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.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Three Minutes for Dylan

Cottonwood police report that the death of an 8-year-old Cottonwood boy was suicide.

Dec. 6. COTTONWOOD, AZ According to a press release issued Dec. 3 by the Cottonwood Police Department, the Yavapai County Medical Examiner's Office in Prescott performed an autopsy Thursday evening and the results appear to be consistent with suicide.

Cottonwood Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Jack Stapleton said, "The autopsy was performed last night on the boy and it appears that it will be ruled not suspicious in nature. This is a strange situation and very tragic."

The Cottonwood police will continue investigating this tragic death.

Cottonwood police reported that the boy was discovered in a closet of a residence located in the 200 block of S. 12th Street on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 7:08 p.m. Investigators believe the boy was hanged.

Stapleton said he is not sure of how long the boy was in the closet before he was discovered. He was transported to Verde Valley Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

Cottonwood Fire Department Chief Mike Casson said that eight crew members from Cottonwood Fire Department responded as well as a crew from Verde Valley Fire District who assisted as Cottonwood was on another call.

"It appears that the boy was taken down and was on the floor when we arrived," he said. They arived by 7:11 p.m.

Casson added that paramedics immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and Verde Valley Ambulance Company transported the boy to VVMC within four minutes after its arrival.

"They worked quickly and performed CPR all the way to the hospital until he was taken by hospital staff," he said.

The boy was pronounced dead at 7:18 p.m.

"This is truly a sad thing, especially at Christmastime. This is even tough on our guys."

Julie Larson, superintendent of Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, said the victim was a third-grader at Cottonwood Elementary School, and, "it's a terrible thing to lose a student."

three minutes for Dylan
by Christopher Fox Graham ©

Wednesday, Cottonwood
7:07 p.m.
in the air the boy hangs
suspended above the floor like an angel
his lungs are vacant of sound and life

7:08 pm
the upstairs bedroom closet door opens
slow at first
and fear explodes
mother's hands
no! struggle! rope! throat!
no! phone! fumble! 9–1–1!
no! address! son! paramedic!
no! baby! come! quick! please!
no! son! son! son …
Dylan …

she had three minutes with him
three minutes alone
three minutes to contemplate
how her eight–year–old son
could hang himself
could jump from a chair
could prepare a closet
could tie a noose
could find his lungs vacant of a reason to live
could decide at 8
that life was not worth living

she had three minutes
before they arrived
and no answer when they did

there is a word
for a man widowed by a wife
for a woman widowed by a husband
for a child orphaned by parents
but there is no name
when a parent loses a son
because the thought is too terrifying
to imagine

he was trying to speak to us
but his lungs were vacant
before he jumped
but his lungs were vacant
before he tied the noose

the ritual of suicide
speaks a language of its own
with a gun – helpless fury in a moment
with a leap from a building – surrender to the world
with an overdose – a secret shame
with a bomb strapped to your body – rage wrapped in your people's despair
but with a hanging
every step must be calculated
and there can be no doubt
of your intention

but his vacant lungs either
did not speak before then
or we did not hear him

the medical examiner ruled the case closed
with no four play
and the paramedics added one more
atrocious anecdote to their nightmares
and we, at the newspaper,
had to grapple
with how to best word the headline
and write the story
of a child who was too silent to speak
whose lungs were too vacant of breath to be quoted

no one was charged in his death
but we are criminals
because none of us stopped him
none of us heard him
none of us offered him
three minutes of silence
to contemplate his value
to tell him he was an angel worth living

he tied the noose
he prepared the closet
he jumped from the chair
but we hanged him
by not hearing the scream held
in his 8–year–old lungs

his name was Dylan
these are the three minutes I'm giving him

your turn.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Poetry event gathers talent from across the region

