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, December 31, 2003

The Peach is a Damn Sexy Fruit

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 tomătoes!
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


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, December 14, 2003

Letter to my tribe

You never know
what may happen
how fate plays games with our lives
rolls the dice
cut chords or ties them
speed bumps, heart attacks, or heart breaks
the way the words and worlds
shake this fragile etch-a-sketch existence

sixty years is nothing
in the blink of the eye of the earth
cities gone in minutes
remember Pompeii?
and yet we have trouble
with 4-letter words
like miss, love,
and hope
it takes holidays, accidents, and funerals,
to bring souls together
like we were meant to be,
to say what we should have said
when we had the chance
before we stand at graves
or on seashores
or staring out into open skies
with wrinkled eyes,
whispering, "remember when?"

in days before chat-room romances
Technicolor campfires
depressed fireside chats,
before the pomp-and-circumstance of the parliaments,
royal courts, basilicas, cathedrals
before churches
before warrior houses
before town halls,
kin gatherings,
and the great rituals

before it all
the family,
the campfire,
the speaker
was the word,

the thought beneath all our skins,
that although we could never conquer it all,
or understand it all
or even see it all
we could know each other's words,
know their kiss, touch, and caress
and enjoy the birth
dancing, loving, living, dying, and death
like we were meant to be
a tiny tribe
on a tiny world
where we all share a common name
and the word

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Cut out my heart and leave it in a gin and tonic on top of a Dave Matthews Band cd

This is beauty,
the way skin bounces off clouds
shouted to a thickened sky
of a heaven too tired to listen
and I feel a step closer to god
when i contemplate our creation

you know we were made in the image
of a drunk deity
who didn't know her/is right from her/is left
tried to shorten our days with death and plague
but we kept coming back
till s/he woke in a hangover
and realized what s/he'd done
was a little, um, crazy at the time
a little short on the why’s and how’s
of how we came to be
left us between two dead soldiers of Sam Adams light
on her/is best friend's neighbor's kitchen counter
'cause s/he was watching her/is figure
tries to hide her/is face in the bar
when we come staggering through,
asking to use the phone.
and begging the bartender to serve us the wine
of the vine that softened judas' loyalty
then asking the gravedigger to bury us
close enough to count raindrops
of the days till judgment
when pulled from the soil like treasure
we can recall our days before it all went downhill
and convince the final judge
that we're worth sparing
worth including in the finality
then sing a song
soft enough to make the towers crumbles,
tarnish those pearly gates
and force the whole mess
to come crashing down
when heaven falls
the boom will resound through history
in our heartbeats,
and the echoes will come 72 per minute
put your hand on your sternum
can you feel the echo in your chest?
the end has already happened
now we're just words arching toward that final
"the end"
before the acknowledgements,
and afterward from the publisher,
characters on a page.
and tonight,
I glimpse the reader's eyes

Tuesday, December 9, 2003


Side stepping the truth
The poet kept his feet moving
Across the steel and stone
Wandering the back of the fallen colossus
Searching for words that wouldn’t bite back
Like the mosquitoes of the world he came from
Words that didn’t suck blood from his skin
Words that didn’t drain him
Words that didn't itch when they left him
He walked through open fields of wild sentences
Moving in great herds like buffalo,
And packs of phrases hunting lonely consonants
Down by the water’s edge
Clichés clinging to tree branches
And the skies filled with flocks of vowels
Flying south for the winter
He found only one word that didn’t harm him
One word he could keep as a pet
Hold it close to his chest as he explored
Until it grew and became his lover
One word that asked for nothing but affection
And to be kissed softly by moonlight
He knew one day it would kill him
Slit his throat while he slept
Or drown him down by the river
Where fragments swam alongside words
Of forgotten vocabularies
But he was happy
As long as it loved him

Sunday, December 7, 2003

How Do You Feel?

i feel like a skin tree
roots that uproot at a moments notice,
limbs that stretch toward to sun
warmed in the morning kiss of sunrise
fingers entending beyond imagination
and from their tips
ink drips new blood
thoughts falling like acorns
to bury themselves in the minds of man
to sprout new poet trees
new poet-trees
new poetries
new poetry
in the image of me

Saturday, December 6, 2003

I Want to Conquer the Sun

these hands stay idle too long in a day
they should be freed from this wage slavery
so they can lewis-and-clark the crevasses of my skull
and pull out the stories hiding in the shadows
but without a reason, why write?
bored soldiers grow bellies without a war
the sound of shrapnel and artillery
keeps the skin thin and trim
just like the art of this poet
gnashing teeth and cutting words
the better to invade minds with,
i'm not content with norman beaches
or the hills of anzio
i want to conquer the sun

Sunday, November 23, 2003

dream deferred

i smelled you on my skin today
sugary sweet
as if you had slipped in while I slept
traced footsteps on my eyelids
left before I woke
no notes on the nightstand
no kisses on the cheek
no lipstick “I love you”s
scrawled on the mirror
wandering specter of
the poltergeist of my haunted head
you creak the stairs
flicker the lights
and appear in reflections
an apparition of my past life;
a past wife that mysteriously disappeared
and now haunts the halls
like a Jane Austin novella

your absence is unbearable
so I’m inventing the technology
to clone you from your fingertips
duplicate your smile
from the one tattooed to my lips

but replicating your motion proves a complication
because you are anything but tame
salsa and samba
shake your hips
like a sidewinder
though I never saw you dance
but the venom of that vision
makes my limbs limp
don’t suck the poison out
it hurts
how I love it
it hurts how I
love it
watching you toss those hips
like a South American coup
every other second

Lorca and Neruda
spin in their sonnets
because the were born too late
to know you
Pablo keeps asking for an introduction
and Federico is full of false promises
begging to see your skin

but only I know
how you are three shades more bronze than me
a color that does not exist except on you
so I’m spending way too much time
trying to match your complexion
like they do paint at Home Depot;
soon it will cover every inch
of every room in my house

only I know how to read the cartography of your back like a treasure map
charting a course starting at your neckline
meandering down your spine
to the basin of your back
just above those vicious hips

only I know the imprint of your aroused aroma
and could bottle it as ‘Arizona nights’
but Hilfiger and Klein couldn’t pay me enough
to surrender a drop of your scent
I told them Tommy cologne on day-old skin
and cold tortillas fresh from the fridge
once reminded me of you
the same way warm bread
makes one recall grandmother long gone
or peaches bring back the morning
after you traded your virginity
for whatever this is called …
but their marketing departments
said that analogy wasn’t economically viable

it doesn’t matter
because you never made sense
like freeway speed bumps,
dehydrated water
a Republican with a soul
or martyrs who would rather burn than lie

you’d think a burning saint
would smell like ambrosia or lavender
but they reek like your arm
brushing against the carburetor
indistinguishable from a sinner’s skin

the difference between that scar and a sign
is interpretation compounded by time

which means we’re a circumstance
and a coincidence
closer to god than we thought
which is closer than I’d rather be most days
so close, in fact,
you can almost smell it

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Adriatic Haiku

I have never sailed
along the Dalmation coast
do the boats have spots?

Thursday, October 23, 2003

CFG loves the Cop who busted him [smile]

Last night I went to hunt down KuK to wish him a happy birthday. Couldn't find the bastard, dagnabit.

En route, I scored a chimichanga at one of the 24-hour Mexican food restaurants that speckle Phoenix.

Inside, I found Sergeant Rameriz, the Tempe Police Dept desk sergeant who was on duty when I got arrested last year. I smiled, he smiled, I asked if he remembered me. He said he did, "you were the drunk kid who was giving astrology advice." I had been giving advice to the officers on duty about when they should have kids compatible to the personalities of them and their wives. He asked if I'd been in trouble since and I told him no. Sgt. Rameriz told the officer he was sitting with that I was "some wild entertainment" that night.

Guess that even drunk and belligerent, Christopher Fox Graham is charmingly entertaining. Yay me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

My First of Many Kat Sanford Love Ballads

Sedona was great. I rolled up north with my ever-present hetro-companion KuK and his friend Kevin. Now Kevin and I have had a unique relationship. He and KuK were friends long before I met the boy and on the first night I met Kevin, we got incredibly drunk at a bar and I hit on his wife. With good reason, he wanted to kick my ass, but as time passed, he came to realize that I'm just a drunken moron, not a moral-less pervert.

In any case, we rolled up to Humbolt, Arizona, just outside Dewey, Arizona, which is outside of Middle-of-fucking-nowhere to visit KuK's mom. She is delightfully crazy and no longer on her meds. Crazy, but in a fun way.

We went to the swimming hole on Oak Creek.

Karega from Houston, Texas was the feature. His performance was off, and he had to restart a few times, but his material was good. The audience adored him.

The slam was long but good. By pure fate, three of the four weakest poets went first and were cut after round one. Scores were all over the place. In round one, some scores were as low as 4.5 but there were some 10s. Craziness.

Rounds 1 and 2 were cumulative; round 3 was a fresh slate.

There is an Honour mystique I try to live by. There are 3 types of slam poets:
Virgins (i.e., "I've just written my first poem, now I must slam it. I say 'goddess' 'thee' 'thou' 'faith' and 'love' 90 times." Often these poets don’t come back because they’re blown their life’s load in a single shot.)
Regulars (i.e., "I slam on occasion because it’s Tuesday and I’m here. I write a little. They often do well in a single venue, rarely venture out, and sometimes get features here and there.”) Regulars have a job and write poetry on the side.
Stars (i.e., Member of National Team, tour regularly, travel to other venues, sometimes states away. Can feature anywhere, have big repertoires, chapbooks, and network on the national level.) Conversely, all stars write poetry and have a job on the side.
All poets started at the bottom and all have the potential to rise, if they work hard. In a perfect world, all Stars have an equal shot to beat each other in a fair slam, and all Stars beat all Regulars, etc.

