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, August 31, 2011

What You Don't Know About the Sub Sandwich You Want Delivered


KuK, a master delivery driver for a sub shop in Tempe, Ariz., waxes poetic about the ethic of delivery drivers and the importance of bending traffic laws for the betterment of society as a whole.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Alarm Clock Improbable," by Maple Dewleaf


"Alarm Clock Improbable," by Maple Dewleaf, closing poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

"Alarm Clock Improbable"
by Maple Dewleaf
from the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam team chapbook "Gossamer Outrage"


Beep, beep, beep!
Shut up!
Beep, beep, beep!
Shut up!

Suddenly the inertia of my mind’s willingness to wake,
And the gravitational pull of my arm to the snooze button
Give me an increment in time just long enough to contemplate
Life, death, breakfast, and

Beep, beep, beep!

Inertia down gravity up
In a whip smash
My clock at the wall
With the
Same swift motion my body out of bed
And making my blankets fall
And I believe that this is when things begin to gravitate
To the space beneath my couch cushions

I am as you are
Due to a series of imaginary rules
Isaac Newton’s puppet
Look at me dance
Look at us dance
Look at my pen scratch across air
Like a dagger to butter

I’m composing a masterpiece in a language
You don’t understand
On stationery you cannot perceive
It’s not even stationary
It’s moving in every direction all the time
And I have to wipe off the residue
Of yours and a million different brains
Just to communicate this to you

All things are one, right
So I see that green light
Therefore that green light, is a constant wall
From source to destination
I look at you looking at me and we are one,
This much is true to everyone we see
You laugh
Alright,
You say; “if that we’re true I could manifest a smoke right now”
You can,
You merely do not comprehend how to do so
I, however, have been cut from Isaac Newton’s strings
Now fathom that I am currently
Kicking your ass, as you are mine,
And holding each other,
Like fruit to vine
But in that we are doing all, all the time
All=1
You can’t win or loose
Now if you can see this
Cut off Newton’s strings forming noose
Around your perception
And simple accept the improbable

Copyright 2011 © Maple Dewleaf Nic Griffin


Maple Dewleaf
Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
Maple Dewleaf 
Born of the smoggy heart of Texas the youngest brother of five to a single mother, Maple Dewleaf was brought into this world a free spirit. As a child he would spend most of his time barefoot and in the forests of Northern Arizona. To this day Huckleberry Finn remains his biggest hero.

He became a significant member of Flagstaff’s poetry slam at the age of 16 while experiencing a slight case of house arrest fever. Having first hitched a ride at the age of 13, swears to this day the best way to catch a ride is to look very undetermined but still focused on something just over the horizon of view.

Dewleaf has worked as a grocery bagger, fence painter, fast-food cook, fry-cook, door installer, the wise hippie janitor of a truck stop, and various street side attractions including musician with classically trained vocals, alleyway poet, psychedelic amusement and $5 dare-taker extraordinaire.

At the ripe old age of almost 20 years, he was given the greatest gift he ever received: Wildflower Clementine, his beautiful daughter. Most days Maple can be found meditating with his gorgeous wife, whom he would crawl hands and knees through barrel cactuses for: Patches Dewleaf and little baby Wildflower, in the hidden woods of Anywhere, America.

"The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit," by Christopher Fox Graham


"The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit," by Christopher Fox Graham, clearing poem at the July 30, 2011, Sedona Poetry Slam at Studio Live, Sedona. I typically don't perform the infamous "Peach" poem at slams I host because it's so well-known, but my mother was a judge and she loves this poem.

"The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit"
By Christopher Fox Graham

the Peach is a damn sexy fruit
if I could love a fruit like a woman
I would love a Peach
strong but soft
sweet but tart
the fuzz tickles my nose
and the sticky dewiness
is finger-licking good

you can keep your apples
Mr. Johnny Appleseed
that turn brown in minutes

you can have your bitter grapefruit
the blinder of eyes at breakfast

tempt me not tomátoes or tom%u0103toes!
cucumbers and zucchinis
those transvestite fruit
masquerading as vegetables!
for shame!
be true to yourselves!
do not deny that you were born as
and will always be fruit!

Coconuts require hammers, screwdrivers, or stones
and I am not into fetishes

Raspberries are too fragile
and can not love my volatility

Strawberries went corporate and sold out
now just fruits of the Man

Bananas are too exotic, too high maintenance
I have no patience for their ego

Cherries are but pop culture prostitutes
in everything from couch syrup to antacids to condoms

give me truth!
give me tenderness!
give me consistency!
give me a Peach!
give me Peaches!
give me millions of Peaches
Peaches for me
millions of Peaches
Peaches for free

you can eat a Peach voraciously
diving into juicy goodness
dribbling down your chin,

or eat it slowly in slices - one by one
you can nip off the skin
bit by tender bit
in a slow seduction
and tongue and suck it to the end

or you can rub that Peach into your face
eating it like a drunk starving monkey
and leave the orgasmic dew
on your cheeks and lips for hours

when complete,
no matter how consumed
you have the core
as a reminder that we are all the same
beneath it all
when our flesh, youth, and vitality are gone

yet...

you can bury the Peach core
to be born again
because the Peach embodies hope
because the Peach embodies life
the Peach is a message
the Peach is sensual
the Peach is you and me
the Peach is a damn sexy fruit

Copyright 2003 © Christopher Fox Graham

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Dear Wildflower," by Maple Dewleaf


"Dear Wildflower," by Maple Dewleaf, third round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.
"Dear Wildflower"
by Maple Dewleaf
from his chapbook "Any Given Sandbox"



Wildflower Clementine Dewleaf
Dear Wildflower
Dear wildflower,
My toothless grinnin’,
Midnight wailing
Straight heart winnin’,
Smooth water sailing,
Big o’ bundle of love.
Right now you’re all mothers’ milk and diapers,
Your first breath was made to let out a wail of presence; all the nurses called you superstar.
I’m sorry to say right now you know more than you ever will.
Your soul is fresh with something ancient and beautiful,
Your all Irish cobblestone carved with long forgotten tools.
If you could just dig the earth below your feet and remember the place where your memories meet.
You’ll always clear the fog to see the sky.
No matter what comes your way you’ll overcome it.
But when you wonder what you’re made of best remember all this before you ask why.
I hope you got your mother’s backbone it was pressed from molten passion,
And has carried her with the weight of the world feeling no heavier than you now.
And I hope you have my nerve and determination so you may never be walked on,
But still tread softly on our world’s green skin
I hope you live fearless with your eyes wide open,
But treat the unknown like a frozen lake, and know when it’s time to leave
Always trust your gut
That I cannot tell you enough.
Stay certain that each day should be filled with as much fun as you can handle, blow out every single birthday candle,
For if wishes became numbered you would use them more wisely.
Wildflower,
You’re as strong and fresh as spring blooming lavender bushes,
Don’t let the world stop your roots, let no wall stop your branches,
You can learn from the trees if you listen, keep your head in the clouds, they’re calling you still,
You are a flower, a beautifully arranged petal collage lotus,
Blooming, in a meadow hidden deep in the unmapped mountains of the heartland.
That’s your every breath, girl,
Moving like mountain breezes,
23
Just wakes you up but most it freezes.
That’s your sunlight, take it in more warm and close than a bath in honey,
You will bloom my baby
You are the beating heart of mother earth’s magnum opus, and you were born just to be the peak of her crescendo and in your eyes are storms of passion waiting to unfurl.

