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.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vacancy Sign Over the Bed

embraced by solitude
a vacancy sign hangs over the bed
I expect no takers in the near future
nor do I advertise the free space

over coffee or pints
the cornucopia of hips and thighs
parade pheromonic aphrodisiacs
and carressable limbs
languidly eager for a lover’s touch

they pass my ascetic indifference
drawing xenobiologic attention
but not the primal leers
of a potential mate
I take mental notes for later publication
in an alien script
but feel no urge beyond curiosity
to explore hot breath or racing pulses
CNN holograms or Renaissance art
holds the same interest to look on
mumble an analysis
and pass on to other distractions of equal import

perhaps my pipes need lubrication
in the alcoholic bliss
that used to guide nightly paths
even penmanship has changed form
lacking the swirls and flourishes
that used to impress shoulder-huggers
now small and architectural
as articulation marries form
while the grace finds conviction
in the precision of each character
betraying emotionless observation
of the passing details without suspecting ulterior motives

my bed has no space
for conventional deceptions
the minor untruths spoken between mediocre lovers

if she’s hunting for me,
my exiled absence is the only quarry to discover
unless she breaks down the door
to kill me in my sleep
but I’ve long since given up the misguided assumption
that I’m chase-worthy

blank stares now purged of judgment
lacking younger preconceptions
I’ve played out all the manipulations to inevitable endings
leaned the tricks of chess masters
sighing at the impossibility of innovations
knowing all the results,
I seek other sports
something in four dimensions
worth the time and effort to maintain my interest
but lacking an adversary
such drive is just masturbatory exercise
that just leaves me spent and still hungry for more than this

I yearn for a match of
multiple-centenary plural-dimensional global thermonuclear chrononavigational hopscotch
but the world is still mastering 8-bit Pong
and my lightsaber hasn’t been invented yet
video pixels can’t encapsulate a proper opponent
worth the quarters I could waste to reach the credits
in the meantime I leave the vacancy wide open
stack pages of poems in place of a person
and look over my shoulder
hoping she’s caught me in her crosshairs

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Smoking a Menthol

This poem was sent to me from a fan after a poetry slam in Flagstaff last Wednesday:

Love, Ithaca

a little girl in love with a man

because he spits like nobody can

i only write angst but it's not sad this time
you've given a soul to my immature rhyme

a beautiful poet exposing himself
wih words that others would leave on the shelf

a time and a place and a moment in space
when each of your words explode in my face

you've officially released my epitomized hunger
.....
if only,
if only,
you were about ten years younger

My reply:

Smoking a Menthol

Age is just a footnote
a rank and role occupied for the convenience of labeling
name it to own it
but it defines the owner instead
i am no man
just a boy in well-worn skin
who still says "when i grow up ..."

in the days when i still thought
i could count all the stars
if I just kept trying
I believed there some faraway day
would welcome me to the adult fraternity
with pomp, circumstance and silly hats
but the calendar cycles never changed gears
and i'm still that boy counting stars

those who know four score and seven
but still see wonder in sunsets
are boys no older than me
and i've met old men
in the eyes of children
who stopped listening to strangers' fairytales
they're dying before growing tall enough to live

when generations divide at dinners
i prefer the kids' table
because the conversations are more honest
and imagination is just another utensil
i don't squirm to say the right thing
or earn favor through pleasantries
adults are done learning
they speak to be heard not to answer
glance nervously when i dangle a spoon from my nose
or crash land asparagus into mashed potatoes
with sound effects in stereo

a decade ago
i was too ripe off the vine
too raw to taste
it took ten years
shaken, stirred and slammed
by our wars of words
to ferment a vintage worth savoring
to shake loose the stems which formed me,
try on a thousand different skins,
ingest the angst, swallow the sins
let the teachings of sages sink in
and find new wisdoms to spill out
onto my pages in poems and prose

ten years passed
ten-thousand miles traveled
ten million words spit
to siphon out what needs saying
what needs burning
and what needs sanctifying
for students seeking guidance

assuage your hunger with our wine
each word is a sacrament
passing from speaker to speaker
assembling into our three-minute sermons
reciting scripture while hallelujahs await witness
hold each word holy
because the only gods worth knowing
are the stories we choose to teach
break your body
spill your blood
and spit "let there be light"
in your own tongue
to taste divinity on your breath

pull the unused words off the shelf
give them purpose with conviction
pack them tighter than dynamite
and detonate poems
to move the mountains
between you and the stage

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alternative weekly covers

Great cover.

