Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: birds nobody loves (page 1 of 4)

Kindle Promo Experiment

I’m doing a little experiment with Amazon’s kindle promo features. My book, A Place Without a Postcard, is currently $1.99 for the next day or so when it will slowly go up to its usual $3.99.

Additionally, my poetry collection, Birds Nobody Loves, is on special as well. It’s currently $0.99, but will slowly ascend to its usual perch at $2.99.

I’m trying to see how well this works, so I’m asking if you’ve read either of these books and wouldn’t mind sharing this with people you think might enjoy them to consider doing so. If you haven’t read them, this is a great way to get them.

If you check out Postcard, you’ll even find out why this site is called Coyote Mercury.


The Awesomeness of Grackles

It’s been a while since I’ve written much about grackles or birds for that matter. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve really done much blogging and in the intervening time, I’ve managed to forget to share some grackle-y goodness that came along earlier in the year.

First up, Eight Reasons Grackles Are Awesome, a Texas Monthly article from 2015. I’m proud to say that number eight “They’ve Inspired a poetry collection” is my book Birds Nobody Loves.

Next, a series of features on our local NPR affiliate KUT: A History of Austin’s Love-Hate Relationship with the Grackle which examines just that topic, and a two-part series of KUT’s ATXplained series that includes me reading from Birds Nobody Loves as reporter Mose Buchele delves into local grackle-lore: Part I: Why Do Grackles Flock to Grocery Store Parking Lots at Dusk and Part II: That Time UT Austin Waged a War on Grackles.

Around here, for many, grackles are a nuisance bird, but they’ve also become a bit of an unofficial mascot but without the PR that our bats get. Still, grackles are beautiful, fascinating birds and many of us couldn’t imagine Austin without them.

Greyhound Joey vs. the Grackle

Three bites taken on the run, two soggy feathers
float from his mouth, no sign left of any bird.

I call animal emergency:
Yuck, but your dog will be fine.
It’s what he’s made to do.

I call another vet just to be sure.
First, Ewww. But I am told the same.

It’s what he’s made to do.

My friends weigh in:
What’s one less grackle?
I hate those filthy birds.
Thank goodness. Grackles are awful.

Now, each morning I fill the feeders
as I’ve always done, and Joey follows
as he always has, but something’s new:

in the way he watches me pour the seed,
he admires how the trapper baits his traps.


This is from my poetry collection, Birds Nobody Loves, and was first published along with “North through Fog” in the February 2011 edition of The Houston Literary Review, which has, alas, disappeared from the ‘net without a trace.

It’s one of those poems that, unfortunately for the grackle, qualifies as nonfiction.

Birds Nobody Loves is on sale (15% off) through the holidays on Amazon and through my e-store and could make a great gift for the poetry or bird lover on your shopping list.

And, if you’ve already purchased a copy now or earlier, my sincerest thanks.

Interview & Review at AGGASPLETCH

Mark Stratton, poet, blogger and author of Tender Mercies, interviewed me about writing, poetry, birds, my new book and other topics:

Without naming it, describe for me your favorite beverage?

My favorite beverage consists of ice cold hydrogen atoms joined in a 2:1 ratio with a crisp pure oxygen atom. This beverage is best served over the solid state form of itself.

I hope you’ll go read the whole thing, and also check out mark’s short review of Birds Nobody Loves posted last week.

Thanks, mark!

Another Review of Birds Nobody Loves

Juliet Wilson, poet, blogger and author of Unthinkable Skies posted a review of Birds Nobody Loves on her blog Crafty Green Poet:

The poetry is well observed, here is someone who clearly watches birds carefully and has a way with words to describe them in striking ways. The poems show the more engaging sides of the birds and also comment more directly on people’s hatred of them.

Juliet was also the first to publish any of my vulture and grackle poems: “Good Authority” and “My Tourist Yard” first appeared on her literary e-journal Bolts of Silk back in 2009. Thanks, Juliet!


Deb Scott over at Stony Moss wrote a nice post about how Birds Nobody Loves looks, works and reads on iPads, Kindles and paper so I figured I’d put something up here by way of explaining how it came to exist in its various forms.

I kicked around the idea of doing Birds Nobody Loves as an e-book but an illustrated book of poetry seemed like it would carry a pretty steep learning curve for a first e-book what with the whole line break issue and that kept me from pursuing it until I read NS’s Dark and Like a Web on my phone (before buying the paperback) and saw how well it worked. I read her blog posts on the subject and learned how she used Dave Bonta’s hanging indent solution in her e-books and so, I decided to give it a try.

I coded the EPUB version of Birds Nobody Loves using eCub. It was surprisingly easy for me considering I’ve spent a lot of time playing with the HTML and CSS on this blog over the years. That was the biggest surprise for me: an e-book is nothing but a series of web pages governed by a CSS file. Who knew?

It wasn’t long before I had an EPUB file that looked great on my phone and that took my breath away when I saw it on a borrowed iPad, which rendered the illustrations beautifully. And, the hanging indents worked too.