Copyright 2011 © Maple Dewleaf Nic Griffin


Maple Dewleaf
Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
Maple Dewleaf 
Born of the smoggy heart of Texas the youngest brother of five to a single mother, Maple Dewleaf was brought into this world a free spirit. As a child he would spend most of his time barefoot and in the forests of Northern Arizona. To this day Huckleberry Finn remains his biggest hero.

He became a significant member of Flagstaff’s poetry slam at the age of 16 while experiencing a slight case of house arrest fever. Having first hitched a ride at the age of 13, swears to this day the best way to catch a ride is to look very undetermined but still focused on something just over the horizon of view.

Dewleaf has worked as a grocery bagger, fence painter, fast-food cook, fry-cook, door installer, the wise hippie janitor of a truck stop, and various street side attractions including musician with classically trained vocals, alleyway poet, psychedelic amusement and $5 dare-taker extraordinaire.

At the ripe old age of almost 20 years, he was given the greatest gift he ever received: Wildflower Clementine, his beautiful daughter. Most days Maple can be found meditating with his gorgeous wife, whom he would crawl hands and knees through barrel cactuses for: Patches Dewleaf and little baby Wildflower, in the hidden woods of Anywhere, America.

"Line in the Sands," by nodalone


"Line in the Sands," by nodalone aka Shaun Srivastava, third round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

"Line in the Sands"
by nodalone 
from the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam team chapbook "Gossamer Outrage"


At this very moment
in this great state of Arizona
we have congressmen sipping brandy
out of crystal clear snifters with white supremacists
up in Kingman
correlating Mexicans with empty bunk beds
in private prisons that haven’t even been built yet

laughing amongst themselves
comparing the thread counts in their satin sheet disguise
while their allegedly more educated children size up
ivory husk flecked business cards on wall street
and strategize
on how to sell credit default swaps and derivatives
and scams as grand as Egyptian pyramids
trying to tell college kids
staying up all night searching for scholarships
that the “American Dream”
is still alive
even though we can’t seem to escape the fact that it reeks
of formaldehyde

all while the powers that be perpetrate “patriotic ideas”
like repealing the 14th Amendment
to better protect the American public
from the imminent tidal wave
of little brown “anchor babies” and such nasty liberal tactics
as the “Dream Act” that they fancy to frame in a Pandora’s Box called amnesty

so what does one power broker of cultural purity say to the other?
“oh. I know,
we’ll call it SB 1070”
better get your papers, please
matter of fact I think this is a fake ID
step outta the car, Pedro, and get down on your fucking knees
start praying to that blond-haired
blue-eyed Jesus the same way
Governor Jan Brewer does every night before she slips off into her sweet slumber
resting comfortably on her California King sleep number
tallying migrant worker fatalities like counting sheep
before they’re sent off to slaughter

it’s time to tell our “glorious” war hero of a senator
that this country will not be reduced to Berlin
in the mid 1980s
metal walls and electric fences need only be reserved for cattle in this country
you would think that John McCain would be able to better understand
what it means
to be wrongfully imprisoned
simply for crashing in another man’s land

what was that he said again?
“finish the dang fence already?”
desperately pandering to
hypermedicated
understimulated
overweight
postmenopausal baby boomer blank faces
hiding behind the thick irony of straw gardening hats used to lynch Lipton tea bags
who can’t even navigate their way through a subway to order a ham sandwich

so who you gonna stand with?
NPG Cable and Cox Communications don’t collectively control enough
bandwidth
and there are not enough like-minded activists in this great state
to halt the implementation
of this blatantly racist legislative injustice

how much longer must we wait?
until we see Sheriff Joe Arpaio
dressed in standard-issue
Maricopa County pink jumpsuits sporting
stainless steel shackles enraged
developing strain polyps encaged
behind miles and miles of 20-foot tall chain-link fences

why don’t we just erase the border altogether
and sever the umbilical cord that is funneling federal funding
to that double-wide tractor trailer mechanical combine
of ignorance and hate
that is raping lady liberty and get back to
what that statue on Ellis Island really means

to be that faint glimmer at the end of the tunnel
for those families willing to risk their lives
so their children can grow up to one day realize
that opportunity
is more than that just an abstract term in the middle of an English dictionary

so why does it seem so quiet?
you should be rocking back and forth red in the face and screaming
hell, you’re already on top of the mountain
why don’t you go home and
Google Jim Crow and
come back next week and start shouting

because you see the truth is
history …
is gonna judge our generation
not by what we believed in,
but by what we didn’t.

Copyright 2011 © nodalone Shaun Srivastava




nodalone
Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber
nodalone 
Originally from East Lansing, Mich., Shaun Srivastava, aka nodalone, moved to Flagstaff in 2008 to attend Northern Arizona University.

While quietly writing poetry for many years, nodalone has only recently begun performing his spoken word at slams and various events throughout Arizona.

Preferring to use his platform to address current political, cultural, and social issues, the poet gives a performance that captures the power of the issue in a personal and passionate style.

He will complete degrees in both exercise science and psychology in 2012, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.

"A 1,000 Best Days," by Mikel Weisser


"A 1,000 Best Days," by Mikel Weisser, third round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.


Mikel Weisser
Son of a nightclub singer, Kingman slam poet Mikel Weisser spent his teens as a hitchhiker.

Since then Weisser has gone on to receive a masters in literature and a masters in secondary education, published hundreds of freelance magazine and newspaper articles and political comedy columns, along with seven books of poetry and short fiction.

A former homeless shelter administrator, contestant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and survivor of his first wife's suicide, Weisser teaches junior high history and English in Bullhead City.

