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.

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Four Corners" by Christopher Fox Graham

Dorothea Tanning "Self-Portrait"

"Four Corners"
by Christopher Fox Graham

Cities in the Old World
rise triumphant on the horizon
busy bee hives of doing, doing, doing
while the sounds of sins and salvations
fade into the din of the streets
lost in the cups of beggars
trampled under the footfalls of migrants
the hooves of workhorses
the tires of Model-Ts and Mack Trucks
who we are is swallowed in waddle and daub
buried beneath concrete and asphalt
we become frozen in monuments
to legacies long forgotten

Fields in the East
spread wide to catch the morning sun
stretch fingers toward the sun
a trillion siblings no taller than the next
reach toward the heavens
speak stories on the breeze
rumors caught in the wind
sins and salvations swirl into tornadoes
deafening all that could be heard
who we are is swallowed in the green
reaped in the winters
we become harvests
to feed the generation next

Bayous in the South
lazily roll toward the sea
at a strolling pace
caught low the waters stop and stagnate
no desire to move past churned mud and muck to
these waters do not care who floats by
Arcadian, Anglo, alligator
French, free, slave or sharecropper
sins and salvations ooze in the same stillwater
who we are is drowned in the shallow deep
emptied into the Gulf
we become sediment
to hold back the floodwaters

but the West is always open
nothing here lives easy
there are no off days, no weekends, no bounty
even leafless plants are armed
evolved to resist transgressors
here, the stories on the wind are hollow
the breezes instead ask us to speak
so on the edges of canyons
we cry out our names
shout our stories to absent ears
here, where the gods fear to wander
we have no old religions demanding obedience
no monuments to dead kings dare stand
here, sins dry up into dust
salvations thirst for water
turn their bones white into signal flares
the sunrises, drained of their energies
angered at emptying themselves
to all the green elsewhere
beat down their rage into the soil
drunk on their own desperation
there is a hate that beats back into the sky
building mirages of what could be
loneliness is the only common faith
solitude the universal tongue
who we are is what we choose to remake ourselves
each new day if we survive that long
we become whatever we chose for a moment
to live and fade away

Thursday, March 5, 2015

This Began With “I Miss You”

This began with “I miss you”
nestled deep in the liver of pretty words
dancing illusionary around platitudes of nostalgia
the way lynchings and pogroms and Jim Crow
take a back seat when waxing poetic about the Roaring 20s

this began Art Deco
all smooth lines and steel rising above New York City
when Chrysler and Empire State vied for the heavens
when we could still see heaven

but this revisionist history
ignores begging in breadlines for something warm at night
the amputees returning home from the trenches
missing limbs from land mines

you were the FLASH! BANG! landmine
ripping smiles from this face
leaving me to sweat you out on PTSD nights
wondering if you were coming home to finish me off

you are my thousand-yard stare

you are the war story of crashing hips and desert stories
I would tell the neighbors
when they asked about the scars too visible to conceal

this began “I miss you,”
because I can still remember the beginning
when butterflies fluttered in the gut portending the future
back before we learned to fuck the way movie stars taught us:
well lit, in focus, every inch of skin captured center frame,
each retelling revealing more secrets than the last
until I could quote your inches from exposition to ending credits
even now, I can chart your body, knee to nape, lip to clit
like a family farm a man spent 90 years
getting ready to be buried in

your blustering winds do not make you a hurricane
you are not Salamis 
nor Trafalgar
and this is no “I miss you” poem

because I do not miss you

no one misses fatal car accidents
we were a slow-motion rollover
ejecting victims through the windshield face-first

after you found me inhabiting the suburbs of your heart
fostering your broken parts like they were my own children
you began pushing me out one brutal word at a time
no refugee misses the ethnic cleansing
that leaves them in the wilderness

you left me in the wilderness
of this place
in my own chest
surrounded by strange tongues that speak unfamiliar words
like “lover” and “future”
I had found a home in the forever changing definitions of “us”
never expecting to be the only one to remember it that way

you were the memory

I was the action

you were the story

I was the author

but you lit the manuscript on fire
drained the blood from all of my inkwells
broke pens like fingers
and cut the voice from my throat
leaving me to point at strangers
mouth useless words,
knowing they do not understand

you are breathtaking,

but that is no compliment

you hover between regret and unfortunate accident
haunting the stairwells of this cold, empty house
the image of a girl I can see in the television static
around 2 a.m. between the whiskey and the dawn
a tree in winter that I’m not certain is dead or dormant

this began “I miss you,”
this will end with, “I survived you”but we are still somewhere else

a wounded diver in shark-infested waters
and I cannot see the shore

we are the firing squad bullet between rifle and
let justice be done
a hand grenade frozen beautiful in a starburst
before shrapnel turns a dreamer
into a dying, wounded animal