Arbeit Macht Frei Inc.

by Jim Fowler
Babilu
Third Place, September 2019
Judged by Lois P. Jones


Parcels of parchment, stacked
solidly. Work lives laminated
in layers for my perusal.

Condensed people, clamoring
in bold indented lines, calling
attention with typographic tricks.

Cattle car choice, choosing
one life, round-filing others.
Fascist dirty work, coldly done.


The chilling concision with which this poem is rendered draws us into its factoried rhythm and asks us to think not only of what the significance of the German phrase has come to mean in the post-Nazi era but the choices imbedded in our society. The “my” in the first strophe alludes to various possibilities. Here the conceit favors printerly allusions alongside Holocaust images with its mention of “bold indented line(s)” and “round-filling” which adds to the poem’s emotional detachment. Part precision, part enigma, this short poem has done its work. --Lois P. Jones

  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block