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.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"She Holds a Dragon in Her Spine," by Christopher Fox Graham

she holds a dragon in her spine
made of steel and mint juleps
curled up kundalini in her hips
she rocks to the beat
in a to and fro touch and go
shaking the room to its foundation

she breaks beats like bread
"take, eat of this my body," she says
her blood is busy though
snap kicking extremities to their exasperated edges
like the last great explorer discovering a New World over the horizon
where limbs meet limits
and bones bend time and space
she's a gravity well
drawing the eyes of everyone into her orbit
like falling satellites
burning brilliance in her exosphere
yet unable to touch her surface
without being crushed by the pressure
but if she holds you close like a love letter
just about be cast in the fireplace
presses her fingerprints into paper skin like an undiscovered crime scene
your lips ache to be solved by her detective tongue
until your law and order lifestyle
begs for her anarchy to throw a brick through
your thousand blind windows

she fucks your shit up
like a pirate ship sailing into port
on Take Your Daughter To Work Day

when she grabs you and says “kiss me”
hold onto her like you’re bull riding
on a tight rope
on fire
you’re going to experience some turbulence
and if oxygen drops in the overhead compartments
don't bother gasping for air
grab a sharpie and start writing your name on your body parts
so rescuers can reassemble you after impact
don't expect an open-casket funeral when she’s done with you
she’ll leave you splattered on the sidewalk
from a car bomb MacGyvered from the teeth of broken lovers
and the bones of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
that she uses like toothpicks
because when the end of the world came
she said, “Is that all you got?”
The world's been ending since it started
every time some new gods come along to rename it
and give it their own spin
she just laughs and says
“Fenrir fetches my newspapers”
“the Seven-Headed Beast is my alarm clock”
“who wakes me at 6:66 a.m.”

she's the philosopher of the dance floor
but you can't stop her beat
her hips will just keep dancing
come your Big Crunch flashfire or your intergalactic entropy big freeze

the Big Bang began the beat
and now it's so deep in her bones
her DNA splices in rhythm
stretching into infinity
or until you're so old,
your bones refuse to move
disassembling into their composite atoms she swallows like an anteater to fuel her fire
and thump the universe into hip-hop heartbeat
ba dum dum bang
ba dum dum bang

can you feel it?
it sounds like god tapping her temple
or the rain
or the rapping talons of the dragon in her spine, asking to come inside
and snuggle alongside you
now, open the damn door

"Marine Fossils on Mount Everest," by Christopher Fox Graham

the phone rings
it's her
lying in bed
unable to move
it's either call me
or cut herself again

I am naked words
over a phone line
trying to hold her
but this tunnel
doesn't have light at the end
exit, oncoming train or otherwise

so I talk about Mount Everest

she says she doesn't want to about
mountaineers conquering their fears
besides, the only way off
is to fall or freeze
and she's fallen so far
that the world is cold to the touch already

I say I want to talk about Everest
now, hidden on its slopes …

she says she doesn't want to hear about Shangri-La
a place where dreams come true
if we just let go
of what ties us to the material world
there's no secret entrance to open
with prayer and password

I want to talk about Everest

she says she doesn't want to hear about yeti
how we adapt to our environment
become creatures who can survive anywhere
given circumstance and intention

I say "stop"
I want to talk about Everest
up there, there's no room for metaphor
now, hidden on its slopes
beneath the snow and limestone
under the feet of mountaineers
the tracks of yeti
and the temples of Shangri-La
sandwiched between the stones
are the tiny tombs
of billions of marines animals
despite the claims of creationists
that the gods did it in Noah's drunken haze
or atheists planted them
as if that's all they needed to clinch the contest

there are billions of marine fossils
creatures who fell so deep
swallowed in the muck and mud unmourned
but they were patient
and in millions of years
waited for colliding continents
to shove themselves
colliding like struggling elk
shoving each one higher
until those fossils reached air
higher and higher
until those fossils felt snow
higher and higher
until those fossils scraped the sky
and could gaze across the curve of the Earth
and see it was just a marble floating
like they once did in the sea of space

it takes patience to see the beauty of the world
the wait's not always easy
rainstorms and tectonic shifts
can waylay the best laid plans of mice and men
you don't want to fade away
you ask what the point of life is:
to leave an imprint
a legacy
make a dent in the world
so all your years are worth the time you put in
hold fast,
don't be in a hurry to leave
it takes time to find the right place
the perfect soil to last forever
live like you're already priceless

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Kal-El's Lament" by Christopher Fox Graham

