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.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Blind Man Misses the Sun

Tracing small town streets
she inches along in the shadows
filling thoughts between left turns
and Long Island Iced Teas
the barkeep serves me my regular
and I can't keep these hands
from paper confessions

there are as many miles between us
as days until I see you again
only patience or a Visa ATM could shorten either
but late night phone calls beneath starlight
don't require oil changes
and the days, well,
the days I use to cover pages in chicken scratch
to pave the way back to my front door

I miss you like a blind man misses the sun
can feel it on his skin
but can't reach out and see its believers
glowing their convictions for us to see

the drink is settling in
for a conversation with my liver
and these cigarettes are burning holes in my lungs
opening up the rest of me to pour out
reasons why I miss the nuances of your smile

three hours a night when reception is good
and with full batteries
and a generous calling plan isn't sufficient
I want your voice to swallow me
30 hours a day

My ears are starving without you to feed them
they're holding out for the sushi of your stories
rather than the convenient store fast food
of the movie extras
who want to discuss the weather
and the "blah, blah" bullshit
to pass the time

give me your 1 a.m. brilliance
scribble your magic tricks on postcards
and mail them daily

you are a Doors concert
in a sea of garage band wannabees
let me crowd surf to your lyrics
while the rest of the world buys
black T-shirts and CDs burned on iMacs

you make me want to speak profoundly
write like statesmen scribbling their
final speeches en route to their own funerals

king my prose with your hands
so I know I'm not wasting my time
bless my common verses into royalty
turn my ink-blood blue with your sincerity
and we'll build fiefdom of words

my neighbors at the bar
discuss police reports and margaritas
let me never be that dull
fill my lungs only with honest words
only faithful stories of you and I
visiting countries whose names people only know
from geography classes
we'll never follow these people
toward their easy separation of heartbeats

in my last days, wrinkled and endlessly forgetful
I will recall a girl
who danced like a magic trick
that David Copperfield would envy

I flip through my wallet
slip out a card to pay for my truths
the barkeep gets 20 bucks on a $12 tab
and I get six pages of poetry
the gods made alcohol so poets could be free

return to me and I am yours over miles and time
and every morning I will ask "how did your sun rise?"
mine will always rise slow and brilliant
tell me what haunts you
and I will do the same

the barkeep pours his last drink
and I try to remember things to dream, but
they slip out and leave me waiting for you

Pixels, electrons, 26 letters

She is a world away
seeing a country I only know through geography and Renaissance Lit.
and I scribble poetry in dark bars
eight hours behind her
wondering what the future holds
for her, it’s dawn
while I’m on the end of another day

pixels, electrons and 26 characters
are no substitute for sound and skin
but somehow fold together our two points
close enough to embrace warmth
so our absence isn’t so unbearable

I want to talk for hours
and not say a thing
just dance in the music of her language
forget all the syllables I’ve learned since infancy
learn them anew in her dialect

I wish I knew now what dreams she’s adventuring in
the roles or names she’s playing
and whether I have any part in them

I imagine her tousled hair
gracing a pillow heavy in my envy
while visions of her happy days play in reverse
the prayers I’ve spoken to stars
slipping in as time permits
they’ve promised me they would courier them to her
if I stayed faithful to the Word
a bargain sworn on desert moonlight

empty words are all I have to offer
coupled with heartbeats harmonizing with hers
lovers, I’m told, share thoughts
ignorant of distance and time
so I’m sure that as she wakes and greets the dawn
she wishes my arms were wrapped around her
whispering nothing of import
but that we could share the same space somewhere
in the undiscovered country between waking and dreaming
we are its citizens
holding passports in two countries
still living in the glory of their ancient histories
speaking its secret language to each other
when time permits

words are such silly creatures
they way they try to own thoughts with sound and ink
we should exile them to forgettable realms
curse their grammatical arrogance
for trying to encapsulate our passions
I wish that our silence could speak
voice all out desires of touch and language
caravan them across the seas
bear them into foreign ports
and traipse the roads to your doorstep
for you to interpret as you will

Monday, October 10, 2005

After Days Like These

After days like these

I want nothing but the sanctuary of your arms

to wrap me tight in your secrets

remind me that in this world clay

only your breath moves ocean tides

only your heartbeat counts time

and these stories and names are characters

I will remind my self in the autumn of my life

as I scribble down the whos and whats of my days

in silly recollection of comic book tales

you are the reality

your arms are the pages

that hold these chapters tightly

in the anticipation of my explanations

know that these paintings of pasts

can be whitewashed if it makes the story move smoothly

brings smiles to your face

that I can remember as the synapses fire for the last time

I yearn for you

for whatever that word is worth

for whatever that means in the grand scheme of things

you are the realism which this impressionism

of days in your absence strives to replicate

they are names and dates and numbers and fates,

but you, your are my reader

the audience with merit that judges the value of what I have seen

interprets and understands the reasons why I transcribed this particular moment

and not the thousand others I could have written

your arms are calling me home

to the caverns of your heart

wherein I can find the comfort of your breath

and forget my name

instead listen to the echo of how my words

reverberate off your answers

and eradicate the transitory meaning of these moments

call me home from any country

and I will forge passports

bribe any boarder patrol

to get me from these shores to yours

into the depth of your eyes

into earshot of your laughter

pave the way from my door to yours

and I will pay my passage with these stories

and leave myself broke and barefoot on your doorstep

for you to welcome me inside at your convenience

there, I will wait for my postcards to arrive in chronological order

to repeat them for you

to keep us warm by the fire

until it grows dim and fades

leaving us to drift off to sleep wrapped around each other

tighter than sin and salvation

or dreams and daylight

until the morning wakes us redeemed with new horizons

and unimagined countries renamed with our histories

open wide your arms as a beacon

and I will find my home

to you

Copyright 2005 © Christopher Fox Graham

Name the Furthest Star

inspired by Danielle Gervasio

I surround artists seeking to know myself
art translates the ephemeral into substance
that one can swallow, decipher, translate
into the emotion of movement

musicians do it with vivacious notes
poets with lines heavy in the metal declaration of purpose
dancers in the movement of skin through space
artists with the touchable, the tactile feeling
of inanimate given life
that might outlast the fading drops of DNA
in slowly rotting flesh falling from bleached bones
instigated from an instant when its parents
ignored the strife of eons
and loved the other without condition

these translators of purpose speak
with the talents I know I don’t possess,
allowing me to ride their wave closer
toward understanding the dichotomy of logic
and impassioned failure
they have the words I wish I could speak
the fingers with which I could pluck the strings
and call down the angels to sing against the silence
the palms which shape stone
and colors into their mind’s eye
of the way things ought to be

I catalogue their brilliances
to show the citizens of the world their potential
and write them in poems so I don’t forget, either

my life is like that:
moments with dates on paper
so that I remember the genius poured from others,
with more lifetimes than I can inhabit, into my hungry skull
it’s a chase for God through the mythology
of footprints that generations now faded to dust
have left us in stories of genetic memory
like the color of eyes of the midwife
that first held you, now hazy in the mists
from which we drew animals in the air

the stories of those who first spoke
echo still in the stories we tell through the details
clouding the archetypes we identify universally
they have gotten more complex
to challenge us to find them still
footsteps lead from those first days
through our mundane struggles to the children ages and ages hence
who will inhabit the stars we will always dream of

artists will forever name the furthest star
the same word as their deepest lover
and strive to reach them both in futility
the artist lives between their lover and the dream
using their body as an instrument to translate them both
into something strangers can feel as electricity in their blood
so that as they lay in the final throes
they can know these days of insignificant moments,
of blind aimless wandering,
of wasted pages and stories,
of unattained dreams,
of lovers’ touches,
of the mistakes and losses that define our struggle,
that somewhere in the jumbled mess
they said, made, bore, or breathed into being
something that touched the pilgrims still journeying
to the stars they will never reach

Ready to Rock the open mic in Sedona? Do it Every Thursday.

Attention poets, poetry lovers, spoken word wizards, MCs, hip-hop warriors and page poets who want to burst open on the stage. Starting at 8 p.m. every Thursday, open mic poetry returns to Sedona.

The venue is Prism’s Cafe at Izzy’s Place next to The Whaz in Uptown Sedona, located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Jordan Roads and Apple Drive. From West Sedona, take Hwy. 89A into Uptown Sedona, take the first left after the stoplight, and go two blocks. Izzy’s place is on the left. From Flagstaff, take the right after you enter Uptown.

Prism’s Cafe at Izzy’s Place already houses one of three NORAZ Poets book partnerships, showcasing the printed work of NORthern AriZona poets.

