“Still Life, Flowers in a Vase,” oil on canvas, by Paul Cézanne, 1888.

Westbound Koan

The High Sierra hangs
suspended between the wing
and the sunken edge
of the caldera.

Water moves like magma
below ice, snowshoe
hare’s delicate
white step, cliffs
avalanching below.

Tioga, Tuolumne
invisible trail
through Lyell Canyon
all the way down
to Sequoia, silent.

One moment, a young
man and woman
fishing a bend
in the river, drowning
in July flowers

and the next, a grey
runway rising
from flat bay water
at exactly
the right moment.

So, what then
is the sound
of one hand?

Same as a snow flake
landing on stone?
or a petal?

Same as your tongue
pressing against the roof
of your mouth?

Or something else
no one will say
or has forgotten?


Small plates left
scattered, bagel crumbs
on the tablecloth, cream
cheese drying
on the butter knife

jar of horseradish
in a paper bag, hot
and sudden
as voltage to the brain.

Outside, the engine
warming, cool
fragments of sage leaves
on the ground

clean scent of burned
leaves and beneath it
the blank scent
of something else

something also burned
and burned quickly
no one can explain.

A single hunter
with a dog, moving
into the wind.

Three O’clock is Always Too Late or Too Early for Anything You Want to Do

—Jean-Paul Sartre

The call comes at three
in the afternoon
just about the time
the winter sun
begins tipping
through the last panel
of the living room window
and pulling the flowers
on the table, lamp, luminous
crystal vase, the table
itself, and any hope
anyone might have had
into the dark.


Robert Tremmel lives and writes in Ankeny, Iowa. Recently, he’s published in Stoneboat, Common Ground Review, Cloudbank, Chariton Review, Briar Cliff Review, and others. He’s also published two collections and a Chapbook titled There is a Naked Man. A new collection, The Records of Kosho the Toad, is out from Bottom Dog Press.