Poem for a fractured world

We                       Mark Anderson June 19, 2020

When your people are my people then

I will grieve, moan, and wail through the night

when they are jailed, oppressed, abused, or killed.

The pain will not be your pain, but our pain

on that day when your people are my people.


When the voice of your people is muted

by the voice of the mighty majority, so loud

that small voices are only whispers.

Then your voice will become my voice

on that day when your people are my people.


If your people are bound in a bottomless pit

and their jobs lead only to perpetual poverty

I will not turn away content that I got mine.

I will not ignore your plight on that day

when your people are my people.


If sick, wounded, or suffering

I will not turn away saying, oh well, another day.

Their disease and afflictions we will share

on that day when your people are my people.


When injustice comes upon you, then

I will not ignore, hide, or turn my face away.

I will rise up and take a stand with you

on that day when your people are my people.


On that day when your people are my people

there will be no more, us and them

and no more them and us, but only – we.


Pandemic Panic

What if germs spread through all the rooms, of this big old world

What if a virus smothers this city, and it is not so safe, for us to breathe

What if my favorite restaurant closes because the people will not come

What if the churches are vacant because the people just do not want to share, the air

What if my school says that online is the only safe school, and the classes are gone

What if my bank, with the friendly tellers, hangs a sign, “drive through only”

What if I go to my favorite coffee shop to relax and write, but the doors are closed

What if the clerks at the grocery store all wear masks and rubber gloves

What if pandemic panic invades our safe spaces, leaving us nowhere to run

What if I my friends will not touch, shake hands, or hug

What if I call my grandparents but there is no answer

What if the increase of disease will not cease

What if my fears are real

Will I stay home alone, isolate and groan?

Or embrace the day, find a way, to rejoice, share, and love?

Open Heart; poem

Open Heart          Mark Anderson, 10/2017

If you have a broken heart

if love has torn you apart

take a trip

to Heart Break City.

Don’t try to avoid it – embrace it.

Don’t stay too long

You must move on.


The pain that you fear

is near, it burns – deep

makes you angry – stop and cry

stomach churns

memories flood

without warning

rudely bashing in the door

of your broken heart.


The curse, that love hurts,

makes us crazy, insanezy. Why?

We know within it should not be.

Love is to nurture, sooth, heal,

not to fracture, rip, or steal.

Like a boxer with blows to the head

we stumble and wonder; why

if love is wonderful, do we cry?

And why – don’t they make

condoms for the heart?


We must come to the cross

To that point of despair

where all seems lost

to the pain that

none should bear.

Like that Broken Hearted One

who gazed upon humanity’s tragedy

who loved, felt, and bled.

Then, and only then, after your visit

you must move on – to hope.

Move on daily, moment by moment

if you must. But do move on.



Valentines Sucks – a late poem

Valentines Sucks

Designed for love

there are some

among us who must

love – alone


Tossed by life’s fist,

to the corner, hiding

wounded, wondering,

unable to rise – alone


From afar they watch

others in families, lovers

friends sipping coffee

They once had those


treasures, but now

post marriage, post sex,

post smiles, post hugs

they are afraid,

maybe also wise,

better to love – alone


Passion For Woodmore

( On November 21, 2016 a school bus crash carrying 37 students from Woodmore Elementary School in Chattanooga TN. took the lives of 6 children and injured many more. I became an employee at Woodmore in January 2017 with grant funds given to the school after the accident. This poem is a reflection upon the students that I met while working as an assistant at Woodmore. The population of Woodmore is mostly African-American, with a few Latino and Caucasian students.)

Passion for Woodmore                                                       Mark Anderson 6/12/2017

8:07 am, he drops in his seat

stone cold face, eyes down, no sparkle.

Like an old man he stares ahead,

“Who am I, how did I get here?”

No mother kissed or hugged him

to prepare his heart for the day.

At age 10 he is alone.


Another  youth laughs, she is brilliant.

Her hair and features anticipate

the blossom of great beauty,

but she is unaware

of the boys who will consume –

not respect, this precious one.

When the industry of entertainment enslavement

sells raps of lips and hips, and grooves

to be preyed upon, then who

can protect this one?


Angry violent girl boasts of the harm

she will do – cuz, “She was lookin at me.”

Will she be the one who

engages the man in blue

and is slain, or slay,

her weaker foe?

Another generation comes and goes.


They lock horns, engage, verbal assault,

smack down, trash talk; “Your mother is – your father do”

Sad cuz they, of all the kids, are most kin

their own self-hatred burns, deeply.

So I plead, please stop. For these two

are both too precious to lose.


A boy, exceptionally bright, focusses, concentrates,

more than others. A classic case,

full of potential, but I fear

for him, a statistic born

into gangs, they are everywhere,

and he – he is most vulnerable.

His family I suspect, is in


One sweetheart, seldom smiles.

What kind of hardness

must be in her home?

Can you imagine, at twenty three,

with a few scars, or incarcerated?


An insult, a push, fists fly,

angry emotions, no restraint,

impulse rules, is the only rule,

in this hostile environment. But they

are only ten, going on eighteen

or thirty five, doing nine to life.


Then suddenly one day, a beautiful fall day, when children should play,

six departed this world, leaving empty seats, and wounded hearts.

This school that did not need more suffering, received it.

A young driver carelessly, speeding, being silly, delivered it.

Do not attempt to make sense, to reason or rationalize, why.

From ancient times humanity has pushed against that veil, to no avail.

So we cry, and wail, and become the hands that heal.

I cry out “God, intervene, touch, heal, redeem, these precious ones.”


Elvis, Beyonce, Gaga, Snoop, you all

get rich off the evil influence you push,

take responsibility. Spell it; re-spon-si-bil-ity!

Babylon you capitalistic whore, won’t you pay more,

than minimal to those mothers who flip

your burgers? And all the parents who

will not care enough to grow

and provide, safety, comfort, and care,

to you I plea. And to the fathers who

could take time, to sit and read

with your child, to you we all beg;

it is your turn.


In the midst of this pain there is,

precious joy. Kids dance in their stroll

to the pencil sharpener. Silly kids

tease and giggle. A boy excited

at the power, confidence that he – yes, little he

has learned his threes and four timeses.

Four students, one with hurt feelings,

tears starting to flow, the others stop

to comfort, to shelter, from the harshness

of this place. A big smiling girl

with the freedom of youth to speak

things an adult would guard lets free

her words to bless and bring to tears

an old man’s eyes.

Amazon author page

I have published some of my writings and they are available on my Amazon author page (link below). They are children’s stories under the name Toshiyori. Check out Oh Happy Dog, and Shu Shu’s Bright New Day



Tomorrow Land’s Messiah

Tomorrow Land, by Disney Movies 2015

Director; Brad Bird

Written by; Damon Lindelof, Jeff Jensen, Brad Bird


George Clooney; Frank Walker

Raffey Casidy; Athena

Britt Robertson; Casey Newton

Hugh Laurie; Nix

Tim McGraw; Eddie Newton

Pierce Gagnon; Nate Newton


Alert! I must discuss the end of this movie to address my topic.

Tomorrow Land’s Messiah

By Mark Anderson, 2015

            Anyone familiar with Bible themes will easily recognize parallels between Tomorrow Land and Christianity. In Christianity there is a beautiful world, the kingdom of God, which is unseen to the natural eye. In the Tomorrow Land movie there is the place in another dimension unseen to the human eye which is a utopia that appears to be amazing, peaceful and all the people are satisfied. In the movie humans may see and enter the other dimension when given a special pin and in Christianity humans enter the kingdom of God when they believe. In the movie the pin is given by invitation to those who are deemed worthy because they are dreamers; those with a positive attitude and dream of a better world where anything is possible. In Christianity all are invited, worthiness is not the issue, but those with an open heart to trusting God are the ones who choose to receive the gift of Jesus’ free salvation. Here there is a strong, though not identical, correlation between dreamers and believers. To believe one must set aside skepticism and embrace the possibility of a good and gracious God who offers a beautiful land. This is quite similar to the dreamers who are willing to see the possibility of a good and beautiful future. A significant qualification must be made about Christian believers; they are poor in spirit claiming no inherently good quality within themselves that makes them better than others or self-worthy. In the movie there is a messiah figure, Casey Newton, who is referred to as a very “special person” who can “fix the problem” which will save the world. In Christianity there is a special person, Jesus the Messiah, who is special because he is a divine person, the Son of God. Jesus indeed came to “fix the problem” and save the world through his atoning sacrifice. In the movie there is also a sacrificial death. The image of the messiah transfers to Athena who is able to use her self-exploding body to destroy the evil enemy machine. At the end of the movie a new generation robots like Athena are sent out to invite a new generation of human dreamers to the new Tomorrow Land and this is profoundly like Jesus commissioning his disciples to go into the whole earth and preach the good news, or invite people to believe and enter the beautiful kingdom of God.

