Chapter 1- Going To School

A cheerful ding-ding announces my presence at the gas pumps just as the sun peeks out behind the SUNOCO sign on Route 9 in Wellesley. An attendant about my age saunters toward me. Up close I can see his greasy, acned face as he peers in at me with a crooked smile.

Smoke, Coke & Something To Come Back To

I was twenty years old when I took up smoking, fully planning to become addicted. In my future life as a social worker I saw myself ministering to heroin addicts. To truly understand what they were facing, I thought, I should experience addiction for myself. Nothing prolonged, just a quick in and out. Also, I wanted to lose ten pounds.

How To Make Pie

When you make a pie, make it with your heart. It’s not so much about what goes into the pie as what holds it together. You must understand that no matter, it’s always about the crust, the foundation of your pie. Everything else will withstand a margin of error. Not true with the crust. The […]

By the Pool

Palm trees shifted restlessly overhead. The dead fronds around their trunks made them look more like giant bottlebrushes than trees. “Can’t anyone figure out how to trim those things off?” I mumbled to myself. They had the look of ruin.

Reflections on January 6

The day after the bloody siege on the Capitol, I dug out an 8 x 12 black and white glossy of a bunch of teenagers standing on its steps. There’s me and forty-six classmates posing with our Congressman, John B. Anderson (who would later run for president as an Independent). We’d just graduated a few days before, the Hanover High School class of 1966. For three days we’d been packed on a bus, traveling from our little town in Illinois, stopping along the way to tour Gettysburg.

Fragile Volcanoes

When my first-born child was six years old, I found myself standing in front of her first-grade class, trying to teach poetry. My wife had volunteered me at Back to School Night.  (Don’t ever miss Back to School Night.) I mean, have you faced a room full of first graders? They fidget.  They squirm.  They’re […]

Back in the Saddle

I come home exhausted, good for nothing except collapsing onto the couch and spacing out, barely able to absorb the TV news. My dear wife hands me a glass of wine and returns to the kitchen to prepare dinner. After eating and briefly catching up on my email, I’m ready for an early night. I can’t imagine returning the next morning, up at dawn for another 9-hour shift, but thankfully, I don’t have to. I have a week to recover.

In Memory of Jerry Gray

1935 – 2020

Why I Write

by Jerry Gray

I have been so defined by those who were important and then their disappearance, vanished from my life because no reason was given for their coming, or going.  I am writing of childhood, of course, and a damaged habit that then persisted without my noticing, a habit of not asking who that was, how they appeared or disappeared or why. My landscape is littered with disappearing parents, a brother who vanished for 20 years and died homeless, a great aunt who lived secretly 20 years in hospital, a relative who became a Carmelite nun, others whose histories or absences were mentioned only in proverbial hushed tones. So it is in certain families.

My Mother

I had finished sorting through all my family photos and actually wasn’t thinking about my mother. I was focused instead on choosing the next project I might tackle while “sheltering in place”. 

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