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Best Poems Written by Jeremy Proehl

Below are the all-time best Jeremy Proehl poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members

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The Gutting

My father hauled a dead sea turtle
     from a beach in the Florida Keys
          he coveted that shell.

I was not allowed to watch, but
     I tried to see my father over the dunes
          sand spurs in my feet
          I pushed upward
          over gentle curves of sand
          to see the gutting of that sea turtle
          wondering how life was removed.

Flies everywhere,
          do they kettle or simply swarm over death?

I did not know            I was too young.

The angles of my father’s wrist —  
     he held the knife
     his bones and tendons 
     rippling under his skin
cutting, and cutting
     scraping flesh from shell
          finalizing death.
My father worked for hours
     in the Florida sun
          I watched, and watch
               to understand this man, I’d never
                    seen so violent and destructive.

My father never divorced my mother, but
     she left him, he left her
          the chaotic kettling cycle of a relationship:
               One would return, then the other 
               only to repeat: leave – return – leave…
     cutting words           sharp angular words.

That shell hung on our wall for years
          seeming to decay with the marriage.

There were no hills of sand to hide behind, only hollow doors
     no sand spurs to remind me that I had feelings
          no sounds of the ocean or seagulls 
               to cover 
                   the gutting.

I sold that shell to a neighbor kid for fifty cents.

Previously published by Headline Poetry & Press 2019

Copyright © Jeremy Proehl | Year Posted 2020

Details | Jeremy Proehl Poem

The Candlemaker's Office

The Candlemaker’s Office 
     was sparsely filled. 

The worn brass door knob —
     a patina 
     countless hands
          slipping over its surface,
     polished and discolored
          by each touch.

That oak door —
     turning my wrist 
     lean into it
     fighting the rub 
          door against frame
     hearing single pane glass
          rattle — 

I’d     pushed     through.

His wall —
     dirty darkened oak 
     framed a wall of glass
     allowing The Candlemaker
     to gaze 
if he chose —
     yet his view 
          on equal footing
               not elevated
               a humble oversight.

Flooring — 
     off-white asbestos
     set in squares
     dark from factory dirt
     moved by the feet of workers.

A lone green metal desk —
     flanked by a single gray file cabinet:
          adding machine, 
          rotary phone,
          worn desk blotter,
          a nameplate
               should you not know who he was.

Similar version previously published by Ink, Sweat and Tears 2019

Copyright © Jeremy Proehl | Year Posted 2020

Details | Jeremy Proehl Poem

Frost Smoke

deer step through frost smoke
  forage, taut skin over ribs
       ice falling splashes

Previously published by Poetry Pea 2020

Copyright © Jeremy Proehl | Year Posted 2020