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For a Catholic kid, there was nothing good about Good Friday. From dawn to dusk, we had to fast on toast and tea, and then, when we were good and starving, we had to choke down a bowl of my mom’s fish stew. We couldn’t cut loose or even watch TV. We were supposed to mope around looking glum. We spent the entire afternoon in church.


The Blue Devils Of Blue River Avenue

Whether I was at the Sambeauxs’ or the Millers’ or the Carrs’, or just out in the street with my little buddies, it was always the same. They were like hothouse tomatoes pushing hard for what they thought was the light. We would hide in a bush, or cluster in the treehouse, or lean back among the interstices of the towering, ragged, catwalk hedge, and the topic would invariably arise, spelled out in red letters above our heads: S-E-X.

The Sun Interview

The Prayer Of The Body III

An Interview With Stephen R. Schwartz

I’d been melancholy for weeks, dogged by feelings I couldn’t name. Then my wife went out of town; I didn’t want her to go. You might say I was ready for a good cry. Yet how tempting to ignore sorrow, as if it were a beggar. Those dark, accusing eyes.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

On Being Unable To Breathe

Something was drastically wrong with my lungs: every night, they made sounds like a basketful of squealing kittens. I was always coughing, had pains under the sternum, and could not push a car or even run up a flight of stairs without gasping like an old melodeon full of holes. This condition came on slowly; no single daily or weekly change was ever big enough to scare me out of my habits. For three years after noticing these symptoms, I continued smoking pot.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Giving Away Gardens

A Crip gang member approached the woman for whom I was building a vegetable garden — an old woman on welfare, an ex-prostitute, ex-waitress, ex-chicken-butchering plant worker. He said he was tired, pimping was hard work. I kept to my hammer and shovel, hearing the woman's tubercular laugh, and repressed a moral urge to bash his brains in, instead muttering something nonsensical about individuated karma and samsara, knowing and glad that the garden will persist longer than he will.

The Sun Interview

Uniting The Opposites

An Interview With M.C. Richards

Centering, for me, is the discipline of bringing in rather than leaving out; of saying yes to what is most holy as well as to what is most unbearable. The severity of that, as a discipline, is not widely understood.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Unhealed Life

Sunlight slanting through my window touches the leaves of my plants. The light is luminous and magical, filling the room with warmth and promise. But notwithstanding the beauty of the moment, I am filled with longing — a longing to dance and run, to raise my arms in salutation to the sun, to wade breathlessly in ice-cold mountain streams, to feel the earth beneath me.