He and his wife, Beth, have turned their So-Hi, Ariz., property into a peace sign theme park.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Fever Dreams," by Valence aka Tyler Sirvinskas


"Fever Dreams," by Valence aka Tyler Sirvinskas, third round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.
"Fever Dreams"
by Valence
from the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam team chapbook "Gossamer Outrage"

Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
 Valence will perform at the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday,
July 30.
It’s been a long time since I watched the leaves skip through the empty street.
Nothing else calms me in these fever dreams but the passing of trains in-between delta wave sleep and the celluloid carousel vignette it brings.
Through the green-tinted Metra windows, dark nimbostratus soothe my fearful heart,
and the nervous fever follows suit against the glowing pavement — moist and soon to frost, cobblestones along the parkway shine from lights that dot the fog. As the benches dampen in the rain, I know we forget the womb for our own good, sighing lonely splendor for love that we have lost.
and I’ve lost just enough to know what’s worth keeping, it isn’t what most think but the things that keep most going are the first things to go, I go it alone so I think I would know this.
and I know the edge of these lips should end with joy, I remember how the arms of my grandmother make me a child
and while the memory takes my open, swinging hand as lovers never would, dancing Campanula warm my soul, the empty streets...
Nothing else can paint the skyline vista from atop the Gothic steeple’s snowy shingles,
hidden watching revelers through warm-lit window panes, trading in organic eros all for Nike’s wings — but when I dream, I’m walking off that Metra at dusk, trailing daylight’s last venture like the stepping stone path to a boyhood home,
and in the garden I watch the roses grow at the tombstones of prior eras’ chosen,
and I’m hearing dead voices sing beautiful things
sing like parking garages echo sounds of life outside
sing to try to form their human hands into a heart-shaped cradle
but most people don’t listen like the streets are empty anymore
the child speaks,
and I actually listen
to what the world sounds like
and whispers to him
Nights he stares out the window
to watch the leaves skip ’til they sing him to sleep
and I waltz to that rhythm with ghosts down the street
where weeping mortar mausoleums make for timeless prose;
where the bones are mere ephemera
where this earth is open-armed,
standing testament to victory
27
as the night gives way to dawn
your bones still bear the memory of purest sunlit womb
know your life is but a memory, a dream that ambles on
Copyright 2011 © Valence Tyler Sirvinskas



Valence
Tyler Sirvinskas, aka Valence, is a poet among other things.
Valence has been a slam poet since 2010 and new to the format of slam, but not to the art of writing.

After living 14 years in Chicago, he has spent six years and counting in Arizona.

"Goodbye," by Ryan Brown


"Goodbye," by Ryan Brown, third round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

Ryan Brown is a kid from Phoenix who spends most of his time posing as a writer and poet. He now goes to school and lives in Flagstaff, where he is the SlamMaster of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam.

Ryan Brown represented the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

"Today, he Woke Up with Visions of the Future," by Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Erlic


"Today, he Woke Up with Visions of the Future," by Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Erlich, third round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich

Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich
Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. Fifteen years later she started spitting poems at FlagSlam. The first time she slammed, she shook like a leaf, but now she commands the audience.

Now at 18, she is staring into a world of open doors, not sure of which ones to walk through. She believes that life is all about fun and happiness, and we must learn to make it just that.

Like a child, she’s constantly curious and eager to see what life’s all about, and eager to find out. Writing is one of the many ways she expresses her audacity for life. Performing her poetry for three years now, she believes that slam poetry isn’t just a competition, but a tool, one to be heard.

"Orion" by Christopher Fox Graham


"Orion"
By Christopher Fox Graham
For Azami

MapQuest the miles in the sky
it's easier to find you that way
than to traipse the hills between us

begin at Betelgeuse,
the moment we met
you, smiling as a stranger yet to know me
me, tripping over words
until I learn the rhythm to match you
we trace the lines
the midnights you teach me the art of touch
the mathematics of how to hold you
wrap starstrings of limbs to encase you
and become a hammock for your dreams

I first kiss you
near the lips of Meissa
taste the words camping in your backyard tongue
bring them inside mine
swirl them around until they lost track of their speaker
and became one breath

on the edge of Belatrix
we start our roadtrips
showing you all the places I loved
atlasing each one in sequence into new memories
snapping photographs for future shoeboxes
and Facebook updates

the fights erupt near Mintaka
parry, thrust, riposte,
we practice the arts of combat
study the hows and ways of pushing each other
you always win the battles, even if you don’t believe me

near Alnilam, you proffer forgiveness
and I discover how to say "sorry"
without losing face
on the brink of the Horsehead Nebula
I dive into all your stories
bleed out all of mine
let you examine all my sins
with the enthusiasm of a hell-bent prosecutor
working an open-and-shut case
but on the executioner's block
before the guillotine blade drops
the electric chair switch makes contact
or the Sodium Pentothal entered the vein
the pardon comes
and into my arms you sweep like a storm
tsunaming my defenses to wreckage
and calling me back to bed

we swim to the Orion Nebula
lovers in the surf of a black and white movie
drenched in the waves
as if to tell Nature and the gods,
"your eternity will not outlast us"
"our kisses will still come ferociously
long after this sand is washed away to bedrock
and the waves have evaporated in the heat of a dying sun"
"Your mighty Olympus will fall into Eden's vacant valleys
before we yield to your earthquakes
shrug off lightning bolts and burning bushes"
"our pulses will be the last thing the universe will hear
before entropy turns all the matters into orphaned atoms
finding lonely refuge in the dark"

we lost ourselves in those nebulas
swallowing stardust to give birth to new suns
we seemed to live there for eons of mortal time
just black sheets, bare skin, whispered poems
smiles and slumber

but in the bliss, we drift just past Alniltak,
and differences became too much too bear
so we kiss for last time
make love for the last time
said our last words as lovers
and go our own way

You sail on to Saiph,
I go home to Rigel
leaving phone numbers scarred on each other's aorta
mine still beats out the ten digits daily
when the moment feels right
and in the time it takes to draw a line between them
with the tip of finger remembering the sequence
we fold space like bedsheets in the blink of eye
so two points become one

and we cross the thousands of light years
become lovers again, drunk instead on words
remember the old times,
the joys in Orion and Horsehead,
the battles of Alniltak, Alnilam and Mentaka
the road routes to Belatrix
the kiss of Meissa
and the first hello in the orbit of Betelgeuse
but when the phone clicks off
and the points unfold,
you shine in Saiph
and I glow bright above Rigel
so we can see each other

and if on some little world called Earth
where two lovers like us
gaze up and see us shining on the same night and wonder
so be it
navigate by us if you will
send wishes heavenward if you think it'll do any good
but know we don't glimmer for you
we, instead, burn brilliant so the other can see us
and know that despite it all
love travels faster than light
and our story is wide as a constellation

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Dear Prime Minister of Canada" aka "There is a Girl in Your Country," performed by Christopher Fox Graham


"Dear Prime Minister of Canada" aka "There is a Girl in Your Country," performed by Christopher Fox Graham at the Sedona Poetry Slam at Studio Live on July 30, 2011. My ridiculously long love poem.

