This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Three Minutes for Dylan

Cottonwood police report that the death of an 8-year-old Cottonwood boy was suicide.

Dec. 6. COTTONWOOD, AZ According to a press release issued Dec. 3 by the Cottonwood Police Department, the Yavapai County Medical Examiner's Office in Prescott performed an autopsy Thursday evening and the results appear to be consistent with suicide.

Cottonwood Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Jack Stapleton said, "The autopsy was performed last night on the boy and it appears that it will be ruled not suspicious in nature. This is a strange situation and very tragic."

The Cottonwood police will continue investigating this tragic death.

Cottonwood police reported that the boy was discovered in a closet of a residence located in the 200 block of S. 12th Street on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 7:08 p.m. Investigators believe the boy was hanged.

Stapleton said he is not sure of how long the boy was in the closet before he was discovered. He was transported to Verde Valley Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

Cottonwood Fire Department Chief Mike Casson said that eight crew members from Cottonwood Fire Department responded as well as a crew from Verde Valley Fire District who assisted as Cottonwood was on another call.

"It appears that the boy was taken down and was on the floor when we arrived," he said. They arived by 7:11 p.m.

Casson added that paramedics immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and Verde Valley Ambulance Company transported the boy to VVMC within four minutes after its arrival.

"They worked quickly and performed CPR all the way to the hospital until he was taken by hospital staff," he said.

The boy was pronounced dead at 7:18 p.m.

"This is truly a sad thing, especially at Christmastime. This is even tough on our guys."

Julie Larson, superintendent of Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, said the victim was a third-grader at Cottonwood Elementary School, and, "it's a terrible thing to lose a student."

three minutes for Dylan
by Christopher Fox Graham ©

Wednesday, Cottonwood
7:07 p.m.
in the air the boy hangs
suspended above the floor like an angel
his lungs are vacant of sound and life

7:08 pm
the upstairs bedroom closet door opens
slow at first
and fear explodes
mother's hands
no! struggle! rope! throat!
no! phone! fumble! 9–1–1!
no! address! son! paramedic!
no! baby! come! quick! please!
no! son! son! son …
Dylan …

she had three minutes with him
three minutes alone
three minutes to contemplate
how her eight–year–old son
could hang himself
could jump from a chair
could prepare a closet
could tie a noose
could find his lungs vacant of a reason to live
could decide at 8
that life was not worth living

she had three minutes
before they arrived
and no answer when they did

there is a word
for a man widowed by a wife
for a woman widowed by a husband
for a child orphaned by parents
but there is no name
when a parent loses a son
because the thought is too terrifying
to imagine

he was trying to speak to us
but his lungs were vacant
before he jumped
but his lungs were vacant
before he tied the noose

the ritual of suicide
speaks a language of its own
with a gun – helpless fury in a moment
with a leap from a building – surrender to the world
with an overdose – a secret shame
with a bomb strapped to your body – rage wrapped in your people's despair
but with a hanging
every step must be calculated
and there can be no doubt
of your intention

but his vacant lungs either
did not speak before then
or we did not hear him

the medical examiner ruled the case closed
with no four play
and the paramedics added one more
atrocious anecdote to their nightmares
and we, at the newspaper,
had to grapple
with how to best word the headline
and write the story
of a child who was too silent to speak
whose lungs were too vacant of breath to be quoted

no one was charged in his death
but we are criminals
because none of us stopped him
none of us heard him
none of us offered him
three minutes of silence
to contemplate his value
to tell him he was an angel worth living

he tied the noose
he prepared the closet
he jumped from the chair
but we hanged him
by not hearing the scream held
in his 8–year–old lungs

his name was Dylan
these are the three minutes I'm giving him

your turn.

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