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.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"There is a Girl in Your Country:" an open letter to Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada

This poem obviously alludes to Shane Koyczan's "We Are More," performed at the opening ceremonies at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and The Klute's "Canadian Dawn." The references are meant for Azami. If you do not catch them, do not fret, you are not meant to.

There is a Girl in Your Country by FoxThePoet

There is a Girl in Your Country:
An open letter to Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Prime Minister of Canada
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, PC MP

On behalf of your neighbor to the south,
we surrender.
Since you set ablaze our White House in 1814,
we have tried to resist you
we have mocked your accent
rejected your poutine
stolen your best actors
filmed Oscar-winners in Vancouver and called it Seattle
and neglected to learn the geography of your provinces

that ends today.
invade us,
we now offer no resistance.
bring us your socialized health care
your mandatory two-week paid vacations
your high literacy rate and clean streets

we will begin adding extra “U”s to our words
pronounce Honour, Colour and Armour
as they are intended
we will adapt our tongues to “A-Geinst” and “A-Boat”
remeasure miles in kilometers
pounds in kilograms
turn our thermostats down to minus-15,
in Celsius, not Fahrenheit
and adapt our skins to the inevitable northern winds
soon to blow hence,

just to show you we’re serious
we’ll even submit to two years military conscription
— even through Canada doesn’t have the draft —
our kids would do better building Third-World clinics and schools
rather than blowing them up

send your Mounties south
we’ll great them with open arms,
our citizens will drive just below the speed limit
and start smoking copious amounts of marijuana,
but do so responsibly
as you so nobly taught us

we will begin shortening our sports
from four quarters to three periods
for nostalgia’s sake, baseball will stay at nine innings,
but we’ll concede to call it American Cricket.

Dear Prime Minister Harper,
welcome us as your brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth
put in a good word for us with the Queen
we will rename the U.S. Congress
the Parliament of the United Provinces of Southern Canada —
it was due for an overhaul anyway —
and spend the next decade learning how that shit works
let us keep Governor-General Obama during the transition
until Her Royal Highness appoints a new French-speaker to the post

By first prefixing the pedestrian “USS” with the regal “Royal”
the Royal American Navy will begin renaming warships
and sail home to merely protect our shores

The Royal American Marines will inscribe
“Toujours fidèle” beneath “Semper Fidelis”
on all their stationary

in revenge for Terrance and Phillip,
we’ll execute Trey Parker and Matt Stone to make amends
but since capital punishment is banned in Canada,
we’ll sentence them to creating tourist videos for the CBC

Once your conquest is complete
once our schools have risen to your minimum standards
once “Bonjour!” and “Hallo” is as common
as “Howdy” and “ ’Sup dawg?”
then I ask one favor
one small request in payment
to the unconditional surrender
of our bald eagle sovereignty
to your maple leaf dominance:

with the border fluid
and immigration law a mute point
I’m searching for someone

there is a girl in your country
she is easy to overlook
because she stays in the shadows
avoids the cameras on busy streets
though you can find her at festivals
dancing barefoot at the center of the world
as though the stars forged visas from heaven
slipped passed the earthly border guards to stand in the plazas
sleeve their glow in human bodies around her
and dance until the setting moon revokes their passports
calls them home to press their lips into constellations
you will not know she is here
until someone asks later if you saw the midnight sun
swirling the street in the afterglow of the stage lights
I’ll admit I’ve never seen an aurora
but I imagine it feels like her laughter
and I know why polar bears and icesheets
stay north of the Arctic Circle
because that’s as close as they can get to her

do not stake out hotels
thinking she’ll slip in some night
she can sleep in ditches,
on strangers’ rooftops,
the beds of pickup trucks
or backyard trampolines,
anywhere she can find 10 square feet
and quiet until the dawn

