Tobey Hiller

Tobey Hiller

Tobey Hiller writes poetry and fiction. Her novel CHARLIE’S EXIT was published in 2002 (EdgeWork, Boulder). She is the author of three books of poetry: CROSSINGS, CERTAIN WEATHERS (Oyez) and AQUEDUCT (Clear Mountain Press) and she has just completed a new collection, SAY I MADE THIS UP which is under current consideration for publication.

Her poetry and prose have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies including Able Muse Review, Abraxas, Ambush Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Beyond Baroque, Brief, Caliban, Canary, Coracle, Embers, A Fine Madness, Five Fingers Review, Giants Play Well in the Drizzle, Milkweed Chronicle, North Coast Literary Review, The Poetry Flash, Transfer, Took, Qoph and LITERATURE AND ITS WRITERS, Bedford Books (eds. Ann and Samuel Charters, a college text).

Her Afterword for the Signet Classic Edition of THE CALL OF THE WILD AND SELECTED STORIES by Jack London appeared in 2009. Her story, “The Seventh Blue,” was a finalist for the 2009 REYNOLDS PRICE SHORT FICTION AWARD and can be read or heard on-line at She has won the Milkweed Chronicle and S. F. Poetry Best Poem awards.

She is presently at work on two collections of her short fiction, BRIDGE and FABULARY: LITTLE LEGENDS & THE LIKE.

Izmir Story: A Traveler on the Shores of the Aegean


arrival at night
wind without corners
breathes riverine cool into
dark polish of this strange room

night arrival
without knowledge of
water’s palm and stroke
cups the beach below

dark arrival
and throw open to, wind’s flute and chord
calls me an unknown name
blind anchor, midnight’s delve

arrives to
unpacked selves and empty drawers,
dark of no
known dawn, small hours’ tunnel grip
curtains’ slow belly into empty air


I am lonely, only (and at this moment always) the solitary traveller staring into dark search (no not the fierce thirst of Tantalus, but what Anteaus ached for when lifted into air). hotel air questions all my little world of who. equal only to. apogee of curtains as they belly in the wind. the world outside so wide its hips will crush an infant wish or curl of question, for have they not all been answered here where I do not am not will not (pale and gypsy traveller) belong? because we all know nothing in our bones, I bow to the wind that blows right through the story but tell it into detail, and did you also (oh you who travelled on these wine-dark seas) not die as well—though conquest was on your tongue, and hope, and behind your eyes your children’s faces—and become the dust I breathe and know as what will be?



wander any where, what quest
or boat of finitude, locale-
its cup of moment-
will chart
this room’s compacted blankness
next to echo’s empty corridor, home
of wind, dark
tremor of passage via
other worlds—gamble, love, or bargain—
pluck any is could flex a muscle
bloom history’s myth & wrack
but quiet now
as when a book closes:
or open, is it?

think cavern

within a labyrinth geo-
metry, islands of lush
high citadel of eroded myth
& ruined plinth,
ancient smoke
spider thread, tensile reach
its crumbling demi-gods
and hemi-humans
its dogs and golden apples
and fields of glory
above six seeds of summer’s story

think wind
’s footprint only, sound of
lyric fragment
water written on a leaf
seemed once marble . . .


in an intermissive dark
when nothing knows
itself as once was,
or who might
unfold this now its broad & bole
—olive, crown or hole
through which the sky might bleed—
her raft of motive not yet arrived,
stripped wish, archive of often
gone, memory’s soft folded linen
blown to cloud,

what intersection occurs?
it is the hover
hour its raptor fly-by-night
procession –
moment’s nothing folded over & again

what might be Neptune’s hair

picture what arrives tomorrow: stare warm and salt at noon

above a faint hum, burble
of TV


Meanwhile (those girls): Izmir Conference on Women’s Rights October 2009

(Male) speaker: “no one can claim” “violently” “it is a fact”
“we are talking about mathematics”
“woman is such a creature”

The Rector says: “the sea smells of women, women smell
of the sea”
“women are intelligent” he says
“empirical knowledge has to be filtered”
“veils of”
“in our geography . . .” “efficient knowledge”

“knowledge shaped our culture”
“this is the truth: Turks are restless. . .”

I remember Paris body weather,
storm or mild &
walk along the Seine, women and men
leaning over bins of books, empirical isn’t it?


The sea is restless: the beach leads down, little steps to undulation.

Meanwhile those girls

Meanwhile those girls those girls who kill their mothers
(Report: First Izmir Conference on Women’s Rights)
(newspapers blare, while a careful conference paper takes no position
on cause—cultural or psychiatric?—though one
twins the other everywhere)
Meanwhile those girls whose lives tight skirled into epic bleed they
never imagined, see (see) it was

so double-knot domestic
slow pot burning
on a stove
into the aching palm you put every day
against the dream that fell away silk incinerated when you
woke again among the minarets
and stink of father’s shoes
mother’s clotted hopes
how you were once perfect, seed furled a ten-
but now
unstrung air thickens
into knives

all myths
reclothe themselves
in flesh


but I did not mean to write about this

unbelonging as I am whose alien gaze –

what I know in Izmir is only strange, a wanderer roped to some mast

of my own making (can a woman tie her image as catch can to that clever hero who

made his sailors stuff their ears so he—bound pillar of desire—could hear destruction’s

female harmonies?)

my intentions not empirical, or even salt:

could this mean I reach across the veiled divide, or on the other hand—

the one holding a purse full of a western woman’s belongings, I understand


on the beach foam runs along strewing bits of bottle & bleached shell, white

mottle & comma of debris, the Aegean’s wine-dark seas filled with

life’s modern afterword, plastic.

and I send a wish made all of foam

(no pearls to dessicate their staring eyes, hearts sung

down to salt and coral)

to all those drowned


an ancient water

once clear as wine
bracelets my thighs
where I stand all
unfabled, dressed in
what could be belief of
a chimera kind,
again arrival whose
wet and willow color, here
lapped by a fingerling breeze, green mer-
maid hair brims just where
bright and billow nest
below fling’s float and fleck
flotsam bobs the surface,
glits of styrofoam and string,
crust of not-quite cuttle
wrack un-named in
Poseidon’s panoply,
odd plasma of
a disbelieving jive and
coke strive world

so now waist-deep
scarves of cool all greeny fleet &
feet tugged
away from pale sand’s crumble

as far horizon’s watery mouth
begins to sing
come hand of wander, marrow’s ply
a half-remembered song
webbed of sun & thunder’s blood adventure
Phoenician urns and figs, a myrrh of Aphrodite’s
constant commerce, worship’s transport
littered mess and scree of
story’s brim
and stutter


how shall we arrive?
is it still axe-handles in a row
sighted down a long-bow
weavings pricked with blood & torn out
till a name—but briefly it is


again I dive—
again gloved sudden in this
of origin and dwindle, tides
now and now
an ever on, no only beyond what any piece
of each can do

so smooth this liquid cover drift & pulse, glide into
touch skin’s wine, thick-fingered flow and furl of wrap
finestral, fur of all fandangle
yes it is
salt velvet
an almost native
utter clasp, longed-for
palm and whisper whirl its whim
sheeny plunder along brim’s beach
mutter of a half-stitched edge, melt and breathe
deep deep a dark beyond our ken

All poems on this post: © Tobey Hiller
Published with the permission of Tobey Hiller