"There is a Girl in Your Country:
An open letter to Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada"

By Christopher Fox Graham
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, prime
minister of Canada, doing something both
Canadiany and prime minstery in his office.
Dear Prime Minister of Canada
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, PC MP

On behalf of your neighbor to the south, we surrender.
Since you set ablaze our White House in 1814,
we have tried to resist you
we have mocked your accent
rejected your poutine
stolen your best actors
filmed Oscar-winners in Vancouver and called it Seattle
and neglected to learn the geography of your provinces

that ends today.
invade us,
we now offer no resistance.
bring us your socialized health care
your mandatory two-week paid vacations
your high literacy rate and clean streets

we will begin adding extra “U”s to our words
pronounce Honour, Colour and Armour
as they are intended
we will adapt our tongues to “A-Geinst” and “A-Boat”
remeasure miles in kilometers
pounds in kilograms
turn our thermostats down to minus-15,
in Celsius, not Fahrenheit
and adapt our skins to the inevitable northern winds
soon to blow hence,

send your Mounties south
we’ll great them with open arms,
our citizens will drive just below the speed limit
and start smoking copious amounts of marijuana,
Governor-General Barack Obama, of the United
Provinces of Southern Canada, walking with Canadian
Prime Minister Stephan Harper shortly after the
surrender.
but do so responsibly
as you so nobly taught us

Dear Prime Minister Harper,
welcome us as your brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth
put in a good word for us with the Queen
we will rename the U.S. Congress
the Parliament of the United Provinces of Southern Canada —
it was due for an overhaul anyway —
and spend the next decade learning how that shit works
let us keep Governor-General Obama during the transition
until Her Royal Highness appoints a new French-speaker to the post

The Royal American Marines Corps
By first prefixing the pedestrian “USS” with the regal “Royal”
the Royal American Navy will begin renaming warships
and sail home to merely protect our shores

The Royal American Marines will inscribe
“Toujours fidèle” beneath “Semper Fidelis”
on all their stationary

in revenge for Terrance and Phillip,
we’ll execute Trey Parker and Matt Stone to make amends
but since capital punishment is banned in Canada,
we’ll sentence them to creating tourist videos for the CBC

We're sorry Trey Parker and Matt Stone tried to kill
Terrence and Phillip, the world's two most famous
Canadians.
Once your conquest is complete
once our schools have risen to your minimum standards
once “Bonjour!” and “Hallo” is as common
as “Howdy” and “ ’Sup dawg?”
then I ask one favor
one small request in payment
to the unconditional surrender
of our bald eagle sovereignty
to your maple leaf dominance:

with the border fluid
and immigration law a mute point
I’m searching for someone

there is a girl in your country

she is easy to overlook
because she stays in the shadows
avoids the cameras on busy streets
though you can find her at festivals
dancing barefoot at the center of the world
as though the stars forged visas from heaven
slipped passed the earthly border guards to stand in the plazas
sleeve their glow in human bodies around her
and dance until the setting moon revokes their passports
calls them home to press their lips into constellations
you will not know she is here
until someone asks later if you saw the midnight sun
swirling the street in the afterglow of the stage lights
I’ll admit I’ve never seen an aurora
but I imagine it feels like her laughter
and I know why polar bears and icesheets
stay north of the Arctic Circle
because that’s as close as they can get to her

do not stake out hotels
thinking she’ll slip in some night
she can sleep in ditches,
on strangers’ rooftops,
the beds of pickup trucks
or backyard trampolines,
anywhere she can find 10 square feet
and quiet until the dawn

The Trans-Canada Highway is 8,000 kilometers long.
instead, you can search for her on the wide open Trans-Canada Highway
somewhere between St. John’s and Beacon Hill Park
I know it’s 8,000 kilometers,
so keep your eyes peeled
if you see her, it’ll be by outstretched thumb first
I know Canadian winters can be harsh
but you will identify her by her smile
because it will keep you warm no matter the season
now, her unpasteurized joy will take longer
first, she’ll get comfortable in the seat,
ask you your history
and wait for your story

speak slow,
tell your story as best as you can recall
she asks many questions and will cross reference your answers
she will forgive a faulty memory
as long as the words as spoken sincerely
and know that even if she’s not listening to your every word
she’s interpreting the sound of your voice
so be honest
do not lie to her
she will see your fabrications before you can erect them
sweep kick them out from under you
and leave you splayed out on the floor
before the lies can even leave your lips

Cato the Younger, who wrote about honour
she will play the role of stranger
drop lines of prepackaged wisdom
play her preshuffled hand of cards
but this is still her shell,
her way to test your defenses
judge whether you’re worth a second try
here, I can offer no advice
— she still gauges me with every phone call —
the game has no trick to win it;
it’s a measure of character or honor
something no one can give you and none can take away

if you don’t have it,
you can drop her at the next stop for gas,
and thanks for the lift,
but if she sees it,
she knows you’re worth more than a ride

she will start to unpeel herself like cloves of garlic
each one covered in its own thin armor
let drops of stories unshelter their instruction
she’s taken the hammer and nails of her ambition
and realized potential to build bridges
for the rest of us to walk across


and somewhere between Havana and San Salvador
on the Black Rock City playa
over a bento box lunch in Sapporo,
Black Rock City, Nevada
her joy will hit like a hidden tsunami
you didn’t see coming
sweep you away from shelter or shoreline
as those waters fill your lungs
you’ll wonder just how you were so oblivious for so long
how could you have not felt the energy she bottled

in her stories
she will teach you that borders
are lines drawn by men in office buildings
who live a fluorescent fiction of a world still flat
men who believe maps and flags and anthems
mean more than blood and handshakes and laughter
men who’ve never dreamed beneath stars she counts nightly
men who’ve never felt the first kiss between sun and Grand Canyon
shake morning reds into the eons-old stone

men who’ve never heard peasants thank Dios
for a vote that finally counts
in a country that is finally theirs

in these life stories of her travels
you’ll understand why she cast off worn shoes
to walk barefoot in the dirt
and spin fire from her arms in the desert
but leave no footprints to follow
just the earthquakes and scars
in those of us who ache for her return
the way zealots pray for messiahs
in their late night confessions the day before martyrdom
she’s a first-aid kit for boys like me
who didn’t know they were broken-hearted before her
she moves in like chess pieces on a board of checkers
brings a Howitzer to knife fight
lets loose a Pamplona herd in a china shop
but will offer to sweep up afterward

I’ll admit her tomboy tongue blindsides on idle Tuesdays
as if the ancient six-day week cleaved open just for her,
added one more day and said
“fuck the mathematics of calendars”
if she could sleep for days
cuddled in a boy’s arms
she’d surrender the world
but the urge to burn and rage at end of day
pulls her back into the dreamlessness
there are too many stories to live
too many fingertips to touch
tornadoes can’t stay stationary either despite the scenery


if you can’t find her on the road
you can search the boxcars,
ask hobos about a girl made of hula hoops
whose pulse thumps in rhythm to railroad ties
pickup all the hitchhikers you find
and en route between points A and B
subtlety ask if a dark-haired, brown-eyed dancer
with weathered hands and a black bandana
has recently shared a meal with them
offered to manufacture a tutu or
sew leg warmers from leftover sleeves


know that in summers she melts into the woods
to reforest what we clear
make amends for civilization’s sins