The night kicks off at 8 p.m. and will run at least until 10 p.m. It will run later if it needs to - until poets start dropping like flies, until they run out of words, or until sunrise. Bring your poetry, bring others' poetry, bring other poets, and get set to rock the mic.

As always, your host will be the every lovable Christopher Fox Graham and his consummate side-kick Erik John Karpf.

Prism’s Café
355 Jordan Road, off Hwy 89A.
northwest corner of Apple and Jordan roads.
Uptown Sedona
928.282.0064



Saturday, October 1, 2005

Team NORAZ 2005, NORthern AriZona's National Poetry Slam Team

The 2005 NORAZ National Poetry Slam Team
Twenty-two slams.
Ninty-five poets.
Sixteen semi-finalists.
Two semi-finals.
Five National Slam Team members.
One Grand Slam Champion.
One night.
One final battle.
One team.

This is it, people. The war began with linguist broadsides fired in Prescott, Sedona, and Flagstaff in September 2004. Verbal battles waged in NORthern AriZona throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Twelve battles fought at Flagstaff's FlagSlam, seven clashes at Prescott's M.A.D. Slam, and three at Canyon Moon Theatre's clashes Sedona Slam.

Warriors fell.
Victors rose.
Rivalries formed.
Alliances were created, broken and renewed.

Now, sixteen of the best poets the Southwest have to offer break in two groups for a battle that few have seen before. Two semi-finals will select the top five from each for a final battle royale at the best venue in NORthern AriZona - Flagstaff's Orpheum Theatre.

Hearts will be broken.
Heroes will rise.
And from the final battle …
… a team will be forged.

Eleven poets will return home, knowing that they gave it their all.
Five poets will comprise the 2005 NORAZ National Poetry Slam Team.
And one poet, the hero of heroes, will be crowned the 2005 NORAZ Grand Slam Champion, the greatest slam poet that NORthern AriZona has to offer.

The verbal war is raging.
Word warriors take their places.
Let the final battle begin….


First Semi-Final, Canyon Moon Theatre, Sedona, on April 1, 2005
Feature Poet: Danny S. Solis has been called the Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, is a two time 'Burque Poetry Slam Champion, two-time Asheville, and Southeastern Regional Individual Champion, a four-time Boston individual Slam champion, a champion of the Taos Poetry Circus Open Slam, and a member of the winning duo in 2000 Taos Heavy Weight Tag Team poetry bout. He has been a part of two National Championship Poetry Slam teams.

The final scores of the semi-final, finally semitasticallitious:
Semi-Final Champion: Logan Phillips
, #7 seed, 88.4
2nd: Sharkie Marado, #12 seed, 85.0
3rd: Aaron Johnson, #1 seed, 84.2
4th: Al Moyer, #3 seed, 82.0
5th: Ryan Guide, #14 seed, 80.1
6th: Kimmy Wilgus, #16 seed, 79.5
7th: Justin Powell, #8 seed, 79.4
8th: Sarah Knurr, #19 seed, 73.4
David Rogers "Doc" Luben, #9 seed, was unfortunately unable to attend the slam and will not compete this year for the Team NORAZ.

Breakdown:
Round 1
Sarah Knurr,
"Finding a Home," was inspired by my awkward history of answering the question "where are you from?" when people ask me. My difficulty is that I have never stayed in one place long enough to call it home and feel any attachment to it. This poem was a brief summary of my traveling childhood and how I now have a place to call home.
22.3, 8th, -7.3
Aaron Johnson, "Balloon Boy," When Aaron was in high school, he had many peculiar ways of making money. Through selling balloons at a baseball field, Aaron learned the difference about making an honest living versus a life of crime.
26.3, 4th, -3.3
Ryan "Guts" Guide
25.6, 5th, -4.0
Al Moyer, "American Dream," Somebody suggested that I write a piece about the thing in my life that I was most ashamed of, though I hate to say it, the period of my life that I knew Taiwan was my lowest. This is my tribute to a guy that I've learned not to regret, and who taught me a lot of lessons about what's real, and what's only wishful thinking.
25.1, 6th, -4.5
Justin "Biskit" Powell
24.7, 7th, -4.9
Sharkie Marado, "Cinderella"
27.5, 2nd, -2.1
Kimmy Wilgus
26.4, 3rd, -3.2
Logan Phillips, "La Viejita de Sonora"
29.6, 1st

Round 2
Logan Phillips,
"Worth Words"
29.5, 1st
59.1, 1st
Kimmy Wilgus
26.5, 7th, -3.0
52.9, 5th, -6.2
Sharkie Marado, "Dear Perpetrator"
28.1, 4th, -1.4
55.6, 2nd, -3.5
Justin "Biskit" Powell
27.1, 6th, -2.4
51.8, 7th, -7.3
Al Moyer, "Say Anything," After the first time I met a woman, I found myself back in my room just wondering what if I just ran to her window and started screaming a love poem at her? From there, this just basically became my dedication to the larger-than-life love scenes that we see in movies, but never actually experience.
28.3, 3rd, -1.2
53.4, 4th, -5.7
Ryan "Guts" Guide
27.2, 5th, -2.3
52.8, 6th, -6.3
Aaron Johnson, "Make Love," This poem explains first-hand how American families cope with domestic abuse. Aaron applies a little art history to the poem, in order to explain why violence is a taboo conversation piece. This poem has been published in the Daily Sun, The Noise, and in FlagLIVE.
28.5, 2nd, -1.0
54.8, 3rd, -4.3
Sarah Knurr, "Chaos Rhyme," was originally entitled "Destruction Chant" and was only a few lines long. I composed it to play an important part in a role-play duel I fought some months ago. The character who chanted it was mage and the chant was calling on her various powers for aid. It never seemed complete to me though so I expanded on it.
26.0, 8th, -3.5
48.2, 8th, -10.9

Round 3
Logan Phillips,
"What He Dreams of in his Coma"
29.3, 3rd, -0.1
88.4, 1st
Sharkie Marado, "I Want a Man"
29.4, tie for 1st
85.0, 2nd, -3.4
Aaron Johnson, "Plague of Vague," Aaron Johnson created this poem as a blossoming poet. Another poet criticized Aaron for writing prose instead of poetry. As a response, Aaron challenges other writers, with humor and critical thinking, to write poetry that inspires change.
29.4, tie for 1st
84.2, 3rd, -4.2
Al Moyer, "Blood Stains," A female friend of mine, who was very dear to me, is the inspiration for this. It's a true story, beginning to end. I got a call in the grocery store, she told me she had cut herself, and I dropped my groceries and went to her house. I sat there and placated her while she poured her heart out to me (both figuratively and literally). That very last exchange between us in the poem is exactly what happened.
28.6, 4th, -0.8
82.0, 4th, -6.4
Kimmy Wilgus
26.6, 7th, -3.0
79.5, 6th, -8.9
Ryan "Guts" Guide
27.3, 6th, -2.1
80.1, 5th, -8.3
Justin "Biskit" Powell
27.6, 5th, -1.8
79.4, 7th, -9.0
Sarah Knurr, "I am American," is a little more complicated than the other poems I performed at semi-finals. The poem was written out of the pride I have in my country and it is meant to hide its true message that we are losing our cultural identity. This poem was meant to remind people.
25.2, 8th, -4.2
73.5 8th, -14.9

Key:
Poet,
Poem
Poem score, poem's rank that round, points back from top score that round
Cumulative score, cumulative rank, points back from top poet


Second Semi-Final, Studio 111, Flagstaff, on April 12, 2005
Feature Poet: Jack McCarthy, a working guy from the Boston area who’s been writing poetry since the mid-1960s. Jack McCarthy has been a member of the 1996 Boston National Slam Team, the 2000 Worcester (Mass.) National Slam Team, and been an Individual Semi-Finalist at the 2000 National Poetry Slam held in Providence, R.I. He has been honored as “Best Love Poet” at the Boston Poetry Awards, and “Best Spoken Word (Male)” and “Best Humorous Poet (Male)” at the Cambridge (Mass.) Poetry Awards.

The final scores of the second semi-final, in all their finery and pageantry:
Semi-Final Champion: Christopher Lane
, #6 seed, 88.2
2nd: Eric Larson, #5 seed, 86.8
3rd: Meghan Jones, #4 seed, 85.8
4th: Christopher Fox Graham, #2 seed, 85.7
5th: Rowie Shebala, #18 seed, 83.3
6th: Greg Nix, #11 seed, 82.8
7th: Lindsay C. Chamberlain, #15 seed, 82.4
Patrick DuHaine, #10 seed, was unfortunately unable to attend the slam and will not compete this year for the Team NORAZ.