Written while listening to Nick Giello perform a set at Reds

I didn't ask to come here
it was this or death
my parents – my real parents
sent me when everything they knew
was doomed to collapse on itself

this country is unfamiliar
though I've seen so much of it
all I have of home are the recordings of my father
stoic and overbearing
telling from his tomb how to behave
"you must be a beacon
a ray of hope
a savior,
a super man
to these new people"

my mother is a memory
an image and a glimmer
her voice I've recreated
a hundred thousand times
with different timbre and tone
but it never sounds right
never sincere
and always in English
a language I knew she never spoke
I want to hear my native tongue
echoing off the crystal walls
or in the busy streets of cities
I want to see the skies again
feel the sun rising red on the horizon
be a boy
an ordinary boy
who climbs trees and falls from them
with bruises and cuts to prove it
who learns to fear the sight of his own blood
or broken bones

it's hard to be a man
when you've never learned to survive the pain
of growing up

The secret of silence is
if you say nothing
people assume the worst

only in solitude
can I scream out
"fuck this place
and these people"

but I've got nowhere to go
no home, no country
and no one understands
not my boss
not the people I help

my girlfriend thinks I'm someone else
she sees another face
calls me by another name
I can't tell her I only feel warm
standing in snow with no one
around for hundreds of miles
only there can I cry
be the boy I never was
instead of this man they think I am

she has her career
the news stories she chases
she's in love with another man
but never says so
she wants a man who isn't real
who lies to the world about who he is
when she could have me, right here
"we're not that different," I tell her
just cosmetic
different clothes, hair and glasses
but she doesn't see it
he's heroic and I'm just a small town boy

These people want so much from me
these weak, small creatures
who don't stand up for themselves
now that they have me
"why can't you fix this"
"prevent that?"
"why did he live
and my mother die?"
I'm just one man
I can't be everywhere
I have a life, too
I'm not here out of choice
I'm no civil servant – this is my free time
and it's not easy
I rescue you helpless children
you blind kittens
you insects
not because you deserve it
but because I'm not cruel
but I bite my tongue
swallow my pride

they call out for who they want
not who I am
"save us, save us, Superman," they shout
but my name is Kal-El
and this place,
this Earth
is not my home

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NORAZ Poets on Wikipedia

 NORAZ Poets is a nonprofit poetry  organization based in Northern Arizona now aimed at youth and senior citizens suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

It was founded in Sedona, Arizona in 2003 by the late poet Christopher Lane, who served as the organization’s executive director until his death in August 2012. The group is run by a seven-member advisory board.

The group ran weekly poetry open mics, biweekly and monthly poetry slams, poetry workshops, featured poetry readings, poet in residence programs in Northern Arizona high schools, maintained a Web site with a calendar of events and several book partnerships, which sold local poets’ work in Northern Arizona bookstores. The group networked two poetry slams: FlagSlam in Flagstaff and VerdeSlam Sedona, Arizona and has a reputation in the national slam poetry scene for treating touring poets with great respect, with booking events, transportation to and from performances and venues, and lodging at the homes of members of the local poetry community.

Poetry organizers in Northern Arizona had sent slams teams to the National Poetry Slam since 2001, officially representing Flagstaff, although the team’s members were from various parts of the region. Between early 2004 and mid-2007, the team competed in local, regional and national poetry slams under the banner “Team NORAZ”.

NORAZ Poets is one of the only rural and regional poetry organizations in the United States.

The organization earned 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status in February 2005.

In March 2005, NORAZ Poets created the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project Arizona Assignment (a branch of the national Alzheimer’s Poetry Project).

Some of the poets affiliated with the group include Robin John Anderson, Jordan Sebastian Bonner, Mary Carvell Bragg, the late Rochelle Brener, Portlin Cochise, Rebekah Crisp, Patrick David DuHaime, Gary Every, Jen Valencia, Josh Fleming, Dom Flemons

, Nick Fox, Karyl Goldsmith, Jesse Dyllan Grace, Christopher Fox Graham, Andy “War” Hall, Dee Hamilton, Brent Heffron, Mary Heyborne, Cass J. Hodges, Aaron Johnson, Jarrod Masseud Karimi, Erik John Karpf, Suzy La Follette, John Raymond Kofonow, the late Christopher Lane, Eric Larson, David “Doc” Luben, William Mawhinney, Douglas McDaniel, Karen Guevara, Logan Phillips, Kaia Placa, John Reid, Betteanne Rutten, David Ward and Mikel Weisser.

In mid-2007, NORAZ Poets effectively ceased its poetry slam activities. Flagstaff area poetry slam events were then taken up by FlagSlam, led by Ryan Brown, John Cartier, Frank O’Brien, Jessica Guadarrama, Dana Sakowicz, Kamryn Henderson, among others. Sedona and Verde Valley area poetry slam events were then taken up by Gary Every and Christopher Fox Graham.

