Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: prose poems (page 1 of 2)

When the Parade Comes

The live oaks grow angry. They bend toward the ground, scoop up children and hold them above the performances of ambiguous kings. Kids sitting in the branches trade Pokémon cards and look like ornaments for some future parade. They reach down to help up the ones left on the ground. Someone helps a turtle across a busy street. Every act of kindness looks like an act of defiance.

The Tune Without the Words

Peculiar wind whistles through the streets: cold from the north, warm and humid from the south. It changes by the minute. I check Twitter to see what I should wear but decency is so out of fashion, and all the pale models wear wings torn from dragonflies and shoes of rhino hide. I study scorpions and avarice and plant hope deep in the ground where scrub jays cache their food. I have learned seventeen synonyms for fiasco.

What Stranger Miracles


I’m excited to announce the publication of my prose poem chapbook What Stranger Miracles by White Knuckle Press, “publisher of online chapbooks of prose poems.” My sincerest thanks to editors Dale Wisely and Howie Good for agreeing to publish it, and to Dale for his care and attention to the design, which is just wonderful.

You can read What Stranger Miracles free online. I hope you’ll check it out. And be sure to look around at all the other work published by White Knuckle Press.

You Get What You Get

The polished geniuses on TV talked relativity the day my favorite chili joint closed down. Rumors say it’ll be resurrected someday inside a luxury condo retail office project, which just reminds me of the punk clubs of my youth—old warehouses now torn down as the knights of progress routed the nights of rock n roll, leaving behind one faint note, the endless sustain of a beautifully overdriven pawn shop guitar fading forever beneath silent city stars, a ripple in passing gravity waves.


This Is Not a Literary Journal :: The Prompt that Keeps on Prompting

You Do Not Have to Personify the Mountain

Blue eyes mean avalanches, the old climber warned. Passersby glanced up at condos rising downtown like fingers set to claw the sun. So little light filtered down through the shadows, everyone shivered in the heat. Two panhandlers played the same song in different keys on opposite sides of the street. One man, with crampons and ice axe, started to scale the tallest condo. His friend watched him begin his ascent then ducked into a Thai restaurant where members of his support group met on Tuesdays to start a new political movement. Avalanches could be metal, bricks or piles of trash, stony absences where everything that mattered used to be.


This Is Not a Literary Journal :: Leaving Mount Everest Alone


She went deeper and the boat receded. She worked her chains. The world was locks and water, but she knew the key and smiled as she sank.

The waves came and went leaving constant patterns in the surf. A message: Help me. The beach litter was a map of the seafloor.

He swam for hours into the darkening sea, found her lying in the coral. You came, she said. He exhaled for the last time.

The sea was air, the coral home. Their love the fish, the legs they grew as they evolved back to land to invent boats, chains and locks.


I posted this to my Twitter feed about a year ago and found it in my files. So, a rerun.

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.

Creepy School Cafeteria Nutrition Posters

Cauliflower’s been working out, ripped clothes and muscled arms urge everyone to dance. The blueberry girls and grape chicks with their leafy hair giggle and smile nearby. In walks Whole Grain Hipster, sporting a suit of bread and cereal like a seventies cartoon pimp, swaggering down the lunch line, healthy, cat, healthy, he nods over at the clique cliché of all the artsy individualistic girls: the lonely beet, eyes closed playing Dylan on her sad guitar, the bubbly pixie art grape, splashing paint so dreamy. Off in the corner by the water fountain, a cluster of grapes with black-eyed peas for eyes, fruit from the vineyard by the reactor, laugh through their carefully carved mouths while a lone mushroom makes his getaway on a hot rutabaga balloon made from some unfortunate member of misunderstood beet girl’s family, turned upside down, greens shredded and stalks used for lines. It’s a tough world for veggies and the fungus always wins but it’s healthy, man, so healthy.

I administered our state social studies test to a group of sophomores and juniors in the cafeteria today and so I had a lot of time to study the posters in there. File this one under ekphrasis.

Small Adjustments

First he thought it was the stars, that creaking groan and grind of tired years but with time the tension grew and he realized the problem lay not overhead but underfoot (as problems often do). Some days the gripping stuckness beneath his feet felt tighter and other days it felt looser like someone else’s shoes depending on where he walked and what he ate for breakfast. Out on the plains where the stars rattled so faintly as to be almost inaudible, he located the source of this tension, unzipped the blackland earth and studied the dull gears that moved the gears that made the world go round. He turned a wrench against the machine—so surprisingly simple to adjust, this mechanical universe—and retuned the planet’s motion relative to the earthly key of his own aspirations. That’s the way he explained his good fortune years later as he leaned back in the worn leather chair of his old age, smiling in the knowledge that he was now very close to achieving his lifelong goal of living happily ever after.

For Magpie Tales #109

Here We Go Again

She holds her smoke. She’s swallowed the sun. Tendrils drift blue from her nose, a curtain obscuring the year. Cars weave through the lot. She stands among leaves, refusing to flinch at the sound of tires rolling over gravel like fragile bones. Her resistance radiates through the trees’ bare branches and out to space with the smoke from her lungs as the light between her fingers fades. She flicks the butt to the sidewalk, a comet to inspire the prophesies and curses of the ants. She runs her hands through her long and tired hair, pushes open the door surprising herself by humming snatches of a tune she thought she’d forgotten. The ants gather to celebrate this thing, this fire, they believe is theirs.

Prose poem or flash fiction? Who knows. This is based on this old post from 2009.

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