Breakdown:
Round 1
Christopher Lane,
"a letter to the passer by," is a character piece of a homeless guy from the northeast tired of capitalism by reflecting on the power of music.
28.6, 2nd, -1.1
Meghan Jones, "Where's your Microphone?" A call to arms to woman writers. Personal and social commentary on how far women have come - and how far there is still yet to go.
28.3, 4th, -1.4
Greg Nix, "An Open Letter to the President of the Democratic National Committee," Probably what inspired this was me sitting around on a Saturday, thinking about what I would have said to Howard Dean when I heard he was accepting the Committee Chair position. After watching the Democratic Primaries last year, and the way the Clintons and New England elite screwed him in the media, wouldn't support him – the truth of the DNC shows itself. They want him to save their asses, but they don't want to support him. I fully believe the DNC and Party are lost in their own corruption and might as well join the GOP because their differences are only skin deep.
25.8, 7th, -3.9
Rowie Shebala,
27.6, 5th, -2.1
Lindsay C. Chamberlain
27.1, 6th, -2.8
Christopher Fox Graham "Spinal Language" A poem about tattooing my vertebrae like a living Tower of Babel, a vehicle through which all human languages could find a common home.
28.4, 3rd, -1.3
Eric Larson, "Wedding Party vs. the Elk," This poem was inspired by a real event, I was the minister of my friends wedding at the canyon and We did make a last minute dash to get beer in Tusanyan. And we DID encounter an elk in the middle of the road. All the internal thoughts are, however, artificial. I had time to go "*bleep*!" and swerve. It was later that I Elaborated on the events and created the poem.
29.7, 1st

Round 2
Eric Larson,
"You Can't Sell Love Poems," This was mostly an ego driven piece written when I was in love and was partially boasting and partially wanting the rest of the world to be as happy as I was. I wanted it to be kind of like a corny game show host personality, because, well, love is corny. Wonderful, but corny.
28.1, 4th, -1.9
57.8, 2nd, -0.8
Christopher Fox Graham "Three Minutes for Dyllan," on Dec. 6, 2004, an 8-year-old boy in Cottonwood, Ariz., hanged himself. As copy editor of the Sedona Red Rock News, having to edit the story and write the headline was of my most painful duties I have had as a journalist.
28.9 with a 1.5 time penalty, 27.4, 5th, -2.6
55.8, 4th, -1.8
Lindsay C. Chamberlain
26.7, 6th, -3.3
53.8, 7th, -4.8
Rowie Shebala,
26.6, 7th, -3.4
54.2, 6th, -4.4
Greg Nix, "I'm Not a Poet"
28.6, 3rd, -1.4
54.4, 5th, -4.2
Meghan Jones, "Patches," a breakdown of parts of my body and my personality based on who inspired me to be such or have such and how that has affected me
28.7, 2nd, -1.3
57.0, 3rd, -1.6
Christopher Lane "for jessica," also a character piece but was born from an article i read in the arizona republic(an) about a 4-year-old girl, adopted by her foster parents. one night she was given too much water to drink because the parents child psychiatrist told them to give her what she sneaks in excess. consequently, they made her drink too much water to where there was an extreme imbalance of sodium to water in her body and her brain swelled, killing her. this poem is for all those who make it and don't make it, out of abusive parental relationships.
30.0 (a perfect 50.0), 1st
58.6, 1st

Round 3
Christopher Lane,
"akasha," for the greatest person in my life, my loving wife. it's really about the first time we went out and how i knew i wanted to be with her for the rest of my life
29.6, 2nd, -0.3
88.2, 1st
Eric Larson, "Plea," This was a response to my having a long series of 'she done me wrong' poems, almost becoming known for that as my signature. These came after the relationship that was responsible for "You can't sell love poems" ended rather suddenly and poetry was my main method of dealing with it. Anyhow, one day, I realized I was over it. I was a little concerned, what would I write about now? I needed another relationship, preferably a rocky one with an unballanced woman, to give me new inspiration. Thus "Plea" was born. Think of it as a really messed up personals add.
29.0, 4th, -0.9
86.8, 2nd, -1.4
Meghan Jones, "If you wanna hang out you've gotta take her out,..." Anyone get the Clapton reference? This started out being a piece on hot summer night living in Phoenix, but took it's own turn into a bad, one-long-cocaine-binge relationship that revolves around late night Denny's visits and his addiction.
28.8, 5th, -1.1
85.8, 3rd, -2.4
Christopher Fox Graham, "The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit," the stupidest poem I have ever written, it is also one of my favorites. I don't know where that voice comes from, but it still makes me laugh.
29.9, 1st
85.7, 4th, -2.5
Greg Nix, "King George's Blow Job," I think the line that sticks out in people's thoughts is "...I imagine laying there, watching all that spitty jizz..." because its the most descriptive and disturbing to a number of people. Truth is, ever since the Iraq War started, it has felt as though I've gotten a load of spitty jizz spit in my face every day. It blows my mind that the media and GOP almost impeached Clinton (who will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents) over a *bleep*ing blow job. Then this *bleep* spoiled *bleep* gets away with murdering thousands of our citizens and hundreds of thousands of others in this worl (yes, i call it murder because it is) and not a godamn roar of outrage is heard on the news. *bleep* him. When he passes on in to the next life, I fully plan on pissing on his grave in my middle age.
28.4, 7th, -1.5
82.8, 6th, -5.4
Rowie Shebala,
29.1, 3rd, -0.8
83.3, 5th, -4.9
Lindsay C. Chamberlain
28.6, 6th, -1.0
82.4, 6th, -5.8

Key:
Poet,
Poem
Poem score, poem's rank that round, points back from top score that round
Cumulative score, cumulative rank, points back from top poet





Grand Slam Finals, Orpheum Theater, on April 23
Round 1
Christopher Fox Graham, "They Held Hands"
24.7, 5th, -2.2
Al Moyer"Pennyroyal Tea," A friend of mine wanted an abortion, but couldn't afford it. She asked me for help, and I reluctantly made her a pot of pennyroyal tea. This piece is all about watching her, and debating the morality of the situation.
19.9 (after -1.0 time penalty), 10th, -7.0
Logan Phillips, "¿Sin Voz?"
26.9, 1st
Meghan Jones, "Ceramic Grass Skirts," written, essentially, because my mother told me I write too much about other people and their relationships with me and not enough about me. Touches on why I write as much as I do and a brief history of my childhood from a writing perspective.
24.5, 7th, -2.4
Aaron Johnson
24.7, 5th, -2.2
Mr. Lane
26.5, 2nd, -0.4
Sharkie Marado
25.2, 4th, -1.7
Ryan "Guts" Guide
21.3 (after -0.5 time penalty), 9th, -5.6
Eric Larson, "Entropy." This is sort of an all-inclusive political rant about all that I think is wrong with the world and our country in particular today. It kind of happened in one burst with only a few modifications and cuts for time. Also it fullfilled a long held ambition to have a Planet of the Apes reference in a poem.
25.3, 3rd, -1.6
Rowie Shabala
23.8, 8th, -3.1

Round 2 was in reverse order of first round.
Rowie Shabala
24.0, 7th, -4.4
47.8, 7th, -7.1
Eric Larson, "Genesis." The idea for this poem was a satirical re-telling of the begining of the universe and life on earth as told in the first lines of the Bible, but from a modern scientific viewpoint. And I wanted to try an audience response poem.
23.8, 8th, -4.6
49.1, 6th, -5.8
Ryan "Guts" Guide
22.7, 10th, -5.7
44.0, 10th, -10.9
Sharkie Marado
23.8, 8th, -4.6
49.0, 8th, -7.2
Mr. Lane
28.4, 1st
54.9, 1st
Aaron Johnson
26.1, 6th, -2.3
50.8, 4th, -4.1
Meghan Jones, "Blank; a love poem," I know, induce vomiting here. With particularly witty comparison to a person being like vowels in an alphabet, necessary but not the entirety.
26.2, 5th, -2.2
50.7, 5th, -4.2
Logan Phillips, "The Boy's Pockets"
27.2, 2nd, -1.2
54.1, 2nd, -0.8
Al Moyer, "When I Grow Up" - This was one of the first "slam" pieces I wrote. Right after I graduated high school everyone was asking me what I wanted to be, and I realized that all of my answers were based on the pay for that job. It's all about me realizing that I still want to be all the things I wanted to be when I was a kid, and that I should want to be them for the honorable reasons, not because of the money.
26.7, 3rd, -1.7
45.6, 9th, -9.3
Christopher Fox Graham, "We Call Him Papa," a eulogy I wrote and read for my maternal grandfather, Frank "Buster" Redfield who died Oct. 31, 2004.
26.7, 3rd, -1.7
51.4, 3rd, -2.5

Clearing poet, Greg Nix, "Not a Poet".

