Issue 416 | The Sun Magazine

August 2010

Readers Write

The Last Word

A pair of rainbow-striped socks, a cassette tape, the San Francisco Marathon

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
Letters To Olga

And slowly but surely, I found myself in a very strange and wonderful state of mind: I imagined I was lying somewhere in the grass beneath a tree, doing nothing, expecting nothing, worrying about nothing, simply letting the intoxication of a hot summer day possess me.

By Václav Havel
Sy Safransky's Notebook

August 2010

Someone sent me a bumper sticker that reads, “Nonjudgment day is near.” It can’t come soon enough. For even though I’ve learned the importance of nonjudgmental awareness, I still turn nonjudgmental awareness into a goal, then judge myself for not being more nonjudgmentally aware.

By Sy Safransky


The path of progress has never taken a straight line, but has always been a zigzag course amid the conflicting forces of right and wrong, truth and error, justice and injustice, cruelty and mercy.

Kelly Miller

The Sun Interview

And Justice For All

Sister Helen Prejean On Why The Death Penalty Is Wrong

The death penalty could be ended tomorrow if the Supreme Court would reverse its earlier decision. The Court overturned the death penalty once before, in 1972 (Furman v. Georgia), on the grounds that it was arbitrarily and capriciously applied and used disproportionately against poor people. But in Gregg v. Georgia the justices reinstated the death penalty with stricter criteria, limiting its applicability to only the worst of the worst and taking into account the defendant’s character and record. At that time the Court acknowledged the racism in death-penalty sentencing but said it would be too disruptive to our judicial system to correct the bias.

By David Cook
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Grandpa’s Vessel

Before he developed Alzheimer’s, my grandfather was stern and taciturn, but after the plaque started to build up around his synapses, he turned into a different man, and in many ways a better one. He started to laugh at things, like the way one of our pigs would chew bubble gum, or how the barn kittens played in the hay.

By Doug Crandell
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Just Shoot Me

My father, as he approaches death, never speaks about it, but I know he’s thought the matter through and wants to avoid a lingering, painful end. I’m sure of this because of the pills I found in his closet.

By John Thorndike
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Call Your Deadbeat Dad

There is a bike path that zigzags from the east side of Portland, Oregon, down to the Willamette River, then along the austere black geometry of the Steel Bridge and onto the grassy esplanade that borders the west side.

By Wayne Scott

Nothing To Do With Me

One morning over breakfast my girlfriend, Milana, told me about an old boyfriend of hers who had self-published a chapbook of haiku. Peripheries, he’d called it. He carried dozens of copies around with him in a hemp shoulder bag and sometimes read his poems at open mikes and on street corners.

By Greg Ames

Red Ribbon Monday

The phone rang just after Felonise had hung up the white clothes in the backyard. It was late October, and the laundry swayed in the California wind that blew hot and gentle from the moment the sun came up out here in the orange groves outside Rio Seco: the dish towels, the sheets from the fold-out couch where her grandson Teeter had spent the night when his brother, Lafayette, went to a piano concert, and the white socks her daughter Cerise called “Peds,” the ones Felonise liked to wear at night around the house. Could wash them after one night. Cleaner than slippers.

By Susan Straight

The Wall

Joan and I were in Raleigh together / for the first time to take the tour / for new VISTA volunteers / at North Carolina’s Central Prison

By Joseph Bathanti

Selected Poems

from “The Second Letter of Lazarus to His Sisters” | Beloveds, I don’t think we are quite communicating clearly here. / What I said was that I think there are two sides to every miracle

By Brian Doyle