David Luben from Prescott had told me before the slam (quote), "I can't believe I'm on the same stage as Christopher Fox Graham. I'm honored. I've be listening to your CD for months." Now that threw me. A compliment that also doubled as veiled self-doubt about his work, which is great, by the way. His humility was honest, but now I was bound by my Honour to beat him.

Additionally, from Flagstaff was Aaron Johnson, whom I had judged in a Speech and Debate tournament in Glendale. I introduced myself to him erroneously thinking we’d never met, then he told me I gave him a low score in his S&D round, but my comments were good. He’s buddies with Tony D, and has a performance style reminiscent of Tony D and Nick Fox, though not as good as either. Many Speech and Debate poets are comfortable with the highly stylized performance style they’re taught. Once they break from that, like Josh Fleming and David f. Escobedo have, and as Tony D is beginning to, they become comfortable in their own skin, they seem more natural and most honest. Their writing becomes more natural and most honest too. So both these boys put me in a position of 'slam authority' in one fashion or another. So this wasn’t just a fun “let’s do whatever” slam. My reputation as a good slam poet was on the line. You can't get beat by a protégé on your first battle. It ruins the Honour mystique.

I had eight pieces I was fiddling with through the whole first round, planning my strategy. Humor was doing okay, but then one poet's humor poem about a family reunion tanked and threw me off. Jessica XXX from Prescott/Arcosanti did a serious poem and scored high, and young David Luben from Prescott did a humorously ironic piece about not wanting to sleep with fat women, instead preferring anorexic model types. Being a bigger guy, the piece was powerfully ironic, then got serious at the end. He scored a well-deserved 29.0 and was in first.

So I had to meet or beat his 29.0. I was lucky enough to go last so I had 13 poet performances before me to base my choice on. At that point, I had whittled my eight poems down to five to select. In the end, I went serious with a poem I’ve never slammed north of Anthem. I picked it because of the four, it had the most ‘you-must-pay-attention-to-this-line’ lines. One of those pieces where every line is interesting and poetic and has no fluff or filler building to some great final line or idea. I too scored a 29.0 and tied for first.

I shook hands and made pleasantries with all the poets whose work I liked, which was almost everyone on stage. David Luben and I, now broken-in congratulated each other. We both knew that we were the top gunners in the round and the battle was between us. Like two equal champions of rival armies, and both aware of the Honour code. No holds barred in round two.

Because round two technically didn’t matter at this point, because the dramatic variation in scores meant I could score as low as a 25 and if everyone else pulled a 30, I’d still make round 3. So I could afford some risk.

Ten minutes before the slam, I wrote perhaps the silliest, stupidest, funniest poem. This was my round two piece. Scores were higher and the mood was tenser. So I pulled out this poem and scored a 30.0 Perfect score on a ten-minute-old poem giving me the top score in round two. Jesus H. Christ.

Suzy La Follette cleansed our palate between rounds.

Round three, all guns came out. Jessica XXX went first and pulled a 29.8 with a piece about appearance. Shit, she set the bar. The next three poets didn’t even come close, and David Luben’s poem also scored well beneath this. His piece was good, but he had other works to pull from that could have taken the round. It was a risk that didn’t make it.

I went 5th of 6th and slammed with another new poem, though I had written it two days before. I was still writing parts through rounds one and two. I thought it went too long, but was under the mark, and took a lot out of me. One of those ‘I-will-collapse-when-I-sit-down’ poems. I wasn’t looking too seriously at scores and thought I only scored a 29.7 (10, 10, 10, 9.7, and a 5th score). I felt great about the slam and could tell I touched a lot of people in the audience. I could feel the emotion reverberating back to me during that poem. But I figured I took 2nd, so I listened to the last poet Rebekah Crisp finish the round with all the pressure off. Turns out that 5th score was actually a 9.9 meaning I won by 0.1.

Christopher Lane offered a victory poem, but I couldn’t top my round two and three poems that night, so I offered it to Karega who did his best piece of the night.

After the slam, this irritation a blue beret caught me before I could take to this cute girl I had seen in the back of the audience. I couldn’t break away and watched her pass by three times. By the time I could negotiate a smooth way out of this verbal trap, she was gone and my heart was broken. Dammit!

We headed back to Christopher Lane’s for bonfire and conversation. Almost all the slammers were there, but I ducked out to talk to Akasha, Lane’s amazing fiancé. Eventually Christopher Lane, Suzy La Follette, and Karega were inside the trailer talking poetry, poetic theory, and audience reaction while the other slammers were around the bonfire.

Only Kevin, KuK, Jessica XXX and I spent the night, all curled up the trampoline, so by morning, we had all slid together. Tight quarters.

The four of us went to breakfast (Akasha and Lane went to work at dawn), then went to the swimming hole. Cold as fuck. Back at Lane’s, we went down to the creek, hopped on rocks, crashed and then got thrown out of a wedding reception by the father of the bride. Fun, fun.

I wish Katie Wirsing had been there though.

Yesterday, KuK and I snuck into Harkins and went theater-hopping again.
Once Upon A Time in Mexico. Sucked. They tried too hard to complicate the plot and just seemed like a dry fuck with mariachi music. Just go see Desperado again.
Matchstick Men. Nicholas Cage is fun to watch ‘cause he has the character down. Con movie with a double con that we saw coming about halfway through. Worth the $6.50 (if you pay it).
S.W.A.T. Cop flick. Action flick. Formulaic plot. Character actors:
Young hot shot with chip on his shoulder
Badass, streetwise chick
Family man who gets shot
Greedy cop who turns traitor for the money
Token Black buddy
Go it alone leader who rival his boss but knows his team rocks.
As long as you’re not expecting anything new or innovative, it’s not a bad movie though. Also worth the $6.50 if you pay it.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

They Held Hands

On a commonplace Tuesday morning,
not unlike that Sunday morning
60 years before, destined for infamy
they held hands as they fell

It was a working Tuesday
a date on the calendar
a morning like the morning before
but now they found themselves
standing on the window sill
of the 92nd floor
overlooking the city
and they felt weightless

They were not thinking
about the cause-and-effect history
of textbooks and CNN sound bytes
they weren’t debating the geopolitical ramifications leading up to that morning
he had decaf
she had a bearclaw and an espresso
and they talked about Will & Grace

jets impregnated buildings with infernos
and now the fire was burning
and the smoke was rising
and it was getting hard to breathe
even after they smashed the window out
the inferno was swelling
it had reached their floor
their stairwells were gone
and the options now
were to burn
or to fall

when the human animal realizes death is inevitable
psychologists say we want control
over those final moments
choosing suicide over surrender is a healthy reaction
because we choose to accept annihilation
rather than letting it choose us

So on one side
is unbearable heat
roaring flames
acrid smoke
and screams of the suffering
On the other side
fresh air
suicide is the final act of free will
that keeps the consciousness intact
even as it is destroyed

but they were not thinking about psychology
they were not thinking about terrorism
the debate about responsibility,
wars, flags, and Patriot Acts
can wait until September 12th
this morning belongs to them
because they did not have a tomorrow
the true terror of that morning
is to know what they were thinking
as they decided then whether
to burn
or to fall
now, imagine having that conversation
with the stranger
sitting next to you:
The barricade at the door is on fire
the extinguisher is empty
we are blinded by the smoke
and on the windowsill of the 92nd floor
we wait until flames lick our clothes
before we lean forward
and choose that moment to fall
others who fell were scrambling
or screaming or on fire
but we held hands as we fell

survivors of falls from extreme heights report
that falls are slow-motion transcendence
and the experience is almost “mystical”

I don’t know if they felt “mystical”
I know it takes
1 …
2 …
3 …
4 …
5 …
6 …
7 …
8.54 seconds to fall 1,144 feet

just enough time to say a prayer
or regret a memory
or ask forgiveness
or say goodbye
or wonder how the sky can be so perfectly blue
on such a beautiful morning

Thursday, August 14, 2003

I Fell In Love Soooo Many Times

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Music: Tool "The Grudge"
This is the obligatory post-Nationals post. I'm not sorry for the length. This is my journal, dammit.


I showed up not knowing exactly how I would volunteer at Nats. I wasn't on any list despite being confirmed as a bout manager or emcee weeks earlier. I wound up getting a solo Bout Manager slot at 8:30 Wed Phyllis's; volunteered for Mike Henry's slot Bout Manager slot at 8:30 Thurs at the Subterranean upstairs and volunteered as co-Bout Manager with Rusty Russell's at the Subterranean upstairs Thurs at 10:00.

We went to Eitan Kadosh's party on the first night and drank and partied until late. The highlight, obviously was Klute's face dive into the grass out front. Tony D [info]italianpoet and I hunted for his car, then hunted for Eitan's house, then hunted for The Klute. Had we been sober, it would have been simple. However, being loaded, it was less than so.


The first bout I had was between DC-Baltimore, Ft. Worth, and Orange (CA). DC/Baltimore SlamMistress Delrica Andrews took a shine to me early on because she was new to Nationals and eager to watch a Nationals bout. Orange took the lead early and never let go. By the third round, DC/Baltimore had a slim lead but was knocked into third by Ft. Worth. Their SlamMaster raised a protest over a pair of judges, suggesting that they were writing down poet's scores to predetermine the winner. Both I an the emcee Cynthia French disagreed. The two women were loaded, and their scorecard which we got back was scribbled across. They hadn't even written down names, let alone teams. Also, there is no reason for them to not write down their own scores, if even to keep themselves consistant. Later, I spoke to Ms. Spelt and Phil West [info]pinata about the protest, who politely referred to it as 'The Education of Ft. Worth Protest'. Bout 10 Scores.

Afterward, I stayed for the Oakland, Minneapolis, Mesa slam held in the same venue, hosted by emcee Ms. Spelt from Vancouver and BM Nikki Patin from Chicago. Not reading scores between rounds threw a lot of hardcore slammers in the audience, but I can see their point; the show was 30 minutes behind schedule and the owner Clem (a great guy BTW) was riding them hard. Bout 17 Scores.