Round 3
Mr. Lane,
"Akasha"
27.4, 3rd, -0.4
82.3, 1st
Logan Phillips "Silverfish"
27.3, 4th, -0.5
81.4, 2nd, -0.9
Christopher Fox Graham, "Coming Home." Daniela asked, "what are you thinking about," and this poem happened in the three seconds before I asked for a kiss.
27.5, 2nd, -0.3
78.9, 3rd, -3.4
Aaron Johnson
27.0, 6th, -0.8
77.8, 4th, -4.5
Meghan Jones, "Ironically, Meghan won her battle against the watermelon, but it was close. Damn close," I like long titles. A comment on how being honest in writing is not necessary and sometimes is better than telling the truth. As a side note, also comments on the stereotypical "hipster poet" and the addict centered society.
27.1, 5th, -0.7
77.8, 4th, -4.5
Eric Larson, "Alpha Male." I first thought of this poem before I had even seen my first slam. Its become almost infamous and is probably the poem most often mentioned to me by poetry fans. Most people get the double irony in that I am in no way the Alpha Male, and yet, I like many men do act in (some of) these ways from time to time. The first step is admiting you have a problem.
26.5, 7th, -1.3
75.6, 6th, -6.7
Sharkie Marado
26.1, 8th, -1.7
75.1, 7th, -7.2
Al Moyer, "...tied to a tree," A good friend of mine told me he had a terrible dream about being tied to a tree and bludgeoned with rocks for being gay, a Matther Shepard-sort of hate crime. This is my tribute to him, and a warcry for equality.
27.8, 1st
73.4, 8th, -8.0
Rowie Shabala
25.2, 9th, -2.3
73.0, 9th, -8.4
Ryan "Guts" Guide
Disqualified in perhaps the most outrageous demonstration of his moniker "Guts," Ryan "Guts" Guide brought three other poets on stage, Dom Flemons, Kimmy Wilgus andJustin "Biskit" Powell, and both Ryan "Guts" Guide and Ms. Wilgus disrobed. In one fell swoop, Ryan "Guts" Guide broke three slam rules, solo poet (no group poems), no props (the nudity and Dom Flemons' hair), and original poetry (co-written by Kimmy Wilgus). Host Nick Fox stopped the poem after about three minutes.
It was awesome.
44.0, 10th, -37.4

Clearing poet, Sarah Knurr, "What it Means not to Speak". I wrote it there at the Slam, so I am really not sure what was going through my head at the time except that I was thinking about all the judgemental people in my life and how, as I child, I was too afraid of being a disappointment to share my true opinion and how that helped form who I am today.

4th place slam-off. In a one poem death match for fifth place.
Aaron Johnson
28.0
Meghan Jones, "Annie," a comparison to an eating disorder as an actual person and how this affects someone.
28.1


2005 NORAZ National Poetry Slam Team
2005 NORAZ National Poetry Slam Team:
Mr. Lane

82.3, 1st
Logan Phillips
81.4, 2nd, -0.9
Christopher Fox Graham
78.9, 3rd, -3.4
Meghan Jones
77.8, 4th, -4.5 (won in Sudden Death Slam-Off, 28.1)
Aaron Johnson
77.8, 4th, -4.5 (lost in Sudden Death Slam-Off, 28.0)
- - - - -
Eric Larson
75.6, 6th, -6.7
Sharkie Marado
75.1, 7th, -7.2
Al Moyer
73.4, 8th, -8.0
Rowie Shabala
73.0, 9th, -8.4
Ryan "Guts" Guide
Disqualified for last round poem
44.0, 10th, -37.4

2005 NORAZ National Poetry Slam Team wins the state tournament at the 5th annual Arcosanti Slab City Slam
The Arizona State Championship title has returned to NORthern AriZona. The NORAZ Poets won the Arcosanti Slab City Slam on April 28, by 16.5 points.

"That's two touchdowns and a field goal," Christopher Lane, NORAZ Poets executive director and Team NORAZ member, said.

The fifth annual Arcosanti Slab City Slam featured 10 teams from all across the state. The NORAZ Poets included three teams of four poets each. Team NORAZ, Team Prescott, Team FlagSlam, faced off against Team Tucson, Team Arcosanti, The Loose Nuts, Hangover Express, a third Phoenix team, The X-Hosts, a team of slam hosts from the East Valley of Phoenix and Team NORAZ's cross-state arch-rivals Team Mesa Nationals, who has won the last four This year's Mesa team includes Brent Heffron a member of the 2004 Team NORAZ.

The championship team consisted of 4 of the 5 members of Team NORAZ:
Christopher Lane, of Sedona
Meghan Jones, of Flagstaff
Christopher Fox Graham, of Sedona, and
Logan Philips, of Flagstaff.

Team Prescott:
Eric Larson, of Prescott, and a member of 2004 Team NORAZ
Patrick David DuHaime, of Prescott
David Rogers "Doc" Luben, of Prescott, and
Greg Nix, of Flagstaff

Team FlagSlam:
Aaron Johnson, of Flastaff, the fifth member of Team NORAZ
Kimmy Wilgus of Flagstaff
Rhett Pepe, of Flagstaff
John R. Kofonow, Slam Master of Flagstaff

The tournament consisted of all 10 teams competing in two preliminary rounds.

Christopher Lane, kicking off the slam with "if this poem," starting in the middle of the crowd and moving to the microphone as he performed. At the end of the first round, Team Mesa was ahead by a slim margin. But Meghan Jones' poem, "Where's Your Microphone?," a plea to the women poets in the crowd to become slam poets started off the second round with Team NORAZ in the lead, and the margin of victory only increased. Christopher Fox Graham's "We Call Him Papa" and Logan Philips' "The Boy's Pockets" cemented their lead.

As round two rolled around, Team Mesa came in fierce in the first slot. Team FlagSlam was in the third slot, followed by Team Prescott, and Team NORAZ in the sixth slot. Logan Philips started off with "Worth of Words," followed by Meghan Jones' "Patches", Christopher Fox Graham's "Spinal Language" and closing out the last round of the bout with Christopher Lane's "poetry is still."

The final bout would be the top 4 teams: Team NORAZ, Team Prescott,, Team Tucson and Team Mesa Nationals.

The night's poetry feature was Luke Warm Water, an activist, poet, epidemiologist an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe, born and raised in Rapid City, S.D. Author of John Wayne Shot Me, Luke Warm Water, has performed across the United States, England and Germany, in 120 venues within the last 4 years. He was preceded by 2005 NORAZ Poets semi-finalist Rowie Shebala, of the Navajo Nation.

Team NORAZ now had a comfortable lead of 12 points. The finals bout was a "feature" round for the team. Christopher Lane performed "for Jessica…". Christopher Fox Graham brought out perhaps the most anticipated poem of the night, "The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit." Meghan Jones, made the night a hot one with the sensual, sexy "Honey." The line "caramelize me," melted the audience in their seats. To top out the night, Logan Philips performed his last poem.

In the end:
Team NORAZ 339.4
Team Mesa Nationals 322.9
Team Prescott 320.9
Team Tucson 315.6

The night ended with a bronze pour at the Arcosanti Bronze Foundry where the Arconauts created the 40-pound bronze trophy, followed by a fire performance by Flam Chen, and a huge after-party that rolled until dawn.

Note that NORAZ Poets, not just Team NORAZ won the tournament. Of the 40 poets who competed, 13 of them were NORAZ Poets. We are a community of poets, not just a team, and not individuals. The victory and the trophy represents our strength as a community, unified in our diversity.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Blind Man and the Sun

tracing small town streets
she inches along in the shadows
filling thoughts between left turns
and Long Island Iced Teas
the barkeep at Olive'R Twist
serves me my regular
and I can't keep these hands
from paper confessions

there are as many miles between us
as days until I see you again
only patience or a Visa ATM
could shorten either
but late night phone calls beneath starlight
don't require oil changes and the days,
well, the days I use to cover pages in chicken scratch
to pave the way back to my front door

give me a Sharpie
and I'll cover our skins with enough words
to give deaf men back their joy of sound

I miss you like a blind man misses the sun
can feel it on his skin
but can't reach out and see its believers
so convinced of its divinity
that they glow back their conviction
for the rest of us to see

the drink is settling in
for a conversation with my liver
and these cigarettes are burning holes in my lungs
opening up the rest of me to pour out
reasons why I miss the nuances of your smile
my fingers recollect the secrets
the hairs of your legs told them
the last time I saw you

three hours a night when reception is good
and with full batteries
and a generous calling plan isn't sufficient
I want your voice to swallow me
30 hours a day

