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, December 3, 2013

“Midgley” by Christopher Fox Graham


we met on a bridge outside town
one-time nearly neighbors
his story ended 200 feet below

we were introduced by a sheriff's deputy
who stood between us
making sure no secrets could pass
between two men in the dark

beneath us both
this bridge of steel of iron
was riveted by men who now
all lay under the dirt
or in cemetery urns
this bridge holds 80 years of stories secret

each rivet and bolt
tells a separate story:
a birth in a foundry
a journey to this place
a final, spasmodic twist into steel
they are buried under fingerprints
of dead men
still hear the echoing voices
from the last time they were touched
their function is not move
if they surrender their purpose
give up on existence
yield their life to hold this bridge
this roadway will crumble into the canyon
but we don't learn from them
how to hold on

for us, this man
and me beside him
we have no bridge to weld ourselves into
the will to move will robs us of reasons to hold fast
we forget we have whole cities who will mourn our absence

I contemplate this for us
because he longer can:
he is silence and weight
waiting for men to carry him
in a zippered bag

a few hours ago
he stood a few feet from here
leaned forward
and let the laws of gravity
judge his weight too heavy to fly

did the rivets in this bridge hear him cry out
did he ever utter a sound
as he jumped from the edge
fell past the steel bolts and iron bars
diving like the birds
did they cry out,
wait! stop!
we have seen how this ends!

the rivets tried to unbolt themselves
creak and bend the iron to reach out and catch him
but decades ago men's tools drove them deep into steel
and they cannot move
they cannot let go
or this bridge will fall
and they will have no purpose
5 feet, 10 feet, 20 feet, 40 feet, 80 feet, 160 feet

some watched him strike the rocks below
but most tried to avert their gaze
twist toward the sky and hope at the last moment
the earth would fall away
and catch him soft

but hours later, they watched in the same silence
as more men carried him a basket to where he last stood
where I had arrived to meet him

to me the journalist
to these men, rescuers turned pallbearers
he is a late-night call
a recovery, a press release, an obituary

but the rivets
the steel beneath us
can't forget him
they have nowhere to go
no new places or stories to replace these nights
he is with them
deeper than fingerprints
and with every passing car
this bridge shudders
wondering
who may be next



For the family of the man whose body was recovered Oct. 9, 2013.