Afterward I headed to the Erotica Slam at the Subterranean but the venue was packed and the bouncers had stranded 100 poets out front. I bounced and hooked up with [info]theklute and Tapestry from Oklahoma City, who was competing as a Storm Poet.

I partied late into the night bouncing from room to room, finally meandering home around 5:00 am.


The next morning, Thursday, [info]theklute scored a limo to pick up his girlfriend [info]spacekadette. Funny enough, I didn't see them until the next day. I headed down to Filter for the Protest meeting but the venue was closed. En route, I scored a great Elmo t-shirt for $1.34, that I paid in dimes and nickels. I met up with the scorekeepers from the night before, one of whom knows Keith Bruecker from Monterrey, California. After scribbling down standings and networking, I scored some lunch with the Vegas crew and Jill from Vancouver.

Despite years of miss contacts, Andy Kenyon does exist, and she's dope. Her girlfriend is crazy cool, scrambling around with a camera, snapping away. I met them at pre-registration before we headed to Eitan's, then had lunch at a small restaurant across the triangle square from the Chopin Theater.

Andy and I went to the GLBT (formerly queer) reading hosted by the amazing Daphne Gottlieb and Ms. Spelt. Adam Stone (Boston-Cantab) rounded out the event with a haiku - an excellent seque as I caught the head-to-head Haiku immediately afterward. Ed Mabrey, Hillary Thomas, and Matthew John Conley trounced Lucy Anderton soundly, but the judges, well, hmm.

My second night's bouts were are the Subterranean, upstairs. Got there early and prepped stuff while 5th ranked NYC Union Square took out 25th ranked Ozarks (a unique team) and 52nd ranked Alaska. Bout 25 Scores.

Both Marty McConnell (Union Square) and Corinna Delgado (Alaska) broke my heart. Marty McConnell always breaks my heart. Her poem about the imperfections and nuances of her body ... why can't I move to NYC and live in her closet? Or maybe under the bed. Just come out when she wants someone to talk to.... I'd be the best boyfriend ever; she'd always be right, I can cook, I'd only talk when she wanted me to, and I'd massage her feet after a long day.


Next, I had Ottawa, Del Ray Beach, and Winston-Salem. By 8:30, Winston-Salem still hadn't arrived. Nikki Patin, the emcee, and I were shifting through the PSI Handbook to know what to do if a team didn't show up. Turns out, they were stranded out front due to an issue with an underage poet and a missing ID. Also, they were stoned as fuck. Why they didn't send up just one poet to check in ... who knows. In the end, Del Ray Beach won and Ottawa took second. Winston-Salem came in a distant third. A potential protest occurred when one Winston-Salem poet read solo, then read another piece while a teammate beat-boxed. While they don't have to specify who wrote the piece, it is a little, um er, suspect. Fortunately, Mariah Summers was the only one who noticed and felt no need to protest as her team won. Damn dirty hippies.Bout 32 Scores.

Next up was 24th ranked Albuquerque (with a 2), 37th ranked San Antonio (with a 2), and 49th ranked DC/Baltimore (with a 3). A strong win by either Albuquerque or San Antonio could have given them a shot at Semi-finals. Tense. The emcee was Michael Brown. The coach for San Antonio was Phil West and on Albuquerque's team was Danny Solis. Having these three old school giants of Slam in the same room was great, but a little unnerving. I did feel honored to be their bout manager, but I knew it was going to be tense. First, it was a little tough to get an honest, healthy mix of unaffiliated judges, but I think we did well. Second, I had to watch the competitors and Michael Brown like a hawk, on the off chance that someone who do or say something worthy of a protest. A few of Michael Brown's comments could have been a little biased and one of the teams did make an honest protest, but he clarified himself soon thereafter and the bout went off without a hitch. Bout 42 Scores.

Despite being hosted by Nick 'Self-Righteous' Fox I stayed for a good portion of the SlamMaster's Slam, but eventually could stomach no more and bolted. The DC/Baltimore crew offered me a lift back to the hotel, and while I waited, I went inside and scored a pair of Cape Cods from the downstairs Subterranean bar. And fell in love with an off-duty waitress Josephine.
Riding shotgun, we headed back. Saw the infamous (and way exaggerated) 'lesbian orgy' in Urbana's room. I spent the night in Montevallo's room playing poetry tag.


I woke up the next morning when Indigo Moor called.

Man on floor. No problem. Must be Adam Stone[info]akamuu. And that must be Star[info]thisistar on the window sill. Right?

An hour later, I roll over and look at the floor.

That's not Adam Stone. Who the fuck is that?

An hour later, An hour later [info]theklute wakes. We have no idea who this man is, so we wake him.

The boy is a Boston kid named Phil who scored a room key from Adam Stone. Though we didn't kick him out or anything, and even let the boy use the shower, he was noticeably uncomfortable until we arrive by cab at the Chopin Theater for the day's events.

First up, the amazingly fantastic Group Piece showcase. I love group poems, even bad ones more than most solo poems, even good ones. I wanted to catch the Latino/a showcase. Being from Phoenix and the atmosphere and neighborhoods in which I grew up, I often feel more comfortable in Latino neighborhoods than white ones. But a few of my friends were reading in the Fifth Wheel Slam and promises are promises. Why do they have to double book things like this? Glad I stayed. There was some tight shit.

I bolted down to the Semi-finals at the Subterranean (3rd New Orleans, 6th NYC-Urbana, 11th Denver, and 14th NYC-Nuyorican). For a much better review.

I adore Denver's Katie Wirsing with all my heart

Hopped the poetry trolley over the Metro Theater for Individual finals. I left [info]theklute and the crew I was with to find out who won the other three bouts and chat a little, then I planned to head back. The Metro opened up two ways and I stayed between the bouncers for just a sec. After glancing at my 'volunteer' ID, one bouncer said, "you workin' here tonight?"

"Um, yeah," I replied, then he let me in before they technically opened the doors. Yay karma.

Of the indies, I enjoyed Alaska's Corinna Delgado (7th) and Vancouver's Shane Koyczan (2nd). I ripped up my throat for Flagstaff's Suzy La Follette (6th), but she choose some of her weaker material to read. If nothing else, I can always say I knew her when.... According to Las Vegas' Andy Hall, Indy Slam Champion Mike Mcgee from San Jose is the first pure comic poet to win nats. Nifty. We need more humor. But the whole time, I kept wishing Josh Fleming was up on that stage going toe to toe. San Jose's SlamMistress Karen was in tears out of joy. That made me happy.

And what the fuck with Soul (I mean Robert, i.e., Bobby) Evans? Good performance, shitty poetry, but someone would have shot him by now for the crap he's pulled.

Back at the hotel with Corinna Delgado, security kicked us out of Vancouver's room so we gathered about a hundred people in the Ohio Room and hallway on the ground floor. Drinking and smoking until 5:00am....


Despite the great sideline events I saw and the bouts, and the random poems in random places, the single best, single most entertaining event was the Nerd Slam, held at Quimby's Bookstore and hosted by Shappy. Hilarious from start to finish. The highlight was the poem "Muppets are Awesome". Fuck. That shit was über-tight. I would have gone to the African American Showcase or the Hiss Slam had they been held nearer to the Wicker Park venues instead of BFE downtown. Why the University?

Back to the El train, Tony D and I stumbled across an actual Saturday afternoon Chicago block party. I'm game. Got myself some chips and free keg beer. Yay Chi-town.

Walked to the Navy Pier with Albuquerque. Danny Solis gave me the best compliment of Nats in reference to my Bout Management. He said, "You were a much better Bout Manager than Michael Brown was a Host. I'd give him a B-. I'd give you an A+." That made my week.

Well, Finals. Hmm. I liked the opening. Super. But where were the Black, Asian, and Latino voices in the opening? There were what, 3 Black poets on stage and no Latino or Asian poets? Despite that, the play back between voices reading snippets of famous slammers was great. But shoot Nick Fox. In the face.

What's irony kids?
[young boy raises hand in the front row]
"Is it when the giants of Slam do a 30 minute opening about how points aren't the point, the point is poetry then Marc Smith brings out 6 foot high score boards so we can keep track of the scores?"
That's right, Timmy! Here's a cookie.

Finals was all down hill from there.

I need not expand on that nor the hosting, except to say I liked Mike Mcgee a lot. He should have had a little showcase. I also like the first poem. I liked it less repeated 10 times. Someone should have lynched Carlos Gomez for the "what Black men, where Black men, why Black men..." poem. I was a little tee'd of by it.

It seemed to me that the 10 poems about the oppression of the Black community (a topic that should never be ignored in such a large, open forum and deserves a place in a Finals night Slam) were just another way to make a buck (or score more points) on the backs of the oppressed Black Community. Did anyone else get that feeling? The first poem was moving. To an audience that may not hear that voice, it may have moved some. After 10 poems, I felt so distanced from the topic that they blended into a congealed mass of repetitive prostitution of an idea that I can't even remember who did what or who was on what team. Highlights were Los Angeles's group poems, Austin's Genevieve Van Cleve, and Austin's amazing group poems about executions in Texas which I had seen earlier at the group poem showcase. Looking back at my program, none of the other names stand out. Finals should not be like that. They should be the best of the best. Inspiration, humor, drama, love, romance, and angst personified. Three poems and only one (bad, misogynist) love poem? Fuck that bullshit.

Oh, crap kiddies! We gotta hurry to catch the fireworks!
Who gives a fuck?! I came 1,500 miles and blew $1000 to listen to goddamned poetry.
Set 'em off under the tent for all I care.
I want the Word.