My ears are starving without you to feed them
they're holding out for the sushi of your stories
rather than the convenient store fast food
of the movie extras
who want to discuss the weather
and the "blah, blah" bullshit
to pass the time

give me your 1 a.m. brilliance
scribble your magic tricks on postcards
and mail them daily

you are a Doors concert in a sea
of garage band wannabees
let me crowd surf to your lyrics
while the rest of the world buys
black T-shirts and CDs burned on iMacs

you make me want to speak profoundly
write like statesmen scribbling their
final speeches en route to their own funerals
the only ink that should bleed from my pen
must save nations from civil war

make me a king
crown my prose with your hands
so I know I'm not wasting my time
bless my common verses into royalty
turn my blood blue with your sincerity
and that we'll build fiefdom of words

my neighbors at the bar
discuss police reports and margaritas
let me never be that dull
fill my lungs only with honest words
only faithful stories of you and I
visiting countries whose names people only know
from geography classes
watch movies as if we lived them
read books if we wrote them

I want to see you dance
own the stage with your feet
each footfall only echoing yours
I will never see movement again
except as a reflection of you

even in my last days
wrinkled and endlessly forgetful
I will recall a girl
who moved like a magic trick
that David Copperfield would envy

I flip through my wallet
slip out a card to pay for my truths
he gets $8 on a $12
and I get six pages of poetry
the payment of poetry to currency is acceptable
because alcohol was created
so poets could be free

these men at the bar speak of divorce
the way we speak of poems
lightly and without conviction
they play like children,
dropping names,
or bars or one-night stands
as if they matter

I won’t leave you over an argument
or sleep angrily in your absence
we'll never play this game
follow these men toward
such an easy separation of heartbeats

return to me and I am yours
over miles and time
and every morning you will wake
I will ask "how did your sun rise"

mine will always rise slow and brilliant
if your hand is in mine
if your skin speaks intimate secrets
tell me what haunts you
and I will do the same
now, with a kitten for a roommate to keep
me sincere of your confirmations

Chris pours his last drink
and I try to remember, but
they slip out and leave me waiting for you

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Imagine a Religion

imagine a religion
where words
are scripture
and we only speak to pray

this is how she and I communicate
each word with salvation on its edges
the sounds of angels in our speech
and god in our sentences

I never want to open my mouth
let sound spill from my lips faithlessly
I want each word to move believers
in the way I have been moved

I want believers to quote my prose
knowing that faith is in the understanding of language
I want them to take vows of silence
except with speaking sincerely

no tone or breath should leave lips
without a purpose
except to shatter shackles
or build homes for those less fortunate

words should hammers become
raising walls and roofs beneath which families may flourish
words should be so valued
that each one is written down in sequence

we speak with this brevity of purpose
where minds lock hands with minds
dropping the illusion of wordplay
in favor of doubtlessness

imagine a world
where tongues speak truth without suspicion
where people are judged only
by what they say

imagine the death of chatter
imagine a society where small talk is sin
where strangers are silent
except when faith convicts them to sound

imagine a world where lies have no substance
imagine children learning that words must have weight
or they are useless,
imagine people speaking only when the spirit commands it

imagine a world where all strangers can be trusted
if they break their silence
to tell us their names
or stories of how they came to be here

imagine a world where lovers
whisper in the dark
only to say what haunts them
so we may whisper back, "fear not, I understand"

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Welcome to the Church of the Word

Welcome to the Church of the Word

A poem for and about Random Acts of Coffee

n the beginning was darkness
then spoke the Word
it was noun and verb
a subject and its action
a declaration of self-aware existence

whatever you may believe in or don't,
the universe spoke the first poem
I am
and the art of existence detonated in a whisper stretching its arms and fingers across trillions of light years to the edge of the cosmos
leaving us in its wake to interpret
I
am
is simple creation
it is cause from nothing
we spoke the same words when we danced in half in our mother's womb
the words "am" and "i," waiting for a poet to pronounce them
you were that poet
and you answered with conviction, with sincerity:
"I am"
and your cells detonated in a whisper
stretching your fingers and toes into the poem you are now
comprised of 100 trillion cells, each holding a different word, and waiting for you to assemble them into your life story
begging you to speak

welcome to the church of the word
we are here to worship poetry
not what it is
not an abstraction
not the poet
but poetry
it is scripture that changes with every voice on this mic,
that builds a different temple in each of your minds
your interpretation becomes your own rabbi, your own guru, your own saint

those of us who spit verse on this mic
are just believers like you
who feel so moved by the word
we can no longer hold it in
who value notepads and pens more than money or heaven
because it is the word that will save our souls
now
not when we die

every poem we write is an echo of "I am" declaring itself in a new way
welcome to the church of the word
here, the only sin is silence
the only salvation is speech

you are blessing the generations to come after you
the word does not promise eternal life
but it does promise immortality
teach a child your poem
and they will teach a child
influence the next generation
and you will live forever

welcome to the church of the word

Friday, June 24, 2005

Random Acts of Coffee in Sedona is closing

Poets and poetry lovers,

Random Acts of Coffee in Sedona is closing.

Last night, the owner, Jessica Johnson, told me that she could no longer afford to keep their doors open. The last night of the venue will be Sunday, July 3.

Any poet who will be in Sedona on July 3 should help say goodbye to this venue. If you want to read, even a single poem, call the coffeehouse between 3 p.m. and midnight at 928-282-7072. They have done more for keeping art, not just poetry, alive in Arizona more than any other venue in the state, without question. If you cannot attend, call or email Jessica Johnson at bioioiotch@hotmail.com or Josh Robbins at hydrophonic@gmail.com and tell them how amazing their venue is.

Poets and poetry lovers, the staff, Jessica Johnson, Allie Johnson, Josh Robbins, P.J. Robbins, Corky Ke'ola'okalani, Katie Smith, and the other various volunteers have never been paid in the nearly 2 years that the venue has been open. They worked on tips alone.

To say that this venue was important is an understatement. In a city that prides itself of being a community of artists, this is a tragedy.

Random Acts of Coffee is a venue unlike any other I have encountered. As a performance poet, I have traveled across the country and the venues that keep a community alive are those that focus not on profit margins, but on people. A true artist venue is not one that worries about profit or marketing or product, but one that builds a community.

We became poets because we know that the human condition is one of being desperately alone - we write to rage in futility against that loneliness. We know that when we die, we are celebrated only by how we touched the people we loved. That love comes from the communities we build.

Poets and poetry lovers, this venue did that. It fostered a community wherein 14-year-old kids could escape the world; where 70-year-olds could remember what it means to be young. Where those in between could learn from their elders and teach their youngers. At this venue, children and youth felt equal to the elderly. Boys learned from men how to live. Girls learned from women how to be strong. It was a venue wherein every artist, customer and wayfarer was an equal in a democracy of the love of art. Here, if you were an artist or an art lover, you were welcome with open arms, an amazing staff and great coffee.

Poets and poetry lovers, if we call ourselves representatives of art, of the people, this is the venue we would build. We want a place where people are judged not on their pocketbooks, status, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, genders, but on what they create to serve their community and what they value: people and relationships.

Random Acts of Coffee was the first venue I visited in Sedona and where I spent much of my spare time. It hosted musicians from Grammy Award-winner Stanley Jordan to professional musicians like Oslo, to bands of 16-year-old kids who just wanted to play music. I woke up some mornings to coffee there, and often stayed late to help close the venue. I washed dishes some nights when the needed a hand, took out trash, sometimes ran they register, and even made a few drinks. I never asked for payment or a cut of the tips because I was doing a service for the venue that served my community. The staff named a drink for me, a Topher, and I was flattered when I saw it printed on their menus. That's how I much I meant to this venue, but they meant so much more to me.

I have kept a database of the Random Acts of Poetry Monday night open mic. Poets who have featured and read include Mike McGee, San Jose, Calif.; Sonya Renee, Washington D.C.; Corrina Bain and Mallory Hanora Kazmerek, Providence, R.I.; Oveous Maximus, N.Y.C.; Adam Rubenstein, Adam Stone, and Jack McCarthy, Boston; David Tabor, Mesa, Ariz.; Derrick Brown, Long Beach, Calif.; and from NORAZ: Robin Anderson, Christopher Lane, Dan Seaman, Logan Phillips, Josh Robbins, Jessica Johnson, Allie Johnson, Corky Ke'ola'okalani, Adelle Brewer, Adrienne Harris, Brian Mosher, Becca Allen, Jesse Dyllan Grace, Sharkie Marado, Greg Nix, Al Moyer, David Ward, Atrina Brill, Meghan Jones, John Raymond Kofonow, Aaron Johnson, Portlin Cochise, Christopher Carbon, Rochelle Brener, Gary Every, Jenné, Rebekah Crisp, Jarrod Masseud Karimi, Erin Anne McMahon, Eric Larson, Lindsay C. Chamberlain, Annalisa Gravel, Cass J. Hodges, Elliot Hodges, Erik John Karf, Danielle Miller, David Rogers Luben, Gary Ehlemberger, Jade Reyes, Jason Thompson, Julia Snyder, Nico, Katie Smith, Kim Delacy-Bennett, Kimmy Wilgus, Kira Bonner, Lilly Reid, Lina Hsueh, Lloyd Alquist, Rhett Pepe, Robert F. Remington, Ron Sanders, Ryan "Guts" Guide, Delbert Jack Hildebrandt IV, Vito Licavoli, Waylon Brown, Tony Carito, "The Shane" Coronado, Jesse Johns, John Q. Richards, Jordan Sherrill, Carl Weiss, Lucille Gray, R. Scott, Steve Wong, Amanda Marden, Raychel Huber, Carol St. John, Tony Burfield, Christine Wagner, J.R. Robusto, Chris Dahl, Ann Buoy, Kyle Castillo and Cooper Reid.

