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Posts Tagged ‘James Brush’

The Cattle Egret

May 10, 2013 2 comments

by James Brush

There’s a swagger in the way the cattle egret walks across the streets of this fenced and paved frontier, wingtips looped into his belt buckle. He won’t talk much at first, but if you get him going he’ll spin stories like country songs—beer drinkin’, cloaca kickin’ and trains beyond the horizon. He’ll tell of blue northers ripping down the plains and the time he lit a fire under a mule that hadn’t moved in two days. He waits while you imagine what a burning mule would smell like and then tells how the mule just moved over a couple feet from the fire and stayed put another two days before movin’ on. Usually, though, he just stares out past the high rises planted where longhorns used to graze, dreaming lonely dreams from another time. Maybe he even writes a song or two about the rough and tumble old birds of the past. In the evening, after a long day picking bugs off the backs of settled cows, he sends demos to Nashville and Austin hoping he’ll make it big someday.

glowing orange
the cattle egrets fly off
into the sunset


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James Brush lives in Austin, Texas. He spends a lot of time watching the local city birds some of which can be found in his recent poetry collection Birds Nobody Loves. He keeps a full list of publications at his blog Coyote Mercury.

Categories: Animals in the City Tags:

Notes Made on an iPhone while Rocking My Son to Sleep, July 2011

August 8, 2012 4 comments

by James Brush

How many times to sing “Redemption Song”? The first song I thought to sing him when he needed singing in the NICU. Some other parent sang nursery rhymes in curtained spaces with beeping monitors to metronome the time. Not knowing any rhymes, I went with Marley it stuck and now it’s ours. Quiet, now, he settles in to rocking my voice trails off to mumbles… this song of freedom…

Moonlight, thunder moon streaming in through the live oak, the passing hours marked by moonlight dropping down the blinds

The dogs dream their twitch-footed dreams, the squirrel finally caught — whimpers and low growls

The fan spins
beneath its spider shadow
ceiling jungle

Dim lines trace frames black pictures on the wall beyond the room… I can’t see them but I imagine what they might be — surely not the same images hung there years ago, not at this hour. They’ll have shifted become things I can’t conceive, ideas of things that can’t exist in morning light

Everything is strange now and somehow more easily understood

His breath slows against my shoulder, he sighs much like the dogs, and I watch the late minutes tick through this room of simplest dreams


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James Brush is a teacher and writer. He keeps a full list of publications at his blog Coyote Mercury. He published his first poetry collection Birds Nobody Loves earlier this year. He lives in Austin, TX.

Categories: Fragments Tags:

While Sitting in Church

October 13, 2011 11 comments
Categories: Videos, Worship Tags:

Sentences and Corrections

July 1, 2011 3 comments

by James Brush

The guy from the attorney general’s office
blamed the nouns, sources of all trouble—
people, places, things.

Combined with certain verbs—
assault, distribute, trespass and possess—
these nouns form gangs of complex sentences,
fragments of lives half-lived, and run-ons
rambling through the detritus of car crash lives.

The simplest, though, tell of kids locked up,
looking out at the free, positions of attention
in the parking lot, half-listening
to mockingbirds refining their own syntax,
as they mimic the ringing fire alarm
while we wait to go back inside
where we’ll try, again, writing

sentences that don’t mimic the past,
sentences that aren’t destinies.


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James Brush lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, cat, newborn son and two rescued greyhounds. He teaches English in a juvenile correctional facility. You can find him online at Coyote Mercury, where he keeps a full list of publications.

Categories: Imprisonment Tags:

Dear Old Stockholm

April 5, 2011 4 comments

by James Brush

We communicated in images. Flickering moments on dueling monitors. Shoes on cobbled pavement. Clothes rustle in the wind. Wind? We both understand this thing, wind. The colors are suddenly blinding. I can’t even name them. The view of open parkland and a blue pond widens to almost 360 degrees. My stomach drops as the ground falls away, earth tumbling into a pit of sky, images bleeding off the monitors now. We’re flying again. It’s all she thinks about, the only thing she’ll show. I rip the cables from my temples. She flaps them from her wings. We stare at one another across the sterile distance of the research lab. Going nowhere. Again. A white feather floats on the air-conditioned current. We’re as alien and far apart as ever. Three feet away yet separated by species and the awkwardness of the now-severed connection with its illusion of understanding and love. Can she feel it too? She doesn’t blink, her avian eyes as incomprehensible as the machines humming in this lab. I glance at the security cameras and lean in. Please, I whisper, please. Don’t make me leave. I’ll show you everything. Outside, I hear engines and the wind of ten thousand wings beginning to flap.

A flight of egrets
glides toward the setting sun—
the moon rises.


