WALKING DOWN THE NIGHT, James Brush

Walking Down the Night
by James Brush

Savage calculations based on the positions of a thousand stars determined the shape of his prayers. Warped triangles, sometimes square-bottomed pyramids with eighteen sides. Once a dodecahedron, but that was when he was drunk and homesick and working through some things. On a roadside one night, he stopped where a vulture’s dark remains were pressed into those of a squirrel killed a few hours earlier. The edges of feathers that escaped wheels fluttered in the small hurricanes of passing trucks. This squirrel-vulture creature, its greasy form pressed into an asphalt shadow and branded by the ridges of a dozen tires, was something new. There was no shape for this awful smash-boned prayer he knew he must say. Dazed and lost, he placed his hands on the cooling pavement. He released all his body’s weight. He said his mass and counted it down to zero. He followed the escaping heat out of the atmosphere, rode the highway’s shimmering prayer and carried them home.

James Brush lives in Austin, TX where he teaches high school English. He is the author of Birds Nobody Loves, and A Place Without a Postcard. You can find him online at Coyote Mercury where he keeps a full list of publications.

Advertisements

GHAZAL FOR A NAMELESS STREAM, James Brush

Ghazal for a Nameless Stream
by James Brush

I walk as in an autumn dream
to this sweet and secret stream.

Cumulous roiled sky and leaves,
reflections in this cloudlet stream.

Come winter nightfall stars shine
time above this comet stream.

Raindrops pelt the surface of this
momentary wavelet stream.

Despite well known creeks, I’m drawn
each spring to this minute stream.

Turtles travel the muddy road
of this slow and temperate stream.

Summer noon, birds disperse; only
wind around this quiet stream.

How many days have I explored
and sat beside this favorite stream?

GHAZAL OF TREATY OAK, James Brush

Ghazal of Treaty Oak
by James Brush

Great Treaty Oak, a poisoned husk,
bent boughs beneath this ashen dusk.

The deals we reached beneath this tree
portended its pale and broken dusk.

I always dreamed I’d shoot your scenes
beneath theses branches at golden dusk.

Long years and days withered away
and swallowed you in barren dusk.

Odd limbs still live and mingle with
new high rise lines in token dusk.

Somehow you found the way back home
all through the long moth-eaten dusk.

And the songs of city birds suggest
the dawn of some new-woven dusk.

James’ process notes:
Treaty Oak is a 500-year-old southern live oak in downtown Austin, TX. In 1989 someone poisoned it. After a major recovery effort, it survived and the poisoner went to jail for a good long time. It’s still a big tree but only a fraction of its former self, yet ten years later it started releasing acorns again.

THE BACKYARD AT SUNSET, James Brush

The Backyard at Sunset
by James Brush

I pull a rake against dry oak leaves
the wind gusts and twirls

an invisible rope
coiling through the cooling air

sunset and shadows cover the ground
I can no longer tell leaves from grass

the purpling sky is a fading sea
tugging the live oaks against gravity

mockingbirds call and chirp
I don’t know what they’re saying

but I believe them

James Brush lives in Austin, TX where he teaches high school English. He is the author of Birds Nobody Loves, and A Place Without a Postcard. You can find him online at Coyote Mercury where he keeps a full list of publications.