instead, you can search for her on the wide open Trans-Canada Highway
somewhere between St. John’s and Beacon Hill Park
I know it’s 8,000 kilometers,
so keep your eyes peeled
if you see her, it’ll be by outstretched thumb first
I know Canadian winters can be harsh
but you will identify her by her smile
because it will keep you warm no matter the season
now, her unpasteurized joy will take longer
first, she’ll get comfortable in the seat,
ask you your history
and wait for your story

speak slow,
tell your story as best as you can recall
she asks many questions and will cross reference your answers
she will forgive a faulty memory
as long as the words as spoken sincerely
and know that even if she’s not listening to your every word
she’s interpreting the sound of your voice
so be honest
do not lie to her
she will see your fabrications before you can erect them
sweep kick them out from under you
and leave you splayed out on the floor
before the lies can even leave your lips

she will play the role of stranger
drop lines of prepackaged wisdom
play her preshuffled hand of cards
but this is still her shell,
her way to test your defenses
judge whether you’re worth a second try
here, I can offer no advice
— she still gauges me with every phone call —
the game has no trick to win it;
it’s a measure of character or honor
something no one can give you and none can take away

if you don’t have it,
you can drop her at the next stop for gas,
and thanks for the lift,
but if she sees it,
she knows you’re worth more than a ride

she will start to unpeel herself like cloves of garlic
each one covered in its own thin armor
let drops of stories unshelter their instruction
she’s taken the hammer and nails of her ambition
and realized potential to build bridges
for the rest of us to walk across

and somewhere between Havana and San Salvador
on the Black Rock City playa
over a bento box lunch in Sapporo,
her joy will hit like a hidden tsunami
you didn’t see coming
sweep you away from shelter or shoreline
as those waters fill your lungs
you’ll wonder just how you were so oblivious for so long
how could you have not felt the energy she bottled

in her stories
she will teach you that borders
are lines drawn by men in office buildings
who live a fluorescent fiction of a world still flat
men who believe maps and flags and anthems
mean more than blood and handshakes and laughter
men who’ve never dreamed beneath stars she counts nightly
men who’ve never felt the first kiss between sun and Grand Canyon
shake morning reds into the eons-old stone

men who’ve never heard peasants thank Dios
for a vote that finally counts
in a country that is finally theirs

in these life stories of her travels
you’ll understand why she cast off worn shoes
to walk barefoot in the dirt
and spin fire from her arms in the desert
but leave no footprints to follow
just the earthquakes and scars
in those of us who ache for her return
the way zealots pray for messiahs
in their late night confessions the day before martyrdom
she’s a first-aid kit for boys like me
who didn’t know they were broken-hearted before her
she moves in like chess pieces on a board of checkers
brings a Howitzer to knife fight
lets loose a Pamplona herd in a china shop
but will offer to sweep up afterward

I’ll admit her tomboy tongue blindsides on idle Tuesdays
as if the ancient six-day week cleaved open just for her,
added one more day and said
“fuck the mathematics of calendars”
if she could sleep for days
cuddled in a boy’s arms
she’d surrender the world
but the urge to burn and rage at end of day
pulls her back into the dreamlessness
there are too many stories to live
too many fingertips to touch
tornadoes can’t stay stationary either despite the scenery

if you can’t find her on the road
you can search the boxcars,
ask hobos about a girl made of hula hoops
whose pulse thumps in rhythm to railroad ties
pickup all the hitchhikers you find
and en route between points A and B
subtlety ask if a dark-haired, brown-eyed dancer
with weathered hands and a black bandana
has recently shared a meal with them
offered to manufacture a tutu or
sew leg warmers from leftover sleeves

know that in summers she melts into the woods
to reforest what we clear
make amends for civilization’s sins
with a shovel and bag of saplings:
maybe this one will grow up to be a peace table,
this one a roof for a homeless family,
two lovers will kiss beneath this one,
and their grandchildren
will be buried beside its roots

