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.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hunting UFOs

she asks me just to hold her and
a bear I become
wrapping these lithe arms
around her smallness
as if to keep out the cold

she stands five feet one
90 pounds when soaking wet
and I feel like her father might
if we were related by blood
but she’s already born a daughter and
I’m the one without family

she just asks me to hold her
and we lean against the car door stargazing
she believes the stars are UFOs
hiding between clumps of clouds
rolling hazily eastward
I tell her she’s drunk and silly
she swears she’s not
three beers and the way she slurs “swear”
prove my point, but I let it go

she just wants to be held
I do my duty:
hold fast and believe her
I spill stories of Saturnites
playing tag with satellites
creating new constellations
for attendant astronauts and
the Earthlings gazing skyward
watching secrets disappear with stars
behind the clouds

in the meandering,
minute hands gain momentum
reverse themselves and recycle
as her Venusians dogfight in the darkness
dodging glittering C-beams
near the Tannhäuser Gate
she drifts away in my arms
for the first night’s sleep in years

this champagne shoulder romance
is what we dream of before we learn better
the way we’re taught as teenagers
to shimmer through our glass selves
pour the vintage that remains
serve ourselves brimming with what-could-bes

in another life
we’d calculate love in the metrics of these moments
measure twice, cut once
erect a card house biography
of children and picket fences

in another life, perhaps, but
she and I took more scenic routes
with more complicated cartography and
find ourselves in the here and now

we choose roads to travel and
no one remembers the path back
it’s a long way down and
we don’t have time to rise again

so I hold her, like she asks
let the rhythm of voice more than words
soothe her into neverland dreamscapes
anything poetic at this hour,
in her state
drops its grammatical wings,
loses its rhythmic luster,
weaves through the haze and
drips through whatever color sky she’s imagining
confusing and conflating with her subconscious
so that she can’t decipher
her words from mine

if my whispers
emerge from the lips of caterpillars, centaurs
or long-dead relatives
and she smiles in her sleep
then I abdicate them to her kingdoms
retire into verbal amnesia and
hunt more words to blanket her body

she wakes with warnings
that she can’t get used to this
can’t let herself slip and fall into me
my warm limbs lacking intention
soft fingertips content on hands and hips
without delving beneath elastic
or diving into moist places
she can’t afford to fall into me
the tumble could be too deep
to find her way out again

she doesn’t want this husk of a man
I tell her, with all my broken parts
sheltering secrets and enigmas
behind verbose shrouds so
I relaunch us skyward
lose touch with again with this sudden gravity
stretch languid limbs into ether
hold her like the last lungful of oxygen and
return to stories in the stars

we tumble through jump gates
scattering ourselves into stardust
sightsee nebulas in colors
unimagined by even science fiction writers
we become skywalkers
making first contact with
whatever fantasies I can conjure
dropping through the exosphere like angels
on worlds that will be long extinct
before the rest of our race follows us here
we moonwalk above Endor
among flocks of creatures
that ride alongside like dolphins
surf stormfronts in gas giants
that could swallow Earth whole
play leapfrog on asteroids so light
we only weigh a fraction of an ounce
all the while painting word pictures
to describe everything that catches our eyes
she still swears UFOs are chasing us
so she asks me to not let her go
so I do my duty:
hold fast and believe her

even with all our words
we don’t talk about the elephant in the back seat
the night I wasn’t there to hold her
the night she wishes she could delete from the calendar
and remember only as a never-was
transform into corporeal fog
but tangibility bleeds his face through her eyelids
leaves greedy fingerprints
on the crime scene of her body
so she drinks to forget
drinks to sleep without dreams
or the need for pills
to prevent nightmares
of hot breath on resistant skin
fingernails clawing into her bones
leaving scars on the marrow

he inhabits all the shadows
in the dark corners of the Earth
so she longs to sail among stars
far above all his hiding places
where she can always see the sun
dance on the rooftops of clouds
spread her arms wide and glitter as starlight
though she mistakes them still for UFOs
even though I can see through the haze tonight
cast eyes upward on what she wants to be
there’s no point in correcting her
because she chooses to be earthbound tonight
now, she just wants to be held
so I do my duty:
believe her
and hold fast

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