Blew $60 on 5ths of Vodka, Rum, and Southern Comfort and spread liberally at the hotel.
Stayed awake all night.
Made out with Kat from SF/Berkeley. Great kisser.
Saw Buddy Wakefield make out with Daphne Gottlieb. That rocked.
I also got to hang out with the über-amazing Katie Wirsing from Denver.
I hope I made a good impression, 'cause we could be friends for decades.
I kissed her too [blush]. All kidding aside, I could love her forever and ever.

Slept repeatedly on the floor of the airport.
Smelled like a beer soaked ashtray.
Slept on plane too.

Came home happy.

Writing poetry now....

Friday, July 11, 2003

Blunt Club y Hip Hop

Current Mood: mellow
Current Music: NIN "the Wretched"
Dropped by the Blunt Club at PI last night with KuK and Tony D, as a nice little break before the Sedona Slamboree this weekend.

The place has some good air, tight rhymes, and cheap beer. Tony D got hammered but performed well. A dude from Philly dropped a political piece with some great rhythms and rhymes that set the night off because another performer was from NYC. Spitting lines about dissing the flag and suggesting 9-11 was a hoax ... not a good idea sometimes. This NYC first off started shouting, then a full on mooning, then lost it at the end, violently shouting and punching the stage after the kid finished. Ah, the power of words.

From fuckin' out of nowhere, Mike 360 showed up from Albuquerque. I met him in ALB and Seattle when he was big ball of hate, damn-the-white-man rage, and he totally missed the point of slam. Have a good time. He's lost the militancy, still has an edge, and his political poem was beautiful. Tony D reported having heard the same poem in ALB and their regional tournament. What a flash.

I did "He Needs it Bad" for Tony D. I could milk it without a time limit. It's always a crowd pleaser but not a particularly good poem; it's just a list performed over the top. But it was something good to leave a first time impression with the hosts; being able to play off previous poets. I scored 2nd place and won some tickets to a DJ contest.

Seeing the Drunken Immortals was cool because it's been a long time, but after the hip-hop I heard in St. Louis, Detroit, NYC, and Chicago on the Save the Male Tour, the locals are dull and repetitive. The bass was too hot, the treble too low, and there were no original beats; it was 3 minutes of the same rhythm with rhymes thrown over, like a pack of kids rapping to a CD or the radio. If you're a live band, fucking use it.

Leave for Sedona in 2 hrs.

Friday, June 27, 2003


the Beats never spoke to me
Ginsburg, Burroughs, and Kerouac
sat alongside
Donne, Milton, and Sidney
in the list of poets I'd read
to graduate
but not read to enjoy

Academic and historical
the Beats were rings in the tree
that started with the Word
and ended with me
there, right close to the edge
close enough to know someone
who knew them
2 degrees separated over a beer
from Kerouac
3 from the rest
i thought i knew them
enough to forget them

then Neal Cassady cold clocked me

and I become the third silent musketeer
cavorting on the road
with Sal and Dean
starving hysterical naked
with those angelheaded hipsters
sleeping on the roof of the car
beneath mexican nights
loving women in moments
who'll can't comprehend our madness
continually criss-crossing the country
looking for a home we'll never find
or fit into

the Beat Gate
is not poetry on a page
in college classrooms
but poetry at 2 am
after a fifth and a sixpack
and Newport 100s littering our feet
while two Word-lovers
take turns reading Howl at full howl
and the words swim
in the alcohol chaos behind our eyes
swapping our stories of the crazy shit
we did as kids and would do tomorrow
cause we both know
the feel of jail bunks
when to throw a punch
or take the hit
and the fear of becoming our fathers

happiness is the dream requiem
after the drug enters your blood
or the silent thanks
when you wake the next morning
and realize you're not dead
everything in between
is a delusion by marketing departments
or filmmakers
nod your head and smile
nod your head and smile
miss the fucking point

the Beats opened their minds
and opened ours
by letting us accept a world
where freed conversations
get us closer to the Word
and make this cesspool of boredom
because when Dawn sheds off
the bedsheets of herself
and we can count three pack of cigs
two empty 40s
and not a drop of shuteye
since we saw her last
but instead recall meandering stories
winding through our histories
like we meandered across the map
the Beats break forth into our skins
like madman archangels
and the best minds of our generation
win one more battle
against the destruction of complacent time
that swallows us one by one by one
leaving nothing behind
but scattered graffiti
on apartment walls soon painted over,
or drunk poetic pronouncements
of the way God sees humor
shouted to blind sky
while the fallen slaves sleep
then wage for wages till they fall dead
of broken hearts and bulging prostates
while we, the bastard children of the night
sing of our sad songs
down another shot
and drive to another bar
as a conglomeration of brothers and sisters
breathing and breeding
staying a few steps ahead of the reaper
above the poverty line
and endlessly fighting
against unrealized and unrealizable hopes
of our parents and parent's parents
back to the first failure
of the First Boy or First Girl
that original sin that has doomed us all

but with the vanguard Beats
and bottles of booze breaking us free
from the frames that hold us here
from rules and rationalizations
[that don't mean shit in the long run
or when you think about it]
we can see the lives we should had have
if we were still angels
we can hear the Word clearly calling
but can't clearly comprehend the message
but there are enough of us
who hear it, who love it, who drink and join the dance
and interpret the echoes in our own way
and paint our pasts into the present
struggling to keep the drip-drop passion
alive one more day
till at the end of the end of the end
one of us may shout it all out
or write it all down
and make sense of the mess
we've endured since the beginning
before "let there be light" was shouted
in a thousand different simultaneous tongues
and the last of the last of the last
drunk and beat and in love
will speak back the Word
to the only ears listening
and then smile from ear to ear
as it all comes crashing down

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Kerouac and coffee

Current Mood: energetic
Current Music: U2 "God Will Send His Angels"
While sipping coffee on my patio this morning, I finished Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." I kept waiting for something dramatic to happen. Nothing did, and perhaps that's the point. In that respect, it was more real life - just like a travel journal. But I think the major reason I wasn't real excited is because I've done most everything Sal Paradise has, with the exception of Mexican prostitutes.

driving cross country on a whim
going to Mexico with no money and no guides
hooking up with beautiful women with beautiful souls in a Bohemian kind of way
having crazies and/or druggies and/or wanted/convicted felons as friends
falling in love with the endurance of mankind in the barrios and ghettos of America
stealing cars, running from cops, getting arrested
recreational drug use
writing, dancing, writing, loving, writing, driving, writing, talking, writing

I've done it all at one time or another. maybe in 1950 when no one had done it, it would have really appealed to me.

The real reason I picked it up is that we have the same birthday and I wondered if we thought the same way. Astrology and shit. We do, by far, maybe that's why my life seems relatively parallel to his. We do see the world a lot more beautiful than many other people do. And we're in lot with the mad, twisting, sweetly blind mass of mankind.

Monday, June 23, 2003

House of Paper

boys are the carbon copies
of their fathers
chromosomes filling in the 'why'
do we do the things we do
patterns of patterns
of past behaviors
and here were are at square one
and I wonder if Adam was as fickle as I am

i swear i could be better than i am
when the chance comes
i could to be the superhero
the warrior
the badass
the protagonist
but post-modernism is cynical
and i'm still stuck in the epilogue
of my adventure
waiting for the author the set the world in motion
scribble down the first few lines
that ignite the conflict
of my epic-yet-to-be written

and i'm getting antsy
page one sucks ass

my imagination
is playing cards at gunpoint on page 68
racing jet planes on page 122
fist-fighting the billion-man Chinese army on page 181
curing a plague on page 254
dodging bullets on page 365
and telling the girl i met on page 9
that I want to marry her on page 909
but we have 500 pages to get to know each other
and 1,000 pages after that to love each other
till my deathbed confession on page 3269
that i did it all for her
'cause she was the great adventure

i don't want to die
as the secondhand, hastily-assembled sequel
to my father
sequel to his father
sitting dog-eared on a bookshelf
with the rest of them
squarely between diatribes
on genetics
and fate
hunkered down in low class used bookstore
tettering on the brink of bankruptcy

when my story ends
i want to be an endcap at Barnes & Noble
Borders will celebrate me
with an entire week of book signings and readings
Changing Hands will rake in the dough
I'll dropkick Harry Potter
Warner Bros. will fight for the movie rights
they'll bring Stanley Kubrick back from the dead to direct
because Steven Spielberg would just fuck-up the ending
i'll be an AOL keyword
a breakfast cereal
a fully-posable action figure with kung-fu action
i'll be in happy meals
on t-shirts, shower curtains, and bedsheets
and after Armageddon,
my story will inspire the survivors to rebuild
then i'll fade away
take up a nice retirement home
alongside Gilgamesh, Beowulf, the Iliad, and the Odyssey
talk about the weather
and complain about whippersnappers

only a footnote
in a C-minus high school paper
will mention the those carbon copies
of my failed fathers
but everyone everywhere
will know the name of the girl

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Jeanne d'Arc

On her 19th birthday, 1431, Jeanne d'Arc had already been held by the English for a month after being sold by Jean de Luxembourg, an Anglo-Burgundian lord who had held her for six months after her capture in Compiègne, six months after she turned 18.

She woke in the tower in Rouen on the morning of her birthday.

The arrogant professors at the University of Paris, who saw themselves as the defenders of the faith wanted her because she threatened their view of themselves as the defender of the faith.
The Duke of Bedford, viceroy in France of the English King Henry VI wanted her because her support of French King Charles VII threatened English soveriegnty in Normandy and northern France.
Her ransom was 10,000 écus.

Luxembourgs's wife, Jeanne de Béthune, aunt, Jeanne de Luxembourg, and stepdaughter, Jeanne de Bar were all Armagnac and liked Jeanne d'Arc personally. But Charles VII did nothing to free her or pay her tremendous ransom. In the end, Luxembourg sold her to Cauchon, the Bishop of Bevais, who mediated the differences between Beford and the University of Paris. He paid the ransom using funds from both the English and the Burgundians.

They call the tower in Rouen castle the Tour de la Pucelle, 'Tower of the Maid'. Throughout France, masses were sung, prayers were made, and candles were lit begging God for Jeanne d'Arc's release or rescue.

Of the company of Englishmen who watched her, there were always five English guards in her cell at all times, commanded by a man named John Grey. She reported later that these men taunted, bullied, and assaulted her, and if it had not been for Cauchon and the Earl of Warwick who oversaw her before the trial, they would have done worse.

The English feared her like no other.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Third Sunday in June

Current Mood: lonely
Current Music: Tonic "My Old Man" ... coincidence ... spooky ...
the third sunday in june came and went
without dinner,
phone call,
or a stamped hallmark with
"wish you were here,"
ever, dad
and i remained oblivious until 6 hrs 12 minutes
into my shift
when she wished me a happy father's day
from six hundred miles away
the kind of grandmotherly thing to do
when she couldn't gauge the age
of my twenty-something-er-other voice

the third sunday in june came and went
as i drove home
wondering if my paterfamilias
had paused midway between
the Gary Larson sketch
and the hilarious punchline
- something about purple aliens
flying saucers
and first contact -
and thought about me

but the better angel of reality
doubts this realization
came to pass

because march 12ths
mean i check my mailbox three times
hoping for an acknowledgement
that i matter
and june 17ths
mean i call my mother
close my eyes
and imagine her dressed in white at 22
october 28ths
mean i buy my brother a beer
even if he's not around
december 24ths
mean i donate a tie and cologne
to a shelter
december 25ths
mean a long morning in quiet contemplation
that even god and his son
had their disagreements

the third sunday in june came and went
and the cycle of
man to son
man to son
man to son
is bordering on generation #4
maybe more

i will bookend this repetition
i want to bookend this repetition
can i bookend this repetition?
can i end this?
can i?

or will my son
repeat them
every third sunday in june

like i do?

Sunday, June 15, 2003

What I Did on My Summer Vacation


Opens on the vacant desert. We see a scorpion cross the sand then run across asphalt. It pauses. We wait. Suddenly, the frame is filled with a beat-up silver pickup truck heading away from the camera down the arrow-straight road.
From a distance we see the truck appear from the right, then take a full thirty seconds to cross the frame on the road The landscape is barren, save for huge yellow bushes, the precursors to tumbleweeds.
Road stretches to the horizon, but is moving away. Pan down until settling on the hood, looking past the cracked windshield into the cab. Windows open, hair going crazy, two nicely tanned, nicely sunburned gringos gaze ahead. Driving is Christopher Fox Graham. Riding shotgun is Michael KuKuruga.
Pan up along the metal pole of a road sign. Highway on the left of the frame. Halfway up, the silver Toyota roars by down the straightaway.
The sign reads, "Puerto Peñasco, 50km."

Cue video montage of the silver Toyota slicing along the highway.


Christopher Fox Graham as CFG
Michael Anthony KuKuruga as KuK


with Donna
Rick as Big Rick
and Lenea as Fire Girl

Co Executive Producers
Christopher Fox Graham
Michael Anthony KuKuruga

Directed by
A. Whim

Sunday Night, Tempe

CFG on the road. He heads to KuK's empty apartment covered in graffiti poured on the walls from a dozen different nights of drinking and conversation. At first glance, fhe apartment looks like the interior of a New York City Subway bathroom. But poetry covers the walls. Art from spray paint and sharpies. Philosophical pronouncements. Haiku. Portraits. Abstract art.
CFG walks in without a key; KuK never locks his door.
CFG walks to the bedroom, "KuK!" he shouts.
KuK wakes, dresses, and the two hit the roads of Phoenix, talking about nothing as the hours pass. At hour 2 1/2, CFG says, "you want to go to Mexico?" KuK is wary, finances have been thin lately. "Why do you want to go?"
"Why not? I have nothing better to do."

Monday Night, Tempe

CFG rolls home after a long day at work. His brother Brandon is waiting. He piles in and the two head to The Vine tavern. Inside, KuK and his neighbor Ashish are shooting pool and had half a bottle of wine before heading over. CFG and Brandon join them. CFG plays a game with KuK against another pair, one of whom is a dead ringer for Hootie. Blowfish are no where to be seen. CFG and KuK win one game by default as Hootie's partner grazes the 8 ball into a pocket.
A pack of people enter, and KuK knows them all. Their leader is KuK's best friend Kevin. He says, "everyone I know in Phoenix is here"
CFG tells him that there is a Chinese proverb that says if all a man's friends show up at the same place, the man can expect to die the next day. This freaks out KuK. After the joke has bee made, CFG reveals he made it up.
Brandon has one of the bartenders nearly disassemble the ATM, claiming he dropped his card into the machine. The bartender apologizes profusely. After 20 minutes, Brandon finds the card still in his wallet. He tells CFG this very quietly.
Brandon takes over as KuK's partner and the two run the table, game after game after game.
An Interior Design Major catches KuK's eye and he sets off. He's like a flirt-shark picking up on the single drop of estrogen in the water. She tells him that he's cute.
CFG hits on the bartender by asking her, "how may times a night does someone ask you out?" After her tentative reply, "depends on the night," the male bartender asks, "hey, can I use that line?"
The interior design major is replaced by an Italian with great eyes. KuK starts flirting almost immediately. Her name is Donna.
The night ends with a flawless round of pool won by KuK and Brandon. Outside, KuK keeps to conversation going with Donna. She gives KuK her number on CFG's phone. The boys pile into Brandon's car, ride the 1/2 mile home and drop off Ashish. KuK picks up his clothes and the bottle of wine and Brandon drops them off at CFG's. En route to the apartment, Donna calls. and talks to KuK.
CFG makes himself a bagel, KuK puts in "the Score", unsure if he had seen it.
45 minutes later, Donna calls again. She and her friend Rachel aren't busy and Donna enjoyed the conversation. The boys take up her invite and head to her place. KuK takes point, CFG is wingman. The girls are on the patio, smoking and drinking. The girls Donna's friend Rachel is hammered. CFG keeps her talking despite the shallowness of her conversation. Such is the role of wingman.
Rachel's contacts Schmuck 'n' Buck, as CFG calls them, show up with weed. She offers, the boys decline, preferring to remain on the deck with Donna. The girl is amazing. Dark italian eyes coupled with a dry wit and an engaging conversational style. She's a Public Works Major who'd rather be in Architecture. The conversation winds late into the morning while Rachel and Schmuck 'n' Buck remain inside watching "Johnny Bravo".
The boys ask Donna to join them en route to Mexico, but she declines because she's just met our heroes. Despite that, the boys know the trio would get along famously.
Dawn rises.
CFG says he wants some sleep before they embark. KuK says, "why don't we just go now?" The boy is brilliant.
KuK and CFG part company, walking Donna to her car after the 5 hours of getting to know her. The audience sighs.

The Weekend
Tuesday Morning, Tempe

Clean skin and new clothes. The boys bounce out by 6:30. They score gas and grab fruit and a loaf of bread at a grocery store. CFG hands $40 to KuK saying with a grin, "this is your allowance." They are advised to get smaller bills by the cashier at the grocery store.
The boys cut south down I-10, then head into Casa Grande and its southern towns. They have gotten lost twice before crossing over I-8. CFG tells KuK that he is not the first driver to whom CFG has said, "sure I know where we are, uh, just keep going."
CFG had no idea where he was.
The boys cross into the Tohono O'Odham Reservation. No cars, no towns for nigh-odd an hour. The boys talk about anything and everything. KuK sings a host of Irish drinking songs he learned through repetition from one of his few CD. Though CFG says little regarding this, he is greatly amused
They stop for 1/4 tank of gas in Why, Arizona. Why not.
They slide to the border and cross into Sonoyta.
They cheer.
5 kilometers into town, they realize that they forgot to get smaller bills, so they swing around. Border Patrol offers no real help, and doesn't check the car. KuK gets a stick of gum and breaks a $20. The cashier gives him shit for it. He refuses to sell CFG anything when he sees the 4 $20s he has.
For the 2nd time in 20 minutes, they enter Mexico.
They cheer.
They cut through town, KuK giving shit to CFG every time he goes over the speed limit. Paranoid CFG falls for it every time even though locals and tourists alike routinely violate the limit. Wayne Newton is running for Gabornador de Sonora. He and his competition have posters everywhere. But Wayne Newton stares out at us like Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, or Sonny Bono, like a Republican Hollywood invasion of the electoral process.

The boys hit the frontier and accelerate down the road, winding through the desert.

To combat unemployment, the Mexican government has commissioned the construction of buildings in the desert, then refused to complete them. Also, the government has placed expiration dates on many buildings ordering them to be demolished or partially demolished in the desert for no reason whatsoever. Such the viewer believes. It seems people are paid to move and or sweep dirt around as well. The boys find this the topic of some humor for most of the drive.

The road seems to never end. Straightaways. Heat pours in, cooled only by the speed with which our heroes travel. They have not turned on the radio all day.

On the flat horizon looms the outposts of the town. The few billboards offer no corporate logos or American restaurants. Just bars, cheap motels, and local businesses own and operate the 15-foot postcards beckoning the boys into the interior. A faint smell of the sea blows loosely across the sands.

Unsure of where to go, what to see, the slim Toyota cruises down the main strip. While we have no idea to where the boys aim, we sense that they have almost arrived. They arrive at the Old Port, along a single lane road that wraps around a rocky butte. They cut slowly down narrow streets and pull over in front of a local school just as students are breaking for lunch. Maneuvering down the streets toward to sea, the audience's pulse begins to race. Noonday sunlight glares down and the dull roar of the sea breaks on the rocks.

For a moment, the boys hang back watching the waves crash. KuK, excited like a child, throws up his arms as though he commands when they'll break. Ear to ear his grin lights up the shore. To outsiders, the boys look drunk on joy.