NORAZ Poets uses its 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit umbrella for the Young Voices Be Heard and Alzheimer’s

 Poetry Project Arizona Assignment Projects.

Flagstaff National Poetry Slam Teams

In 2001, as Team Flagstaff

 at the 11th National Poetry Slam in Seattle, Washington:
  • Grand Slam Champion: Josh Fleming
  • Nick Fox
  • Christopher Lane
  • Christopher Fox Graham
  • Alternate: A-rek Matthew Dye
  • Coach: Andy “War” Wall

In 2002, as Team Flagstaff

 at the 12th National Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, Minnesota:
  • Grand Slam Champion: Suzy La Follette
  • Logan Phillips
  • Andy “War” Hall
  • Dom Flemons
  • Alternate: Jarrod Masseud Karimi (but left the team before the National Poetry Slam)
  • Coach and alternate: John Raymond Kofonow
  • In 2003, as Team Flagstaff

     at the 13th National Poetry Slam in Chicago, Illinois:
    • Grand Slam Champion: Suzy La Follette
    • Logan Phillips
    • Cass Hodges
    • Dom Flemons
  • Alternate: Julie Hudgens (but left the team before the National Poetry Slam)
  • Coach and alternate: John Raymond Kofonow
  • National Poetry Slam Teams represented by NORAZ Poets

    In 2004: as Team NORAZ at the 14th National Poetry Slam in St. Louis, Missouri

    • Grand Slam Champion: Christopher Fox Graham
    • Eric Larson
    • Logan Phillips
    • Brent Heffron
    • Coaches: Mary Guaraldi, Christopher Lane and John Raymond Kofonow

    In 2005: as Team NORAZ at the 15th National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, New Mexico

    • Grand Slam Champion: Christopher Lane
    • Logan Phillips
    • Christopher Fox Graham
    • Meghan Jones
    • Aaron Johnson
    • Coaches: Mary Guaraldi and John Raymond Kofonow

    In 2006: as Team NORAZ at the 16th National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas

    • Aaron Johnson
    • Christopher Fox Graham
    • Meghan Jones
    • Al Moyer
    • Justin “Biskit” Powell
    • Coaches: Greg Nix and John Raymond Kofonow

    Sunday, July 14, 2013

    "I Wish My Pride Was More Malleable," by Christopher Fox Graham

    I wish my pride was more malleable
    so I could remember the taste of you
    but "forgive" is a seven-letter word
    neither of us can say
    without swallowing back into our chest
    to burn deep into our spleens

    to sleep
    I have replaced your two arms
    with two glasses of whiskey
    so I don't spend the hours between midnight and daybreak
    calculating how my 72¾-inch doorframe
    can so perfectly divide us
    Korean Peninsula-style
    into two halves
    sharing the same language and history
    but without armistice or peace treaty
    to settle the civil war
    we both claim the other started
    we are starfish:
    all fingers and mouths but no ears

    I kissed her because she was young and curious
    and most importantly, wasn't you
    but as her cheeks melted into my hands
    she became comparison, afterimage, contrast
    the joy of first kiss became science experiment
    an astronaut's expedition to a new Earth
    "can we survive here, like home?
    will the atmosphere adapt to us
    or we to it?
    will our grandchildren bury us here
    or will we bury each other?"

    you were the home left behind
    the hometown of my eventual obituary
    linked to my biography the way
    Lee, Marc Antony and Rommel are inseparable
    from Appomattox, Actium and El Alamein

    You earthquake-forest fire-kaleidoscope wrecking ball:
    I understand why warzone survivors stand
    in the wreckage of their homes
    photographed stone-faced:
    there's nothing left to mourn
    when one's home isn't still here
    just cremated into rubble and ash
    it looks fixable,
    but it's not
    the way the dead, without gunshot wounds,
    should spring back to life
    after rebooting the hardware because we will it

    but anatomy and history and car accidents
    are one-way streets
    sins we cannot unsay
    we've collided at full speed
    wreckage strewn across this bedroom
    photographs and knickknacks
    tagged and noted by the forensic investigators
    to chart them back to the moment of impact
    not a last kiss,
    but the words, "I think you should leave"
    spilling from these lips
    without the addendum:
    "but return tomorrow"
    or "when time and reason softens your illogic
    and you can remember you are meant
    to be the better one of us"

    but my unbending pride
    will doom me to death by train impact
    rather than move out of the way
    and my last words
    instead of the profundity of poets
    with pithy statements
    of time's brevity
    or the beauty of life strung through mediocre moments
    into something grand and glorious
    or dying haiku masters in the bamboo forests
    waiting for the end to suck the life from their lungs
    grown ancient in the pursuit of shorter phrasing
    will be something asinine
    a gurgle of gibberish
    a profane declaration