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James Brush lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, cat and two rescued greyhounds. He teaches English in a juvenile correctional facility. You can find him online at Coyote Mercury where he keeps a full list of publications.

Categories: Translation Tags:

Night at the Interstate Diner

December 10, 2010 5 comments

by James Brush

I ran in circles that turned into spirals leading me
back to the same crowds I hoped to escape.
These crowds gathered around holes in the ground,
at truckstops and on famous San Francisco street corners
where they offered drugs and hookups. Did you know
a straight line inscribed on a sphere is a circle?
Driving deep into the night chasing headlights
flickering with bugs, the circles became too much
and I sought crowds in muddy-tile interstate diners
offering tired-eyed cigarette and coffee warmth.
Not conversation, rather a simple acknowledgement
that we’re all of us out here, millions, a crowd
dispersed along asphalt lines and stretched so thin
we hardly seem a crowd. But at night, we’re
all in the same place. Tired alone worn out
and looking for others to remind us that we’re
not the last ones left. Out there, beyond the pooling
rest stop lights, there is nothing. Nobody
you’d want to meet. It’s warm here. Stay with us.
Listen to these whispered stories. We’ll all be moving on
come morning, a crowd stretched again to the breaking,
forgetful and perhaps just a little embarrassed
that we needed to come together in the long last night.


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James Brush lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, cat and two rescued greyhounds. He teaches English in a juvenile correctional facility. He doesn’t mind crowds if the music is good or the game is well-played. A list of publication credits and links can be found here. You can find him online at Coyote Mercury.

Categories: The Crowd Tags:

The Minor Leagues

October 14, 2010 2 comments

by James Brush

Foul Ball Coming

Flying west over the diamond, egrets glow orange in the setting sun as they round second base and head over and beyond third, deep into foul ball territory. It’s good to watch the sky. You might see birds, perhaps an owl. You might see free-tail bats racing through the insect swarms around the stadium lights. You might even see that foul ball coming right at you. Hopefully you have a hat to use for a glove; otherwise, that ball will sting when it smashes into your palm.

The year Andy Pettitte came down from the Astros for some rehab work, the cars were an extension of the first base line, stretching down 79 all the way to the interstate. He stood above the opposition like Goliath facing 9 Davids, but wanting to give them hope, he let them stay in the game until sometime in the 6th when he decided it was over. Then, the only bats we heard were the ones hunting insects in the glow above.

In the minor leagues, we are ladies and gentlemen and respect the good play. Sure, things can get rowdy on Thursday nights when the beers and dogs go for a buck, but stout applause greets any man who plays well. Home runs, doubles, triples, we’ll cheer work well done whether by the home team or the visitors.

Minor league stormtrooper

There are stormtroopers, Jedi knights and even Boba Fett wandering around the stadium. I don’t know why. There could be trouble. A stormtrooper stops near our section, pauses while everyone takes his picture. He looks so real, I worry that he’ll ask to see the papers for my droids and I’ll have to blast my way back to my ship — a real piece of junk, but she’ll make point-five past light speed. Made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, I tell anyone who will listen.

In the front of section 119 almost everyone has a radar gun, held toward home in steady hands, measuring each pitcher’s worth and tallying the results in worn notebooks. These radar guns are windows to the future flashing the potential greatness of up-and-comers in red digital miles-per-hour, but they are also portals to the past documenting the steady irreversible slowing of arms that once threw lightning in the big leagues.

There is a crack, and the crowd silences as the ball sails over the outfield. You can hear the prayers, the screams and cheers waiting on thousands of lips. If the ball falls short, the stadium will sigh. When it clears the wall, the crowd lets go. Did you see that? we all ask whoever’s closest, but they don’t answer because they’re asking the same question. Hats circulate through the crowd, collecting fives, tens (twenties on those one-dollar Thursdays), tips for the batter, that master of physics, who stopped and restarted time with nothing more complicated than a wooden stick.

Stadium lights

Some nights it all comes down to the bottom of the 9th. One more strike and the game is over. Or one good hit — it could go either way. There is nothing else in the world but the pitcher and the batter staring one another down. Even the players disappear as the pitch is released. All that remains is a small sphere hurtling through space toward the batter and a strangely silent crowd that breathes again only when the ball thumps into the catcher’s mitt. There are scattered cheers, and fireworks if it’s Friday, but everyone knows this series will continue tomorrow night.


Click on photos to see larger versions.


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James Brush lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, cat and two rescued greyhounds. He teaches English in a juvenile correctional facility. He doesn’t mind crowds if the music is good or the game is well-played. A list of publication credits and links can be found here. You can find him online at Coyote Mercury.

Categories: The Crowd Tags: