Issue No. 20 | Spring 2019 

Guards and Guardians

doorman→ domain

correction made by Mac Autocorrect function

My domus is my domain,

where the location of 

all light switches 

and yesterdays

is always familiar,

where my keys and my Ghiradelli chocolate bars

are right here, right at hand.

In the home where I feel at home

I have dominion over everything 

(except the cats, of course).

What doors are open

to the openers of doors?

The lobby is their domain?

They guard from would-be intruders

the doors of my world --

standing in their assigned places

in the lobby of the American dream,

repairing elevators

in which  they had hoped to ride up. 

“Sweetie, you always should say ‘good morning,’  not ‘ hello,’ to Carlos”--

Small shareholders-in-training become familiar 

with shared rules of etiquette:

when to avoid verbal familiarities,

to whom one hands out holiday tips,

and whose hand one doesn’t shake. 

And God said, Let us make man in our image,

after our likeness:

and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,

and over the fowl of the air

and over 

the doormen of their building. [stanza break]

The super’s rules for his staff

include wearing white gloves.

Their white hands 

and the white orchids in the lobby

increase the property values in our domain.


Speaking in Tongues

Welcome. Please choose your language”

Sign in CVS drugstore



Welcome to the last month of the marriage.

Please choose your divorce lawyer, rephrase your accusations, and by all means pass Go.

Choose?  this language chooses its victims:

I mutter, he mutters, we mutter

about each other.

Muttering is in a different dictionary 

from nattering,

a weighted book  in my backpack. 

These sounds choose us and use us 

in their world without passports.

Mutters are the unsaid the undead doing their calisthenics

inside our rosy mouths

until we can no longer shout or explain or sing.

No lawyer dare oppose

the exclusive territory they claim. 

Our court date is set. Happy Mutter’s Day.

[stanza break]



Welcome to your hell. Please choose your linguistic symptoms.

My neighbor was crisp as the pastries she baked

when she first  moved next door,

feisty as the jokes she told me then.

Born in Germany, emigrated young--

she lost all speech after her stroke

except the one she spoke

when she was just a girl

and seldom since.

Reclaimed, chosen by her native tongue

or frozen in it to keep her other paralyzed limbs

company as they try to trudge 

to their first home.



Welcome to your family holiday. Please choose your cutlery and your cutting words. 

Do the teasers know or care

when tickling words inflame bare skin?

Or rejoice

at their choice?

Please choose your language,

knowing well that malarkey 

rhymes conveniently with snarky.



Welcome to the museum exhibit that  explains that, “According to native American beliefs, spirits communicate with people through whistling."

Please choose to join these spirits:

whistle with them while they work.

That's not wind but the language

they are  asking me to hear--

knowing it uncaps antidotes 

to the secreted bile in teases,

knowing that it sings to

she who has lost her bearings

as she tries to bear 

words' games of hide-and-seek [no stanza break]

played in the property that owns me.

Come, hailed by  their whistles,

hear throughout your legal hearings

melodies clearer than those hassles.

Yes come, hear all their whistles,

for these wordless songs will guide me

beyond this wilderness of my own words--

beyond attacks disguised as archness,

beyond words ironed down with legal starches--

to where words are spirited again.

Hear and hail these whistlers

and choose freed words once more



Heather Dubrow, John D. Boyd, SJ, Chair in Poetic Imagination at Fordham University, is the author of Forms and Hollows (Cherry Grove Collections) and two chapbooks; one of her plays was produced by a community theater. Among the journals where her poetry has appeared are Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review; her other publications include seven single-authored volumes of literary criticism, a co-edited collection of essays. and an edition of As You Like It. She is director of Fordham's Poets Out Loud reading series.