In all, 569 different poets have read at the Random Acts of Poetry Monday night open mic since I started it in April 2003. To list them all would be ridiculous. Some were seasoned slam poets, others are professional spoken artists, but most are high school, junior high, and even elementary school students from schools in the Verde Valley. These are people who now have at least a respect for our art form, if not a love of it, because they were given a venue wherein they had complete freedom of speech.

When I started writing a column on Underground Art in Sedona for Sedona Red Rock News, I was tempted to call it "Random Acts Weekly," not because I wanted the venue to get free ads, but because if my features did underground art, it was at Random Acts.

This venue not only gave artists a home, it gave the youth a safe place to be. Without it, Sedona's youth have no sanctuary.

To be frank, with Random Acts, youth were safe. Rather than get drunk, doing drugs, having unprotected sex, committing vandalism or other juvenile crimes, youth could experience art, music and poetry, share stories and hang out with a venue and staff that offered them security.

Poets and poetry lovers, as the venue closes, I, as an official member of the City of Sedona Child and Youth Commission, am afraid for the youth of my community. They have lost the one venue in this city that protected their interests without judging their character. Where will my youth, my community, go? There is no other venue in this city that caters to youth, to artists without question, and to area residents equally.

One of the saddest things I have been told in the last year was when Jessica Johnson said she dreaded telling me most that they were closing, because of how much I have cared for this place. I have never felt so honored.

Poets and poetry lovers, if you are true to your commitment to community, go to Random Acts from now until July 3, buy coffee, tell the staff that they will be missed, and tip till it hurts. Then tip more. Thank them for building a community. Go to the farewell bash on July 3 and read your poetry if they ask you to. If you know someone with a spare $100,000 or a spare $20,000 tell him or her to invest.

If nothing else, let all of Arizona hear an echo of the venue going out with a bang.

"poets.

move another.

no longer should we be allowed to speak to another poet unless we have answered the questions,

'what, where, who have you helped today?'” – Christopher Lane.

Poets, at the end of the day, we just spit empty words. We just hope they help someone, anyone.

Random Acts of Coffee did help … everyone who was ever moved by the art within its walls.

Sincerely,

Christopher Fox Graham

Spoken Word Poet

NORAZ Poets™ Advisory Board Treasurer

City of Sedona Child and Youth Commissioner

P.O. Box 1130

Sedona, AZ 86339

520-921-0075

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

making love should resemble the way clouds communicate

From Becca, for her poem,
here's a line for ya

"making love should resemble the way clouds communicate
changing with every minute you waste away from the
other
and no two encounters the same"

Monday, May 30, 2005

NORAZ Poets win the Arizona state championship at the 5th annual Arcosanti Slab City Slam

The Arizona State Championship title has returned to NORthern AriZona. The NORAZ Poets won the Arcosanti Slab City Slam on April 28, by 16.5 points.

"That's two touchdowns and a field goal," Christopher Lane, NORAZ Poets executive director and Team NORAZ member, said.

The fifth annual Arcosanti Slab City Slam featured 10 teams from all across the state. The NORAZ Poets included three teams of four poets each. Team NORAZ, Team Prescott, Team FlagSlam, faced off against Team Tucson, Team Arcosanti, The Loose Nuts, Hangover Express, a third Phoenix team, The X-Hosts, a team of slam hosts from the East Valley of Phoenix and Team NORAZ's cross-state arch-rivals Team Mesa Nationals, who has won the last four This year's Mesa team includes Brent Heffron a member of the 2004 Team NORAZ.

The championship team consisted of 4 of the 5 members of Team NORAZ:
Christopher Lane, of Sedona
Meghan Jones, of Flagstaff
Christopher Fox Graham, of Sedona, and
Logan Philips, of Flagstaff.

Team Prescott:
Eric Larson, of Prescott, and a member of 2004 Team NORAZ
Patrick David DuHaime, of Prescott
David Rogers "Doc" Luben, of Prescott, and
Greg Nix, of Flagstaff

Team FlagSlam:
Aaron Johnson, of Flastaff, the fifth member of Team NORAZ
Kimmy Wilgus of Flagstaff
Rhett Pepe, of Flagstaff
John R. Kofonow, Slam Master of Flagstaff

The tournament consisted of all 10 teams competing in two preliminary rounds.

Christopher Lane, kicking off the slam with "if this poem," starting in the middle of the crowd and moving to the microphone as he performed. At the end of the first round, Team Mesa was ahead by a slim margin. But Meghan Jones' poem, "Where's Your Microphone?," a plea to the women poets in the crowd to become slam poets started off the second round with Team NORAZ in the lead, and the margin of victory only increased. Christopher Fox Graham's "We Call Him Papa" and Logan Philips' "The Boy's Pockets" cemented their lead.

As round two rolled around, Team Mesa came in fierce in the first slot. Team FlagSlam was in the third slot, followed by Team Prescott, and Team NORAZ in the sixth slot. Logan Philips started off with "Worth of Words," followed by Meghan Jones' "Patches", Christopher Fox Graham's "Spinal Language" and closing out the last round of the bout with Christopher Lane's "poetry is still."

The final bout would be the top 4 teams: Team NORAZ, Team Prescott,, Team Tucson and Team Mesa Nationals.

The night's poetry feature was Luke Warm Water, an activist, poet, epidemiologist an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe, born and raised in Rapid City, S.D. Author of John Wayne Shot Me, Luke Warm Water, has performed across the United States, England and Germany, in 120 venues within the last 4 years. He was preceded by 2005 NORAZ Poets semi-finalist Rowie Shebala, of the Navajo Nation.

Team NORAZ now had a comfortable lead of 12 points. The finals bout was a "feature" round for the team. Christopher Lane performed "for Jessica…". Christopher Fox Graham brought out perhaps the most anticipated poem of the night, "The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit." Meghan Jones, made the night a hot one with the sensual, sexy "Honey." The line "caramelize me," melted the audience in their seats. To top out the night, Logan Philips performed "La Viejita de Sonora."

In the end:
Team NORAZ 339.4
Team Mesa Nationals 322.9
Team Prescott 320.9
Team Tucson 315.6

The night ended with a bronze pour at the Arcosanti Bronze Foundry where the Arconauts created the 40-pound bronze trophy, followed by a fire performance by Flam Chen, and a huge after-party that rolled until dawn.

Note that NORAZ Poets, not just Team NORAZ won the tournament. Of the 40 poets who competed, 13 of them were NORAZ Poets. We are a community of poets, not just a team, and not individuals. The victory and the trophy represents our strength as a community, unified in our diversity.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Cousin Erin is dead

ERIN ABIGAIL SHEER, 27, of San Francisco, CA, formerly of Louisville, passed away suddenly in San Francisco. Erin was born in Louisville on September 25, 1977. She was a graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and the University of Louisville. She is survived by her parents, Hank and Georgia Sheer; her grandmothers, Luceille Sheer, Louisville, and Sylvia Redfield, Opheim, MT; aunts, Noel Sheer, Kenosha, WI, Lynn Cherry (Al), Fayetteville, NC, Cissie Elliott (Bill), Chandler, AZ, and Lisa Thieven (Marty), Peerless, MT; and uncles, Alan Redfield (Laurie), Pray, MT, and Les Redfield (Lisa) and Myron Redfield (Alice), all of Opheim. She is also survived by numerous cousins and many special friends. There will be private graveside services in Tabor, IA, and Opheim at a later date. Memorial gifts may be sent to the charity of the donor's choice. "Erin, you are loved. Our free spirit is really free."
Published in The Courier-Journal on 5/29/2005.

Erin was my oldest cousin. The cause of death is related to a methamphetamine overdose in San Francisco. She had a medical condition in which "uppers" affected her more than normal. There is a possibly of foul play in the case, but due to the drug relationship, there won't be an investigation from SFPD.

