Misty Harper Poems




We Went Away


The morning had been grimy 


no dew pinched our ears


a persistent roughness ate at our cuffs 


the afternoon we swore would be different


we would take pains we would see to it



We stuffed time into a bloody thimble 


carried by the scruff of the neck we got away


some of our mouths hammered hymn


some suckled past their hairwork veils


the thimble we made sure to leave in broad daylight


let it shimmer and limp, grandfathered in






Alone won't stop playing


Alone pretends to be someone

named Leona. 

Alone is lo and behold, un-beheld.

Alone will be heading to its beheading

alone. The self’s shelves of rib and shore,

itch and spore, waddle forth,

two people trying to parade as one horse. 

The hours knock about inside them.

They cannot move like a horse.

Alone is baloney, is a loan,

a mortgage whose root

that means dead

won’t hide. Dead pledge.

Alone will hem, and haw, and hedge

at itself, a balcony loitering 

after the building

is long-gone. 




The Mouth


The difference between rats and mice has to do with the structure of their teeth.


According to my dental receipt, the films bitten down on during x-rays are called bitewings.


I began menstruating in a waiting room. My grandmother was being fitted for new dentures.


My tongue is not precise enough to count all my teeth; the bottom front ones blur.


Teeth are not quite bone.


The box at work said CELLO WRAPPED TOOTHPICKS.

Though the box was very small, there was a brief rising

in me and a lurch as I realized that cello was short

for cellophane.


I’m reading a biography of a writer who was very private.

The biographer notes that in a car accident in Paris,

the writer damaged her teeth, which were in poor shape already.

In thirteen of the book’s photographs of her, her mouth is closed.

Her lips are parted in one, and she is a baby.


Instructions on how to draw lips mostly discuss light and say

you will often want to make the corners of the mouth very dark.






Misty Harper lives in Atlanta, GA. Her chapbook Guarding the Violins

was published by the Poetry Society of America in 2005.




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