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 423,000 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, November 28, 2006

The West: a short poem

my grandfather rode horses for a living
across the open plains of Montana
he could field strip a rifle
or fix and engine block with baling wire
like a McGuyver cowboy

I am the grandson of pioneers
a son of a barrel racer
a nephew of bull riders
who wear cowboy hats out of necessity
not fashion
but they're always removed for church
"praise God
and pass the ammunition,
a pack of coyots have been harassing my herd
and after communion
we'll ride out and find them"
these men are better armed than gangsters
but it serves a purpose

they don't care where you come from
who you fuck
the hue of your skin
or your first language

"can you rope?
can you ride?
can you work?"
beyond that, most things don't matter

"in the name of
Hank Williams,
Johnny Cash,
John Wayne,
and America, amen"

this is my West

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Welcome to the Show

welcome to the show
we fit the parts cast by the playwright
dodge bullets in slow motion
according to the script
and the audience holds tightly
to the armrest
waiting for the quotable one-liners
that slip into the memes of later days

the girls said I was mysterious
over a glass of wine
and that they held onto the illusion
that I had a dark side beneath the sunglasses
the collarless navy blue coat
and the unwavering addiction to proper grammar
while I smiled inside
and wondered from where
they got that crazy idea

I'm as mysterious as sunlight
open your eyes
look up at the way it bounces off the leaves
and see what's already there
I'm two words and an invitation away
from spilling my guts
but somehow, no one wants to ask
"can you tell me your story?"

shyness, I suppose,
has unintended results
my words reveal the façade outside
put on to pass the days
to put it simply
I'm Calvin minus Hobbes
though I keep him at home on the nightstand
sometimes, in the city,
I'm Spaceman Spiff, until Wormwood
in all her incantations,
brings me back to the math class world

sometimes, I wonder,
what the world will say of me after I pass
will anyone step forward and reveal that they knew me best?
will the dots and dashes of my days
be readable to those still listening to my ramblings?

I catalogue my infatuations in my columns
each artist is a glorious interpretation
of who I might have been if born in them
instead of in this
I wish I could be them all,
but short of that, I'll let the readers know
in bits and parts
the pieces of me I see in them
my story is a transmutation of a thought:
we're all the same ash and dust
pushing out breath until we pass into oblivion
the stories, vices and art of our days
makes the moments between death and birth meaningful
though the dance is ultimately futile

but if we're doomed to fade
why make our days so trying?
smile wide, take her hand,
dance like a fool
kiss her when the moment is totally wrong
and make it right
because the judgment of a moment
is a matter of choice:
don't let fate decide the circumstances and react
with right or wrong
choose first, and fate will rewrite the facts

soapbox preaching only converts those willing to listen
and if no one does
I preach to myself
because I still need convincing from time to time
acting without forethought, in the present,
is what the zen koans elucidate
be one hand clapping
wash my bowl now empty of rice
thank the master, but don't take the stone
I need not be scarred by a bad choice
when a simple bow is all that's required
kiss when I feel like it
walk away when the time has passed
and find ways to live in freedom
that Robbins found through Satre

memes find me
at the time when I need them most
they hover around the edges
I'll known when to look for what I must find
temet nosce
and the pieces fill in the spaces appropriately

They'll hover round the tomb

They'll hover round the tomb
long after I am a memory
trading stories of who knew me best
swap stories of this bar
that lover in the moonlight
while the best me smiles in the coffin in the corner

I plan an Irish wake

they'll trade the tales that made me to them
wondering who was closest
who knew the secrets that I told no one else
never guessing that the best parts
will be buried tomorrow

laughter will drown out the honesty
and they'll walk away
bellies full of my favorite dishes
eyes swelling with the booze I always ordered
stumbling home to write in lonely journals
that they learned more about me that night
than they did while I lived

and nowhere in those stories
are the nights I laid on my roof for hours
counting the stars of the milky way
or the secret soft lover I called Monica
who never existed in flesh
but danced across my pages
calling herself by a thousand different names
and slipped in silently
into the lovers I never held for more than a moment

there are gypsy Irish songs
I played only when no one was home
the poems saved on my hard drive
password-protected so no one would find them
it's so easy, friends, to read them:
just know where is home to me
and they'll open themselves to you

I loved women who will never know,
wanted to be boys who will count the days onward
never knowing that they were envied

the poems I wish I had written and
my secret sins will claw at the earth
begging for freedom if only someone would search beneath the surface

but those who venture close
will understand the magic tricks I played:
everyone thinks they know you
if you split a pitcher
and make the conversation revolve around them

I've learned the tricks of journalists
that I wish I could have elucidated earlier
most writers use their tales to show who they are
I use mine to hide me
behind those visages
that others know so well
the poet, the musician, the writer, the painter
my fascination with them
with what they create
hides my inner drives to do what I have done

and, of course, being the sad poet I am
I spit the hidden verses to reveal in bit and parts
what I wanted to say
when the moment was right
when the last girl was in my arms
when all the mathematics aligned
to find that equation that equaled me
but no one does math anymore
they merely wait for the blog entry
the poem, the song, the novel, the drunken pronouncement
to clarify their suspicions

I play harder to get
to know what hides beneath,
beat me in game of chess,
with my honesty on the line
catch me alone one night at home
with roommates gone
the dog asleep on the sofa
the computer off and all the electronics shut down
listen to that which makes me laugh aloud
read the lines that I reread a thousand times on weekends
watch my favorites movies run raw with wear

find the poems I have hidden places
where no one will find them in my lifetime
speak to the women I have passionately followed for years
and I'll be there hidden between the lines

playing this role
wherein all the players know my name
stop me in grocery stores
and chat about their day
what they want from me
or what they need me to do
they hold an image encapsulated by my name
that I often laugh at in early mornings
when I stand naked before taking a shower

we all hold our friends and foes
in the places that make sense most
puzzle pieces played on the board
to win the game
never knowing if our prize
is a coup d'état waiting for the moment to strike

to know a person is simple:
what would they die for
what would they kill for
what do they live for ..
and these are never the same

so for know
shout my name as I spit verses on stage
claim to know me on the street
or in late night bars
relate our mutual occupations of space
as stories to friends
read my writings and delve deep
pose with me for pictures for those who couldn't be there
slip between my sheets to hold me in the night
and when I pass
tell these stories to the assembled crowd
but know what foolishness you speak

because those who know this poet
will gather later
long after my corpse is resting
and laugh at my silly things
how she could make me wait with a whisper
how I cried to "Walking in Memphis"
the draw of a pretty girl anywhere
late night Irish drinking ballads
how a good story could captivate me
joy in friends' happinesses
unspoken affection for family
finding the girl I always sought
and how only those who knew me
sans façade, sans image, sans name
would have read a poem like this one

Friday, November 3, 2006

Fight Club

the bass beats run wild
while the johnny walker
reminds me of the daily pulse
dot dot dot
and drink down the night
deck me in the jaw
to remind me we're friends
that's how the pulse goes sometimes
while heavy metal rips on the speakers
god, life feels close
when pain is a fistfight away
bloody my face
and we're never part friendship