I'm now the eldest cousin in my mother's family. Erin was perhaps my closest cousin; she I were both liberals, artists (she had an arts degree with a focus in pottery), traveled the country extensively and loved to party. My aunts, including Erin's mother, went to identify her body. They said that she had lost 40 pounds since they had last seen her. When she was in Phoenix last, visiting my dying grandfather, she was exhibiting a lost of tweaker behavior - scatterbrained more than normal and sleeping a lot. In her last days, her roommate said she was doing lots of meth.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Sedona Underground" in newsstands Friday.

My first column in Sedona Red Rock News comes out Friday. It's called Sedona Underground and focuses on our local underground art scene. In Sedona, everyone is an artist of some kind, and if they're not, they're probably a tourist.

For Sedona locals who read my LiveJournal, pick up Friday's issue and tell me what you think. It's on Page 2 of The Scene.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In a month, you may call me Commissioner Christopher Fox Graham

Today, I interviewed with the Sedona City Council for a position on the Sedona Child and Youth Commission. It's a 7-member board made up of 4 teens and 3 adults. Biologically, I'm an adult, though I have much more in common with the teens.

Sometimes, I have a reoccurring dream where I'm doing some big formal event, like a benefit or a dinner or a meeting and I get stopped mid-sentence by an adult who tells me that I'm faking "adulthood." They tell me I'm not old enough and haven't grown up yet. Daniela sometimes calls me Peter Pan, but she doesn't know how often she's right. Except about the tights.

The interview went well. It was like those Senate hearings on C-SPAN. The questions were simple, but it was good to see how I handle formal pressure. Still Peter Pan, but I faked adulthood well.

Councilman Ernie Strauch asked if I had written a poem for the interview, which I hadn't, but offered to perform one.

Vice Mayor Susan Solomon was absent, which sucked, because I hear from my co-workers at Sedona Red Rock News that she asks a lot of hardball questions and really grills interviewees. I was hoping for a debate and tough questions - a real challenge of myself under pressure.

After the interview, about 30 minutes long, Mayor "Pud" Colquitt asked for a poem, and I performed "Spinal Language."

The City Hall chamber doubles as the Sedona Magistrate Court when council is not in session, so I'm sure a slam poem was the oddest thing ever performed in that room.

I won't hear if I was appointed until June 12 or later, after they interview the other candidate.



Michelle Branch was once sentenced to 36 hours of community service in that room for minor in possession of alcohol.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Arizona Daily Sun news story 04/22/2005

Slam poets prepare for a linguistic battle
By AMY OUTEKHINE
Sun Staff Reporter
04/22/2005

Arizona Daily Sun © 2005

If you met Christopher Fox Graham on the street, you wouldn't know he was a walking repertoire of 1,800 poems.
If you saw him in a dark, crowded room on a stage, you would know he is a master slam competitor of nearly 100 poems.
This Saturday he could pull out one of 12 poems from his arsenal at the Northern Arizona (NORAZ) Poets Grand Slam event, being held at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum.
Graham is among the 10 poets competing for the Grand Slam title. The top five finishers will qualify to compete in the National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque in August.
A poetry slam differs from an open-mic poetry reading in a couple of different ways. Slam poets have three minutes for the reading, can use drama elements while performing and are judged by non-poets from the audience. Performers are scored on a scale of 0-10 with one decimal, just like the scoring in the Olympics.
To compete in the NORAZ Grand Slam finals Saturday, poets had to compete in at least five slams prior to this one. There were 19 poets in northern Arizona that fulfilled that criteria, and Graham finished second in the overall point total.
Graham began reading poetry publicly on Oct. 11, 2000. Three months later, he won his first poetry slam and then quickly rose in the ranks with the help of his poetry mentor, Sally Y in Tempe.
While flash and dash may impress some, Graham believes in the fundamentals of poetry writing. "A good poem slams itself," Graham said.
He also sited examples of his favorite dynamic poetry readers.
"Christopher Lane is an amazing performer," Graham said. "Dan Seaman reads a very imposing poem about his grandfather in the mines in Jerome. It is incredible."
Graham's sincere and quiet poems have helped launched his success in competitions. He was a member of the inaugural Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team that competed at the 2001 National Poetry Slam in Seattle.
Since then, he's been the former Slam Master of the Flagstaff Poetry Slam, founder of the Flagstaff Area High School Poetry Slam, two "Zoning-Out in Vegas" poetry tours, a co-founder of the four-person, 3-month-long "Save the Male" National Poetry Tour that performed in 26 states and Canada in summer 2002, and was a bout manager at the 2003 National Poetry Slam in Chicago.
He placed second in the 2002 Arizona All-Star Slam, third in 2003, and fourth in 2004, against the 15 best slam poets in the Southwest. He was also the Grand Slam Champion of the inaugural NORAZ National Poetry Slam Team that competed and placed 24th at the 2004 National Poetry Slam in St. Louis.
Those competing this year are Logan Phillips, of Flagstaff; Aaron Johnson, of Flagstaff; Al Moyer, of Flagstaff; Ryan "Guts" Guide, of Flagstaff; Meghan Jones, of Flagstaff; Christopher Lane, of Sedona; Sharkie Marado, of Sedona; Eric Larson, of Prescott; Rowie Shabala, of Flagstaff; and Graham.
In June the five-member NORAZ team will compete with a team from Denver in Sedona.
"They are a really good community and we really support each other in competition," Graham said.
Graham's education and career choices also reflect his love of language. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English and history from Arizona State University. He currently is a copy editor of The Red Rock News in Sedona.
"Words are pretty much all I have," Graham said.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students with ID.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Letter of Advice to My Son

Spit the verse in you; the music will subside.
Life has a volume knob if you know where to look.
Bleed away the bullshit. Kill it with a 40, or a pack of cigarettes
Stand bare naked before a bathroom mirror and count your scars.
Name them in chronological order.
Invent new histories for them; they won't care.

Pretend into fact: dive bar fistfights, whores with forgettable names.
Make new your old skin and become a rough-and-tumble drunkard in your imagination.

Learn to sneer like an old west cowboy played by John Wayne or Clint Eastwood
Name your dead horse. Work him into random conversations.
Sit alone in the desert and remember the long rides.
Weep for him and let the desert swallow your tears.

Cut your skin deep, so you won't fear pain.
Watch yourself bleed.
Understand that that time
is doing the same thing to you.
Then let it heal and forget.

Fuck without fearing it
Don't call the first three.
They will haunt you appropriately.

Then, only fuck for love
Only lonely nights, remember. them all
You may love hundreds
or just one for decades
but sin or death will take them all in time
leaving you with only cherished moments
so cherish all the moments
as if they will be your last

Face the city alleys
Know their darknesses:
and the difference between a stray cat
and a street gang.

Forgive your fathers.
Let them teach you how not to live.
Where they failed, do not.
Know that their sins were simple:
they did not see you coming
teach your son better
accept that you will fail
but he may forgive you
for your effort

Some men deserve to die; you are no exception

Fear the indifference of good men more than evil

Know that fools no different than you built all institutions.

Embrace solitude. It will save you on the lonely nights.

Accept no story as fact unless it happens to you.

Once a year, lay down in a gutter to learn how to sleep there if need be.

Suicide can be rational
men are not.

Watch sunsets prayerfully, to learn why we first worshipped the sun and the moon.
Count stars nightly - know that some will die tonight and never shine again.

Name constellations in your honor. Invent their mythologies

Learn to lie well.
do it sparingly, but be dedicated
Confess to no one
Honest lies become truth in time.
Not all lies are sins
Learn the difference

never admit to being an artist
they are pretentious
if you are an artist
history will take care of it for you

change jobs constantly
stagnant waters are poisonous

serve your community selflessly
it will repay in kind
Know it can turn rabid
flee when necessary
mobs cannibalize leaders

Resist authority always
Obedience must be earned

Governments replace anarchy, but they are not free from it

Love your nation and your tribe
never call yourself a patriot
you are better than that.

Admire the pageantry of humanity
but do not believe it
we all wear silly hats

Converse with lunatics
they have much to teach
speak their dialects

Women are sacred, always.
Men are expendable, always.
Without women, our tribe is lost.
So raise your daughters to be warriors.

Breed intelligently
you owe it to your grandfathers

Know that your honor and your pride
are the only gifts you give yourself
and the only things no man can take from you

Death is evitable
embrace this
die nobly if you can
we are meat puppets
be sure not to spoil

Words can kill
use them wisely
Speak honestly and slow
Enunciate with conviction.
Your words will bind you when all else is lost.