Yukon men won’t admit it
but they came century too early
and weren’t looking for gold
they came to clear the roads for her
give the earth a wound for her to heal
to train her surgeon hands

if all else fails,
you can coax her into the open
by leaving out a plate of melted cheese and fresh garlic
I guarantee she is unable to resist them
it make take years, so make it fresh every few hours
and she’ll track you down one day

once you find her
give her a warm bed
with no annoying alarm clocks
keep her unchained and unlocked
left free to roam or return on her whim
she may pilgrimage to ashrams or overlooks
or cathedrals cut into stone
awaken the third eye in prophets and psychics
who’ve never looked too deep but foresaw her coming
she instigates greatness in those too afraid to birth it themselves

she may still wander away in the day
call down the sun and the moon to dance at dusk
beg Orion to share her arms
and press her lips against new strangers

but if she leaves you, do not chase her,
she befriends guerrillas and revolutionaries
who give her sanctuary like she was a daughter
they will fight to keep her unyielding
know that she growls back at coyotes
chases them from her playgrounds
and though she may ache for warm limbs beneath bedsheets
she can find midnight outdoor air just as soothing
she’s too fierce to hold on to too tightly
she can bite open a boy she loves from the eyebrow down
so imagine what she does to transgressors

I will not fault you if she leaves
just let me know where you last saw her
point me in the general direction of her last appearance
she’s worth the pursuit
whatever you may think of her
she is more

Dear Prime Minister,
if you vow to search for her
if you promise to give it your all
you can have this country
take whatever you want from it
import our monuments like the caesars did obelisks
rename our parks after your heroes
impose your laws or revoke ours
redraw our states into a grid
or the image of Pikachu
it doesn’t matter to me anymore
just demolish the borders between us
erase the lines that divide

leave the office building
to share the blood and handshakes and laughter
without the nomenclature of nations
dream beneath her stars
feel the sun kiss canyons and mountains
give us the freedom of movement to find each other
because whatever you believe I think of her
she is more

"Canadian Dawn" by The Klute

Canadian Dawn
By The Klute

As per The Klute: "Persona piece. 'Red Dawn' meets the 'Joe Canada Rant' set in an alternate universe for some reason."

February 28, 2010
A date which will live in infamy.

We should have seen it coming,
When our boys in blue were beaten,
Before the eyes of the whole world,
At the game of ice hockey.
We all wept when Americans were forced to stand beneath that maple leaf,
Made to listen to someone else's national anthem for a change.
You could almost hear the collective licking of our northern neighbor's chops
As they realized America's one weakness:
We're not that good on the frozen pond.
So a cabal of generals of the Canadian Armed Forces hatched a plan.
Using an eco-friendly, green technology doomsday device,
They would erode our long-standing line of defense
Against Great White Northern agression.
They reversed global warming!
A new ice age was upon us.

Their advance,
Like Quebecois tourists driving in the fast lane,
Was slow and methodical.
With no NHL team to defend it, Seattle was the first city to fall.
We tried to fight back, but it was no use.
Flocks of suicide geese grounded the Air Force.
Our Navy was crippled by strategically-placed icebergs.
The Army? Let's just say you don't bring a machine gun to a polar bear fight.
When they blasted George Washington's face off of Mt. Rushmore
And replaced it with Gordie Howe,
The resistance collapsed.
Panicked American refugees began to pour over the Mexican border,
The Red Maple now waving over the White House.

We survived in the United American Provinces of Lower Canada,
But they began to change us.
We were more polite,
Less eager to wave around a loaded handgun shouting "Who wants some!?! Who Wants some!?!".
Distances were measured in meters,
Temperatures reported in centigrade.
No one knew what the fuck was going on.
They denied our God-given right to die in a gutter,
Broke and penniless, Of an easily treatable illness.
I remember when my father was taken away...
On a government-mandated two-week holiday,
Clutching the plane tickets to Aruba in his hand, he shouted "AVENGE ME!!!"
We tried, Papa, but we were too busy getting drunk on Labatt's Blue
And planning our next trip to the Edmonton Folk Festival...
I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.

Now, due to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I must begin this poem over in French:

Nous devrions l'avoir vu venir.
Quand nos garçons dans le bleu ont été battus,
Avant les yeux du monde entier ...

