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.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Swallow a Fistful of Dynamite

give me a fistful of dynamite
and I’ll swallow it whole
hold the blast deep in my belly
and explode words as sunlight
I’m dying in silence
so detonate my insides
and shake the world to the floor

the drink settles poison in my liver
wraps liquidity into between my cells
drowns the conversation between them
and the deafening paralyzes fingers
unable to speak
I plod through days
wondering why nothing brilliant happens
and minutes slip away into weeks and years

profundity has no place
when beer and booze
fuzzy the navel to the brain
erase the images of days
and leave me slumbering long after
dawn turns into day

I’m tired of the killing

clear the slate
become tabula rasa
and let the fingers do the talking
that they long to
when not holding a pint or a smoke

free the mind
bark down the noise of bullshit
and let the unimportant slide
we can become bodhisattvas
without knowing a lick of Sanskrit

the perfection of poetry
waits the measure of patience away
if I let inhibitions fade into mere vocabulary
and trust in my innards to resuscitate
the art inside waiting for the rest of me
to unlock the gate
and pour it out
spread the blood and ink
across the pages
dabble fingers in the mess
and pull out the beads
to rearrange what remains
into what should be

the banyan tree becomes whatever I choose
rest my feet beneath the keyboard
and meditate with digital characters
elucidating what needs illumination
not fretting about the details
or the perfect presentation and posture to earn a 10
those who need to understand will
and those who don’t will find their way
if they seek it

it took the open road
to find my way home back into me
the self I lost behind somewhere
between old houses and new
somewhere in the strife
I’d forgotten to become what I wanted to become
and fell down around lesser ones
it took 10,000 miles
to come home again
realize we’re not place or substance
we’re just the skin we hold
and what’s held in by skin
beyond that, it’s just this century’s tunics, sandals and leggings
and whatever false impressions we concoct
to make us worth more than we are
we’re scared to discover
we’re not that far away from single-named savanna migrants
trying to stay one step beyond the reaper’s grasp
the trappings of kingship, feudalism, cell phones and starships
paint pretty pageantries but don’t change the details
that we want to feed, fuck, and father something beautiful
before the hunter hunts us down to the ground
for the last time

knowing this isn’t the same
as comprehending it
and fearing it isn’t worthwhile either
awareness of our nature
removes the filth from our skin
so we can spend our time doing more
than watching the fluff
that takes up our time

I’ve always known this
but forget for years at time
suffering the amnesia brought about by the game
and I knew it was just game once
I saw it when I was too young to know
just thought the universe had a set of rules we’d learn
though no one acted right, like they’d learned them
and as a boy, I couldn’t comprehend
how people so much older … and taller than me
didn’t see the rulebook
the clarity came when they said I was “gifted”
through tests I didn’t understand
and still conjure mean more to others
than they ever should to me
they said I saw things clearer
and ignored the details that merely painted the walls
but didn’t change the house
everything looks different through my eyes, they said
and I understood
only when trying to live an adult life
with rules and regulations designed for people
who wouldn’t survive without them

the world looks different to me
than I think it does to others
there’s no way to tell, really,
but somehow, in the back corners of my mind
it makes sense they way it is
and nothing needs deciphering
life, death and the days between,
the mathematics of moments
equal an equation that it seems I only know
the variables drop to zero
with regular variation,
yet others seem to think mysticism will change the result
I haven’t the heart or care to correct them
because unstringing mangled matters bore me

there’s loneliness in knowing the quantities and qualities
of the decimal places
but counting out pi wastes time
though it’s impressive at parties
finding the math between the numbers
the words between the characters
the language of movements and pauses
entices my interests
but I’m playing 3D chess with checkers players
and no one speaks the language
reciting verse in an unknown tongue does nothing
but make my mouth sore

time counts on it the cycles
and we seem to think we matter in moving forward
but it seems some days
that the seconds write pages
that I can flip to forward or back
depending on circumstance
relive as though for the first time
conjecturing it’s a ball in space
rather than an unwavering string we slide on
back and forth as needed
reencountering friends long gone
and details seemingly forgotten
faith in fate fits when you’ve skipped ahead
to see how the chapter ends

all that will be will be
and all the was has been as meant
while the details make for conversation
to those paying attention
the poetry will spill in the lucid moments
for those not yet along for the ride
to catch up when their time comes
or the moment suits

explode me into sunlight
and detonate my insides into shards of glass
to shimmer through the night for the rest to follow
wherever I’m meant to go
the right words become a yellow-brick road
but it takes a tornado to clear the countryside
of all the old familiar places
leaving us with clearer paths to see
and abbreviated mysteries to decipher

make a highway of me
transform me into a ribbon of starlight
dreamers on the roofs of cars
can trace with extended fingers
to illustrate to lovers
how constellations are born
these words that spill
from sober mouth and hands
trace paths skyward
letting awareness reflect back
to what we are
beneath the bullshit
of Old Religion dread of death
or its New Age regurgitation
placed it in a tie-died coffin and paraded for profit

close the door
let the belly bleed itself dry
and put fingers to paper
without pushing the pencil where it’s unwilling to go
a good poem, with honesty up its sleeve
one that can squeeze your doubts out
for the world to read unhindered
is a Ouija board anyone can machinate

if your poems don’t shake you to your core
expose the nakedness sheltered behind small talk
quake your fear out in exorcism
then try again until you’d rather cover the page in fig leaves
then let another person read it
vomit out the sins that pin feet to soil
and turn paper into a confessional
a stage before thousands
a Gideon Bible in hotels worldwide
cut out the tongue that holds words behind teeth
swallow a fistful of dynamite
and become a second sun to light the way


summend said...


cloaked-nouveau said...

"if your poems don’t shake you to your core
expose the nakedness sheltered behind small talk
quake your fear out in exorcism
then try again until you’d rather cover the page in fig leaves
then let another person read it"

it's always a challenge to write something that "shakes you to your core." this is quite the reminder to try - try and bleed over what you write, instead of hiding behind words that whisper and not shout.

mercymanic said...


Been there on all counts including climbing into a bottle and drinking myself to sleep for years.

I got better but it has taken a lot of work. I do think poetry is a good way for a person to get though a lot of layers of their own BS. But it's a bit like taking a chainsaw to your own limbs till you get used to it.

When it's good. When you can channel something greater than yourself for a moment it is possible to make something beautiful out of even pain and destruction. No wait, scratch that. We really aren't creating anything more than a description of the beauty that's already there. But it's still important. We have to translate it for all the people who cant see into that dimension of what 'is.'

"The desire of power in excess caused angels to fall. The desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall. But in love and charity there is no excess, neither can man or angels come into danger by it."
- Francis Bacon