By Christopher Fox Graham
Sedona Red Rock News

Before the invention of musical instruments, people would gather to tell stories.
Once a month in Jerome, a group of 30 to 50 people gather at the Anderson–Mandette Art Gallery to listen to spoken word.
At each Poetry Tonight! event, three featured poets read 20 to 30 minutes of their own work, followed by a one–poem open mic.
"I love the community aspect of it," said
Robin John Anderson, one of the gallery's owners. "It's a chance to hear poets put out a body of work."
Members of the audience are encouraged to sign up and read their work. The night's host rotates each month, letting a different member of the poetry community invite the featured poets, Anderson said. The rotation adds a diversity of voices.
Anderson, and his wife, Margo Mandette, have been holding a poetry reading for about three years at their gallery, in the old
Mingus Union High School building. He estimates that roughly a hundred poets have featured at the event.
The featuring poets have come from all over
Arizona and some from around the country. Recently, features have included poets from Houston and Boston.
"This was the first time, but it won't be the last," said David Ward about attending the event. Ward, of Sedona, is a senior at Sedona Red Rock High School and was one of Friday's featured poets.
Ward started writing in
seventh grade, but became more interested in it during his freshman year of high school, he said, Ward has honed his work at the Poetry Salon, a weekly poetry workshop roundtable that has been gathering at Ravenheart Coffee Wednesday nights in West Sedona for over four years. Ward is now the author of his first chapbook, "Death of the Full Moon."
"When I started going to the Salon, I never thought I would have my own chapbook," Ward said. "I didn't even know what a chapbook was."
A chapbook is an inexpensive, self–published book. While some poets manufacture their own chapbooks at photocopy centers, many, like Ward's, are bankrolled by friends or patrons and sent to professional photocopy and
graphic design companies.
The teacher that pushed Ward further into spoken word and poetry when he was in seventh grade was Karyl Goldsmith, of Sedona. She was the second poet to feature on Friday and teaches senior literature and advancement placement at Sedona Red Rock High School. Some of her students, including her daughter, Hannah, a junior at SRRHS, were in the crowd.
Though Goldsmith has been writing since she was a high school student, she said, this was one of her first chances to turn page poetry in to spoken word.
"This is one of the most exciting things to happen to poetry since – ever," Goldsmith said.
"Poetry used to be dead white men," she continued, "sometimes it still is. But now it's alive."
Poetry Tonight! and the Poetry Salon are two poetry and spoken word programs in Northern Arizona sponsored by the
NORAZ Poets, a formal organization of poetry communities in Prescott, the Verde Valley, Flagstaff and smaller towns throughout Northern Arizona. The group, soon to be a nonprofit, promotes poetry, shares featured poets and promotional costs, runs a Web site,, and toll–free hot line, listing poetry events across
Northern Arizona.
"Without NORAZ, poetry in Northern Arizona would not be where it is today," Ward said. "The poetry scene in Sedona is exploding. "NORAZ came it at the right time and we're riding that wave."
Poets who discover one poetry event Northern Arizona can be quickly connected through the Web site and word–of–mouth network to other events which offer more avenues, such as the open mic or the salon workshop, with which poets can share and improve their work and help other poets do the same.
Six poets from around the Verde Valley, and the events host, Rebekah Crisp, of Sedona, read at the open mic.
Eric Brunet, of Flagstaff, was the third and final feature of Friday's event. Brunet, 34, lived in
Tucson of a year and half before moving to Flagstaff.
Brunet published his first book, "Flee Now, Young Dog," in 1991 and is working on the manuscript for his second, "Ukulele Aikido."
Friday's event was his "first taste of the scene," he said, but he plans to get active. He was active in Tucson's poetry scene and is glad to see a scene in Northern Arizona.
"I'm jumping back into the water with both feet."
To attend 928–634–3438.
Contact Christopher Fox Graham

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Reasons why I like Gretchen so much it hurts

