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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This Country

when your feet grow tired of globetrotting
and all the monuments to forgotten kings
have blurred into obscurity


when your shoulders ache
from carrying your whole world tortoise-style
from one rest-stop lover to another


when you’ve heard all the foreign tongues
repeat the same stories for the last time
and you’ve grown tired of translating


when your shoes have fallen apart
unable to martyr their soles
for your hobo evangelism …


come home
this country still longs for your sunrise
its geography is easy to map:


to the East lie my arms
curling inward to hold back time
their digits stretch northward
ten fingertips on separate crusades to find you
they unite only to pen poems about
the futility of kidnapping you across the borders
back into the caverns of my chest
overwhelming vacant since you stole its last inhabitant
which you unraveled the way Hansel and Gretel taught
to fashion a string to trace your route back here
these cave walls still shudder with your laughter
turning ribs into organ pipes
I play in dreams to orchestrate your reconquest
fool my yearning that you are only a hitchhiker’s thumb
and an hour from my doorstep —
a lie, but at least I can sleep through the night
without filling the hollow in my bed with my wailing
instead, try to keep it warm for you


to the South
are mountains of memories
impossible to scale without oxygen and a Nepalese Sherpa
they stretch to the clouds and in winter, blot out the sun
I chip at them with a pick axe of ink
take the pieces home to an orange juicer
attempt to squeeze out story after story
told in Homeric fashion
the gods of Olympus jealously dwarfed in the shadows
find their epics insufficient
Odysseus, Gilgamesh and Arjuna
camp in the foothills unable to scale you
talk about the good old days
when there wasn’t so much poetry in which to live
on the cliff sides I hunt for the road trips
the afternoon siestas
the midnight embraces
the slow Sunday mornings
for new word wombs
new poems to trap, take home, raise to maturity
and release back into the wild
for the world to see how you changed this boy
I will climb them as long as a pulse thumps me into movement


to the North is an ocean of your words
tide pools of sentences
waves of your stories
tsunamis of our arguments
to wash over any fool who braves to sail them
on maps print the words, “Here Be Dragons”
and I’m never sure which will swamp my boat
or carry me home
white-tip arrogance soothed by Sargasso Sea gentle honesty
choppy squalls when I lost myself to ego
pleas for forgiveness offered on Yom Kippur
all the poems over the phone blowing lost sailors to safe ports
someday when I have outlived you
I foresee abandoning shoes,
gripping frail hands on armrests,
rising from wheelchair
striping down to unflattering Speedo
and walking into these waves to drown
up to my ears in the waters of your laughter
filling my lungs with drops of your whispers


in the center is a house of paper
naked 8½ by 11s begging to be bathed in black ink
the first 30 stories are made of rough drafts
in preparation to meet you
the upper stories will be built to celebrate you
and when I reach my 90s
the tower will collapse with the weight
spreading the pages across this county
Billy Collins keeps an apartment across the hall from Derrick Brown
they meet in the lounge with Shane Koyczan and Ed Mabrey
have coffee on Sundays with R.C. Weslowski and Mike McGee,
each reading a new ode to you
they found that week on the cabinet
under the sink or behind the door
banisters Bill Campana will jot haiku from
window frames slam poems Klute will read aloud after bagels
dueling in rhyme with Shappy Seasholtz
sonnets on fireplaces Dan Seaman and Mikel Weisser will read in tandem
on weekends, CR Avery, Scott Dunbar and Lights
will play the ballroom made of canvasses
echoing through the vents all week long
on the upper floors
poets yet unborn ready to join to the conversation
there is room here
for whomever you choose to fill the house with
forgive the flesh of this man
for being made of flawed skin unedited
he knew not what he did
you always liked me better on paper anyway


to the West is an open country
as far as the eye can see
lie no walls nor borders
no future beyond what we make of it,
without a horizon to fall over
sunsets are unimaginable,
the land yearns for your footfalls
and I will chase you across it
until these feet break beneath me
never ask if it was all for naught
until you have seen the country you built here
the boy you reshaped who lives out in the open
uncertain of where to go now
penning poems from dawn to dusk
dreaming of your open arms
reading them to anyone who’ll listen


when you tire of travels
when you need shelter to rest weary limbs
when you want to see a boy left better
than the one you first met
this country is wherever you choose to meet me
ready to welcome you home


I met Azami on Sept. 28, 2009. How my life has changed over the last 12 months.

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