• Caroline Misner

Selected Poetry by Caroline Misner


Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons


I haven’t breathed in seven months,

standing here on this mushy stump,

a pad of plush moss

beneath my gummy boots

glazed with soft runoff

from the spring.

I have never known such purity

as in these humbled waters.

I inhale their tang, balloon my lungs

with a bittersweetness I’ve forgotten.

I saw waxy petals sprout

from a carpet of

brittle needles today,

frail as porcelain and

just as translucent.

I can’t believe anything could thrive

under such conditions.

So much tenacity to keep growing,

without wilting, without

the least indefatigable doubt.

All my loved ones

are dropping away,

and still you talk of death.

I can’t tolerate another loss.

I’m not as strong as I like to think,

toughened like an apricot dried in the sun,

or the carcass of a trout

in the water’s dull flap upon the shore.

I will always cling to the doubt.


I ordered this—

this plastic jar full of plastic youth

to erase the strings that are strangling my eyes.

It arrived in the mailbox

right on time,

I praised its punctuality.

I don’t know why I bother;

he still says I’m beautiful after all these years,

filling me with his platitudes;

he thinks I’m so unaware.

It must be my vanity then,

a nostalgia

for the girl who drowned her image

in every mirror she passed,

ignorant of the encroachment

of old age—

or worse—middle age,

tacking up on her like a hiker scaling Everest.

My grandmother was my age when I was born

and she died when I was ten.

The strings of her apron

bulged her waist

but she wore it like a shield,

stringing laundry beside the chicken coop,

sheets bleached

to near transparency,

washed in water cranked

from an iron pump

and boiled in a kettle

on the wood stove.

As children my cousins

and I pilfered

little nubs of half-grown

carrots and tiny

green pearls still in their pods

destined for soup, from her garden.

She pretended she didn’t know.

Hard work never troubled her,

even in the steamy grinds

of the factories

the communists forced her to work in

after they took her bakery away.

It was every citizen’s

duty back then.

Her round face was smooth

as a moon,

even when she smiled,

which was often,

despite the heavy life she carried on her shoulders

with a stiffened dignity.

She never lamented her life,

unlike me.

Grass Bracelet

For Jessahra

The mint leaves display

their full herbage

now, in late August when mornings

fade the mists on the

lake that linger

too long, and the

days chip minutes

away from their casts.

Even the cicadas

and crickets are sluggish

with their songs.

The sun descends

earlier now, behind

the roof of the inn, though the leaves glimmer

shards of gold and green among

their reflections. The wind is bored

with such trivialities.

You sit in the mint

patch by the back door,

an upright blossom

among so many

spiky green horizontals.

We speak of the

ghosts that glitter in

the halls and how

we glimpse figures

that blink out when

we avert our eyes;

I’ve heard of the

little girl who drowned

in the lake and now sits at the end

of the caretaker’s bed, opening

the doorway of her blemished perspectives.

Distracted by our conversation,

you weave

three brittle blades of

grass pinched

from the weedy lawn,

stiff as rheumatic knees

on a windy day,

into a loose braid softened

by the ministrations of your fingers.

The fibres bend as you swivel the cable

round my wrist and

secure it with a knot;

I adore it because you made it with your hands

and you tell me how much you missed me

while I was gone and

I adore your laughter

tingling the air like the

aluminum music

from the spout of a watering can.

Insensible Green

There was green before the unimaginable carnage,

and there were trees and villages, a

church steeple too pure to reach the heavens, a

dull brown clapboard house with amber-eyed

daisies clustered at its base, farms and meadows.

spacious verdigris as broad and deep as a sea

where lovers unpeeled beneath constellations

named for the ancient gods—

so unaware of how hopeless they’d become.

The corpses beneath the stilled lawns remember this,

old bones blasted to smithereens, the flesh of their

children long since gone.

They rest in unmarked quietude,

the white stick crosses

on their graves

crushed like matchsticks beneath

the reptilian feet of artillery;

children threw rocks at the tanks—

so unaware their bliss was temporary.

Such an absence of color now, the insensible green

washed in a monochrome landscape, dull as

pewter; whatever is left standing

stands hunched and

crooked like the backs

of the spinster aunts

who stayed behind

after the others either fled or perished.

The wind funnels their cries,

all the vanished souls—

so unaware of how fleeting the green could be.


I am a graduate of Sheridan College of Applied Arts & Technology with a diploma in Media Arts Writing. My poetry, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in several journals throughout the USA, Canada, India and the UK, too numerous to mention here. I’ve also had work published in several anthologies and webzines.

In 2009 I was nominated for the prestigious Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Anthology Prize as well a Pushcart Prize in 2010 and 2011. In 2004 my novella received Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. A short story was also a finalist in the same contest. A novel, The Glass Cocoon was a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award the following year. My novella The Watchmaker was published in November 2011 by Vagabondage Press and is selling well in e-book format. My YA fantasy novel “The Daughters of Eldox: Book I: The Alicorn” has been released by Whiskey Creek Press to positive reviews and the sequel entitled The Daughters of Eldox, Book II: The Other was released in the spring of 2016. My historical novel entitled The Spoon Asylum was recently released by Thistledown Press in May 2018 and has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Award.