A portrait of Barack Obama made from election day covers.The long national nightmare is finally over. I wonder what we'll be telling our kids 20 years from now. "Timmy, long before you were born, we did something really stupid. We all did a lot of drugs in 2000, then again in 2004, and we paid for it. So don't do drugs."I bet the pie tasted awesome. As victory does.

We're all secretly hoping this. Politics is a brutal game and Americans have invested a lot of hope in Barack Obama. He grew up in the politics of Chicago so he can get rough and tumble. We want a Franklin Delano Roosevelt or an Abraham Lincoln from Obama, not a Jimmy Carter or G.W.H. Bush.Finally, someone used "Yes we did" in a headline.
Thank the gods.
Sweet. I still prefer Obama as a Jedi Knight.

I have no idea what this cover is supposed to mean, but I bet it was a copy editor who suggested it. Politics is sexy? Obama makes me horny? If Obama wins we all take off our clothes? Obama can cure the clap that McCain gave you? I'm confused.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What do Obama supporters do now?

The Onion has the pulse of America.

'Yes We Did' Americans elect Obama

Seriously, there are 9,000 newspapers in the country and no one writes "'Yes we did'" in a headline? Seriously? Come on, people, it's the easiest, best headline you could write. I am disappointed in my copy editor brethren. Come on, journalists, write the headline somewhere.

Dear world, we're sorry we've been insane for eight years

Sent to me by Deeds (From the Al Jazeera news agency):
Obama's victory was celebrated around the world, and not just by Americans [AFP]Barack Obama: [To] all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world - our stories are singular but our destiny is shared. A new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, congratulated Obama on his US election victory, saying it took the world into a "new era".

Iraq

Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, said Washington would not adopt a "quick disengagement" policy with Baghdad under the presidency of Barack Obama as a "great deal is at stake here".

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Zebari said: "I think it [Obama's election] was a major, major change ... although as far as Iraq is concerned I don't believe there will be any changes overnight. And there won't be any immediate disengagement because a great deal is at stake for everybody.

"I don't think there is much difference between the Iraqi government position and President-elect Obama's. He is contemplating withdrawing US forces within 16 months. We may have some difficulties with that time-line, but we also, in the status of forces agreement, set the date of 2011 as the date for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. So really the differences are not very wide."

Pakistan

Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's prime minister, congratulated Obama on his victory, saying he hoped the Democrat would promote "peace and stability" in the region around Afghanistan.

"I hope that under your dynamic leadership, [the] United States will continue to be a source of global peace and new ideas for humanity," he said in a statement, directed at Obama.

"I look forward to more opportunities to discuss ways to further strengthen Pakistan-US relations and to promote peace and stability in our region and beyond."

Obama has riled Islamabad in the past, pledging that the US under his leadership would "take out" al-Qaeda and Taliban bases in Pakistan.

Palestinian Territories

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, congratulated Obama and urged him to speed up efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

"President Abbas congratulates US president-elect Barack Obama in his name and in the name of the Palestinian people and hopes he will speed up efforts to achieve peace, particularly since a resolution of the Palestinian problem and the Israeli-Arab conflict is key to world peace," Nabil Abu Rudeina, Abbas's spokesman, said.

"President Abbas hopes the new administration will continue to make the peace efforts one of its top priorities."

Meanwhile, Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, urged Obama to learn from the "mistakes" of previous US administrations in dealing with the Muslim and Arab worlds.

