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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Photos from Week One in Ireland

The Irish countryside, County Dublin.














The Church of St. Kevin, Glendalough, County Wicklow, 6th century.













Wild thistle growing in bogland in County Wicklow, along the Wicklow Way.

















A loch in County Wicklow














Blackwater, a weekender vacation community for Dubliners on holiday, County Wexford, and the Irish Sea beyond.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Wexford man

For an unnamed man in Wexford Town, County Wexford, Ireland.
Shuffling steps, the Wexford man
passes each footfall as though he planned them
on paper years ago
he left home the day Cromwell laid siege
and has now returned,
groceries in hand
wondering what all the hubbub was about
arching over the walkway
like an apostrophe
left, pause, shift, lift, move
right, pause, shift, lift, move
planting his cane like a flag
concrete slabs become newly conquered countries
lost to heretics every night
needing a new conquest by sunrise
no one else to do it,
the Wexford man mumbles
stretching out crooks of fingers
for the weathered wooden cane
older than the cross
left, pause, shift, lift, move
right, pause, shift, lift, move
more steps, more decades
more of the same old pavement to reconquer
more mornings until times takes him
to the churchyard of his fathers
and other man with centuries of duties ahead
reaches for the weathered cane
left, right
left, right
onward, onward
until rapture relives the burden

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 02 Re-remembering Éire

Where in the world are we?


I’ve found a nearby wireless signal to piggyback on, but the speed reminds me of the days of dial-up.

Re-remembering Éire
Green country peeks through the clouds
in my first view of unvisited homeland
like a memory of Maryland I once had
but with 10,000 more years of family blood in the soil

we prodigal sons return to the arms of mother
and she welcomes like we never sailed away like college kids
everything seems to be where we left it
familiar though fuzzy in reflection

streets welcome our footfalls, smells reengage ancient memory
our tribal namesakes cling to skin in the humidity
everything cries out for examination, comparison and resettlement
but the Jameson tastes the same

acclimation comes swift as it should
returning to America will be stranger
seeing how we’ve lost our way since the exodus
strayed from the better angels of our history

the lands we claim were taken
a plantation of Ulster perfected on American shores
and the fact of that bleeds out
in our unspoken ever-restlessness

Éire is where we've always belonged, and know it
agreeable to our constitutions, only accent marks our foreignness
so we drink a pint with long-lost siblings
both wearing the clothes of our ancestors

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 01

Alun and I have arrived in Dublin.

After a few hour delay at the Newark, N.J. airport, we made out of the states about 1.5 hours late, arriving in Dublin at 11:00 a.m. local time.

We took a cab to Karl Jones’ house in Ballinteer, just south of Dublin proper.

Our first stop was the Ballinteer House, for a stereotypical Irish “carvery” meal of roast beef, loin of bacon, cabbage and potatoes. We also got our first pints of Guinness.

We stopped at a nearby grocer for a few items, then came back to Karl’s house, watched TV, showered and passed out.

Karl’s sister Ciara came home shortly after six. She lives in the condo next door and met up with us. We passed out again and woke up around 20:00 after she got back from the gym.

Alun, Ciara, Karl’s cousin Martina and I went the largest mall in Europe, just a few blocks away and ate at the MAO Café, a Chinese restaurant bedecked in Andy Worhal-esque motifs of the Chinese leader. Nothing says pop culture like a restaurant stylized after a major East Asian dictator responsible for the death of millions. But the chicken was good.

Similar to Germany, I feel drawn to another cultural aspect of my ancestry. The Germans encapsulated the utility of purpose, i.e., speaking only when needed, lack of emotion and blistering intention, while the Irish encapsulate the need to share, talk, sing and drink. Martina and Ciara were very curious about our backgrounds while we asked little of them, in so far as both Alun and I, I think, are reluctant to pry.

They dropped us off at a local pub, which catered to the 20-something crowd. The customer didn’t engage us, much to my dismay, but 2 shots of Jameson and 2 Guinnesses only cost €16, so I have no complaints, mainly because I am now wasted. Alun also bought a European cell phone so we can contact the states if needed.

Karl arrives tomorrow morning and the plan is to head into Dublin proper before we meet up.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One day away ...

We leave for Phoenix tomorrow at noon, then head off to Ireland.
Karl Jones isn't arriving until Thursday, which means we have Wednesday all alone in the new country. Of course, this means we're going to hit the pubs straight away, because there's nothing else to do.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Itinerary

July 22: Fly from Phoenix, Arizona to Dublin, Ireland, with Alun Wile and meet up with Karl Jones.
Aug. 5: Fly from Dublin, Ireland, to Newark, N.J., meet up with Sarrah Wile and Danielle Gervasio.
Aug. 7: Take bus to Boston. Meet up with Jeff Berger.
Aug. 9: Take bus from Boston to New York City, then take train from New York City down the shore of New Jersey to Gervasio's grandmother's bungalow.
Aug. 11: Take train from down the shore to West Orange, N.J.
Aug. 12: Take train from Newark, N.J. to Philadelphia.
Aug. 14: Take train from Philadelphia to Chicago. Meet up with Katie Smith.
Aug. 17: Take train from Chicago to Flagstaff, Ariz., then home to Sedona, Ariz.
Aug. 18: Return home.

May the road rise up to meet you,
may the wind be ever at your back,
may the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall softly on your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand
and may you be in heaven a full half hour
before the devil knows you're dead

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"The trouble with poetry," by Billy Collins

Billy Collins, the U.S. poet laureate from 2001 to 2003, is the author of seven collections of poetry and is a professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York. He serves as the poet laureate of New York state.

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night --
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky --

the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.

But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.

And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.

And what an unmerry band of thieves we are,
cut-purses, common shoplifters,
I thought to myself
as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea,
which is an image I stole directly
from Lawrence Ferlinghetti --
to be perfectly honest for a moment --

the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.

New job

I'm now a freelance copy writer for Sedona SEO & Web Design by Charlotte Howard, thanks to a contact from Jennifer Reddington.

I met with Charlotte Howard last Friday and I think we'll work beautifully together. She offers some great Websites and with my journalism and media skills I stand to make her a lot of money writing copy professionally.

I'm glad I was in journalism for so long, but my career is poet, my job was just with a newspaper. Without too much ego, my skills are too good for the pay scale of a newspaper reporter and editor. We get paid far too little for what we produce and I'm simply too good to waste my skills on editing fluff to fill a newspaper.

I will miss writing stories on artists, but I can still do that on the side for the sheer fun of it. Both Kudos and The Scene's coverage of the art scene has dropped off considerably and the city is hurting.