Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

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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”


Highway Sky is Live

highway-skyI’m very happy to announce that my new book Highway Sky is now live.

Highway Sky is a collection of road poems published here on Coyote Mercury and in various fine journals, ‘zines, sites, and anthologies over the past seven years.

As of right now, Highway Sky is available in paperback in the following places: Amazon, my e-storeBarnes & Noble, and probably most anywhere else you can order books. There is also a Kindle edition and a free .pdf edition.

The following poems from the collection were previously published. Where there are working links, they can be read online. My thanks to the editors of the following journals for publishing these…

“Sonnet Found in a Road Atlas” Verbatim Found Poetry (Jun 2015)

“a hundred miles out” tinywords (Apr 2015, Issue 15.1)

“All the Way” Synchronized Chaos (Mar 2015)

“Three Scenes from the Road” The Lake (Mar 2015)

“windshield rain” A Blackbird Sings: A Book of Short Poems (Woodsmoke Press, Sep 2012)

“if there are angels” feathers (Apr 2012)

“North Through Fog.” Houston Literary Review (Feb 2011)

“Night at the Interstate Diner.” qarrtsiluni (Dec 2010 – The Crowd issue)

“Highway 73 to Port Arthur.” a handful of stones (Jul 2010)

“Deeper into Texas.” America Remembered (Virgogray* Press Chapbook Anthology Jul 2010)

“Miles (Never Once Imagined).” Carcinogenic Poetry (May 2010)

“I-10 Eastbound.” Carcinogenic Poetry (May 2010)

“We Talk of Trains.” ouroboros review (Jul 2009 – No. 3)

“A Texas Highway in Springtime.” Bolts of Silk (May 2009)

And, thanks to The Poetry Storehouse for making “For Gasoline” and “angels” available for creative remix. (Incidentally, all of the individual poems in Highway Sky are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike-NonCommercial license so if you want to envideo/remix… have at it.)

Many of the poems first appeared here in draft form. You can read those early drafts here. Some are draftier than others, but I offer my sincerest thanks to the many people who commented, critiqued and left feedback on these drafts over the past seven years. It has meant a lot to me.

I hope you’ll check it out and help spread the word. Thank you.

Poems in Other Places and Some Sneak Peeks

Oh, hi there. Thanks for coming round this old blog. Here’s some links to a couple of my poems that appeared recently in other places:

a hundred miles out… in Issue 15.1 of tinywords back in April

Sonnet Found in a Road Atlas at Verbatim Found Poetry back in June

My poetry-ing has been behind the scenes of late, editing and publishing Gnarled Oak (which if you’ve not checked out you should) and putting the finishing touches on two books, a collection of road poems called Highway Sky (which includes both of the poems linked above) and a short collection of short stories titled The Corner of Ghost & Hope. Stay tuned for more about each one, but for now, here’re the covers…



Also, I’d love to have some reviews online (Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, wherever and etc.) so please contact me if you’d like to review either book. I can send a free advance .pdf or Kindle copy if you’re interested.

North through Fog

Hypnotizing wheels rumble the empty
space between night and dawn.

A world transformed—
grey ocean resting on the plains
deep, impenetrable, broken ghosts
signs manifest mysterious
and vanish.

Punk rock radio,
sonic wind, pushing ever outward,
a star core against the smothering
pressure of staying.

Silencing fog—infinite escape
routes when all directions
are equal.

Roads disappear into the mist,
curtained destinies: farm and field;
town and school; fast food
off ramp, neon light—

Wichita Falls.

A summer re-run of sorts. I posted a very early draft of this back in 2006 and kept tinkering on and off over the years. It was eventually published by The Houston Literary Review in February 2011. Sadly, they seem to have disappeared. Such is the way of the internet and its e-journals, I suppose. Anyway, here ’tis. I’ll post the other poem of mine that they were kind enough to publish in the coming days.

