james brush

Winter Solstice

Grackles poke around the right-of-way,
a confusion of iridescent-robed seekers,
an endless search for grass seeds.

The junkie at the intersection watches,
never takes his eyes off the grackles
even when I hand him some crackers
and dried bits of bread. I look in his eyes,

nobody’s home, and we both understand
the grackles’ bright yellow eyes are more alive,
more aware of the gray curtain coming
down fast from the north. He stretches his arms

ready to ride that icy tailwind south, but the
light changes to green—too many cars now
block his path, but it’s useless anyway.

All his flight feathers fell out six years ago.

He stands in exhaust fumes, praying that
grackles share seed when snow’s coming.

In the Time of the Automobile

Deer run thick along our road;
they don’t even think about the cars.

Vultures fly thick above our road;
they know all about the cars and wait.

At night, they hiss from the trees, grunting
tales about all the cars that stopped in time.

The deer don’t usually remember, but
they still forget to fear the cars, so unlike
discriminating mountain lions and wolves,
forgotten now despite genetic warnings.

The vultures watch the cars approach,
watch the deer stand still or sometimes
whisper, “Run,” just a moment too late.

Though I hate to see the ruined bodies,
I don’t begrudge the vultures’ venison;
their meals must be pretty tasty to them
and besides (I admit it) I sometimes find

I’m fascinated by the morning meetings
around their roadside meals.

James Brush is a high school English teacher.His poems have appeared in various journals online and in print, and he keeps a full list of publications at his blog Coyote Mercury. He really does like vultures and grackles, which is lucky since he lives in central Texas.

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