They saunter down the small strip of stores, selling trinkets, clothing, and other non-necessities to tourists desperate to waste money 'proving' to friends, family, and co-workers that they actually came to Mexico. KuK and CFG are not fooled, though every shopkeeper that calls out to KuK seems to draw him in. He must consciously say no or risk entering shop after shop after shop, all selling different versions of the same tacky crap they've seen Phoenicians carry back from the border.

As suggested by two sources, they boys leave the port, searching for Manny's Beach Club, supposedly a jumping beach bar on another main strip in town. Still relatively lost, the boys pull into an RV park hoping for directions. KuK scrambles out and scores a local map in English and directions to the bar, less than two hundred yards back. Rolling in, they hop for hundreds of beach bums, tourists, and locals enjoying the noontime lunch hour. Instead, they find a barren restaurant open to the sea, floored in sand, and populated by less than a baker's dozen of Americans. They wet their feet and ankles in the sea, then return to Manny's

The audience sees that KuK finds this all horribly amusing, while CFG is frustrated, hoping that this initial failing will not repeat. While nothing is spoken, they both quietly hope that in the next ten minutes, 600 people will magically appear.

The waiter offers drinks, KuK and CFG both order margaritas, hoping for a salt encrusted jewel of a drink the size of their heads. They are greeted with two small 6oz plastic cups of what appears to be lemonade. There is a faint smell of tequila and a stronger smell of disappointment. They order food, also expecting sustenance measured by the tonnage. However, the audience is one step ahead and prepares to laugh at whatever humor the screenwriter produces. They are not disappointed as the portions would qualify as an appetizer north of the border. CFG begs for a Taco Bell. After blowing $17 on a meal worth $5, the boys leave discouraged. They vow to avoid every American-owned restaurant or tourist target in the town.
The audience quietly cheers their choice.

The boys head north to Playa Bonita, vacant of a buzz. With KuK now on the map, they snake their way through the town's small streets, but KuK can't seem to locate the roads CFG shouts to him. Turning right at a dead end in front of a large, 5-story modern hotel they are flanked by a huge berm of white sand. Camera pans from the right side of the truck over the berm to a huge curved beach line of white sand. KuK and CFG head back the way they came to a closer parking spot, then make their way to the sea.

Locals line the beach selling trinkets. Few are buying.

KuK, giddy like a schoolboy strips to his shorts and makes a mad dash into the surf. CFG having forgotten both shorts or swimming trunks, strips to his boxers and runs afterward. Roughly 200 people line the beach. Children and young adults play in the waters while adults sit idly under rented tents. Aging drains the love of the sea from adults.

Video montage. Beach Boy songs play while the tourists frolic. Perhaps a dozen women provide eye candy to our heroes.

After roughly an hour in the sea and on the sand CFG and KuK dig up their money and valuables buried in the sand beneath their clothes, and head to the aforementioned resort and grab a table overlooking the beach. After a few cigarettes, KuK introduces himself to another table of six Americans, roughly their age. This crew is currently in their own film, "The Mismatched Adventures of Coworkers IV: Mexican Fiesta". KuK get directions to a bar on Choya Bay, far to the west. The boys consult. CFG smokes two of KuK's cigarettes in the style of William Faulkner. The audience notes the resemblance for future films starring his character. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper will seize on this in their review. KuK now starts up a conversation with a woman using the observation, "you have an oral fixation."
CFG watches in awe.

The boys make their way to Choya Bay by cutting through the shantytown barrio north of the beach. Without getting pulled over by the Federalis or hassled by locals, they find the road west. They pull into a area of new construction; large luxury homes and American-owned resorts. They pull down a cul de sac overlooking the sea, tip the seats back and nap.
Camera pans down the shoreline to the roaring surf.

The boys wake around five. CFG has woken a few times, read a little "Fast Food Nation" in between, and gone back to sleep. Both groggy, the boys start up the truck. The Reef, though large and with ample parking, has only 3 cars out front. A bust, they head back into town.

The audience senses something is amiss. Is a conflict brewing?

CFG is at the helm, but keeps turning down uninteresting roads. At an alto sign, they switch seats and coast south. Back in the Old Port around, they wander out, looking for a place to eat. Starting north and working south, most of the shops and restaurants are closing up. They find a discotheque entrance, but it too is closed. They settle on the upper floor of a beach front restaurant wherein they are two of ten customers, and the only non-couple. The audience senses a general sadness in the air around the boys. KuK gets a Dos Equis, CFG a Pacifico.

What happens now? Will they head home? Has this been a bust?

After light talking, KuK asks CFG if he wants to head home. CFG is a little taken aback. He hadn't considered such, but if KuK wants to head back.... KuK says no, he thought CFG wanted to... Without packs of college kids or gaggles of girls in skimpy suits, why stay? What happens to our heroes? the audience wonders.

From below comes a bellowing voice. Up the stairs comes a tribe of Americans. The waiters set up a table for 15. KuK and CFG watch eagerly. The females of the tribe are in their forties, tanned and demure, the males are obese and loud. The man who sits closest to our heroes has "US MIL" tattooed to his left shoulder and has the tan of an Anglo who has slept on the beach every day for three weeks. The kind of lobster red you'd shuck a shellfish for.

His booming voice deafens the patio. The boys just watch. A conversation begins between this bear of a man and the boys about Puerto Peñasco. He first arrived here 14 years ago and hasn't been back in six years though he used to head down 4 or 5 times a year. Though nothing is said, all agree he owns this town. The boys ask where to go, he lists places left and right. He complains bitterly that tourists have ruined this town by buying into the price-gouging so that now goods and services cost more here than in the States.

Cue sunset.

The conversation continues. He leaves his table to join us while KuK smokes a cigarette. He does two hits of snuff and offers. The boys have never done so before but take two hits each. The tobacco almost instantly clears their sinuses and the boys can feel the nicotine in their system. He speaks of his sons, one whom he kicked out at 18, and the other who married too young, and where in town to get some tail. "For good bitches, go to the Pink Cadillac." As they part, he holds out his hand, "name's Rick." He has one of those hands best suited to wielding a claymore or a battleaxe. CFG feels like he is ten-years-old again. The boys head down stairs and find three huge dune buggys parked right on front. One obviously belongs to Big Rick.

The boys checkout some of the bars Rick mentioned, but as he said, many are closed because today is, after all, only a Tuesday. They buy a bottle of rum and settle on "Around the Corner," a frat bar. They take rum shots and head in. They shoot a game of pool, KuK runs the table and CFG orders food. No one is present besides two bartenders and a single customer hitting on one of them. Yet, everything feels fresher, newer. The enchiladas are twice the size and 1/3 the price of Manny's. The audience quietly cheers.

As they pay the bill and head outside, a girl appears. Demure, petite, and polite, she has a hemp necklace, short black beachworn hair, and terrific smile. She catches their eyes and holds longer than a glance. Undeterred and without pause, they approach her. She has a unique accent that CFG trys to place. Lilting intonation, soft vowels, and several strong consonants hint French as her primary language. Lenea reveals that she is from Quebec by way of Vancouver, Brittish Columbia. Her profession is fire. This throws the boys off until she explains that she spins fire at circuses, renaissance festivals, and other such events. She runs a company in Vancouver creating and selling fire sticks to other performers. She's spent the last six months touring Mexico with a circus and uses her profession as an ice breaker because she is unbelievable shy. Fortunately, the boys are not. She supplies the quote of the night, "fire is very important part of my life right now." However she mentions a boyfriend and this breaks the boys' hearts. Despite no real intense contact with a gaggle of girls as in their recent cameo in "the Real Cancun", sweet Lenea has made the trip. They depart for the beach.

Back at the resort, the hear the booming sound of fireworks reverberating. They maneuver through the building and wander down to Playa Bonita. They sprint down into the surf and race each other along the shoreline until CFG unsuccessfully tries to tackle KuK. Boys will be boys.

They watch the pair setting off fireworks on the beach and drink more rum. Video montage. Cue audio.

Heading back through the resort, they have now finished the aforementioned rum and look at a pair of free passes to Babes Topless Bar. Based solely on the humor of poorly translated English, the boys enter. They order Dos Equis and sit through twelve songs by four girls. After each song, a triumvirate of bouncers and hosts ask if they want a table dance for $10 or a 'private room' dance for $25. Although curious what a 'private room' would entail, their better judgment keeps them voyeurs. The invitations become more frequent and invasive and the boys decide to bounce out.

Shortly down the street, they stop at an outside restaurant run by a boy and girl no older than our heroes and an woman in her late 30's. They fumble over the language barrier with wide-eyed smiles and score a quartet of tacos, topping them off with fresh vegetables and various spicy condiments.

They drive back to the rich development and pull into the same cul de sac as earlier in the afternoon. They lean the seats back and sleep off all that booze and dreams.

Dream sequence.

Wednesday Morning, Puerto Peñasco

Dawn comes early and low. There are no mountains nor trees to block the first rays and the boys wake periodically, adjust in their seats, and drift to sleep again.

Around eight, they are woken by an American, that "you can't camp here." They acknowledge his presence, but aren't exactly 'camping,' as it were. Their logic, however is lost on the man, so the boys start up the truck and head back to the town.

Across from the resort are a line of shops built to gouge Americans. They park nearby and KuK uses the hotel's facilities. CFG heads to Max's espresso house. Coffee here is more expensive than in the states, but CFG orders a cup. A tiny Indian woman with a huge hat walks by, offering sombreros and wooden trinkets made in the southern states of Mexico. CFG believes that with such a headdress, she must be the Queen of Rocky Point. The audience agrees.

KuK arrives and they converse about a whole host of topics.

A five-year-old Mexican girl appears, grabbing KuK's chair and holds up a handful of necklaces and bracelets. Her mother is shortly behind. CFG buys a small simple bracelet from the mother more as a souvenir than real adornment. Also, the girl is adorable.

