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

  • March 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      September Heat
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      At the Cancer Center
      by Terry Ofner
      The Waters

      Third Place

      At Last Ghazal
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Died Last Fall
      by ieuan ap hywel
      The Writer's Block

  • February 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      Grand Central Station
      by Christine Potter
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Back Stage
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      VFW
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Writer's Block