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Brush Country
Barri Bryan
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Brush Country is a collection of poems that vary greatly in style, tone, length, and content. Their unity is in the setting. Each poem is about some person, place or event that has transpired or been inspired by the Brush Country of Central Texas. Each poem has its own ambiance and its own rhythm. Whether rugged and rough hewn as the tangled underbrush that grows in stubborn profusion beneath the stately oaks and scrubby mesquites or as finely wrought as the fragile flowers that bloom in shady glades and hidden places, these poems reflect the unique environment, the ambiguous nature and the paradoxical people who inhabit this distinctive and unusual little corner of the world.

Ribbons of light in the east unrolled
Forcing night to loosen its silent hold
On the dry Brush Country, calm and serene.
Then the quiet of the tranquil scene

Was broken as from the hard, cracked ground
There rose a mournful, whimpering sound;
A rabbit caught in the underbrush
Moaned into the tranquil hush.

Such a plaintive cry, it twisted and rose
Across the landscape’s quiet repose;
Calling to the arid scene
A coyote-predator, lank and lean.

He stopped, and turned his mangy head,
Sniffed the air, then with deadly tread
Walked stiff-legged to the very spot
In the underbrush where the rabbit was caught.

The rabbit screamed! A cry of fear.
He knew his cruel departure was near.
Then the agony of a painful death,
Robbed him of his very breath.

The coyote’s jaws in one powerful snap
Closed with the strength of strong steel trap
Around the body of his helpless prey,
Then stealthily, silently, he trotted away.
From his mouth there protruded, lifeless, pale
A dangling head and a cotton tail.
His feet loped over the barren ground
As he sped away, not making a sound.
Leaving only silence, a returning hush,
And gray fur clinging to the underbrush.
The world moved on in serenity.
How cruel is nature’s majesty.



The wind exploded, the mighty burst
Ripped a seam in the universe
And ravelings of rain, a few at first,
Came into sight.

Then lightening tore the seam asunder.
Through the hole rolled rocks of thunder
And a storm that stayed to rage and plunder
Through the night.

But with the day came a sun of red
And a seamless blue sky overhead.
Not a hole, not a patch, not a stitch, not a shred,
Only unmended light.



December’s lukewarm sun
Clabbered clouds and they
Separated one by one,
Mauve from white - curds from whey.

The winter wind, alchemist, mixer
Stirred again, esoteric elixir
Dissolved the milk into air so cold,
Leaving blue silk and burnished gold.

"Featured in this work are winning selections from the Greater Dallas Writers Association Manuscript Contest - Poetry Category, and it is not difficult to explain Houston's triumph. Simple words strung together form social commentary ("Amanda": Her world was sparse and lacking/Made bleak by poverty's woe), feelings of loss ("Alice": What in the universe can atone/For being left to die alone?), and a colorful sense of place ("Aubade": The gorgeous drapery of dawn slowly unfolds.). Each poem is a chapter in the life of Brush Country, each character vivid in the reader's mind. A reader's first impression may paint Brush Country as a desolate place, yet Houston evokes a sense of quiet hope in her poems ("Low Water Crossing": Along little hollows in awkward places/Flowers fill the empty spaces.) as each subject is treated with sensitivity, from the man in the ten gallon hat to the speaker in "Maude," who never turned seventeen. Brush Country is a fine effort, the result of a most unusual muse." Reviewed by Margie Cross

Fiction Books :: Westerns Books

ISBN: 1593740077
ISBN(13-digit): 9781593740078
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 98
Paper Weight (lb): 4.6

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