Toward Home

I drag my tired, sweating body high up Enchanted Rock, gaze out through the wind at what surely thrilled even the Comanche in their wildest cowboy fighting days. From this rock in the sky, I can see the ancient highway binding the horizons. I remember oceans on each end, all the stories written in the asphalt and the sky between. Civilization so long gone, only the old man in the ranger’s hat remembers anything but vultures, yet home lies just over that hill, down that endless road.

And with a prose poem, that’s the end of another year of napowrimo. I managed to write poetry every day: 22 small stones and 12 long poems including 2 ghazals, 1 pantoum and 2 prose poems. I’ll write something more reflective of the experience in the next few days, but for now I’m happy I managed to do this.

Now for a shameless plug: the paperback edition of my book is still on sale at Amazon through the end of the month, which is only a few more hours.

Most Beautiful Thing

US 290 East

Most Beautiful Thing

highway, the highway, oh beautiful thing
flowing under a circling sky
our son asleep, eastbound
wildflower spring, old prairie towns

flowing under a circling sky
blackland prairie, gnarled oaks
wildflower spring, old prairie towns
cedar along barbed wire fence rows

blackland prairie, gnarled oaks
long rolling hills, windblown grass
cedar along barbed wire fence rows
speeding trucks, dusty roads

long rolling hills, windblown grass
our son asleep, eastbound
speeding trucks, dusty roads
highway, the highway, oh beautiful road

This is inspired by Fiona Robyn’s new novel The Most Beautiful Thing. Since I’m doing napowrimo, I figured I’d use it as a prompt for today since this is the day Fiona is blogsplashing the book by offering the Kindle version for free. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve read her novel Thaw, which I enjoyed very much.

She Didn’t Think It Would Go that Fast

shrieking joy and fire, hair
snaking out the window, racing
parking garage curves
carbon monoxide hellsmoke fumes
tires screech pedestrians,
shorebound sailors, mostly
jump from her maniac path,
cursing the admiral’s
daughter, her giant car,
the course she charted
over asphalt and down
to the drunken shore
down shore drunken
stars sailing overhead
sunrise sunrise bubbling
up from the Atlantic, filling
her blonde hair, again, with fire
smoldering laughter, spark
the curves of the road, her
body shaking joy and flame
foot on the gas, all the way

Roadside Attractions

The desert stretches its paws in endless forevers.

Vultures and hawks circle overhead
eyeing ruined billboards advertising
diners gone since the seventies.

Echoes of the ancient world tumble
over rock, spill down through time.
Coyotes call those who never come,
hang up when no one answers.

This billion year old ocean sea still can drown,
though the water now just floats as clouds.

I walk from my car, leave it unlocked.
I walk over scrub grass desperate for water.
I walk toward rocks painted by ancient hands.
I walk over fish, seaweed, dinosaurs, meteorites.
I walk into time made visible, layered and worn.
I walk until sunset when stars begin to burn my skin.

I get in the car, drive to the next town,
find a motel and watch a ballgame on TV.

I’m attempting NaPoWriMo again. As usual only stones on the weekends. This year I also plan to write about one poetry collection per week, probably on Fridays. Let the madness begin.

Highway Skies

There was a time when film was too expensive.
In those days, we used words scrawled
on fast food wrappers, creased maps and memory.

The cars ran on gasoline and explosions.
The phones were tethered to wires,
but we weren’t tethered to anything.

The highways stretched forever.
Nobody knew what was on the other end.

Not the maps of the ancient conquistadors
nor the atlases of the highway cartographers
could show us the ten thousand things
we needed to see for ourselves.

This is one I’ve been kicking around a while.

In other news, mark Stratton gave a nice quick review of Birds Nobody Loves. He interviewed me for his blog too and that should be appearing in the near future. Thanks, mark!

East in Winter

The sky is the east
bound highway. Winter
trees hold hawks.

How many miles
can we run
without radio?

The engine fades,
the rumble of the road,
its hypnosis.

Weave in and out
between trucks.
There’s more freeway

as much ahead
as behind.

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