Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

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the fossil sky is a thick blanket
fog rolled in from the bay
the trees have disappeared
muffled birdsong drifts in waves
the sea is so close
other continents just a stone’s
throw away skip away
I’m invisible until that stone
thunks into the tide and sinks
down to the seafloor down


PAD 9: Hideout Poem

After the Show

we spent twenty bucks and two
hours to see a movie that showed
only things

we already knew about
urban blight dark corners
love magic and the way

popcorn smells after it’s
been stepped on by
two hundred shuffling feet

black birds land
on a chainlink fence rattling
so faint it could be your failing

the ambulances were so far away
they couldn’t come in time

lone cirrus wisp
a temporary arrow
pointing back toward home


and she said the waves would come
the way she said the stars were gone
beyond/beneath were synonyms
and for once I listened and believed

how was it that we found our way
in imaginary boats
across this sun-flecked sea
where she said sharks once lived
beyond horizons and beneath the waves

ocean curls waves foam
sand toes sunk deeper down
lifeguard flags snap warnings of sharks
and wind and high concentrations
of bacteria washed down from floods
two days drive north of here

how was it that we found our way
how was it that we found this sea
how was it that we knew the stars
how was it that they led us home


Not a Journal: List Poem about a Body of Water

sulphur butterfly
stone skipping across the sky
wind and highway noise

Dear ladies of the Mothers’ clubs

see your son

see your son
a gun in his hand

belt of shells
around his waist

disarm that boy
teach him—

find diversion
without annihilation


Erasure poem from a letter written by M.B. Davis of Waco to the Texas Congress of Mothers in 1910 regarding the widespread killing of grackles by children who were encouraged to hone their marksmanship skills

Source—“A History of Austin’s Love-Hate Relationship with the Grackle” by Andrew Weber on

blue morning
ghost of a moon smile
three vultures



PAD #3: Three (blank)

my yard work helper
throws mud, laughing

high forties
running through sprinklers
in filthy pj’s

Panhandler Blues

like Guthrie his
guitar screams

this machine
kills fascists

this guitar
is an animal’s bite

imperfect neck gripped
tight to sparse

applause for a
street busker

trying to change
the world

each measure
a fool’s gamble

might as well
ask the planets

change orbits
for a few coins?

a loose needle
some matches
a few bucks

in the guitar case
open like a mouth
in mid-phrase


PAD #1: Fool | This Is Not a Literary Journal: Word Salad

Highway Sky: Creative Commons, Remix & Resources


That’s the video I made for “God Bless Johnny Cash” which is now part of Highway Sky. It’s the first video poem I ever made, and while it’s a bit rough, I still kind of dig it. Along with “Chasing Westward,” I’ve made two videos for the Highway Sky poems, but what really excites me is the idea of creative remix, which is why the poems in Highway Sky are all licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike-NonCommercial license.

I was inspired by the example of The Poetry Storehouse and its radical sharing/remix culture based on the same Creative Commons license used for Highway Sky. I participated in The Poetry Storehouse as a poet, reader, and remixer and found the whole experience to be so wonderful that I wanted to release Highway Sky under the same terms and see what, if anything might come of it. (Incidentally,  “For Gasoline” and “angels” are available for remix there along with a few of my other poems).

So, for anyone interested in remixing anything in Highway Sky, I offer the following resources:


Free PDF version of Highway Sky (please note, the cover photo is copyrighted by the photographer and the Creative Commons License does not apply to it)

Additionally, early drafts of many of the poems can be found here under the tag highway sky draft poems


These are all of me reading some of the poems:

“For Gasoline” (text available at The Poetry Storehouse)


“Angels” (text available at feathers & The Poetry Storehouse)


“Night at the Interstate Diner” (text available at qarrtsiluni)


U.S. Highways


Chasing Westward



Of course, please abide by the terms of the license, and if you want to make a hit song, broadway musical, or some other commercial product out of any of my poems, you’ll need to get in touch with me. But we’ll be able to work something out.

And, while we’re at it, here’s the video I made for “Chasing Westward” which is also included in my short collection Birds Nobody Loves.

“Chasing Westward”


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