Issue 460 | The Sun Magazine

April 2014

Readers Write


A birthday cake, a plastic bag marked “liver,” a lovely one-room cement house

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
Who Dies?

Behind the restless movement of the mind is the stillness of being, the stillness that has no name, no reputation, nothing to protect. It is the natural mind.

By Stephen and Ondrea Levine


All men think all men mortal but themselves.

Edward Young

The Sun Interview

The Long Goodbye

Katy Butler On How Modern Medicine Decreases Our Chance Of A Good Death

It’s an interesting philosophical conundrum: Which self do we honor? The fully capable, legally responsible person I am right now, who says I don’t want any artificial barrier preventing the natural death that might await me? Or the less-aware self that I might become at a later date, who might say, “No, no. Keep me alive”?

By Sam Mowe
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Art Of Dying

The palliative-care nurse came one morning and put her ear on his gurgling chest. He had pneumonia, she said. He was finally dying decisively enough to qualify for hospice. Thanks to our involvement with her program, he would not meet his death in intensive care after a panicked stop in an emergency room. The nurse called the hospital and made the arrangements, and my mother called an ambulance.

By Katy Butler
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Blue Magic

Every Friday night when I was twelve, I’d watch my cousin Derrick, fourteen, get ready to go out with a girl or to a junior-high-school dance. He’d take thick dabs of a hair grease called Blue Magic and rub it between the palms of his hands.

By J.B. McCray
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Locked In To Life

In a locked psychiatric facility you’re obliged to keep living — unless, that is, you’re extraordinarily desperate and creative about instruments of self-destruction: a half-pint milk carton, a Chutes and Ladders game board, a plastic spoon.

By Mark Brazaitis
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Father Junípero Admonishes A Bird

I met Dabber Jansen in 1979 on a trip to Arcata, California, to see my ex-girlfriend, who was his girlfriend at the time. He was at work driving a truck for Eureka Fisheries when I arrived, and my ex warned me before he got home that Dabber was a redneck. To my surprise, the “redneck” turned out to be a self-styled radical intellectual, like me.

By Poe Ballantine

On My Way Now

Today I walk the shoreline only in my mind, when I so wanted to walk by the sea, to feel the wind, to walk through the stormy weather, unafraid. I’m “being held,” I heard them say. For my “protection.” My body and the rest of me, aged eighty-seven years, sit in a tiny cell with whitewashed walls. I might pretend this to be a cubicle inside a monastery were not the devil wailing in the corridor, making free with a man’s body, crying with his voice a pagan slander on the day, possessing a man he’s bought at some slave auction where souls are up for sale. The devil buys the soul and gets the body in the bargain.

By Linda McCullough Moore

At Last

It is not true that every son / and father come to this / the rough bass of your voice / singing the endless tune

By Richard Lehnert