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

  • May2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Burying My Brother
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Second Place

      The Asian man who walks past the balcony
      by Daniel J. Flore III
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Five Hundred Yards from Home
      by Richard Moorhead
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • April 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      In the next life we were married
      by Ken Brownlow
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To a Wayward Son
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Separation
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block