Yukon men won’t admit it
but they came century too early
and weren’t looking for gold
they came to clear the roads for her
give the earth a wound for her to heal
to train her surgeon hands


if all else fails,
you can coax her into the open
by leaving out a plate of melted cheese and fresh garlic
I guarantee she is unable to resist them
it make take years, so make it fresh every few hours
and she’ll track you down one day


once you find her
give her a warm bed
with no annoying alarm clocks
keep her unchained and unlocked
left free to roam or return on her whim
she may pilgrimage to ashrams or overlooks
or cathedrals cut into stone
awaken the third eye in prophets and psychics
who’ve never looked too deep but foresaw her coming
she instigates greatness in those too afraid to birth it themselves


she may still wander away in the day
call down the sun and the moon to dance at dusk
beg Orion to share her arms
and press her lips against new strangers


but if she leaves you, do not chase her,
she befriends guerrillas and revolutionaries
who give her sanctuary like she was a daughter
they will fight to keep her unyielding
know that she growls back at coyotes
chases them from her playgrounds
and though she may ache for warm limbs beneath bedsheets
she can find midnight outdoor air just as soothing
she’s too fierce to hold on to too tightly
she can bite open a boy she loves from the eyebrow down
so imagine what she does to transgressors

I will not fault you if she leaves
just let me know where you last saw her
point me in the general direction of her last appearance
she’s worth the pursuit
whatever you may think of her
she is more

Dear Prime Minister,
if you vow to search for her
if you promise to give it your all
you can have this country
take whatever you want from it
import our monuments like the caesars did obelisks
rename our parks after your heroes
impose your laws or revoke ours
redraw our states into a grid
or the image of Pikachu
it doesn’t matter to me anymore
just demolish the borders between us
erase the lines that divide

leave the office building
to share the blood and handshakes and laughter
without the nomenclature of nations
dream beneath her stars
feel the sun kiss canyons and mountains
give us the freedom of movement to find each other
because whatever you believe I think of her
she is more

Copyright 2011 © Christopher Fox Graham

"Rhetoric," by nodalone


"Rhetoric," by nodalone aka Shaun Srivastava, second round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

Rhetoric
By nodalone

Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber
nodalone 
It’s three grand a plate
At a private estate
For a two-hour conservative ladies’ luncheon
For new up-and-comers
That reads
“Plus one” on the invitation
It’s stepping up and carving out your own pound of flesh
It’s cheeky bumper stickers in succession until they’re finally convinced
It’s a little black cocktail dress with stilettos and fishnets
Its sephora war paint skepticism
It’s a bastardized and perpetually rewritten religion
It’s a brand of polyamorous submission so private
They don’t even let God listen in
It’s warmed over and well-dressed aggression
It’s xenophobic
Head in the sand
Ass up ostrich resentment
It’s a black president
It’s young male Muslims in a Lexus
It’s your own
Gas guzzling
However thinly veiled distorted American reflection
In a roadside rest stop mirror
8
Playing kabuki theater with inarticulate
And confederate fears
It’s letting you think
That this time around
You’re actually gonna get a chance to steer
It’s blank checks made payable to national ignorance
It’s one dollar scratch-off lottery fingertips
It’s working class subdivision cul-de-sac competition
Its midday, Midtown Manhattan
And the living ghost off a broke Annie Leibovitz
Muttering to herself
“what the hell just happened?”
It’s every last fanatic in Westboro, Kansas
Googling Ayn Rand
Pistol gripping the fading light of white male protestant privilege
It’s the latest
Rabid
Cable news hit list
It’s Clear Channels’ 24-hour commitment to bearing false witness
It’s buy the ticket
Spin the wheel insanity
It’s cardboard cutout Christianity
Meets David Copperfield kind of clarity
Parroting
Permanent marker restroom crucifix comparisons
Swearing it’s the end of days
Praying your FaceBook
Crosshair topography conjures
Dueling Pennsylvania Avenue hand cannon
Constitutional revolution
It’s no longer innuendo
When your district representative
Has a handful of bullet holes through their front window
Yet when said rhetoric gets manifested in northwest Tucson
At about 10 a.m. on the second Saturday in January
Politics turns to puddles of platelets
In a department store parking lot
reflecting the irony of a red sign reading
“Safeway”
Within hours Jared Loughner was stuffed
Into a little metal coffin labeled
“deranged lone gunman”
Who had a hard-on for one Arizona congresswoman
It’s clearly not an act of terror
There’s no evidence to suggest
That her extended magazine trephining
Was in any way
Politically motivated
Nor a function of a certain contemporary
Brand of Republican rhetoric
Let’s not even dare postulate
As to the young man’s leanings
And ideologies
No, see
She’s just the latest
In a long
exhausting
seemingly continuous list
of victimized innocence
at the hands of some suburban kid’s
empty existential crisis
consigning patriotism for racism
at a gun show at three-fifths the price
despite
recycled arguments and incessant
Second Amendment references
their rhetoric remains infectious
as it falls on the ears of clear
and cloudy minds alike
but in this country
the difference between a sick kid
and a terrorist
is that one of those guys is white.


Copyright 2011 © nodalone Shaun Srivastava



nodalone

Originally from East Lansing, Mich., Shaun Srivastava, aka nodalone, moved to Flagstaff in 2008 to attend Northern Arizona University.

While quietly writing poetry for many years, nodalone has only recently begun performing his spoken word at slams and various events throughout Arizona.

Preferring to use his platform to address current political, cultural, and social issues, the poet gives a performance that captures the power of the issue in a personal and passionate style.

He will complete degrees in both exercise science and psychology in 2012, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.

"My Flock," by Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Erlich


"My Flock," by Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Erlich, second round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.


"My Flock"
by Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich 
published in the 2011 FlagSlam National Poetry Slam team chapbook "Gossamer Outrage"



Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich
Born into a world that taught me life was a prison,
I was constantly trying to escape,
Trying to drain my soul from the confines of my veins,
I used to give myself near death experiences,
There’s no living like near death,
I tatted my arm in every tear I’ve ever cried,
I got a sleeve to prove it,
Do it yourself prison tattoos,
Even if they do fade,
They’re still permanent,
This is one of the only consistencies in my life,
Besides the fact that we’re all born with only one guarantee,
Someday, we’re going to die,
It’s just a matter of time,
And so far my life had just been prison time,
The walls of this tin can trailer are makeshift prison bars,
The baggage that my family claims is my ball and chain,
The skin trapping my soul in my body was a metaphorical straightjacket,
Until I met you guys,
Like an epiphany you made me realize,
That all boundaries are imaginary,
That boundaries are only created by people who are afraid to think outside of the box,
Y’all taught me not to fear that box,
Because it’s only cardboard,
And i can just burn it down,
Y’all showed me my fire,
It used to be wild,
I’d burn forests,
But now I just burn trees,
And on these trees,
I climb higher,
At the top of these trees,
I touch the sky,
And I fly,
In the prison of my body I never recognized my own reflection,
But you, Saw me for who I am,
And you showed me my wings,
Y’all taught me to fly,
And I’ll fly with you for the rest of my life,
Because you’re my flock,
You’re my family,
We’ll be the V in the sky
V meaning Veni Vidi Vici,
We came, we saw, we CONQUERED,
Y’all helped me to conquer,
Because when the family that birthed me was slowly pulling apart my seams,
You’d be the family that knew how to sew,
You’re my needle and thread,
Together we can fix any tear,
When I was oh so close to drowning,
You were my life jacket,
Rescuing me from my shipwreck of a self,
You showed this stubborn captain that sometimes it’s OK to abandon the ship,
There’s another one out there,
And the oceans, still need to be sailed,
Although I feared those killer whales,
Y’all taught me life lessons like fairy tales,
Because the world is the Big Bad Wolf,
It was constantly breaking down my walls,
But you two helped me to rebuild them,
Even stronger,
Now the Big Bad Wolf can’t fuck with me,
Because not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin will we let you in,
We lock the world out,
We make our own world,
Where the sky is not the limit,
Because there are no limits,
My body is not a prison, it is a weapon,
And I shall fight for the rest of my life,
For my blue skies, and my late nights,
And I just hope you’ll always be by my side.