"He must learn from the mistakes of the previous administrations, including that of Bush which has destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine," said Fawzi Barhum, a Hamas spokesman.

"He must improve US ties with the rest of the world rather than wave the big American stick.

"We want him to support the Palestinian cause or at least not to be biased towards the Israeli occupation. We have no problem establishing normal relations with the United States to explain our just cause."

Ahmed Youssef, a Hamas senior political member, hailed the vote as historic.

"We [Hamas] do believe that if America's political equilibrium is to be restored, this political election should be the turning point.

We hope that Obama will address the Palestinian issue in a fair and honest way. The Palestinian question is the mother of all issues in the region – it concerns 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world.

"During the political campaign in the US, people used a lot of rhetoric … Obama said a lot of things to please the Jewish community, looking for their votes and money. We understand that. But all that rhetoric will be changed because looking at the list of Obama's advisers, I believe that they have a better understanding of the conflict in the region."

Israel

Israeli-US relations face "a bright future", Ygal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry, said in reaction to Obama's election to the White House.

"Israelis congratulate the two great friends of Israel, John McCain for his great campaign, Barack Obama for his historic victory.

"We are certain that Israeli-American friendship faces a bright future."

Tzipi Livni, leader of the ruling Kadima party, recalled Obama's visit to Israel in July and said that "the people of Israel felt he [Obama] is a man who is deeply committed to Israel's security and peace".

"Israel hopes to pursue close strategic cooperation with the new administration and the new US president, and hopes to further tighten the unshakeable ties between our two countries," she said.

Iran

Iran's official news agency quoted a leading politician as saying that Obama's election win was a rejection of the policies of George Bush, the current US president.

"Obama's victory is... evidence that Bush's policies have failed," Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said, according to IRNA.

"Americans have no option but to change their policies to save themselves from the quagmire Bush has created for them."

The government daily newspaper Iran said in an editorial on Wednesday that McCain's failure to take the presidency lay with Bush.

"Defeat for the Republicans is the price they pay for Bush's strategic and tactical blunders," the newspaper said.

Mohammad Hasan Aboutorabi-Fard, Iran's deputy parliament speaker, called on Obama to make good on his promises to bring change.

"Obama is expected to learn from Bush's failed policies and correct America's wrong policies in the Middle East," IRNA quoted him as saying.

Syria


Mohsen Bilal, Syria's information minister, said on Wednesday that Damascus hopes Obama's election will lead to changes in US foreign policies in the Middle East and boost the prospect of regional peace.

Bilal said he hoped Obama's win "will help change US policy from one of wars and embargos to one of diplomacy and dialogue," the Syrian news agency SANA reported.

China

Hu Jintao, China's president, congratulated Obama on his victory in the US presidential poll, saying a closer relationship btween the two nations would be "for the benefit of Chinese and American people, and people around the world".

"In a new historical era, I look forward to ... taking our bilateral relationship of constructive co-operation to a new level," Hu said in a written message, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry's website.

Wen Jiabao, China's prime minister, also congratulated Obama, while Xi Jinping, the vice-president, sent a message of congratulations to Joe Biden, Obama's running mate and America's next vice-president.

Britain

Gordon Brown, the UK's prime minister, congratulated Obama, hailing his "energising politics ... his progressive values and his vision for the future".

"I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Barack Obama on winning the presidency of the United States," he said in a statement.

"The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is vital to our prosperity and security ... Barack Obama ran an inspirational campaign, energising politics with his progressive values and his vision for the future."

India

India's ruling Congress party hailed Obama's victory, saying his "youthful energy" was in tune with the energy of emerging India.

"Obama represents youthful energy, exuberant dynamism and a forward-looking progressive mindset which is also the spirit animating India," Abhishek Manu Singhvi, spokesman for India's Congress party, said.

France

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, congratulated Obama on a "brilliant victory".

"I give you my warmest congratulations and, through me, those of all French people," Sarkozy told the Democratic candidate in a letter made public by the French presidency.

