Mark Anderson

For Connor

This is a poem for Connor
Connor who I have never met,
Connor who I may never know:

For two whole hours I listened to his girlfriend’s mother
as she talked behind me in a strip mall coffee shop
about the boy whose soul she was trying to save.
It was 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning
and this is how I had always needed to learn about holiness.

She says “Connor has a good heart
but he was never taught to use it.”
And I think to myself,
what funny things we overhear
when we are always listening.
From what I gather the problem is this:
her daughter is a meek white lamb
from the land of picket fences
and Connor is what is born out of adrenaline,
reformed and settled at the bottom of his stomach
but still not converted.
And as for myself,
I have been caught sinning so few times in public
that there are fools who have mistaken me for holy.
But at that very moment,
I had been through something
very recently, which was
very similar, and which ended
very badly for me.
So I feel for him,
and I press my ear so far into that lady’s throat
that I can hear her breathing above the espresso machine.

Because Connor and I
are the same shape
of wide eyed wishing wells
who want love
more than any other form of redemption.
But at that moment
love was falling through for the both of us.
So I swallowed my coffee slowly,
and I listened as hard as I could.

Because that morning
the only thing that could save me
was to feel just a little less alone,
which is exactly what his story did for me.
I should mention
if I hadn’t been listening then
I might not still be standing here
to speak to you.
So I wonder what makes an angel.
Does it have nothing to do with wings?
Before they have their wings
do they come with names like Connor?
Do they suffer like the rest of us?

And this is not a poem.
This is just a thank you note
to Connor who I have never met,
Connor who I may never know.


Mark Anderson puts together the Broken Mic poetry open mic (and, according to its Facebook page, “emotional spaceship ride”) each week at Neato Burrito in downtown Spokane. Age 24, the Inlander recently described him as the “grandfather” of Spokane’s poetry scene. That’s because he’s fought to keep performance poetry alive in Spokane through Broken Mic and poetry slam competitions. Recently, he was awarded the Ken Warfel Fellowship, for poets who “have made substantial contributions to their poetry communities.”

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