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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Out Of The Psychedelic Closet

Last spring, I celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the greatest turning point in my life. In April 1970, at the age of twenty-three, I found myself climbing the western slope of the Mount of Olives, facing Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock. By midafternoon I had returned to the foot of the mountain and entered the Garden of Gethsemane, a lush patch of green adjoining a Russian Orthodox church and filled with roses and olive trees. The ancient trees inspired within me a deep sense of awe surpassing any I’d ever felt, though comparable to my childhood response to the blowing of the shofar that signaled the close of Yom Kippur each year.

Mark O’Brien’s Days

Mark O’Brien spends virtually every moment of every day encased in an iron lung in a room eleven feet wide and twenty feet long and seven and a half feet high. A single window fronts an alley and gets little light. The air in the room has a damp weight and smells sour, like the laden air of a closed space in which people have slept. Certain sounds are constant: the graduated chant and metallic rattle of the iron lung’s small electric motor; the regulated hiss of its leather bellows; the crumpling of a nylon collar around Mark’s neck as air from the lung fills and leaves it; and the soft intermittent clatter in Mark’s mouth and nose and throat: sighs, gasps, wheezes, whistles.


Warm Regards

Three-year-old Jersey Lem leaned forward and rested his chin on his tan, plump forearms, which bridged the handlebars of his tricycle. There was an invisible force field that ran between the last square of concrete sidewalk and the driveway of the house next door. The front wheel of his low-slung plastic trike was turned sideways and respectfully nudged right up to, but not touching, the force field. 

No One Said How It Would Be

She couldn’t keep her eyes off her reflection. She was looking at the side of her head in the chrome curve of the toaster, and I was afraid her wiry white hairs would make contact with the electrified silver and ignite. She couldn’t look in a mirror, my mother. Busy with my marmalade and cinnamon sugar, and cutting off my crusts, she kept eyeing her hair in the teakettle, the aluminum sink, the blade of her knife.

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write


I grew up in a house with only one bathroom, and we children were trained from an early age to share it. The bathroom was a social place for us. One person would pee while another brushed his or her teeth, toweled off from the bath, or searched the medicine chest for aspirin.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:25

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