These types of themes are not unusual. We seem them in literature from most cultures of the world, in ancient and modern writings. It is not demeaning of the movie to make these observations as though the writers plagiarized the plot. These are universal themes. I do not think that the writers were deliberately making a film to advance Christianity or even draw strong allusions to Christ. I do think it shows the universal appeal of the savior archetype and the hunger in the human heart for a better world beyond our corrupted world. I think it is very sad that viewers will be led to embrace an illusion of humans as our own self-messiah. I think it regrettable that when Christians propose a beautiful kingdom that is beyond the veil of human eyes they are mocked but Hollywood still is drawn to the dream. I do agree with the movie that all people should seek to make this world the best that we can. I agree that all people, especially those who embrace the kingdom of God should be leaders in positive attitudes to improve the living conditions of humanity. However, I think the writers of Tomorrow Land are naïve about human nature, proposing that certain creative people are above the greedy corruption that plagues the rest of humanity. Do they think that the great creative minds of human history were exempt from corruption? Even though Tomorrow Land adapts several Biblical archetypes, its premise diverges greatly and does not offer true hope for the desperate situation of humanity.


My youth story

The Least Likely

The teacher grabbed me by the hair of my head and shook me, lifting me out of my seat. When she let go she had a fist full of blond hair. I was seven years old, in the second grade at Lincoln Elementary school. It is difficult to recall exactly what I did to provoke this teacher. I vaguely remember using my newly acquired cuss words to her, “you ass”, “fuck”, and she just lost it. My cussing really had nothing to do with the teacher. It was a reflection of what was going on at my home. Obviously even at age seven I had some anger issues going on. I do remember what home was like that year, and I was definitely developing a reservoir of juvenile anger.

During the remaining years in elementary school I didn’t get in much trouble. But in 7th and 8th grade the young hormones started to kick in and I started to act out. I seemed to choose friends who also had a large dose of anger. I engaged in various sorts of teenage deviant behavior, some of it self-destructive, like drugs. But my anger at authority probably characterized my attitude the most. The first time I was arrested at age 15 I was breaking into a school to vandalize it. At the time I was not self-conscious about my anger. But many years later looking back I realized it as the source of much of my crazy behavior.

I remember walking up the street and seeing an axe leaning against a wood pile, I grabbed it and went on up the road with no plan for it. But then I saw a beautiful white fence, the kind you might see in a painting, around a grassy field with horses grazing peacefully, and I just tore into that fence knocking it to pieces. It was sick! I didn’t even know that person who owned the fence and they had never done anything wrong to me. But I made a mess of their beautiful fence.

One morning a teacher called my house. She was crying when she talked with my dad. She said that she couldn’t face her class one more day if I was in it. My dad talked with me and straightened me out. I knew the class was a lot of fun because my best buddies were all in it together. But I had never thought of myself as the instigator of trouble.

I and my friends used to skip school and go hang out in Millcreek Canyon. Actually I have good memories of happy times living pretty carefree, kind of like Tom and Huck. We didn’t really cause any trouble, just wanted to hang out by the stream, be outside. But on one of our longer day hikes we started exploring some old mine shafts and I found a stack of dynamite. I took home about 20 sticks. Wow, what a find for a boy, this was big time! Imagine Bart Simpson with dynamite and you can get the idea. I made an attempt at the ultimate signature vandalism that could have been spectacular; blowing up the pedestrian bridge behind the school. One problem, there were no blasting caps with the dynamite so it wouldn’t go off. I tried several methods but always they resulted in the fuse just going fizz. I sincerely wished the stuff would blow, just once, like in the movies. But it did not, THANK GOD!

I got kicked out of that school and was allowed to attend the brand new Cottonwood High School. From the first day there was something good watching over me there. The principal Dr. Wahlquist befriended me. I think he knew I was having problems and he asked if I wanted an afternoon job at the elementary school as janitor assistant. I did it, and it was good for me. I did nothing wrong. I just went to work every day and stayed out of trouble. There were also other adults in the school, teachers, who saw past my attitude, and treated me pretty good. And a neighborhood police officer that was kind and respectable. Sometimes I would get some unexpected praise for something artistic I had done. I got A’s in woodshop; even though I got kicked out of class more than once.

One day Dr. Wahlquist caught me smoking behind the school. He said he would have to suspend me from school. I told him the absolute truth, my father had just left home to move in with his girlfriend and my mother would not be able to t1971 cottonwoodake the stress right now. I asked him to consider another option and he found a remedy without involving my mother. A few months later, just before graduation, Dr. Wahlquist called me into his office. He said that the Salt Lake Tribune was coming to take pictures of graduates to be published in the graduation edition. Since my name Anderson placed me near the top of the alphabetical order he asked if I would represent Cottonwood High as the first graduate in the newspaper. I was not the actual first graduate. There were many fine honorable students that Dr. Wahlquist could have chosen to represent the school. But that good man chose me, one of the least likely, least deserving scoundrels, to receive that honor. It reminds me of the saying of Jesus regarding who gets into heaven, “Those who are first will be last but those who are last will be first.”

My life did not change immediately. But within a year I did come to Christ and then life changed a lot. I’ve never been in trouble with the law since. I’ve never vandalized anything since. I quit illegal drugs and I’ve never returned to them. I still get angry, sometimes deeply angry. But I believe I have a place to turn with that now. After 30+ years as a carpenter I’ve returned to school, and I love it! And I always show respect to my teachers. I also tutor kids who are slow readers at an elementary school. I think maybe some may be having some struggles at home.

