Issue 361 | The Sun Magazine

January 2006

Readers Write

Playing With Fire

Sexual fantasies, Kristallnacht, chemists

By Our Readers


One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our Founding Fathers used in the struggle for independence.

Charles Austin Beard

The Sun Interview

A More Perfect Union

Tom Hayden On Democracy And Redemption

I think it’s helpful to remind white ethnics that they, too, came here in boats; that they, too, lived in slums; that they, too, had yellow fever; that they, too, were stigmatized as incorrigible; that they, too, had the highest homicide rates and the highest incarceration rates and the highest rates of mental illness; and that everything that was said about them in those days is now being said about Salvadorans, Dominicans, African Americans, Mexicans, Vietnamese, and Cambodians in our inner cities.

By Tim McKee
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Why I Am Not President

On January 19, 2004, the day of the Iowa caucus, I decided to run for president. Perhaps, in my tiny way, I reasoned, I can prevent America from becoming a Jesus-flavored neofascist empire. So I announced to the world (or, at least, to the portion of it that is on my e-mail address list) my candidacy for the Republican nomination. My campaign had begun.

By Sparrow
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Safe Haven

The day my mother and my brother flew in, I went to pick them up at the airport. At first I’d told them I couldn’t be there: I had to teach a class. (Of course, as the instructor, I could easily have canceled.) My mother’s reply was “So help me God, if you make us get a cab, I’ll pick up the goddamn white courtesy phone at the airport, page Mother Nature, and tell her to send Katrina to find you.”

By Steve Fellner
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Boy With Blue Hair

“He lives in San Francisco now,” she interrupted me, understanding immediately the apprehension in my voice. “I’ll give you his number,” she added, her words slow and steady and intentional, as if we were speaking in code.

And we were. She wasn’t just telling me where her son lived these days. She was telling me that he wasn’t dead.

By Cheryl Strayed

Begin With An Outline

Besides the bananas, my dad raises chickens and grows red ginger and marijuana. I’m not sure how large his drug operation is or how much money he makes. I know that he smokes a lot of pot, but not so much for recreational purposes. It’s more about testing his wares. He rolls joints. He doesn’t own a bong, hookah, pipe, chillum, vaporizer, scale, dugout system, grinder, or steamroller. He’s old school.

By Kaui Hart Hemmings


I was seven years old and had just started summer vacation when I learned that my brand-new grandmother from New York City was coming to stay with us for a week or two, “to meet her new family.” Brasalina, a half-black, half-Indian Brazilian woman of twenty-one, had just married my grandfather, my father’s father, who was eighty-three and too ill to come with her on this visit.

By Poe Ballantine

Selected Poems

Because our sons adore their plastic missile launchers, / cybertronic space bazookas, neutron death-ray guns, / a decade down the pike it won’t prove difficult / to trick them out in combat boots / & camouflage fatigues

from “Memorial Day”

By Steve Kowit

Prayer In The Strip Mall, Bangor, Maine

The week after Thanksgiving and the stores are decked out / for holiday shopping, including a T.J. Maxx, where what was / once too expensive loses its value and attracts us

By Stuart Kestenbaum

Early Space Travel

I take my son into the dusk, / under trees still heavy / with the season’s first rain. / We watch as the entire / face of the moon darkens, / like a child with a bad cold.

By Lee Rossi

Winter Solstice

The longest night of the year and I’m awake / in an overheated apartment on the Upper West Side. / I roll over and over like a rotisseried hen / while Janet’s breath softly rises and falls / and our son sleeps soundly on the floor, / his broken leg silently knitting bone to bone.

By Ellen Bass