No! This is a bridge I will not cross.
They cannot make me speak in French!
I will resist,
Proudly dipping my freedom fries in ketchup, and not poutine,
Replacing my tuque with a foam-dome filled with two cans of shitty American beer
And I will not let them change everything about us, from A to Z -
Because it is "Z", Not Zed, Z!!!
We will drive you syrup drinkers back across the 49th parallel north,
Raise Old Glory once again,
Take away everyone's health care,
Give the upper-class a tax cut, then really stick it to the poor,
Like we used to do when were still remembered what it meant to be American!
So let me say it so you can understand it, O Canada:

Je n'ai pas encore commencé à combattre,
I have not yet begun to fight!

Copyright 2010 © Bernard "The Klute" Schober

Klute, The: A rare breed of Southern Arizona slam poet, originally raised in Southern Florida (however, he's not a native Floridian - rumors trace his origin back to Illinois).

Abhors use of rhyme schemes in poetry, writes almost exclusively in free verse. Frequent targets: the goth subculture, neoconservativism (especially Dick Cheney), and crass-commercialism. Member of the 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006 Mesa National Slam teams (Mesa's 2005 slam champion), and 2008's Phoenix Slam Team. SlamMaster of the Mesa Poetry Slam. Has released three chapbooks of his work: 2002's "Escape Velocity", 2005's "Look at What America Has Done to Me", and 2008's "My American Journey". Ask him nicely and he might send you a copy. Primary habitat considered to be raves (especially desert parties), goth clubs, and dimly lit dive bars. Prefers vodka, rum, and absinthe when drinking. Is considered friendly, but when cornered, lashes out with a fury not seen since last Thursday. He's totally smitten with his girlfriend, Teresa - so don't ask him to dance. Feel free to buy him a drink, but remember, he's not putting out. No matter how much you beg.

People are talking about The Klute!

AZSlim, Espresso Pundit poster: Don't argue with The Klute. His hyperventilating and pure hypocrisy shown in these (and many other) posts makes reasoning with a two-year old who didn't get the popsicle he wanted seem tame by comparison.

Phoenix 944 Magazine says: Despite the heat, [The Klute] wears a black trench coat almost everywhere he goes and if the setting permits, he’ll blast through enough slanderous commentary to make Andrew Dice Clay blush. [He] admits he started slam poetry out of arrogance. He saw a performance and figured he could do better, after which he also admits he failed miserably. Today, his addiction for getting in front of the microphone and spitting out everything from a Dick Cheney haiku to a long-winded prose on race car driving to the late Hunter S. Thompson is as strong as his love for vodka and absinthe. If anyone’s seen “The Klute” in action, they’d know it. If they haven’t, they must.

Jerome duBois, The Tears of Things: You have one of the blackest hearts I've ever had the misfortune to glimpse.

The Klute on LiveJournal

Photo of The Klute by Jessica Mason-Paull

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bid on me and other bachelors at the Sedona Bachelor Auction

Tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 18, I will be in the “for sale” in The Bold & the Beautiful Bachelor Auction. The auction is a fundraiser for Sedona Red Rock High School hosted by the Scorpions Booster Club.

The auction includes a bachelor and a date package. Bidders have the option of taking the date package and the bachelor, or just the date package, so women with husbands or significant others aren’t technically obligated to take their bachelor if they choose not to.

For more information and all the details, visit the auction's website.