Next up was Kindle-izing the thing, which required a conversion to MOBI format. ECub works with Amazon’s Kindlegen to create a MOBI file but when I checked it in Amazon’s Kindle previewer, which lets you see what your book looks like on various Kindle devices, I was horrified to learn that while it looked great on the Fire it looked awful on all the other Kindles. I could “fix” this by removing the hanging indent code, which made it look okay across all devices but the poetry would lose the formatting if the reader made the font too big.

I messed around with the code for the better part of the day and then gave up, figuring I could either ditch the whole hanging indent idea for Kindles or just not release it for Kindle at all. I thought there had to be a way for the book to know what kind of device it was being played on and then serve up the hanging indent CSS if it was being played on a Fire, but how?

And here’s yet another reason why I love the Internet: there’s always someone smarter out there with the same problem I’m working on. That very night, Liz Castro at Pigs, Gourds and Wikis posted an excellent tutorial on how to get hanging indents in a poetry e-book (using the same technique Dave worked out) and how to make them work on ALL Kindle devices by having the book serve CSS geared toward whichever Kindle device was playing the book. It took less than 10 minutes to have the Kindle version working perfectly.

The Nook was another matter. The EPUB file seems to play well on my Dad’s Nook but when I uploaded it to the Nook Store, I found that Barnes & Noble seems to make changes to the file that destroy all the line breaks. Either that or the Nook doesn’t read EPUB like Apple’s products. So, sorry Nook users, I haven’t solved that one yet.

After that it was easy to upload the book to Lulu, the iBookstore and the Kindle Store.

Now, go pay Deb a visit and see what she has to say about it. And then read her blog.

Interview at Wordgathering

Margo Roby interviewed me at her Wordgathering blog today. We talk about Birds Nobody Loves, vultures, grackles, poetry, self-publishing and writing in general. Check it out.

Thanks, Margo!

The First Review of Birds Nobody Loves

The first review of Birds Nobody Loves is up at bhulbhulaiyan:

I was amazed that I would even like pieces about birds- let alone, ones nobody loves. I mean, I could imagine poems about blue birds and peacocks and the like…but grackles?? Number one, what in heaven’s name is a grackle? To my amazement, I enjoyed each piece. By the third read, I was seeing layers in some of the pieces…wise layers…intriguing layers. I knew this was a keeper.

Thanks, Anjuli!

Birds Nobody Loves Is Live

I’m thrilled to announce that my first poetry collection Birds Nobody Loves: A Book of Vultures & Grackles is now live.

Here’s where you can go to get a copy:

Paperback edition on Amazon

Paperback edition at my CreateSpace store

Or if you have one of them new-fangled e-reader contraptions, it’s available in both Kindle and EPUB format (it looks startlingly nice on the iPad I borrowed on which to test it):

Kindle edition at Amazon

EPUB edition (for iPad, iPhone and most other readers) at Lulu

It’s also available in the iBookstore.

These birds will continue to fly around the internet and automatically take up roost in many other online booksellers over the next few weeks.

I hope you’ll consider ordering a copy. Thanks also to all of you who’ve read and commented on these poems as they’ve appeared on this blog and in various other venues over the past three years.

Birds Nobody Loves

Almost three years ago, I started writing poems about vultures and grackles because, well, someone had to do it. I imagined eventually putting them together into a short collection and now that collection is about finished. Birds Nobody Loves: A Book of Vultures & Grackles is in its final proof stage and will (barring unforeseen complications) become available for order/download next week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday. More details and links to follow.

It’s been an interesting road to this point, writing these poems and trying to decide what to do with them beyond sharing them here. I’ve learned a lot about two of the most common and least-liked birds around here (the turkey and black vultures, the great-tailed and common grackles) and even more about crafting poems. Readers of this blog will have read earlier drafts of most of these poems here or at one of the online journals kind enough to publish them*, so they’re available around these parts, though many of them have undergone revision.

Not long ago, I came to the conclusion that the thing that made the most sense to me was to go ahead and publish this myself. In large part because I just love the fact that I live in a world where I can. That thrills me. I registered Coyote Mercury Press at the county clerk’s office, bought some ISBN numbers (I have a few other projects up my sleeve), and set the title up using Createspace. It will be available in multiple formats: paperback, .epub (for iPad, Nook and Sony), .mobi (for Kindle) and likely .pdf as well.

I’ll write some more about this between now and next week, and I plan to give away 5 paperback copies to anyone with a blog who might like to write a review or do an interview or whatever else. If you’re interested or would just like to receive an email when it’s available with links for ordering/downloading, let me know using the contact form above.

Update: The 5 review copies are now spoken for.

*Bolts of SilkThirteen Myna Birdsa handful of stonesFour and TwentytinywordsHouston Literary ReviewPay Attention: A River of Stones AnthologyNothing. No One. Nowhere.qarrtsiluni, and Curio Poetry

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