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 670,000 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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Poem for Evan" by Christopher Fox Graham

"Poem for Evan"
by Christopher Fox Graham

this microphone was crafted for one purpose:
to take sound and amplify it across A ROOM

its brothers exist in a thousand places:
in the bedroom of a high school guitarist
at a candidate’s podium
in an Elks Lodge Bingo Hall

but this microphone
this microphone 
stands at a poetry slam
give    it    purpose

fill this room with your art

this stage
is devoid of props or sets
it needs nothing else but you
this stage merely holds your weight
make it creek and bend 
under the heaviness of words

make these wood beams
wish they were
          a sinner’s coffin,
or a church’s rafters 
or a hangman’s gallows        
something easier to bear
than the soapbox 
of poets
this audience
sits on the edge of its seat
voices silent
waiting for your three minutes to fill their ears
word by word

they did not come to hear pickup lines
and internet jokes
they want to feel something
do    not
their    time

in the shadows of this stage,
there is a man with a gun
aimed at your temple

and when your three minutes end
he will turn your brain 
into art on this wall

you cannot escape his bullet 
so do not try
make your words count
give them weight and substance

make us feel something
turn these eyes into faucets
overflow the kitchen sink of our chests
’til this room fills
and spills out into the street
sink this city like Atlantis

or make us laugh so hard
our bellies and faces ache tomorrow
as we recount each punchline verbatim
but    do    not
our    time

if there’s a boy or girl in the back of the room
you want to kiss
or fuck 
or marry
get off the stage
and say it face-to-face
because when you’re here

belong to

and if your words don’t seduce
every boy and girl in this room
you’re wasting your time

this stage is 
8:12 a.m. Hiroshima
12:27 p.m. Dealey Plaza
8:43 a.m. 99th floor North Tower

you have three minutes
until the world changes forever

this microphone
will not hate you
it will not love you
and it will not judge you

this stage does not careif you are a good person
if you are rich or poor
young or old,
gay, straight, or in between

we only care about your life story
edited to the best three minutes you can speak
how did you live?
what did you learn?
what will you teach?

that man is not moving
the clock is ticking
the laser sight is beginning to burn

what will you say?
why should we care?
why do you matter? 

remind us everyone here
has a gun
pointed at our skulls
and one day that round
will fire
make us believe these moments we spend here with you
are the best three minutes of our lives

your heart is a grenade
pull the pin and explode
leave word shrapnel buried in our skin
so in weeks and years hence
when your name is whispered

we few, 
we happy few 
who witnessed your detonation

will point to the scar

reread the line, 
and say 


when you slam a poem
any poem

leave your blood in this microphone
leave your heart on this stage
don’t care about the scores
don’t care about the time
don’t hold back
never apologize
believe every word 
is an atom bomb
these are your last words

this is your epitaph
this is what will be scrawled 
on your tombstone

long after we 
are all dead and buried
prove you had
at least one
good     reason     to

my time is up
                this microphone is yours
                                turn this stage
                                to splinters

Christopher Fox Graham © October 2014

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