The conversation turns to family. They've each had their own unique troubles. Perhaps because of his reading material, CFG muses to himself that the blended family trees of Americans are convoluted at best, depressing at their worst. Bloodlines and marriage trees connect scores of souls, yet, there is a profound hollowness in American families. CFG admires the simpler, stronger structure of families in this new country. This is the deep, meaningful part of the movie wherein the audience feels they have learned a lesson about their lives. At the academy awards, this inner monologue will earn CFG the nomination, though not the win, for best actor. That win always goes to a character with a drug/alcohol addition or handicap. But, it is a honor to be nominated, they say.

KuK misses his family, both close and extended. CFG concurs. KuK scores a bagel and both leave without being charged anything. There are more tourists to gouge this morning.

They walk to the beach and sit on deck chairs on the sand overlooking the sea from above a cliff. A huge thatched shade reminds them of a Corona commercial. As such, CFG disappears and returns with two Coronas from the hotel. It is 10:30 AM.

Cue commercial endorsement. "Corona Extra. Miles Away From Ordinary." (

They head to the Old Port, looking to fulfill CFG's postcard fetish. He's also searching for something turtle related. Long story.

The boys search up and down, watching tourists by the same crap at every store. Shirts, toys, jewelry, glass, ceramics, etc, etc. Capitalism is an animal and tourists are blindfolded, hogtied prey. The boys try to offer advice on bartering to a pair of girls as a way to flirt. Speaking of prey....

Later, KuK finds himself fascinated with a blonde in sunglasses. Unable to leave the port, he decides to approach her. "I can't leave Mexico without asking you for a kiss."

Although he plans to ask this, he decides not to, thinking it may come off less innocent than his intention. He settles on conversation while CFG takes wingman.

They head east up the hill and stumble through shop after shop. At the peak is a four story shop packed with ceramic crafts of a thousand different styles lining the floors, the walls and the rooftops. On one corner they have passed for two days is a demolished building. Local children have been sitting out front, waiting for the bus. Spray painted on the side is "for sale". CFG muses what he would do if he owned it. Across the street is another abandoned building with an open window. KuK, fascinated by the echo starts shouting through the window. The resonance is almost 12 seconds and has overtones. KuK shouts, screams, and yells into the window while the boys listen to the echo. Schoolchildren across the street laugh and yell back. CFG finds three postcards to prove he came to Mexico.

Deciding not to get hosed on beer at the resort, the boys pick up a six pack of Dos Equis from the same convenience store from which they purchased the rum yesterday. For less the resort's 2 Corona's they score and entire six pack.

They grab the same seats as the morning and bring with themselves the remaining fruit purchased yesterday. After a time and long discussions about 20-something male life, they maneuver down to the beach and KuK gets one last long, great swim with CFG adjusts his bracelet.

They are just boys in the world of men.

After much discussion, they decide it is time to head home. It is early afternoon. They look one last time for food, but find nothing appetizing as they head out of town.

Realizing that they have a two hour drive, four bottles of beer, and half a bottle of wine, all of which they must abandon before crossing the border, they imbibe the contents. Everything Mexico feels like 1950. Sleeping on the beach and not getting hassled by the police, free conversation with strangers, beer, and driving with the windows open. They feel free for the first time in a great long while. Free and sunburned.

With a healthy buzz, they roll into Sonoyta and stop for food within sight of the border checkpoint. Four locals, two male, two female operate a small roadside stand, similar to the one the night before. They serve the boys one last meal, like crossing the border is synonymous with walking the green mile. Twenty-something José runs this operation and sits with the boys, trying to again overcome the language barrier. Neither KuK nor CFG speak a word of Spanish. CFG does make a crazy attempt to speak German, but he always does so after a few beers. This foolishness makes him admirable as a character, endearing him to the hearts of the audience.
They finish their meal and CFG pays $10 for the $4 meal, instructing José to buy Cervesa for his staff.

As the head for the border, KuK says CFG did a great deal for his karma. True, the audience concurs.

Border patrol asks the tanned boys what they've brought back. CFG replies "postcards". The agent takes their driver's licenses, KuK gets nervous, but nothing goes down. They cross the border without hassle and head north. KuK chides CFG, mainly because KuK hasn't bought cigarettes all day, "trying to quit" he says. But all in good fun. They stop for gas, switch drivers and head north through Ajo. En route, they agree that each is an excellent friend and has enriched the other's life. This declaration does classify this movie as a buddy road-flick, but gives a warm, fuzzy feeling in everyone's belly.


As sun falls, our heroes roll into Tempe. At KuK's place, they embrace like brothers parting ways, and CFG boards his truck for the lonely ride home.

Cue sunset.

Roll credits.

Big Rick____________________________himself
Brandon______________________Brandon Dame
CFG__________________Christopher Fox Graham
Donna______________________amazingly herself
Hootie____________possibly Hootie, of the Blowfish
KuK________________Michael Anthony KuKuruga
Fire Girl_____________Lenea from British Columbia
Schmuck and Buck__________________themselves

Monday, June 9, 2003

Four Hours on the Road, in the city

Last night, around 10:30, I went over to KuK's. I broke in and found the boy asleep on his floor. I kicked him out of bed, he got dressed and we hit the road.

We drove through the streets of Phoenix for 4 hours, talking about everything and nothing. We rolled down Southern westbound until the street ended, then came east and snaked up Central until it hit the mountains and died into a neighborhood. Went around it and passed into the eastern frontier of Anthem, then back south and east into Fountain Hills before cutting down through Scottsdale.

Four hours just talking, driving, and smoking.


1) We have no idea what we want in life. When asked, "what's your goal?" We ask "whadya got?" When younger, our parents would ask us, "where do you want to eat," etc. but wouldn't really listen to our responses. "No, I don't like xxx, yyy is too far away, how 'bout zzz?" If you're not going to listen, why ask? All it's done is produce two 20-year-old boys who can't make fucking decisions about our lives because they don't matter. Someone else will decide for us, like always.

2) Women are crazy. Without question or exception. The best we can hope for is one who's insanity we can tolerate that won't hate us. Well, more than that. We both want a woman who is spontaneous, intelligent, communicative, decisive (cause we're not), and a good kisser. Everything else we can teach her if needed. We also need someone who has bigger dreams than she can handle.

3) None of this shit matters. Rolling past the next mall, the next next car dealership, the next shopping plaza, the next cookie-cutter neighborhood, it came to my attention that none of this matters. It's all just maintenance, but maintenance of a damned machine. Our culture of sprawl is just masturbation without climax.

4) We've lost hope in the powers that be. Post-election, post-9-11, post-Iraq, we trust our government less than ever. In the Clinton years, we thought the world was getting better and the US was the penultimate ethical, admirable power. We weren't Neo-Rome. The world loved America not because of our military or our money, but for our rule-of-law, and our restraint. We were respected. But the faux-election that no one really protested, 9-11 that didn't really change much socially expect allow us to risk a massive number of rights that the government could snake away at any time. I was never one to say, "the government this" and "the government that" but I do now because I don't trust it. Republicans and Democrats wear the same coats now. My vote obviously doesn't count. Things aren't getting better, they're stuck in the same rut. I don't think we're headed toward 1984, but we're not headed toward Star Trek either.

5) We don't want to become our fathers. We know their flaws intimately and must not repeat them. The only time my father and I didn't loathe each other was during "Law and Order".

6) Our view of God is based on our view of our fathers. I am an atheist.

Sunday, June 1, 2003

Let Nature Take Its Course

Current Mood: amused
Begging for special treatment
she complains at 96:
"I have a rock hard liver,
I'm on kidney dialysis,
I'm on an oxygen tank,
I have onset Alzheimer's,
a weak heart
bloated feet
a new hip
liver spots
a blown spleen
thin blood
colon cancer
lung cancer
intestinal cancer
mouth cancer
skin cancer
three heart attacks
and a brain aneurysm.
what do you think that means!?!"

"oh ma'am, i don't know,
maybe it's god's subtle way
to ask you to die?"

insomnia and no drugs in my system

still awake at 2:39 am

probably stay awake until 5:00

then go to work

on a sunday

supremely disconnected to it all

i have to keep reminding myself that this is real

what does that mean?

tv internet radio movies
give us a portal to view the world
safe at home on the couch
what happens when the portal sticks to real life
and we forget it's on?

i thought about driving off an overpass today
not that i suicidal or anything
not that
i just thought it would be interesting
maybe press pause halfway down,
rotate the camera angle
zoom in
zoom out
1st person
3rd person
press play and watch in slow motion
full speed
and reverse
then it hit me that this is real life
and that kind of mindlessness would get me killed

too many video games
it's all fucking with my head

i keep hearing commericals in my mind
as i walk at dawn from bed to bathroom
use scope
try aquafresh
tommy, by tommy hilfilger
dove 99.99% pure
do it the hanes way

where's the volume knob?
where the fuck is the reset button?

i keep hoping SARS hits the west coast like an a-bomb
sweeps east and turns NYC into a ghost town
refresh the old world too

we need a Stand to clear the palate

1 of 3 dead and gone?
i'll play those odds;
it's better odds than vegas
better than

at lease our generation will be known for something more
than the dot com bubble burst
we survived the second plague
now shut up and finish your cereal, kids
the whole world's 1/3 cleaner now
1/3 lighter
1/3 safer
1/3 quieter
and we know we're lucky to be here
because nature hit reset
before it was too late

Friday, May 30, 2003

Poetry in Arizona

I spent about an hour on the phone with Christopher Lane discussing poetry and poetry politics. He's of the same mind that there is a deep division between Phoenix-based poetry scene and exo-Phoenix regions of Southern and Northern Arizona. This has been evident over the past few years as the Northern Arizona scene has grown from a monthly slam in Flagstaff run by a pack of exiles from Phoenix, Southern California, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Texas into strong local poetry movements in Flagstaff and Prescott and smaller ones in Sedona and around Arcosanti.

