All These Houses Full of Opinions

Two poems by Emily Bludworth de Barrios

windows glowing at night

All These Houses Full of Opinions

The doves were moaning crying cooing calling

The doves were moaning crying cooing calling
Inside their houses the people were moaning crying cooing calling
A damp hot air    A person shouldn’t be allowed to write a poem
kept cool in a cake of conditioned air
What are your opinions?      A person might be proud of their opinions
Like polishing ordinary rocks and collecting them in a box
Some advice:      Or not
I take off the voice of a prophet
I sink my opinions into the sea
What sound is there now in the hot damp world?
Some advice:      Who cares      say the shaggy globes of white clover
Who cares sing the doves      Who cares says the damp blunt air
boiling with the odor of our choices

My new blue kitchen cabinets painted blue

My new blue kitchen cabinets painted blue
Black countertops, black granite flecked with dirty starlight
And saltillo tile from Saltillo, Mexico, baked, glazed earth and still some little imprints from the foot
of a dog who passed probably 50 years ago
When the earth had fewer dogs probably but more species, fewer people, but more thick forest,
more dark trees and the webs strung between the trees, clumps of sticks pushed into nests with the
vulnerable blue, white, or cream eggs inside, speckled, warm, the squirrels’ nests that contain two
entrances that are also two exits, a burrow in the sky, warm and dry
A bird singing with its narrow throat, its voice a slender stem
The legs of the insects slender as stems
The stems numerous and dense moving in quick ticks
My thoughts numerous and dense
Thickly sprouting, dumb


H.B. Sterndale to Hon. J. Vogel, “concerning the resources of the greater number of those islands of
the Pacific upon which I have at any time resided or with which I have been engaged in trade”

“Beginning with the dark hour just before dawn, the stars are shining with an intense brilliancy,
reflected on the steel-bright surface of the calm lagoon. The sandy pathways seem like snow. The
heavy forest of towering palms and banyans, interlocked with trailing vines, assumes weird and
fantastic shapes, and shows a black outline against the clear blue sky; under their dark shadows
twinkle innumerable points of light—the lamps of great glow-worms and luminous grubs.”

………….reading and relishing (as Sterndale was writing and relishing) the precise prose used to
describe what could be plundered, what could be eaten, what could be taken, what could be
converted into such a thing that it could be transformed (like melted tortoise shell or chopped and
canned bêche-de-mer), shipped, sold and bought, several times over, until it found a temporary
resting place, in an establishment or a home, with a creature in a far part of the world intent upon
bringing what is lush, vibrant, and tasteful into her home

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