"Your brilliant victory rewards a tireless commitment to serve the American people. It also crowns an exceptional campaign whose inspiration and exaltation have proved to the entire world the vitality of American democracy. By choosing you, the American people have chosen change, openness and optimism," he wrote.

"At a time when all of us must face huge challenges together, your election raises great hope in France, in Europe and elsewhere in the world."

The European Union

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Comimission, applauded Obama's victory, with Barroso calling for a "new deal".

"This is a time for a renewed commitment between Europe and the United States of America," Barroso said in a statement. "We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world."

"I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal. For the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world."

South Africa

Kgalema Motlanthe, South Africa's president, congratulated Obama on his presidential victory, saying Africa "stood proud" and looked forward to a fruitful working relationship.

"Your election ... carries with it hope for millions of your countrymen and women as much as it is for millions of people of ... African descent both in the continent of Africa as well as those in the diaspora," he said.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black leader, also congratualted Obama, saying that Obama's election as US president showed that anybody could dream to change the world.

"Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place," Mandela wrote in a letter to Obama.

The 90-year-old Mandela applauded Obama's commitment to support global peace and said he trusted that combatting poverty and disease would become the mission of Obama's presidency.

"We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead," said Mandela.

"We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream [of] making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all."

Sudan

Khartoum expressed hope that Obama's election win would mean "real change" for the country's strained relations with the US - America has branded Sundan as a "state sponsor of terrorism".

"The result of the election is a purely domestic affair, but certainly the United States, being the only big power in the world, it affects almost everything in other countries," said Ali al-Sadiq, a spokesman for Sudan's foreign ministry.

"We would hope that the slogan of president Obama - 'change' - would be reflected in the foreign policy in the United States, especially towards Sudan and oppressed countries, the Palestinians, the Iraqis and the Somalis.

"We would like to see some real change between Sudan and the United States."

Somalia

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the president of transitional Somali government, voiced hope that Obama would help end conflict in the world.

"I am congratulating Barack Obama for his election as the president of United States of America," Yusuf said in a statement released by his spokesman.

"I am hopeful that he will help end major crises in the world, particulary the endless conflict in my country Somalia. This was an historic election in which a proper leader was elected. This is a great moment for America and Africa."

Japan

Taro Aso, the Japanese prime minister, offered his "heartfelt congratulations" to Obama, pledging to work with the new leader to strengthen relations.

"I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Senator Obama on his election as President of United States of America," Aso said in a statement.

"I will strive to further strengthen the Japan-US alliance and to resolve various challenges the international community faces when addressing issues such as the international economy, terrorism and the environment."

The Philippines

Gloria Arroyo, the Philippines' president, congratulated Barack Obama for winning the US presidential election.

"We wish to express our profound congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama for his historical and stellar win as the 44th president of the United States," Lorelei Fajardo, a spokesman for Arroyo, said in a statement.

"His call for change opened a new phase in American politics, sparking hope and inspiration not only for the American people but the citizens of the world.

"America has always been the bastion of democracy and the world has always looked to the USA for direction. Obama has promised change and the American people and the world await these changes. We look forward to greater co-operation between the USA and the Philippines, the Democrats have always been good allies."

Australia

Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, praised Obama's victory saying it was a testament to the strength of the US democratic system and was a message of hope not just for the United States but for the whole world.

"Twenty-five years ago Martin Luther King [the US civil right activist] had a dream of an America where men and women would be judged not on the colour of their skin but on the content of their character," Rudd told said.

"Today what America has done is turn that dream into a reality. A world which is in many respects fearful for its future."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sedona Daily Herald, Sarrah Wile edition Front Page

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Sarrah is gone ...


