Two Poems

Beautiful Holy Jewel Home: McComb, Mississippi
Loy Allen Bowlin

On the radio, Glen Campbell crooned
Loy, fold your coveralls and stroll downtown
as an ambassador aglow in rhinestone.
Glen's message left me sparkling from hat to boots.
Reborn as a decorated persona,
I dressed in sequined costume,
danced and waved at adoring fans who'll one day
correspond from places I don't know.
For now, Nashville's revered mineral
adorns my two front teeth,
and my house makes local news:
Bold mosaics bewilder whole rooms.
Christmas globes of boundless holiday
twirl from my living room ceiling all year round.
Bright, overwhelming mazes bend doorways
Spangle and glitter affix kaleidoscopic rope tricks
to walls inscribed with blinding mandalas.
My beautiful holy jewel home's stones almost move.
McComb stares, thinks I'm out on a limb,
but after I've departed, they'll declare
the true rhinestone cowboy, Loy Allen Bowlin,
built a house of jewels
whose colors swim like spotlit mandolins,
a home where, as the song says,
the light was always shining on him.


Felix “Fox” Harris Yard Show: Beaumont, Texas
The Lady of the House

Felix kept a mop with a wig on top of it
propped against the living room wall.
He called it the “lady of the house.
—Keith Carter

Do me a favor: Please take off your shoes.
Rest a spell. It's too hot to move. Yes, I know
I'm skinny, and not a bit prettier than a tumbleweed,
but I'm the nearest thing to a wife
Felix Fox Harris swept off her feet later in life.
That makes me both makeshift bride and art work
for an artist part African trickster, part Christ.
Since I helped Felix get things clean after his dream
I got to lean on the living room wall.
And you see, he too shooed away bad juju
with his whirligig brooms.
Through his forest of sheet metal windmills,
he strode like a nine feet tall scarecrow
on his homemade “tom walker” stilts.
Beaumont teens believed he was priestly voodoo.
Neighbors dumped junk over the fence for his use.
Fox told me his totems healed pain
like the blues he played on upright piano.
Sometimes Felix danced by my side,
promised we were headed for a cleaner place,
he and I. Believe me, no tricks or devils prevailed.
With ball peen hammers and butter knives
he crafted mojo hands and bottle trees in stifling heat.
In Northeast Texas you won't find any magic wands.
With treelike antennae and whirling grills,
Fox showed the town of Beaumont how
to tune into movements of the beyond.

—Matt Schumacher, Rhododendron, OR