American Born Chinese; review

American Born Chinese; by Gene Luen Yang

Review by Mark Anderson

Yang, Gene L. American Born Chinese. 01st ed. N.p.: New York and London, 2006. Print.

American Born Chinese is a uniquely written illustrated novel. It has three parallel stories: central is the story of Jin Wang the son of Chinese immigrants that has an identity crises and internal conflicts with peer pressure to conform. Second is an allegory of the Monkey King. And third is a story of Danny who has a very strange cousin from China who visits annually. These three stories converge in the final chapter to resolve as Jin matures. The Monkey King allegory teaches the principle upon which true self-acceptance is based and which Jin must learn. The story of Danny shows an alternative life in which Jin gets to be transformed into what he desires, but it cost him his soul, as foretold by the herbalist’s wife. The novel is well crafted and deserves careful thoughtful reading.

The central story of Jin and the peer pressure in school shows that he is stereotyped and oppressed by the Anglo culture. Then the story of cousin Chin Kee uses hyperbolic stereotype to the point that it is kind of repulsive. The issue of racial stereo typing is confronted, but confronted in a sort of backhanded method. At this point we wonder if the author is confronting or encouraging racist stereotyping. We may question if this book is valid for a young audience because they may not understand the sarcastic irony. The key to understanding the author’s intention is the way the Anglo oppressors are portrayed. Their indulgence in racism is portrayed as negative. The teacher who introduces Jin as a new student is portrayed as grossly ignorant. A student comments that his mother has told him that Chinese eat dogs. As Jin is being bullied at lunch the boys say “Let’s leave bucktooth alone so he can enjoy Lassie” (33). Since the author does cast a negative light on stereotyping then we confidently interpret him as being anti-racist, and encourage young readership.

This story can be classified as a didactic-allegory which is the traditional purpose of allegory. It is a classic approach because it teaches in way that we do not realize we’ve been taught until it’s upon us. To varying degrees the struggle for self-identity is universal. As I read this as an adult I still have my own challenges with being secure in my identity. If I had read this and understood it as a teen it may have really helped my growth. The values presented in this book are based upon self-acceptance that is granted to all people by an authority that is greater than the false authority imposed by peer pressure.

The author uses allusion to Biblical literature and symbolism which give it a profound depth. In the second section of the Monkey King story (pg 68 – 71) a wise old sage with a shepherd’s crook appears and asks the Monkey King why he is so angry. The Monkey King resents being called a monkey but the sage claims that he is actually his creator. This infuriates the Monkey King even more and a struggle begins. Several allusions to Psalm 139 of the Bible are made with a quotation that makes an important point, “It was I who formed your inmost being, I who knit you together in the womb of that rock. I made you with awe and wonder, for wonderful are all my works.” (80). Yang teaches us the Biblical principle of self-acceptance that is based upon being accepted by the ultimate authority – our Creator. Psalm 139, especially the first 18 verses, has comforted many people who feel out of place or like a social misfit, or people who are objects of discrimination and oppression from other humans. It has taught many people that there is deep serenity in finding our place as creatures before our Creator.

My best friend in high school was second generation American of Japanese heritage. At that time I didn’t understand the depth of his difficulties in being secure in his identity among the peer pressure of American culture. I wish this book was available for my friend during his teen years. This book can help us all understand the oppressive nature of racism and help those oppressed claim the dignity that is rightfully theirs as bestowed by their Creator.

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2014

Works Cited

Yang, Gene L. American Born Chinese. 01st ed. N.p.: New York and London, 2006. Print.

Everyday Use by Alce Walker; a review

Link to a PDF of the text of “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker: Everyday Use

Contrast and Irony Used to Reveal Cultural Conflict

In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

            A mother has two daughters. Fate has dealt them very different cards and choices have been made that have taken them down very different roads. Their characters have changed so much that they are almost not recognizable as sisters. Alice walker tells a story from a mother’s point of view of a visit from her daughter Dee, who moved away to go to school and comes to represent many qualities of another culture foreign to her heritage. These qualities are contrasted with her sister Maggie who has remained at home and represents many enduring qualities of her heritage. The mother represents a rich heritage available to both daughters, but embraced by only one, and cast aside by the other. Walker begins itemizing a list of traits that are associated with one culture; power, privilege, and racism, that are in contrast to another culture; true beauty, sincerity and respect. The contrast between the daughters represents much more than sibling rivalry. The contrast is between two rival world systems.

To read the complete review please see the page with the same title listed in the right hand side bar. It is a bit too long for my main blog and I like the page feature that keeps things in one permanent location.