Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

Grackles poke around the right-of-way,
a confusion of iridescent-robed seekers,
an endless search for grass seeds.

The junkie at the intersection watches,
never takes his eyes off the grackles
even when I hand him some crackers
and dried bits of bread. I look in his eyes,

nobody’s home, and we both understand
the birds’ bright yellow eyes are more alive,
more aware of the gray curtain coming
down fast from the north. He stretches his arms

ready to ride that icy tailwind south, but the
light changes to green—too many cars now
block his path, but it’s useless anyway.

All his flight feathers fell out six years ago.

He stands in exhaust fumes, praying that
grackles share seed when snow’s coming.

This poem is older than today. The solstice here in Austin came in hot and overcast so the eclipse was a non-event, but fortunately for the people on those street corners with the grackles, it’s not cold and certainly not likely to snow. At least not tonight.

I wrote this as part of my Birds Nobody Loves series, but I guess it can also fit with Highway Sky.

Update: I just discovered One Stop Poetry (tip of the cyber hat to Dick Jones for showing the way), another cool poetry sharing site and so I’ve linked this there. Go check out some of the other great work to be found in this week’s One Shot Wednesday.


  1. like how you switch the images between the birds and the junkie (so fast that they’re almost superposed)…

    also I look in his eyes/nobody’s home… is a strong transition line. Loved it.

  2. glad you linked up with us james – so nice to meet you – and a beautiful piece you brought to the table – some great lines – my fav…I look in his eyes,nobody’s home..this alone speaks volumes

  3. ..oh…and great took it yourself..?

  4. Looked the grackle up on Wiki; beautiful bird. The picture and the poem work well together. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Have to agree with Ana about the almost blending of the bird and the junkie. I really started to see them as almost one in the same, both of them longing for the sky. Really lovely, and great opening line. Just the word ‘Grackle’ has such an interesting sound to it that it draws me in immediately.

  6. Interesting contrasts, good slice o’ street-nature life.

  7. Glad you linked up. Enjoyed your poem, especially the contrasts you paint. Nice photo too; love the gradient blending of colors.

  8. So glad I stumbled on this gem of a poem. Great tone and your narrator’s voice is strong and steady throughout the piece. Love the juxtaposition of the grackles and the junkie, the latter having no escape from the oncoming darkness. Solid write, much enjoyed.

  9. thanks for the share…the read and flow were solid…a good poem..i love the use of birds along with the flight/plight of street life…cheers for sharing…pete

  10. Very enjoyable reading this. I love this position of the bird within and the changing of seasons….”more aware of the gray curtain coming down fast” ~So glad you found OneStop and decided to post; amazing people/friends and sure hope you stick around to share your wonderful words. :) ~April

  11. I found your blog through the feet prompt on “big tent” just wanted to say I am enjoying reading through your older poetry I enjoy your writing style.

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