the best score for property crime per capita. New Jersey had the best score for law enforcement officers per capita, and Ohio had the highest score for estimated public safety budget per law enforcement employee.

In the Meantime

“Mass shootings have been on the rise in recent years. In 2021, almost 700 such incidents occurred, a jump from the 611 in 2020 and 417 in 2019. Before that, incidents had not topped 400 annually since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking in 2014.”

I guess I’m not doing enough prayers. Well, that’s probably because I don’t believe in prayers, only laws, and their enforcement. But, no laws are going to stop the madness of anger, violence worship, and “I just don’t give a sh!t” attitudes.

The Unhoused

Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

Drive or walk down any major street or freeway in southern California, and their presence is ubiquitous, tents of the unhoused.

“In the United States, there are over half a million people experiencing homelessness. These individuals live in a temporary shelter or transitional housing or sleep in a place not meant for habitation (like an abandoned building). The top four causes of homelessness, in order, are lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, and low wages.”

According to the World Population Review website, these some of the breakdown of their statistics:

  • The average life expectancy of a homeless person is just 50 years.
  • 39.8% of homeless persons are African-Americans
  • 61% of homeless persons are men and boys
  • 20% of homeless persons are kids
  • 42% of street children identify as LGBT
  • New York City has one-fifth of all US sheltered homeless
  • The homeless problem is on a downward trend- Where is this happening?
  • Permanent housing interventions have grown by 450% in 5 years.


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Did you know that the top artist and song right now is Harry Styles, “As It Was,” according to Billboard Magazine? Number two is Doja Cat, “Woman.” And number three is Lizzo, “About Damn Time.” I am so out of touch. Read more of the list HERE.


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

You may not remember, but in another dimension, I was once Executive Producer of Fashion Police with Joan and Melissa Rivers on E! (No, really). According to, these fashion trends are defining 2022

  • Sweats 2.0
  • The Pointelle Lounge Crop Pants
  • Victor Glemaud Chain Link Wide-Leg Cropped Pants
  • Donni Eco-Fleece Roll Pant
  • Skims Cozy Knit Pant


Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

What are we calling the generation after Gen Z? Well, apparently, Gen Alpha.

“Com­par­ing Gen­er­a­tion Alpha ver­sus Gen­er­a­tion Z sta­tis­tics — much like the groups’ mem­bers them­selves — are still devel­op­ing. How­ev­er, if cur­rent trends hold, Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids will be more racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse than their Gen­er­a­tion Z coun­ter­parts. Mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha will also be more like­ly to go to col­lege, more like­ly to grow up in a sin­gle-par­ent house­hold and more likely to be sur­round­ed by col­lege-edu­cat­ed adults.”

Still Curious

I’ve been told that the Republican Party is looking after us better than the Democratic Party because…….I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Conspiracy Theories

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

When did conspiracy theories go from “Who Killed JFK?” to the Democrats are a bunch of child-eating pedos?

English as my major

Lifelong Learning
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m so naive. I didn’t realize that when I decided to major in English to study Creative Writing that it meant that I would be studying mostly white men and some white women, with James Baldwin thrown in as the token. I must be in the wrong decade.

I only have four semesters left to graduate at seventy-five years old with a Bachelor of Arts in English- Creative Writing. Do you think I will be too old to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at that age?

i want to dance…

This poem first appeared on

Image by Loryn from Pixabay
i want to dance through today tomorrow forever
stepping through music doors across moving floors
upside down right side up spinning like a wild wind
that you will never catch.
i want to dance
move effortlessly as if floating standing still
but moving forward upside-down right-side up never backwards
no eyes closed ears sucking in the music mouth open
shouting out the lyrics the harmonies the rhythm the beat
one more time.
i want to dance
like today is forever and tomorrow never comes.

long walks on

This poem was originally posted on In the coming weeks, I will be transferring and reposting all my writing over to

Image by Damián Fernando Tello Ceballos from Pixabay
the feet are tired
shuffling along rough roads
streets that have not been repaved
in a long time.

the body carrying the memories
of a childhood too long ago
of teen years that are hidden in history books
of sex drugs and rock and roll twenties
of adult foolishness
that you can't pick out of a police line-up.

music ripples through the memory neurons
of whatever is left
and small patches of sunlight 
are visible
and you realize 
your life has not been 
all darkness and shadows and holes
in the ground. 

the kind that gets your shoulders moving
your toes snapping
your head tossing back
your arms clearing room around you
cause it's in your blood
and soul
and deep down somewhere
you realize 
your life has not been 
all darkness and shadows and holes
in the ground. 

visiting the gallery of your life
images on the wall
that speak to you
every second of your life
every person you ever met
every action you've ever taken
every decision you've ever made
every thought you've ever had.

now you are here
it's all that matters
as you put your hands 
in your pockets
and shuffle along rough roads
streets that have not been repaved
in a long time
and continue 
the long walks on
this time smiling. 

antonio pedro ruiz january 22, 2010

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