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.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gentle Poet Eyes/Slam Fencing 101

Gentle Poet Eyes
By Aaron Johnson

it's been a year since I looked you in the eyes
and like a hair club client,
I was dissatisfied.

I once considered you an artist and friend
but your ego is the new travel-size toothpaste,
keeping you from boarding the plane and flying.

you write well, for an ex-girlfriend highlight film.

the fox smells his own hole first
and you know that
talking to me was a step
to get you back to this drug cabinet we call spoken word
but I implore you to be encouraging and sincere
when you come back
think less of yourself and more for the new generation of poets
that have been listening to your ego on dvd and internet downloads
for the last five fucking years
pouring tears and words for papa's mountains,
for the dust in the corners of the room that have been inhaled like spores,
even your breakfast cereal poetry is not as soggy
as your contemporaries predicted it would
after the time test

you still have your best poetry inside those eyes
but you spent so much time with lies and "fucking with people";
masturbating -er- manipulating
but where was the poetry, the writing?
did it die in your guns, your newspaper, your red rock, your old friend on West Sedona Lane?
you may not care about my poetry, fine.
but I did care about yours:
reading your blogs, your mind;
lately, I've been bored.

they write now
because you ignited a fire in the Sedona under groundhog
and you may never grow into your adult hoodie
until you let go
of your ego

you have my attention
now what will you do with it?
your actions are louder than your words
and your eyes



Slam Fencing 101
By Christopher Fox Graham

PARRY

watch thy forked tongue, poet
it's easy to be righteous from the stage
if you never put yourself on the edge of it
and risked being kicked off
by those who said they'd stand behind you
I'll still pulling out the knives
et tu, Lefty?

when I was banished,
virtuous poet,
I did not hear you advocate for my return
although your words seemly sweetly honeyed now
nor did I hear condolences
but at least you can apologize to robot porn on MySpace

did you lose my number?
not pay the internet bill?
forget my address?
at least you could remember what city I lived in
if you could get 20 inches and a photo in my newspaper

were you happy to sweep the stage clean,
honorable poet,
because with me on it
you heard shouts of "10" more often from behind the curtain
than behind the mic?

you live well, for an opportunist

don't claim I'm the only one
nor that you don't rub it in
we've all seen your cover on Flagstaff Live
and how you pointed out Nix was there too

venerable poet,
if you'd ever gotten to know me
instead of using you verse
to score cheaper dime-bags
or drawing in glassy-eyed teens awed
by the newfound allure of bald cartoon characters
you'd see what we do:
a pawn in the shadows of the rest of the board —
first the egoist before he hunted Montezuma
then the liar with his peach-flavored pride
now the esurient entrepreneur
yes, you're a chameleon, but always a sidekick
with all the Greats covering your head,
you've never felt the reign

your aims on our stages
have volunteered their simplicity
and the rest of us see right through it
present thy purpose, poet: poon, pot, or points pushes your newest stanzas
to reach the pedestals beneath our feet

since I first looked you in the eyes,
I have been dissatisfied

RIPOSTE

did I get your attention, poet?

blood a little warmer, poet?

thinking about what lines to sample in your reply?
keep reading, pondering poet

Asgard has its Loki
the Hopis have their kokopelli
NORAZ has its Reynard

the poems you see on stage,
the poems I post
are for the crowd,
the roaring throng
the points and the prize

unblemished poet, your sketch of me has always been sketchy
you're snuggled in against my chest
holding tight to an abusive father you can't seem to let go
because hating the man and the act
is easier than knowing what lurks beneath these GPEs

you'd know the ego
is, has, and will be an act
it's part of the costume
like the sport coat bedecked in buttons,
the unkempt hair,
the doublefisted whiskey,
the stories of threesomes and orgies

what makes the mess funny
is that the CFG mythology was written
by other poets, by the crowd, by the foes
rumors become facts
(I would elucidate, but I've already written
"Welcome to Show")

this is my character
my anti-hero suit
the poems stand alone
but the attitude drives poets who compete
to strive harder to win
more challenge, more effort
better poems, better poets
everyone needs a villain
if it weren't for judas, dear poet,
we'd be genuflecting to Apollo

the reports of my boundless pride are greatly exaggerated
you'd rather follow that Gospel
than get to know the man who wrote them

the proof is in my peach
peel back its layers to see that peaches … don't have any
perfectly poised posture,
vigorous ventriloquism of absurdity
and nonsense with flair scored me three 10s
while better poems of grandfather's hands, WTC jumpers, and fear of dying young
never does better than "8.9, 9.2, 9.4"
peach proves this:
1) slam is a joke
2) don't let one poem be what the world remembers of you
3) write better than this

august poet,
the poems that are "me" get scribbled on postcards,
e-mailed to distant friends,
read quietly over the phone or over coffee
folded up and hand-delivered the way true poetry should be
ways to communicate between two strangers
desperately struggling fingertips to fingertips
not a cockfight on a stage beneath three-minute lights

"where was the poetry, the writing?"
not held in the heartless digital vacuum online
if it weren't for MySpace, poet,
you wouldn't have any friends
where have I read that before?

you want my sincerity?
its always been here, in my skin, in my voice,
over a beer or coffee,
sans slam
you and I can play our roles on stage
bicker in the blogosphere
but be brothers in the real world

but you've got some steps to make
put down the keyboard and pick up the phone
hit the road to meet up
rather than hit "send"
and you've got to shed that shadow that stands over you
(remind Mr. Lane that a dick is still a dick
no matter how high it raises its head)

if you want me back
if you want me on that stage
if you want me to push the next generation of poets
to become the next generation of great poets
you've got to realize my purpose:
I must be all that they hate about poets
so they can become all they're meant to be

if they test themselves in the battle
outflank my checkmates
they'll learn the real lesson of my treatise:
if you're writing only for your three minutes in the limelight
you're wasting your life — get the fuck off the stage

learn that poetry is only the first step
in the long march of sharing ideas, stories, and lives
real poets live their poetry
slam is only a game

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