Goose Step

by Lois P. Jones
Pen Shells
Second Place, January 2008
Judged by Fleda Brown


The Goose-Step
. . . is one of the most horrible sights in the world,
far more terrifying than a dive-bomber. –George Orwell

He loves to goose-step in her parking lot,
fluorescent light casting the stage
for Dachau. He grins in his brown
skinned suit, marvels at the way the Germans
treat him like a countryman. Loves the coarse
consonants of their commands, the wild sex
with the German girl he’d had on the road to Spain.

He wanders through Jewish graveyards to feel
the faded dates of the tombs. A pastime,
in the way that stepping is his pleasure
in the darkness. He loves the swastika,
tells her about its ancient origins, the dotted quadrants
of the Hindus, the Neolithic symbols 10,000 years
before Christ. “A tradition” that dates to the 17th century,
the Prussian army stepping on the faces of the enemy.

She finds him aesthetic, like the tall leather
boots of the Reichswehr. Tries to think
about his love of flamenco, the dark hollows
of his song unbedding a command. She knows
to pass under him is the terror
she needs. He knows to pass over her

like another graveyard. She prays the neighbors
are not looking. Begs him to stop but he smirks,
lifts his legs higher and higher. A sign of unity
like the men who stepped around Lenin’s tomb.
It says that man can withstand all orders
for love, no matter how painful, how ludicrous.


A tightly controlled, dense poem that in its language evokes the goose-step itself. I like the way this poem moves from the image of marching (under the fluorescent light, scarier still!) to all the ramifications of the love affair, from flamenco dancing, to wild sex, to the study of gravestones--all at the emotional pitch that the word Nazi implies. "She finds him aesthetic" says everything we need to know about their relationship, and about what can drive people into inhuman behavior. --Fleda Brown

  • August 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Seasoned with Love
      by Eira Needham
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Ill-used
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      A Note for Perilous Times
      by Fred Longworth
      PenShells

      Honorable Mention

      Whatever Glorious Else It Is
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • July 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Corton Beach Holiday Camp, Great Yarmouth
      by Marilyn Francis
      The Write Idea

      Second Place

      Still Waltzing with You
      by Allen M. Weber
      Desert Moon Review

      Third Place

      The Aging Magician Speaks to His Reflection
      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Seeking Duende
      by Richard Chase
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Dr. Seuss’s Guide to Manly Health and Training
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Honorable Mention

      Resonance
      by Sylvia Evelyn
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      celebrating the 45th anniversary of Father’s Day
      by Michael Virga
      The Writer's Block