Copyright 2011 © Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich


Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich

Taylor Marie Kayonnie-Ehrlich was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. Fifteen years later she started spitting poems at FlagSlam. The first time she slammed, she shook like a leaf, but now she commands the audience.

Now at 18, she is staring into a world of open doors, not sure of which ones to walk through. She believes that life is all about fun and happiness, and we must learn to make it just that.

Like a child, she’s constantly curious and eager to see what life’s all about, and eager to find out. Writing is one of the many ways she expresses her audacity for life. Performing her poetry for three years now, she believes that slam poetry isn’t just a competition, but a tool, one to be heard.

"These Words," by Mikel Weisser


"These Words," by Mikel Weisser, second round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.


These Words
By Mikel Weisser
March, 22-25, 2011

Oh the rivers of blood i have waded through
And the oceans of tears that have washed over me
Oh all the death that's been dealt to me
and all the ugly scenes i have seen
for on Tuesdays at 6pm
teen misery flows my way.

for i am the teen poet's best friend
an adult with a sound system
who's not afraid of the word "fuck."
That's right i fucking said "fuck."
As the host of Teen Misery Tuesdays
i hear it often fucking enough
& whereas most adults shake their heads, "Why THOSE words?"
I just say, "Who's next?"
There's only so much time
we got a lot of misery to go--

I mean, you hear the craziest things like,
"motherfuckin' this, & motherfuckin' that
some motherfuckin' motherfucker
motherfucked my cat." and shit like that

And once every couple of months
there's some variation of  "Ode to My Latest Girlfriend"
something like:
"Oh sweet love in my pick-up truck..."
and as soon as i hear that i'm thinking what the fuck
another goddamned time and another messed rhyme
God how many more times am i'm supposed to
go through another june-moon-spoon?
but mostly it's just misery. see--

Blake's been off the chemo for two months
but the hair's still not coming back
he's sick of tiger-stripe pajamas
to go with his wardrobe of bandanas
sick of being sick
sick of missing his brother
though they still live in the same house

Here with her latest evisceration
Sylvie's mad at dad again
the insults they've hurled at each other since last week
+ cleverly words litanies of slights she recalls from her past
her dreams masquerading as a steel edged "think i give a fuck?"
except for the recurring white doves
that alight on the corners of her stanzas.
all her silky suicide songs
placed on the path about
five steps past her last safe place
& fifteen metaphors deep
in synonyms for death

Janice's blade
Virginia's blade
Julie's Blade
the cut and bright pain/the cut and bright pain
the coming and going of unsightly stains
but ya betcha every poem always comes back to
the beauty of life
yes, the beauty of life
even if it's only the glory
of the glory in the beauty of the pain

& and now maybe this's payback for the times
i knew no one was listening
to the mental nooses i knotted
& maybe my smeary prints
still clutching crumpled pages
But every now and then
i pick the right poem to answer back with
when some particular misery comes sprawling
some kid spends the whole night writing about dying
instead of trying it
maybe the sharp object she reaches for
flows ink, not red.

but for now Billy's just hitting on the new chick
comparing her to the flippin'
4th of July or some shit
you know,
basically saying she's hot

 & then that old familiar line
takes that old familiar rhyme:
"Of all the miraculous things god's given me for luck--
and i know right away where the poem's going
And i find that i am struck
by the stark raving desire
to yell "You write that shit
you figure it out
you are capable
you are immense
don't let this shit kill ya
you got this

this
is just the pain of the universe giving you your turn
this is just life overflowing over and over and over again
And your words, are the rocks, maybe even boulders,
you can stand on if you can stand it
These words share what fire you've got
your echo will fill more than my sound system
these words will keep us all alive
so yeah, go ahead and say 'em
fuck yeah.

Copyright 2011 © Mikel Weisser



Mikel Weisser
Son of a nightclub singer, Kingman slam poet Mikel Weisser spent his teens as a hitchhiker.

Since then Weisser has gone on to receive a masters in literature and a masters in secondary education, published hundreds of freelance magazine and newspaper articles and political comedy columns, along with seven books of poetry and short fiction.

A former homeless shelter administrator, contestant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and survivor of his first wife's suicide, Weisser teaches junior high history and English in Bullhead City.

He and his wife, Beth, have turned their So-Hi, Ariz., property into a peace sign theme park.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Walking," by Maple Dewleaf


"Walking," by Maple Dewleaf, second round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.


"Walking"
by Maple Dewleaf
from his chapbook "Any Given Sandbox"



There are people out there walking down the street with no other obligation than to walk down the street. But nowadays most people walk a different beat.
Personalities swearing important without the individuality to back it up.
Now back it up.
There’s people walking right outside on the street, don’t have the money to pay for food or shoes on their feet.
And you’re paying for four wall leash padlocks, weaves of chain tying you to your houses that are thicker than Caribbean dreadlocks.
I saw a kid asking people for the definition of value, spreading puzzled faces and deep thought thicker than forest fires.
And you’re still wearing leashes.
As companies like leeches pull the sweat and blood out of your bodies so they run million-dollar cruises, trading paperwork to ensure a little boy in sweatshop’s bruises.
To find relaxation, and you let them relax. But you see their leashes.
You have the golden opportunity to look at this society’s foundation, laugh and walk away.
Instead you knuckle white force a smile
And keep working
To get you dollars
Just so you can turn around and hand them back.
Your morning alarm is becoming the sound of a whip crack.
Now take it a few steps back.
Deep in almost everybody’s brain there is a train track.
Following machines?
You trust just what’s fact.
You are a human, you breathe, you sleep, eat drink, and can think,
If you want.
Every lock has a key that you hold,
but your never gonna open a thing doing just what your told.
Perhaps stepping out of routine for you now is, only as far as peeping out a keyhole.
And moving towards, removing toward, removing things like starbucks out of your diet
Is where your at right now.
That’s alright,
All the trails we will ever know, start off with baby shoes and rough
Copyright 2011 © Maple Dewleaf Nic Griffin


Maple Dewleaf
Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
Maple Dewleaf 
Born of the smoggy heart of Texas the youngest brother of five to a single mother, Maple Dewleaf was brought into this world a free spirit. As a child he would spend most of his time barefoot and in the forests of Northern Arizona. To this day Huckleberry Finn remains his biggest hero.

