"As for the Worm," "Crows, Wolves, Foxes," and "Warning"

As for the Worm

As for the worm, it inches. The orangutan on the other hand scratches, thinking of a joke involving a burlap bag, the people watching him, and his own head. But not only the snake slithers. The press conference will be at 10:00 a.m. Words fill the air like crows looking for the nearest edible morsel or gnats seeking out the liquid refreshment of a deer’s eyes. I mean it’s words. Is that nature? We’re better than the other animals at it. Wolf! Wolf! the story goes and then stockpiled guns in the garage. In the slam pong blare of question and answer, you can hear a low dangerous buzz, electric as the crackle of insects frying against a light bulb. Next is a silence in which water boils. It is a moment of urgency for the water, as the poet says. Love too commits cliff. War? Nothing stops, only changes shape, velocity, or trajectory. From point to cluster, from liquid to ice, from possible to bomb. From perhaps to hope. Requires air. These possibles fly everywhere, of all stripes and fancies. The long march toward the mountains you are dreaming of or the place you never wanted to go has already begun.



Crows, Wolves, Foxes

Keep your eye on me. Without
your glance, I am gone.
My meat belongs to your thought.
When I ride, lead me,
threshing your own scant highways
into the moon’s cold mouth.
Maybe I’ll limp.
It will be winter
or high grape, or asphalt solstice.
The dangerous world is ours.
Remember the smoke of my
molecules, the calcium taste, I
beg you with the hair
of my sleepless nights,
the skin of my days,
as the mountains, who drop
over and over into the sea,
the rivers who fly into sky,
fold us away into no tale
no story of bones and teeth,
ash under snow, cinder
grass flying
grit and slag written slant
against wind only        to tell
no devotion to air
to let our flayed centuries breathe.




Do not kill a wolf.
If you do, the wanderer inside
will never remember
the way to the river
and will drown
in the molten air of
of a locomotive dream.
Do not kill a spider.
If you do, the web of life
will fray in a wind blowing
into sunlight’s backdoor,
a spun galaxy anchored
only to the dark.
There will be no ark.
Do not kill a mountain
scooping out its ribs to find
its lungs, organs and thread, ribbon
of bright.  If you do,
you will unknot the growl
of your intestines. They’ll loosen
to dust and pumice.
Do not ignite a city.
If you do, the neurons
that feed each day’s light
and make the bones of
your life’s story stand up and walk
will burst our future’s
arteries, wrapped now
in such fragile lace.
Do not kill a child.
Do not burn someone’s home.
If you do, the place inside
where you live will
fill with ash and stink and char
so that the furniture there
will not welcome
the body you have become.



Tobey Hiller

Tobey Hiller is the author of six books: a novel, four collections of poetry, and, most recently, a book of short stories, Flight Advice: a fabulary, just out from Unlikely Books. Her poetry and flash can be found in a variety of magazines and journals, online and off. She thinks the rivers are telling us something. Tobey recommends Doctors without Borders.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 22:18