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, March 31, 2004

When I Am Ancient

For the Sedona Semi-final Poetry Slam on March 26

when I am ancient
and these fingers curl so arthritically
they can no longer hold a pen
when my memory has bled Popsicle into the carpet
and sounds like origami paper
when I do not know my grandchildren
or recall drunk peppermint nights
sweating naked in dark youth
I promise you I will collect all the postcards
I sent to strangers about you

I’ve lost track of the number of postcards I’ve sent
so I’ve negotiated a truce:
Death will not collect me
until I am finished collecting them

they will bring you back
because memory does not live in sequence
but as a collection of moments we selectively remember

this boy will save the best of you
for the old man I will become

when I am ancient
I will shuffle from door to door,
and reincarnate you:
here, your painted toenails dance while you sip iced mocha
here, you say, "let's grow big bushy tails and become foxes"
here, your kiss sucks skin from my bones
here, you call me silly
here, your salsa hips seduce me again
here, I stop lying to you
here, I write another poem that fails to capture your beauty
here, is the fear of your heart collapsing in your chest
here, I drown in your wetness
here, you swallow the sun to tease the moon
here, your kiss sucks breath from my lungs
here, I write another poem that fails
here, I write another poem that fails
here, I say “this is what being my wife would feel like”

this boy I am
will not let that man I will become
forget you

and here,
the day I left you
and I stand in my empty closet
with the door closed
and for that moment that stretched for days
the four walls supported the universe
of our breath,
our heartbeat
and our skins
you held me so tight
we could have shared the same apricot liver
I would have surrendered
my raspberry blood to share yours
i would have given you flower arrangements
scented back rubs
and sticky hazelnut butter sandwiches
until these young hands grew too old
and too ancient
and too useless to do anything
but stroke your cinnamon hair

we whispered things then
prophets should have written down

when i am ancient,
this boy’s last postcard
will make that old man smile himself into a boy again
and feel your peach kiss
on his lips again
when he whispers to death:
[exhale into mic]

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

I quit my job today

I worked for the Safeway/Vons Call Center until today. I sent this email to the 100+ people in my office. Tarah is my immediate supervisor, Ron covers the other have of the staff, and Teresa is their boss.

Subject: Adios

Adios. I move tomorrow for better poetry and a more diverse and rich art scene in a new city. As I bounce:

Tarah - You are perhaps the best boss I've ever had. Your fierce loyalty, professionalism, and compassion for those under your command is the trait better witnessed in military generals, not bosses. Both personally and professionally, you amaze me.

Ron Bigler – You made the weekends fun and i greatly respect you personally. If every weekday was like the weekends that we had in HS, I could have worked here with you and the team for decades. I wish you well.

Skip this next part.

Teresa - Your ineptitude, deceit, latent racism and reliance of others to think for you will hound you till your end and doom you to a life in middle management, mediocrity, and insignificance. Vacations and fake smiles won't cure the flaws in your character. The only reason I didn't quit at least a dozen times is because of my respect for Tarah and Ron. From baseline incompetence to ineffectual leadership, your management style is best described as a train wreck. I've worked for severe drug addicts and alcoholics who've had more reliability. You don't promote an environment wherein intelligence or innovation would improve the workings, but rather you want to maintain the status quo, because, quite honesty, you're not intelligent nor adaptive enough to handle a mental challenge and you're terrified that your coworkers and employees will discover this, as many of us have. Mike Gillette and Ron Jones are either innocently oblivious, don't care, or are taking your gossiping, chatting, revisions, email forwarding, and inter-office politicking as real work.
You and the other supervisors have promoted and maintained a racist working environment by your systematic firing and transfers of Black and Hispanic employees while promoting, time and again, young Anglos into management positions, especially those who gossip, act subservient, or who strive more nothing greater than being the next lap dog; Richard's harassments were ignored for months and he was even given an interim lead position by you because he learned your game. I wonder what would have happened had complaints about his bigotry and treatment not been circumvented around you to Human Resources. Would you even have reported them, or just let them slide? Additionally, I was not the only one to notice that the only four temps fired on Christmas eve were two Black women and two Black men. The statistical possibly that they were fired based completely on job performance is ridiculously infinitesimal. The marginalization and eventual expulsion from HS of Ken Williams and John Brackens, both intelligent Black men who somehow raised your ire though White employees with more issues remained. Only an investigation by Human Resources or a lawsuit by the ACLU would reveal the systematic purge of minority employees and systematic discrimination during your tenure, but I don't really care that much to pursue it. The shame is that you'll run from office to office in flurry of helplessness and meaningless meetings after you read this, then force Ron and Tarah to work damage control with the staff rather than fixing your flaws of management.
My deepest apologies to Ron and Tarah for any inconvenience, but my grievances are hardly my own, and some I am forwarding some as I leave so that the parties most affected can remain anonymous. Ron and Tarah, please don't be angry with me for long.

With that bit of bitterness purged, I feel better. But the shame of this adios is that I had to include it at all and that I'm leaving with a bad taste in my mouth. Better a bang than a whimper.

To everyone in HS - I wish you well. The past year or so has been great, if it wasn't for the work. So many hungover mornings I've catalogued. Do what you do, be pleasant, and remember that they're using the parades, stuffed animals, and shiny buttons to pacify your resistance. The day you can't quit because you feel obligated to the corporate machine is the day you should quit.

I'm easy to find; Google my name.
-Christopher Fox Graham

What? I'm a Slam Poet. You expected me to quit quietly?