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.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Home" by Warsan Shire

Photograph by Daniet Etter/New York Times/Redux /eyevine.
Syrian refugee Laith Majid cries tears of joy and relief that he and his children have made it to Europe.

"Home" by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Warsan Shire is a 24-year-old Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London. Born in 1988, Shire has read her work extensively all over Britain and internationally - including readings in South Africa, Italy, Germany, Canada, North America and Kenya- and her début book, 'Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth," was published in 2011. Her poems have been published in Wasafiri, Magma and Poetry Review and in the anthology "The Salt Book of Younger Poets." She is the current poetry editor at SPOOK magazine. In 2012 she represented Somalia at the Poetry Parnassus, the festival of the world poets at the Southbank, London. She is a Complete Works II poet. Her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Shire is also the unanimous winner of the 2013 inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize.

Monday, January 9, 2017

"I am echoes of empty moments" by Christopher Fox Graham

I am echoes of empty moments
the days with you:
drunk-night glimmers
flashing into sober mornings
reminding what was when;

you are 200-proof moon-shine moonshine
the press of your sleeping hips
hangovering me
headaches of your smile
body aches of your kisses
AA means something else
and there are twelve-hundred steps
to recovery
I cannot piss your DNA out from my liver
it’s deeper than my bones
shotgunning kegstands of your arms around me

I want you, summer lemonade
sweet-and-sour kick in the teeth
burrowing corkscrew cavities into molars
your mint-julep biceps holding me down
your voice a gazebo piano ballad
earworming a melody the rest of me misharmonizes

this old body was too young in you
you, too old for the time we had
we charted inevitability
we lived the prequel of the now-that-must-be
we plotlined the time-travel TV movies
we echoed thunder before the lightning
and in the now-that-must-be,
20-20 foreshadowing hindsights foresight

I still get drunk you in the moonlight
shape constellations into us
dismiss the stars that don’t connect
as figments of imagination
we, too stubborn to let the heavens disappoint

outside this skin built of metal adamantium strong
unbreakable in the winter sun
but inside the boy still shimmers in your afterglow
someone I knew once
he shared my bones
hoped so hard for fate to fail
hoped so hard time was a hiccup
we could reshape in our image

but without étui, the bedsheets of time
only fold now to then
never make now then
inside, he’s running away with you
flying elsewhere on someone else’s wings
but cannot escape this unventilated skin
he’ll suffocate in
rather than breathe new air

I’m supposed to be stronger than this
stoically accept your absence as a must-be
pass on the days without tears
get over you as all things do
fish-in-the-sea-ing our moments into someone else
less shimmeringly iridescent
but I can’t
I don’t know how
and I have no one to tell,
so your DNA leaks out of my liver
cirrhosising me to death
no one sees the lesions
covering this skin in a new armor
fresh-milk skin in each dawn
stitched together with dried salt threads

because you slipped in under the skin
some night when we shared the same bedroom air
fermented in our sweet sweat and whispers –
in dreams, all my stalwartness comes for naught
I cannot bleed you from my blood
you pump my broken-glass heart into synapses
irresistant when I sleep
reconstituting you back into being nightly

resever these heels so I can’t outrun you
torment me, tied to a kitchen chair
from these lips, draw some hallelujah,
which sounds more like your name
than any heavenly hymn
or late-night radio replay on backcountry roads

tonight as the sun sets and overweight lids heavyize
no volume of drink or caffeine
can keep me from you
or you 
out of me

it’s why I fight sleep so desperately
whatever war I wage in daylight
your irredentist reconquest reseizes in moonlight
paradoxing our ontology

make this heart ache again
bodyslam my mind against my skull again
this is the only real I feel most days
and agony bests absence
because it means there’s still someone here

or me 

or someone in between

even if it’s just a boy’s death throes


bleeding out

Christopher Fox Graham © 2017