· Looks great with or without glasses
· Ballet dancer. She practices 3 hours a day, Monday through Friday.
· Really, really cute. Big points. I'm shallow sometimes, but I'm honest.
· Speaks French.
· Speaks Spanish. Cool in itself, but when added with the French, doubles the coolness factor.
· Is learning Greek. Cool in itself, but when added with the French and Spanish, triples the coolness factor.
· She's curious as hell. Loves listening to my friends talk to her and with each other. Like me, she likes stories.
· Literate. Not just literate, but reads a lot.
· Likes poetry.
· Feminist.
· Sends me haiku in text messages.
· Calls when she promises. Sends cute text messages.
· Really, really hot.
· She likes me. This is usually the maker or breaker when I have a crush. The likes me part is a huge plus, obviously.
· Shy, but doesn't want to be. Ditto.
· To date, I have not heard her say anything negative about anyone. Serious. How can anyone be so damn nice?
· Great, huge, brown eyes.
· Great smile
· Soft skin
· She got horny watching "Casablanca" with me. Who does that?
· Blushes
· Likes that I like her so much.
· Her middle name is Ryan. A boy's name? Damn sexy.
· Great hair. Longer than her shoulder, jet black, perfectly straight. I'm a sucker.
· Always has an answer when I ask, "what are you thinking?" That's my litmus test.
· Drives a stick shift.
· Always dresses great and has a choice in earrings that fashion models would kill for.
· Wants to move to France. I love French toast.
· Has a Zen bedroom. There are monks with more material possessions
· She likes me. I just wanted to write that again because it's a huge plus.
· Sends me French text messages that I have to wait for her to translate.
· Amazing kisser. She bites.
· Wants to be a philosophy major.
· Wants me to meet her parents, specifically her dad because she thinks we'd hit it off.
· Likes to cuddle. Loves sex.
· She's more worried that I won't like her. This never happens to me. I always put out too much effort.
· Endured a poetry open mic. Usually this is a make or break for someone who claims to like poetry. If sincere, they stay and can discuss the poems later. If not, they get bored or leave or zone out. She stayed and remembered poets and poems.
· Endured and resisted a Mike–Attack, a drunken verbal assault with my best friend, Mike KuKuruga. He's very protective of me, doesn't let anyone lay on bullshit, and not only did she stand her ground but she fought back against him, and got really cool with him only minutes later. Earned much respect from KuK for it.
· Best friend KuK said "she's a keeper."
· Best friend Christopher Lane said "she's got a nice shitter." That's Texan for "she's a keeper."
· Friend Katie likes her. Always trust the opinions of crazy geniuses. They have weird powers.
· Friend Nikki liker her. Again, always trust the opinions of crazy geniuses. They have weird powers.
· Ex–girlfriend Emily likes her.
· She adores Dan Seaman
· Curious. Despite everything else I like, a constant curiosity is the best trait she could have. It means that we'll always be learning.
· Likes to hold me.
· Everything fits with her. Fate–style. There hasn't been any off moments or odd things to irk me. I always have a something. But not with her.
· She likes to live in the moment. Ditto.
· She wants kids. Lots. Me too. 3 daughters and a son, minimum.
· Really, really hot with a tight dancer's body.
· I like telling people, with her right there, how much I like her.
· Hasn't been out of the state as an adult but wants to travel. I love travel more than almost anything.
· Great hands
· Already inspired a poem that I wrote in 25 minutes, slammed with in 3 hours, and scored a pair of 10s.
· Boston won the World Series. So good things come to the faithful.
· Makes me smile a lot, even when she's not around.
· Likes sushi.
· Has a lot of non–sequitirs.
· Drinks beer. Sometimes a boy doesn't want to buy his girl a fru–fru drinks or a Long Island. A girl with a Sam Adams is a keeper
· Has a little happy trail of stomach hair. Very feminine.
· Great shoulders.
· No extraneous piercings or tattoos, as far as I can tell. This isn’t really a
negative, but some times girls want to be so distinct and unique, that they
become like everyone else.
· Only smokes when she drinks. Ditto
· Aquarius, Feb 2nd. We get along.
· Just generally 100% awesome.
· Except for two days in Las Vegas with Katie, I've seen her every day since I met her. Granted, I met her Friday, but hey.
· She stayed in Flagstaff for a slam. I was first with a Nationals poem, then the aforementioned new poem about her, then I threw round three and did something fun because Christopher Lane was disqualified for perhaps the best slam stunt ever: passing out flyers with my picture while insulting me hardcore.
· The Ex of Ex-girlfriends Daniela thinks she's really pretty and likes to see me happy.
· She is more fragile than she lets on.
· Doesn't know that I know that.