Sarrah at Johnnie's Cafe, 433 1st Ave. S., Glasgow, Mont. Sarrah and I had gone to Fort Peck Dam, a massive which is the largest hydraulically filled dam in the United States.
Authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, construction of Fort Peck Dam employed over 11,000 workers at its peak in 1939, one of whom was my great-grandfather.
The dam, named for a 19th-century trading post, was completed in 1940, and began generating electricity in July 1943. The dam created Fort Peck Lake, the fifth largest lake in the U.S.
Sarrah and I also have an unnatural obsession with dinosaurs. Just down the way from the dam power stations is a dinosaur museum, which we spent hours in. The tour of the dam power stations only happened because a tour guide asked if we wanted to see it.
On our way back to Opheim, we stopped at Johnnie's.


This is definitely my favorite photograph of Sarrah. I have an 8x10 print of it up in my room. After two weeks in Montana, we were on our last, long drive home. The drive from Livingston, Mont., through Idaho and into southern Utah we talked a lot about us and our friendship. We had a great time on the drive. We also listened to a biography of Abraham Lincoln on tape.
As we got into southern Utah, I made a detour into a national park, thinking we could cut through and head south to Page, Ariz., rather than drive through Colorado City, Ariz., and the Mormon fundamentalist cult area, but there was a fee at the gate, so we had to turn back. We stopped to shoot the sunset and I shot this of Sarrah. She looks elated.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What are the chances if ...?

I love probability. The mathematics of poetry slams, elections, and meteorology.

This poll probability chart is from FiveThirtyEight. FiveThirtyEight uses computer models to simulate the election 10,000 times per day in order to provide a continually up-to-date assessment of probability for electoral outcomes.

Sarrah Countdown #14


Sarrah on my uncle's mountain.


We found these horses in a pen just north of Livingston, Mont.


On the shore of Yellowstone Lake, Sarrah collected stones to write "I love you" for a photo for her boyfriend in Arizona, Dylan Jung. She later used the photo in a shadowbox for him.


Sarrah shooting the countryside from my grandmother's barn.


Sarrah's mobile office.

Sarrah in a wheat field on my aunt and uncle's ranch in Paradise Valley. The land they own includes the mountains in the background.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sarrah Countdown #13


Along our hike on day two, we headed back to the ranch and had to hop a few fences.

At a kid's basketball court in Helena, Mont.

Perfect height.

In my grandmother's barn in Opheim, Mont.
Sarrah caught in the light streaming in the open window.

At my aunt and uncle's ranch in Paradise Valley, Sarrah and I stayed in their bed & breakfast cabin. It had a three-bed bedroom, a small sitting/dining room and a bathroom. Great with no microwave, tv, etc. Just a hotplate and a coffeemaker.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sarrah Countdown #12

Roosevelt Arch, the main entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It used to be the only entrance to the park, and lies on the Montana side of the border. It's eight miles from my aunt and uncle's ranch in Paradise Valley.
Just inside the park, still in Montana before we reached Mammoth Hot Springs.


Sarrah was leaning over the edge of this cliff to snap a few photos. The wind was fierce, maybe 30-40 mph.


At Mammoth Hot Springs on the north side of Yellowstone National Park.


Sarrah really wanted to see this buffalo up close, so she wandered out to see it. Then it charged the truck. It really just wanted to cross the road and ran right in front of us to the other side.


On the shore of Yellowstone Lake, Sarrah put sunscreen on me. I was already burned by this point.

Sarrah Countdown #11


Sarrah had a thing for climbing silos and grain elevators while in Montana. This was a small silo next to my late grandfather's airplane hanger.


In this part of eastern Montana, it's so perfectly flat that she could likely see 50 miles from this high up.


Sarrah had to jump up and climb the side of the building first, just to get this high. She looks really cute in this photo.


Then she proceeded to climb the ladder, despite my protests. The one cop in Opheim was actually on duty because the Opheim High School was holding a reunion and we were heading into town to the picnic. The entire town plus a few hundred alumni were driving in to. Then I realized that in a town with population 99 - seriously - there isn't much to do, and probably every kid in town ever has climbed this thing.



And Sarrah reached the top, from which she could see the entire town and Canada, 10 miles to the north.