The Person in the Telling

My granddad used to tell us war stories during holidays. He talked about World War II, about the Germans, Christmas in the snow (when his feet turned black in his boots), and the Battle of the Bulge. I was more interested in playing with my cousins back then or sneaking extra dessert in the kitchen, but before it was too late, I requested he write some of his stories down. After he finally did, that treasured journal went into safe keeping with me. When Granddad passed away a few years ago, I pulled out his old stories and cried through every page. One of the things he wrote was this: “If you didn’t know how to pray when you got in the Army, it sure didn’t take long to learn”—wisdom from the 99th infantry.

There’s a lonely place in every person in which he or she hopes to share the journey with someone who will listen.

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Ash Wednesday News

Again the gunman enters.
Again the children crouch
Under desks with prey’s
Terse stillness.

Once more the chopper angles:
Lines of scurrying hostages
Like pheasant before the hiss
Of prairie fires.

The hack script re-cobbled
Together falls now flat
And horrid against our thirst
For novelty.

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Grandmother’s House

I am standing in front of the bathroom counter in my grandmother’s house. It is 6am, Sunday morning, and her tiny house is full of quiet people—a neighbor at the door, a hospice nurse, my great aunt and uncle, my mother and aunt, my grandmother’s best friend and her daughters, and my own sisters. My grandmother has just died. I am standing in the bathroom, and I am looking at her tray of make up. It will all be thrown away, now; it’s going to be picked through and what no one wants will go into a trash bag and out to her curb. This is also true of her clothes, all hung up, all very neat, and her little shoes, some of which look brand new to me beside her bed, where I’ve been sleeping, as her hospice bed has been set up in her living room.

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Son of Laughter: No Story is Over

An Interview with Son of Laughter

Carrie Givens: One of the things I love about your music as Son of Laughter is what I would call its density. There is a lot happening in every song, both lyrically and melodically (not to mention the complexity of the recorded music). Can you share a little about your writing process?

Son of Laughter: Sure. In terms of my process, I don’t aim for complexity. Instead, I would say I am inspired by synergy. I have trouble developing an idea unless I am connecting it with a lot of other ideas in a way that interests me. I discovered that about my songwriting when I was writing the title track for The Mantis and the Moon. As I was trying to write about the stepsister from the German Cinderella story I realized the line “I don’t want to be someone who does not want to be who they are” reminded me of a lot of other stories, particularly an African folktale about why a praying mantis prays, a story a friend told me about his advice to follow dreams influencing someone leave their family, and my own discontent with who I am and the dangerous ways I deal with it. That last part is key. No matter how many ideas I have simmering in the pot, I have trouble tying it all together without deep personal conviction. “The Fiddler” combined a lot of stories and images, but I couldn’t finish it until I connected it with my own distracted prayer life. On the new record that was a missing ingredient for the longest time with “The Hurricanes.” I wanted the narrator to wrestle with his own destructive internal hurricane and I couldn’t finish it until I informed it with my own.

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