Poetry is the captured sincerity of a moment
you live for only a moment
live poetically

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cool Down

some say "cool down"
I say "stay warm"

some say "cool down"
I say "I'm hot, hot hot"

some say "cool down"
I say "you're being a douche-bag, mr. JB jr."

some say "cool down"
I say "you only wish you were hot"

some say "cool down"
I say "melt down"

some say "cool down"
I say "God Save the Queen"

some say "cool down"
I say "you're just scared"

some say "cool down"
I say "I'm brighter than the sun, baby"

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

My Fucked Up Friday

On Jan. 22, a local 11-year-old, RayLynne hung herself. It's been the third such suicide by hanging in the Verde Valley since my last post. The first was an 8-year-old boy in Cottonwood; then a 15-year-old boy, the son of Camp Verde's Town Manager; and now RayLynne. At the newspaper, we've debated endlessly about if and how to cover these events. The consenus is that our job as journalists in to inform our community about the facts. It's not easy. With RayLynne, rumors started flying about her death; I heard from the parent of a child at her school that she had shot herself - another that it was a drug overdose. Neither was the case and to prevent gossip and serve our community, we have to be both accurate and respectful.

There is something seriously wrong in the Verde Valley. Why are these kids killing themselves and why by hanging?

On friday, RayLynne's mother had a meeting with me. The girl's grandmother had faxed a letter to the editor thanking local organizations and individuals for support and donations to the girl's funeral expenses. The mother wanted to add some names. No big deal, I thought.

She came in Friday and she was tweaking at the meeting. Shows up on meth at my newsroom after what her daughter had done. I helped her out as much as I could and made the changes she requested, but I wanted to punch her. This was the reason RayLynne felt helpless and there was nothing I could do for her now, but shit Christ woman, you'd think your daughter's suicide would be cause to get clean.

I left work immediately after. I just wanted to break something. I came home, threw stones, whacked on a stump with a 2x4 and cried.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Airborne

Airborne
for Daniela

as the girl’s voice
on the other end of the phone line
seduces me
like some remembered childhood dream
come to the forefront
by the smell of rain
the second hand on my watch moves
slower…,
slower…,
slower…,
stop –

until time halts the countdown to infinity
and listens to the raw power
in her small voice
that hits me
like 10,000 thunderstorms spinning themselves
into a single cyclone
to wipe out a hilltop trailer park in Kansas

she has a beauty in her smile
to launch a thousand ships
and an intensity in her tears
to sink the entire fleet on its way home
I can feel lightning beneath my skin
when her hands brush against me
and hurricane tsunamis
rip through my veins when she laughs

she is the Perfect Storm
condensed from air
into 120 pounds of a swimmer’s body
and she is every storm god
wrapped in 66 inches of a girl’s flesh
and because I know her
I love her
and I am terrified
because with her poetry,
her words,
her voice,
she could cascade the world into its final oblivion
or save it all
with just a whisper
and she will change us
because it’s just a matter of time
until she learns that nothing
can hold her down
except the weight of her own wings
until I can teach her to fly
and she breaks the bonds of earth
to touch the face of god
and I can only hope
that she’ll still want to hold my hand
when she finds that her words
will lift her higher than I ever could
even in dreams
because those of us who bare our souls
on a stage,
behind a mic,
on a page,
or on a canvas,
are artists,
but this girl,
who lives and breathes poetry like air,
she is art
and her only limitation is how high
she wants to fly

I can already hear her wings
beginning to beat
in perfect iambic pentameter
and the echoes reverberate
into flawless 17-syllable haikus
but she’s not the angel I believe her to be
and if she had a halo
she’d throw it from her head
faster than god could blink
because pedestals steal humanity
and she knows that she’s just a girl
whose words give her wings
lifting her higher and higher
and she’ll change the world
when she learns to control her storms and winds
and starts
to fly

Copyright 2005 © Christopher Fox Graham

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Ray Lynn Bilbray obituary

Ray Lynn Bilbray

Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005

Ray Lynn Bilbray, 11, a resident of Sedona, died Jan. 22.

Born in Kingman on May 14, 1993, Ray Lynne attended West Sedona Elementary School and was a member of the Sedona branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Arizona.

Ray Lynne is survived by her mother, Gail Brigham, of Sedona; and her father, Barry Bilbray, of Laughlin, Nev.

A funeral service took place at Westcott Funeral Home in Cottonwood on Saturday, Jan. 29.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the Ray Lynn Bilbray Memorial Fund at the National Bank of Arizona.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Mikel Weisser biography

mikel weisser is a husband, father, teacher, artist, writer and perpetual student and at age 45, will still not capitalize his own name. A native Texan (explaining his oversize personality), weisser lived in Springfield, Ill. (home of such famous poets as Vachel Lindsay and John Knoepfle) for 15 years and turned a life long obsession with writing into an actual starving artist career: self publishing 4 books in 4 years, editing the local college journal, presenting 4 literary criticism papers at national conferences and careening through a 6 year stint as a political satirist for the underground zine scene before finally earning some cash and reputation as a freelancer for the Springfield arts and entertainment weekly Illinois Times.

Along the way he won the 1993 and 2000 Poets and Writers Literary Forum SlamJams (the only two he entered), earned a Master of Arts from the University of Illinois at Springfield and did most every kind of job from plumber to carnie to health food co-op manager to homeless shelter administrator just to keep his family fed. In 2001 weisser moved to Bullhead City as an 8th grade social studies teacher, a position he absolutely loves, but this year, 2004, weisser also became the poetry instructor for the Bullhead campus of Mohave Community College, released two more poetry collections, a simple calendar and Verb*I*Age, and returned to his writer-y roots with a vengeance as a political columnist and freelance journalist. Now, to raise interest in poetry in Bullhead City, weisser has founded the Live Poets Society West, a non-profit non-organization dedicated to preserving the works of earlier poets and promoting new writers. Currently a grad student with NAU and mikel should earn an M Ed in secondary social studies/writing instruction this fall, but he is going to take till spring just to be perverse. Some of his poetry can be found in the poetry pages of his Web site.

Sunday, January 2, 2005

We Will Resist You, America the Destroyer

America, the absent-minded lover
who forgets your name in the ambivalence of night
doubts the pressure pressed gently to it yesterday was worth remembering today
America, you drunk rapist
of suburban children
seeking to know your currents
pull themselves higher to see the view
know the far side of your hulk
you, America, show shadows of past days
bring down the cultural acme
to a level you can conduct with a symphony of fools playing 0ff and out of meter
you, America, want us to love you
and your ideals that you stopped practicing long before most of us came here,
you want us to love you
the way you were and ignore the bomb leaflets
dropped on Americans who haven't moved here yet
you, America
with your blind eyes and traffic stops
with your breathalyzers of dissidents
shatter our hopes with your material wealth
and the need to make more
you draw in our children with your Technicolor dreamscapes
teach them that 2D TV lovelives
can fill the void we feel
by not reaching out to feel our neighbors hands
call 9𒴏 instead of showing up
to speak some words
you, that forbids our secret pleasures
from leaving us happy for a night
let us damn ourselves if you believe the freedom
with which our ancestors built you
let go of wrists because these nations' hands
have empires to wreck
and men to free
we have lovers to swoon
and stars to call our own
without the cataloging of spheres of gases
we have dreams of starlight
to worship lovers beneath
without the fist fall of your suspicions
let us alone, America,
you redneck whore,
you control freak with good intentions
our way to hell is paved with your statutes
that enforce the will of do杗othing meat puppets
instead of letting the artists
live for art's sake
and drag the moonlight out into day
name the blind sun with our own tongue
and kiss the clouds into tomorrow
you, America, the destroyer of worlds
the doom of dreams
leaving broken roads not taken
through yellow woods unseen
bought with slaves wages
we will resist you
cap your mountains with our footfalls
bring down the gates of mud
and bury them for peach tree orchards
you, America, may doom us one by one
but the enumeration of our mysteries
will hopscotch through our daughters' minds
raise the sons
to raise the armies to resist you
tear down the towers
overlooking our prison camp daymares
America, we love you
but you do bad things
no man is evil
but his actions may be
and sometimes crimes deserve just punishment
when too many have been broken

we, America, your sons and daughters, lay broken
but we won't here long
soon we'll rise
it will only take a moment
when one swift kick in the ribs
proves one to many
and we retake our place
and the bearers of freedom
the entrepreneurs of artistry
one more artist with shotgun dentistry
one more ghetto enclave to genocide the unwanted
one unlucky fuck who gets too close to the riot line
and takes a round on live network daytime TV
one martyr who didn't want to be
to raise the call in us
get us to pull each other up by the bootstraps
and bring down the highjackers of our grand experiment
and make you remember that you
are ours
we are not yours
you were a republic once
and they can last forever,
but all empires
must one day fall.