6 to 7 p.m.: “Man-tini” Cocktail Hour...
7:15 p.m.: Dinner Service and Program Intro
7:30 p.m.: Bachelor Auction Begins

“The Bold & The Beautiful” Bachelor Auction items include:
A Muse Gallery, $50 designer hand bag
Allie Ollie $25
Art of Wine - $50 gift
Best of Show & Music, $50 guitar gift pack
Bliss Extraordinary Floral, $25 bouquet flowers
Cheers (2) $2
Cowboy Club $50
Cucina Rustica $50
Dahl & DiLuca $50
Dirty Hairys Pet Wash & Grooming $40
Elote Café $50
Estebans/Zonies, $50 designer bowl (pottery)
Hearline Café $50
Hummingbird House, $75 (3) glass vase collection
Naja, $50 in perfume and lotions
Sedona Art Wear, $40 Sweatshirt
Sedona Rouge Spa , $55 facial gift certificate
Toy Town at Tlaquepaque, gift item
UPS-Program Printing, $125 printing
Urban Gypsies $50
Well Red Coyote $25

The bachelors include:

Name: Patrick Carroll
Birthday: Oct. 3
Occupation: Fitness specialist

Name: Tod Christensen
Birthday: Nov. 4, 1964
Occupation: Vice president/Manager Coldwell Banker First Affiliate

Name: Bradley Earle
Birthday: March 8, 1976
Occupation: Marketing director

Name: Jim French
Birthday: Oct. 12, 1981
Occupation: Licensed veterinary technician

Name: Christopher Fox Graham Birthday: March 12, 1979 Occupation: Performance poet and newspaper editor

Name: John LaCaire
Birthday: September 28th Virgo
Occupation: Contractor

Name: Yervant May
Birthday: April 14, 1982
Occupation: Amara Resort concierge and college student

Name: Paul Piotrowski
Birthday: Sept. 21, 1961
Occupation: Commercial account manager Waste Management

Name: Johnny Romero
Birthday: Nov. 29, 1985
Occupation: Chef at Red’s

Name: Karl G. Samter
Birthday: Feb. 1, 1980
Occupation: Trainer, instructor and manager

The Bold & the Beautiful Bachelor Auction takes place Friday, Feb. 18 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the large dining room (on the right, not the bar on the left) at Olde Sedona Bar & Grill, 1405 W. SR 89A, West Sedona.

Dinner includes a choice of pasta primavera, Cobb salad, or tilapia with mango salsa.
Tickets $25 in advance, $30 at the door, available at: Sedona Red Rock High School office, Bashas’ in West Sedona, Best of Show and Music and Isadora Handweaving Gallery at Tlaquepaque. Limited seating.

For more information, contact Kathy Gorchesky at (928) 221-7837.

Donations are tax deductible. SRRHS Scorpion Booster Club Tax ID #86-0768722

Friday, February 11, 2011

Freedom in Egypt

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down today after 30 years of autocratic rule and 18 days of street protests. There is joy in the streets.

(I don't speak or read Arabic, but I think I have the right word for "freedom" on Horus' eyelid. If you speak Arabic and I'm wrong, let me know.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Christians protect Muslims as they pray during Cairo protests

This photo fills me with joy:
This photo, tweeted by Cairo resident Nevine Zaki, who wrote, "A pic I took yesterday of Christians protecting Muslims during their prayers."

For the last three weeks, I've been watching the street protests in Cairo online, mainly on Al Jazeera English, which often has streaming coverage from Tahrir Square and great coverage for non-Arabic speakers. I've seen and heard about acts of heroism from everyday Egyptians, from army officials who refuse to interfere with the peaceful protesters to volunteers who set up checkpoints to prevent bombs and weapons from entering the square, and internationals who've left Sweden, England and the United States to join the crowds in solidarity, but this image is my favorite thus far.

The human shield of Coptic Christians protecting their Muslim countrymen returns the favor -- thousands of Muslim Egyptians kept a candlelight vigil outside churches as Coptic Christians celebrated Christmas Mass on Jan. 10.

Since the street protests began in Cairo on Jan. 25, Egyptian Copts and Muslims have protected each other. Pro-government mobs attacked demonstrators before the Egyptian Army created a buffer between the two groups.

Egyptian police have also used water cannons on Muslims during prayers in the streets:

Now, I'm an atheist and no fan of organized religion ... but you don't fuck with someone when they pray.

Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields”

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

In the days following the brutal attack on Saints Church in Alexandria, which left 21 dead on New Year’ eve, solidarity between Muslims and Copts has seen an unprecedented peak. Millions of Egyptians changed their Facebook profile pictures to the image of a cross within a crescent – the symbol of an “Egypt for All”. Around the city, banners went up calling for unity, and depicting mosques and churches, crosses and crescents, together as one.

The attack has rocked a nation that is no stranger to acts of terror, against all of Muslims, Jews and Copts. In January of last year, on the eve of Coptic Christmas, a drive-by shooting in the southern town of Nag Hammadi killed eight Copts as they were leaving Church following mass. In 2004 and 2005, bombings in the Red Sea resorts of Taba and Sharm El-Sheikh claimed over 100 lives, and in the late 90’s, Islamic militants executed a series of bombings and massacres that left dozens dead.

This attack though comes after a series of more recent incidents that have left Egyptians feeling left out in the cold by a government meant to protect them.

Last summer, 28-year-old businessman Khaled Said was beaten to death by police, also in Alexandria, causing a local and international uproar.

Around his death, there have been numerous other reports of police brutality, random arrests and torture.

Images of solidarity as Christians join hands to protect Muslims as they pray during Cairo protests

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:46 PM on 3rd February 2011

Striking photos of unity have emerged from the chaos in Egypt as Christian protesters stood together to protect Muslims as they prayed.

A group of Christians joined hands and faced out surrounding hundreds of Muslims protesters left vulnerable as they knelt in prayer.

She shared the images over Twitter, writing, 'Bear in mind that this pic was taken a month after z Alexandria bombing where many Christians died in vain. Yet we all stood by each other.'

The suicide bombing, shortly after the New Year's Day, killed 23 Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million population.

Muslim radicals have been blamed.

One Colorado resident posted an email online that he received from his mother, who is Cairo visiting her daughter, the poster's sister.

She described a scene like those captured in the photos.

'Some Muslims have been guarding Coptic churches while Christians pray, and on Friday, Christians were guarding the mosques while Muslims prayed.'

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Some days ...

Some days I long for a stand-alone complex to shake up the world ....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

الى طغاة العالم ("Ela Toghat al Alaam" or "To the Tyrants of the World") by Aboul-Qacem Echebbi

الى طغاة العالم
"Ela Toghat al Alaam"
"To the Tyrants of the World"
By Aboul-Qacem Echebbi

This poem was written in the early 1900s by the Tunisian poet Aboul-Qacem Echebbi during the French occupation of Tunisia. It has found new meaning for Egyptians rebelling against dictator Hosni Mubarak.

ألا أيها الظالم المستبد
حبيب الظلام عدو الحياه
سخرت بأنات شعب ضعيف
و كفك مخضوبة من دماه
و سرت تشوه سحر الوجود
و تبذر شوك الاسى في رباه
رويدك لا يخدعنك الربيع
و صحو الفضاء و ضوء الصباح
ففي الافق الرحب هول الظلام و قصف الرعود و عصف الرياح
حذار فتحت الرماد اللهيب
و من يبذر الشوك يجن الجراح
تأمل هنالك انى حصدت رؤوس الورى و زهور الأمل
و رويت بالدم قلب التراب اشربته الدمع حتى ثمل
سيجرفك سيل الدماء
و يأكلك العاصف المشتعل

To the Tyrants of the World...
You, the lovers of the darkness...
You, the enemies of life...
You've made fun of innocent people's wounds; and your palm covered with their blood
You kept walking while you were deforming the charm of existence and growing seeds of sadness in their land
Wait, don't let the spring, the clearness of the sky and the shine of the morning light fool you...
Because the darkness, the thunder rumble and the blowing of the wind are coming toward you from the horizon
Beware because there is a fire underneath the ash
Who grows thorns will reap wounds
You've taken off heads of people and the flowers of hope; and watered the cure of the sand with blood and tears until it was drunk
The blood's river will sweep you away and you will be burned by the fiery storm.