He became a significant member of Flagstaff’s poetry slam at the age of 16 while experiencing a slight case of house arrest fever. Having first hitched a ride at the age of 13, swears to this day the best way to catch a ride is to look very undetermined but still focused on something just over the horizon of view.

Dewleaf has worked as a grocery bagger, fence painter, fast-food cook, fry-cook, door installer, the wise hippie janitor of a truck stop, and various street side attractions including musician with classically trained vocals, alleyway poet, psychedelic amusement and $5 dare-taker extraordinaire.

At the ripe old age of almost 20 years, he was given the greatest gift he ever received: Wildflower Clementine, his beautiful daughter. Most days Maple can be found meditating with his gorgeous wife, whom he would crawl hands and knees through barrel cactuses for: Patches Dewleaf and little baby Wildflower, in the hidden woods of Anywhere, America.

"Open Letter to the Dissidents of My Generation," by Valence aka Tyler Sirvinskas


Photo courtesy of Tara Graeber 
 Valence
"Open Letter to the Dissidents of My Generation," by Valence aka Tyler Sirvinskas, second round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.


Valence

Tyler Sirvinskas, aka Valence, is a poet among other things.
Valence has been a slam poet since 2010 and new to the format of slam, but not to the art of writing.

After living 14 years in Chicago, he has spent six years and counting in Arizona.

"When We Were First Introduced," by Ryan Brown



"When We Were First Introduced," by Ryan Brown, second round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

Ryan Brown is a kid from Phoenix who spends most of his time posing as a writer and poet. He now goes to school and lives in Flagstaff, where he is the SlamMaster of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam.

Ryan Brown represented the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Staring at the Milky Way with One Eye Closed," by Christopher Fox Graham


"Staring at the Milky Way with One Eye Closed," by Christopher Fox Graham, sorbet poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

"Staring at the Milky Way With One Eye Closed"
26 Sept. 2006-15 May 2007

Staring at the Milky Way with one eye closed
details in the clouds of shapes elude pinpointing
the brightest ones egotistically outshine their humble siblings
burning their age-old sociology over distance and time
only now reaching my half-blind awareness

if I lay still for an hour
the whole sky rotates enough for me to feel
the morning hours away
but for now, the night holds sway
that dark Earth below holds its secrets
coyotes yelp in their hide-and-seeks between the lights
marking the miles between irrelevant cities

I haven’t seen shooting stars in months
and the eager sky readily supplies signal flares on the periphery
as if they lamented my absence too

but in the tender brilliance of falling stars
sending goodbyes to satellites
stereoscopic disability flattens everything into two dimensions

denied depth, the hazy constellations stand near enough
to reach out and reorder as if i spilled them on velvet
i reached up with both hands
and gazed at each one through my fingers
and pretended for a moment i was god,
and I remember feeling this childlike before ...

although the days tick by in perfect chronological sequence
the specks above tonight measure the same distance apart as always
and the constellations remain impervious
to our rearrangements, reinterpretations and renamings

you see, I learned all their names once
at the same time I was structuring the proper order of the alphabet
my father, raised in a family too poor to afford telescopes,
would relate the stories of each one as we lay on the roof
cheaper than television
we shared the stars

he explained how geometric shape of hunter, virgin and beast
came to rise from earthly mothers
into Greek mythology
and into the heavenly bodies
we still use to find our way home

what stories he had heard at the same age I was
and remembered until he had a son
and which ones he manufactured at the moment
to keep my childish attention skyward
I’m still uncertain because I lost him years ago

but taken from this soil
and raised into the cosmos for a night
I sailed on the satellite of his voice into the exosphere
as he surreptitiously showed me
how all science fiction writers
came to dream their space opera epics

you see, their fathers instilled in them
the dream of sailing between

the Dark Side

and the Light

but the distance between stars is not measured in parsecs
but in the imagination of a boy thinking his father is godlike
because if you tilt your head ... just so
and remember that even angels
paint connect-the-dots pictures
the clump to the right in the shape of an arrow
with the semi-circle that arcs out from the side
really does look like a hunter
if you believe the man who tells you it does
and when he asks
if you can see it
for the first time in your young life
the way you see the world actually matters to someone
because it means he’s doing the right thing


“Yes, dad, I see the hunter,
he chases through the clouds and gases hiding in the shadows and staying downwind of his prey.
You can tell by the way the Milky Way is drifting to the Southwest tonight”

and in the stars I had my father
he told me the stories of the placement
and calculated the precise mathematics:
“These two stars will always be the distance between two fingers.”
“That constellation is always the breadth of one palm,
if you stretch out your thumb to touch that star first.”

the measurements in the heavens never change
because they give us a path home
despite the distance we grow from it
I wish I had known that then,
because I would have told that boy
to place his father somewhere in the heavens
so that he would forever know
the number of steps it takes to find him
but this rotating world
hides the stars behind the sun for half a day
and in the daylight
my father found a place to hide from me
so now I can’t even find him in the night

I still have the stars and the stories
but the man who taught them to me
disappeared into them both
so never ask me again why I don’t believe in God
look to the stars,
find him,
sketch out what points define his shape
and point him out to a boy still on a rooftop
tell him you can see god
in the geometry of random placement
because to me, today
those shape are just specks
I know anyone can rename the constellations
the measurements above never change
but we don’t learn from their loyalty
how to live
so if you find a man who looks like me
with twenty more revolutions on his face
lying on a rooftop, measuring the distance between stars with his fingers
tell him to stop counting
because the mathematics of the constellations never change
no matter how many satellites we send up to double-check
it’s the people down below who grow apart
and most never find a way back home

but sometimes there are boys
who remember they way fathers could be godlike
when they were too young
and too stupid to know any better

but on some nights like these,
when that boy,
now this poet
gazes skyward with one eye open
he imagines that his father is alongside him
and for a while,
before his vision gets hazy
a certain mass of glowing dots
really does look like a hunter
heading back across the heavens
to teach his son
everything he knows
about hunting stars

Copyright 2006 © Christopher Fox Graham 

"I've Wanted to Blend Together With You," by Ryan Brown



"I've Wanted to Blend Together With You," by Ryan Brown, first round poem in the Sedona Poetry Slam on Saturday, July 30, 2011.

Ryan Brown is a kid from Phoenix who spends most of his time posing as a writer and poet. He now goes to school and lives in Flagstaff, where he is the SlamMaster of the FlagSlam Poetry Slam.