Other scenes I have visited all have dashes of their local color, politics, and drama, but there is a unique isolationist exclusivity in the Phoenix scene. It's pervasive in a lot of other mediums of art as far as I can tell, but poetry is obviously my concern.

Still, after all this time, Northern Arizona still seems more embracing than Phoenix. After slams and events in Flagstaff, almost without exception, poets and fans would congregate at one cheap restaurant or another and not discuss poetry, but just hang out. The same can not be said for Phoenix, with few exception.

Northern Arizona has a sense of community about it that Phoenix hasn't contained for me. There, I felt like a real contributing member of a group, but Phoenix is too big, too spread out, too disconnected for the same sensation. Despite never having lived there, I have felt more artistically connected to Sedona and Prescott and even Arcosanti than Phoenix and it's suburbs. Perhaps its the general facelessness of the city itself, or the permanently transient population, but I still feel like a permanent exile here. Even though I've spent 2/3 of my almost 3 years of slam in Phoenix, I'm still "Christopher Fox Graham from Flagstaff". I don't care about the title, but there is a mindset behind it.

Part of it is benefit; I like being on the fringes sometimes, but even when I want to be in a group or community, it feels like it's forced. Events, meetings, and gatherings down here quite honestly feel false or half-assembled, or are put together last minute, or the rules change at the last minute, and not everyone shows up, leaders included. Again, I'm sure part of that is the general layout of the city and the sheer size of it. But bottom line, in Prescott and Flagstaff, when an event goes down, everyone shows. That's very reassuring when trying to build a community.

I guess it comes down to the fact that if one missed an event or a gathering, one truly felt missed. I've never felt missed in Phoenix.

I'm not asking for a ego-boosting rock-star worship; who gives a fuck? I hate that shit anyway, it makes me uncomfortable when some audience member compliments my work, then stands there. I never know what to say. If you like it, applaud, buy a book (if I'm selling one), come to the next event, and go home and write something, dammit.

There should be no special treatment; just fair treatment.

There's a different mood in Northern Arizona too. A certain independence, even from the past or other factors. Last time Josh Fleming and I slammed in Prescott and Host and Slam Master Dan Seaman was announcing future events, he mentioned Keith Breucker and David Escobedo as members of Save the Male, but not Josh and I to avoid influencing the judges. I was told that Danny Solis came to the Arcosanti Slam hoping to be on Brandy Lintecum's Phoenix team but Dan Seaman denied him because Danny Solis wasn't from Arizona. It wasn't malicious; it was the rules. He invited him to calibrate but not compete. As long as I've known him, Dan Seaman has always supported the arts but both stuck to his guns and his rules. Danny Solis may be good and have been an "Old Guard" Slammer but he wasn't from Arizona, end of story, that's the rule. Other SlamMasters in Arizona haven't been as fair to their own rules nor as unbiased, most notably Brandy Lintecum and to a point Nick Fox. As such, I have a deep respect for Dan Seaman. Likewise, Christopher Lane doesn't offer any special treatment of the poets at his slams.

Northern Arizonan audiences, poets included, also seemed happy to have poets read. There's a desire to swallow the out-of-towners, whether touring or not, that Phoenix doesn't have.

Most unsettling is that there seems to be an underlying contempt for exo-Phoenix art scenes on both a scene-wide and individual level, as though Northern Arizona and Tucson is the boonies when them local-yokels fuck cousins, don't bathe, and write poetry on the side. But Phoenix isn't Rome and I've seen some great work come those scenes. Maybe it's the youth of their scenes that makes them so inclusive. I don't see any of that "Old Guard" mentality up north that I seen in Phoenix. Northern Arizona poets also see slam as more of a game. I always do. But at slams in Prescott and Flagstaff, I've never had to plan a strategy; winning didn't really matter. You were just happy to have a captive audience. But in Phoenix and Mesa (or Sedona and Arcosanti wherein Phoenix poets were included) there's a desire to win that outweighs the game. Slam is verbal chess, not WWII. It's a joke and a crapshoot. In a sport where we pick 5 random people who've never seen spoken word before, how can anyone take a slam seriously?

I think it's more of a challenge to write something well and perform it well and have a good time doing it. I like the brutality of a tight cutthroat bout, but it's nice to read at a slam and have other poets critique or compliment someone's work as though it's admirable. It just feels good to have an audience, especially peers, pay attention to one's work.

Perhaps its the legacy of Eirean Bradley still in the veins or something deeper. Who knows?

But when someone asks what scene I hail from, I don't say Mesa or Phoenix or even Tempe. Usually, I just say "Arizona" because none of the other titles fit.

Go figure.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Sedona All-Star Slam II review


I drove to Sedona on Friday with my friend Michael Kukuruga and his girl, Nikki. If I had a Tyler Durdan, Kuk would be he. We can say more without saying a word and we've been through a lot of similar experiences. We both know what it's like to sleep in Tempe Jail, for instance.

We drove up in Nikki's car while I read "Fast Food Nation" and Kuk read my chapbook "I've Seen You Naked". We rolled into town around 13:00, got something to eat from the organic market next to the Canyon Moon Theater and then hit the kitchy part of Sedona to molest statues and offend tourists. After parking illegally, then sneaking through a hotel lobby to avoid getting towed, we hit the street.

America, I love you, you capitalist whore

If you have to debate whether or not to shoplift in every store, does that make you a bad person? I'm talking every store.

Kuk and I wandered from store to store, place to place, making small talk with the locals and the tourists while Nikki followed with a camera in hand. Among other things, Kuk dry-humped a bronze statue and made out with a cigar-store Indian. We played a Kuk'd eye game that everyone wants to play but none have defined, till now. Pass by that girl you've been checking out, slowly. Then glance at her. (We all do that glancing thing wherein we look a someone but we don't want them to think we're looking, so we look around and "happen" to see someone. Milk it.) Wait until she "glances" at you, then catch her with a "gotcha" or "I won", then move on.

Main Event

We met the poets at the Red Planet then headed to the venue. They included from Las Vegas/Flagstaff Andy "War" Hall, from Sedona: Jarrod Karimi and Rebekah Crisp, from Flagstaff: Logan Phillips, Dom Flemons, Suzy La Follette, and SlamMaster John R Kofonow, from Mesa: Tony Damico, Corbet Dean, Julie Ann Elefante, Taneka Stotts, and Jonathan Standifird, from Albuquerque, SlamMaster Danny Solis and Kenn Rodriguez, and from Tempe, Christopher Fox Graham. Our Host was my good friend Christopher Lane. Also up but not competing was Halcyone whom Kuk spent all of dinner hitting on in some crazed attempt at a threesome. Ah Kuk, sigh.

Then the battle began. It was harsh for Julie Elefante who had to lead the first round. Despite an over the top performance that landed him sprawled out on the ground, Dom Flemons didn't make it to round two. Rebekah Crisp, I think, had no idea what to expect and Jarrod Karimi pulled a wrong piece at the wrong time. He made it as the dark horse alternate for Flagstaff in 2002 doing freestyle but picked a poem that was just too short for this bout. He has a poem "She is a Cactus Flower" that is brilliant and would been gold. Little John R Kofonow had the most inventive poem of the night, about the tortoise and the hare, but it was too unrehearsed and still on page. It was good to hear him read again, and do so happily. I still regret the way he felt in Vegas in 2002 when the relatively unresponsive crowd at the Cafe Roma dampened his spirits. I still think he's a great kid. Danny Solis also got knocked out early. "Fat Man" was too subdued for a first round poem and he went too early in the round. Jonathon Standifird did a great piece, but the audience for some reason was not receptive. Their loss.

Suzy La Follette's poem for Christopher Lane's fiance Akasha, was brilliant and I was praying to follow and target her (Suzy) with "She Needs it Bad", but I was wary after the tongue-lashing I got from last time. But Kenn Rodriguez followed her. I had a number of poems prepped for the first round but Logan Phillips's Night Poem left me without a real clue of what to do and I selected my first poem while at the mic. Andy Hall is insane and I love him. Round two left nine poets. Brief Intermission.

That being said, ROUND TWO: EVERYBODY DIES (I had to keep from laughing when I thought that on stage). Have a someone you want to kill? Do it in Round Two. All in all, I think we had a five-year-old, a five-year-old's mother, a high-school friend, and someone's father bite the dust in round two. Even Andy Hall brought a downer. Thank GOD for Tony D. I think we all moved the audience and even I was moved by some of the performances by the other poets, but from a cynical, critical point of view.... The Klute's piece about killing imaginary friends for the sake of slam would have gone over well, despite the true sincerity of all the poets.

Round Three left just six. Suzy La Follette and Tony D Score 30s. In the end deciding between three pieces, I pulled "Coming Home" and scored a 29.9. This was apart of the cosmic reason from two posts ago.... I managed to sink the intensity and the humor into one of the best performances I think I've ever done of that piece. Rounding the night was Suzy La Follette, Corbet Dean, and Christopher Fox Graham in 1st, 2nd, & 3rd respectively.

The whole night was a beautiful crapshoot, and I remember leaning over to John R Kofonow as the wave of 9.0+ score took over in round two. The whole night was a bit high as the difference between Suzy La Follette and myself was only 0.5. With lower scores throughout the night, things would have fared differently.


On the long drive home, Nikki slept in the back seat. She had originally planned on coming to Sedona to interview for a job at a camp after a brief stint in Florence, Italy this summer. The Slam was just a happy diversion after the interview. She scored the job.

Kuk and I talked strategy and I swear, it was like the kid had been watching slam for years, rather than this being his first slam. An hour of debate and analysis with someone who is as skilled at the verbal chess as I am. I miss having a true game-player in slam. Someone who sees the whole thing like one big fencing bout. I hadn't felt that engaged about tactics since Nationals. Why doesn't he write?

By the way, I now have internet access at home. Yay me.