Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: audio

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). Please contact me if you would like a free pdf copy for review or creative remix.

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”


U.S. Highways


We read lines and studied rest stop signs to
learn the languages that govern highways.

Electric rivers flowed outward from cities
in red trails along the eastern highways.

We lived on the salty French fry grease and
fast food feasts of American highways.

We waited through summer road construction,
rebuilding and slowing northern highways.

In the mountains, we squinted through the dark
studying switchbacks to discern highways.

Green shadows crept across the road through
endless rolling tree-lined southern highways.

We avoided the rest stop stares of owls
and meth addicts on nocturnal highways.

In the desert night, lightning played with stars,
and we saw God on the western highways.

The engine downshifted, slow to grip the
road; tires clung like goats to mountain highways.

At night in desert motel rooms we laughed
and followed love down unspoken highways.

Hummingbird Heading Out to Sea


Does the hummingbird know
the vastness of the Gulf of Mexico
when land is lost from sight?

Oil rigs and shrimping boats—
fast-blurred memories, random ghosts afloat
where sky and sea seem one.

Is there any inkling
of monsters below that other ceiling
birds can scarce imagine?

Tiny feathered jewel,
leagues from any flower’s nectar fuel,
how do you know the way?

Above those trackless seas,
in doldrum times of windless apogee,
one heart of pebble’s size

pounds alone against the gulf,
pounds alone against the world.

One of the most amazing bird migrations is that of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. On its southbound journey from eastern North America to its wintering grounds in Central and South America, it flies up to 500 miles nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico.

Update: This post was included in I and the Bird #119 hosted at Somewhere in NJ.

Lines Discovered in an Aging Ornithologist’s Field Journal


When the end comes, don’t
plant me in the ground, trapped
in just one piece of earth.

Why not leave me by
the highway for the vultures
and maybe for the crows
who will take my sleeping eyes.

Then, at last, I could soar,
finally fly on dusky wings

buried in the sky.

“Lines Discovered in an Aging Ornithologist’s Field Journal” was one of 3 poems originally published at Thirteen Myna Birds in July 2009. Poems don’t stick around long over there before they fly away, so I’m posting them here for those who may have missed them back in July. This is 3 of 3. It has been slightly modified from its original form. The others can be found here and here.

I’m continuing to dabble with audio blogging, this time seeing how it goes reading one of my poems. I don’t know how often I’ll do this, but it was surprisingly easy to get the reading. I even edited a little bit since I liked the end of one take and the beginning of another.

Project FeederWatch – Month 2

Carolina Wren waits for breakfast


The above recording is a Carolina Wren followed by a response from a Black-crested Titmouse. The wren follows and then they sing together after which the titmouse gets in the last word. I recorded it on my iphone so it’s nothing fancy and doesn’t sound professional by any means. I edited it down from 55 seconds to cut the dead space between songs.

I’ve been trying to record some of the backyard bird sounds hoping this will help me learn their songs over time in much the same way that photographing them has helped me learn their names.

Project FeederWatch contines. Last month, I noted I hadn’t seen any cardinals or Mourning Doves since the count period began, but in the past month both birds have checked in. I also had a European Starling visit the back porch to investigate one of the feeders. They’re common here, but I rarely see them in the yard. Last year, I only had them show up once. Three came by for a swim in the birdbath.

American Goldfinches are the only birds from last year that haven’t come around. I’ve talked to a few people around here who say they haven’t seen many this year either.

Here’s the current tally with the highest number of individuals in parentheses.

  1. White-winged Dove (23)
  2. Mourning Dove (1)
  3. Blue Jay (3)
  4. Carolina Chickadee (2)
  5. Black-crested Titmouse (2)
  6. Carolina Wren (2)
  7. Bewick’s Wren (1)
  8. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1)
  9. Northern Mockingbird (1)
  10. European Starling (1)
  11. Orange-crowned Warbler (1)
  12. Chipping Sparrow (15)
  13. Northern Cardinal (1)
  14. Lesser Goldfinch (5)
  15. House Sparrow (17)

Here’s a picture of a Black-crested Titmouse leaving the feeder. It’s not a good picture, but I like the motion.

A Black-crested Titmouse takes flight

Update: This post was included in I and the Bird #117 at the Marvelous in nature. This week’s host, Seabrooke Leckie, actually drew all of the featured birds including my wren and titmouse singing it out and linked to all the posts from her drawing. It’s awesome. Check it out.

Friday Hound Blogging: Old Blog, New Tricks

They only look blurry because… well, they’re greyhounds. And they’re fast.

This week, I’ve been teaching the old blog new tricks and we now have the capacity to let the pups tell their own story. Phoebe does most of the narration while Joey huffs and puffs bounces around in the background. Here’s Phoebe telling me about her day:


Since this is our first attempt at audio blogging, let me know if it doesn’t work.


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