Ryan Brown represented the Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Team in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Haiku Death Match at GumptionFest VI!

GumptionFest VI's Haiku Death Match, aka GF6HDM

As in past years, we will hold a Haiku Death Match at GumptionFest VI.

GumptionFest VI will be Friday to Sunday, Sept. 16 to 18, along Coffee Pot Drive in West Sedona.

The Haiku Death Match will be held Sunday, Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. at the Best of Show Stage, on the corner of Yavapai and Coffee Pot drives.

Grand Prize: $17

A Haiku Death Match is a competitive poetry duel that is a subgenre of poetry slam. The Haiku Death Match is a prominent feature at the annual National Poetry Slam, replete with full costume for the host, Jim Navé from Taos, N.M. or Daniel Ferri.

At GumptionFest VI, we will attempt to hold a Haiku Death Match as similar to the NPS version as possible.

What is haiku?
Haiku (俳句) is a form of Japanese poetry consisting of 17 syllables in three metrical phrases of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables.

Japanese haiku typically contain a kigo, or seasonal reference, and a kireji or verbal caesura. In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku.

What is slam haiku?
Slam haiku used in a Haiku Death Match is far simpler: Use of three or fewer lines of 17 syllables. Slam haiku can be anything from a single 17-syllable line or simply 17 words. Two of mine:
Traditional 5-7-5 haiku
Serial Killer Haiku
Funny you should ask
my trunk can fit two Boy Scouts
and a grandmother

American 17-syllable haiku
Grammar Haiku:
Why isn't "phonetic" spelled phonetically?
While you think, let's make out

A standard Haiku Death Match is conducted thus:
The host randomly draws the names of two poets, known as haikusters, from the pool of competitors.
The haikusters adorn headbands of two colors: Red and Not-Red (white).
Red Haikuster and Host bow to each other.
Not-Red Haikuster and Host bow to each other.
Red Haikuster and Not-Red Haikuster bow to each other.
Red Haikuster goes first.
The Red Haikuster reads his or her haiku twice. The audience does not clap or make noise (usually, though, they laugh or vocalize, but, of course, we must pretend that this is completely unacceptable).
The Not-Red Haikuster reads his or her haiku twice. Again, the audience does not clap or make noise.
The host waits for the three judges to make their choice for winner, then signals them to hold aloft their Red or Not-Red flag.
Simple majority (3-0 or 2-1) determines the winner.
The host asks the audience to demonstrate “the sound of one hand clapping,” i.e., silence, then “the sound of two hands clapping,” at which point they can finally applaud. The mock ceremony involving the audience is half the fun.
The winning haikuster then goes first.
Depending on the round, the winner will be best 3 of 5, 4 of 7, best 5 of 9, etc., of a number determined beforehand for each round.
After the duel, Red Haikuster and Not-Red Haikuster bow to each other and shake hands. The next duel begins.
Rules for the GumptionFest VI Haiku Death Match:
  • Titles: Haikusters can read their haiku titles before they read the haiku. (This gives the haikusters technically more syllables to put the haiku in context, but the haiku itself must still be only 17 syllables. While this is not “pure” Haiku Death Match rules, it’s much more fun for the audience.

  • Originality: Poets must be the sole authors of the haiku they use in competition. Plagiarized haiku are grounds for disqualification. We all love Matsuo Bashō, but he’s 300 years too dead to compete.

  • On-page or memorized?: Poets can read from the page, book, journal, notepad, etc.

  • Preparation: Poets can have haiku written beforehand or write them in their head while at the mic. As long as the haiku are 17 syllables, we don’t care how, when or from where the haiku originates.

  • Rounds: Will be determined by the number of haikusters who sign up to compete.

  • Quantity of haiku needed: Depends on the number of rounds. 30 haiku will likely be enough for poets who push rounds to the last haiku needed and go all the rounds, but 50 to 100 gives haikusters enough material to be flexible in competition. Most veteran haikusters have several hundred to compete with.

  • Censorship: Adult themes and language are acceptable. There may be children present so you may have to deal with their parents afterward, but that’s your call.

  • Register: E-mail me at foxthepoet@yahoo.com or GumptionFest at GumptionFest@gmail.com.
What’s the Best Strategy to Win?
  • A winning haikuster is flexible.

  • If your opponent reads a serious or deep haiku, read one that is more serious or more profound, or go on the opposite tack and read something funny.

  • If your opponent reads a funny haiku, read one that is funnier, or go on the opposite tack and read something serious or deep.

  • If your opponent makes fun of you, make fun of yourself even bigger or make fun of them. A good head-to-head haiku can work wonders and often wins a Haiku duel. For instance, my “Damien Flores Haiku,” “Easy way to win: / Damien is 20, Officer, / and he's drunk."

  • If you’re on stage and you get an idea for a haiku, feel free to write it down immediately. That might be the next round’s haiku that wins you the duel.

  • Have a good time. Even if don't get past the first round, it's still a great time for all.
Still Scared of Haiku?
Don't be, they're easy to write. Haiku Death Match haiku are not likely to be remembered centuries from now, so don't stress out. Write short poems that you find entertaining and enjoyable.

Take these examples and see how easy haiku can be. Anonymous haiku:

Haiku are easy
but sometimes they don't make sense ...
refrigerator

she dances lithely
seduction under the moon
I ... hey, a nickel!

My life is Jello
Sitting, waiting in the bowl
Patiently to gel

"Doom" Haiku:
Frag demons for hours
Stare at the screen with red eyes
it's time for class

And some of my haiku:

Traditional 5-7-5 haiku
Mother's Day Haiku
I blacked out last night
no, this isn't my blood but
happy Mother's Day


Heavy Pause Haiku
Then, years afterward,
I realized the problem was ...
...
...
...
... I hesitated

American 17-syllable haiku

Crucifixion Haiku (stolen from a joke by Dan Seaman)
Why did Jesus Christ
die on the cross?
Because he forgot the safe word

Theory of Relativity Haiku
The illusion of light
traps believers in the past
must move faster

Emigration Haiku
America is taxing my dreams
so I'm moving
to Canada

Insurance Haiku
"Drop your pants
and give me $100."
I hate my HMO.

Call Center Haiku
Work is so boring today.
I'll liven it up
with a homicide

Lisa Haiku
Somehow you can make
the words, "fuck me"
the most romantic phrase I know

Atheist Haiku
You ask why I am an atheist?
Fathers are our models
for God

Punk Rock Chick Haiku
Punk band patches
tats, pink hair, pierced attitude ...
I want her to break me

Nearsidedness Haiku
I should have seen
fucking you was dumb;
my testicles need spectacles

Thanksgiving Haiku
Before we start, I
want to say I hate you all.
Pass the salt, aunt Beth

Was it True Love? Haiku
Loving you was
endless disappointment
with moments of denial

And, of course, my more than 50 Chuck Norris haiku