Corvallis poet and Catholic deacon Chris Anderson, author of The Next Thing Always Belongs
(Airlie Press, 2011) and Light When It Comes: Trusting Joy, Facing Darkness, and Seeing God
in Everything (Eerdmans, 2016), returns with a new book of poems celebrating the presence of a Mystery, a Longing, in our memories and our lives.
You Never Know, Stephen F. Austin State University Press ISBN 9781622882090
Available Fall 2018.
You Never Know is an elegant testimony to the joy of making sense of everyday moments.
With wonder, admiration, curiosity, and awe, he mixes the divine with the beloved. To read these
poems is to become alert to the wounds and the healing of being alive. And to see new patterns of
understanding that only Chris Anderson can offer.
In You Never Know, you never know what is coming next. Each one of Chris Anderson’s
richly imagined poems works by curious juxtaposition. Sid- by-side are that which is near and
far, current and past, within and without, desired and denied. The result is a shimmering
strangeness that marks the presence of the holy.
These poems find their way back and forth between earth and heaven, memory and desire. I
admire their clean language and American voice, awake to the world’s commotions and
bewilderments, laced with the persistence of belief.
In these soulful, contemplative poems, Chris Anderson turns his attention to the search for
meaning at a time when joy has become so “thinned out and sheer / it’s more like detachment.”
Whether contemplating a friend’s heart surgery or a message on the side of a hot air balloon,
Anderson’s poetry focuses on the intersection of secular and spiritual life. With a cadence
reminiscent of prayer, he ponders the natural world—each wave and blade of grass– and his
place in it. “Think / of my hands this morning,” he tells the reader, “as I gave the dogs their
treat, / popping it into their mouths like communion.”
You Never Know
All those countless centuries
before I was born it wasn’t so bad.
I didn’t feel a thing.
Is this what it’s like when we die?
Do we just cease to exist?
Or do the angels fly out to greet us,
skimming over the bright green fields?
You never know.
When I had breakfast at Fairwinds Spokane,
Spokane’s premier luxury
the old women in their flowery blouses
and the men in their motorized chairs
chatted and laughed at the dining room tables
like kids in a school cafeteria,
and the sun streaked through the windows,
and the oatmeal steamed in our bowls,
and even my hunched
and befuddled father was smiling
for a moment, almost coherent.
I couldn’t have been
more surprised: how happy I was.