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Friday, March 25, 2011


by Phyllis Wax

Wednesday, Dec.15, 2010  (Reuters) A fire at a multi-story garment factory near the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, killed 25 people and injured more than 100 on Tuesday, police, firefighters and doctors said.  More than 10,000 people, most of them women, work at the complex ....
locked in
to prevent pilfering                     

Low-paid seamstresses
waiting to be searched
at the finish of work                                 

A careless match             
and a pile of scraps
Smoke fills the workroom
Flames climb the stairs
of the twelve-story structure

On the top three floors
young women and girls                             
most Italian or Jewish

Fire truck ladders stretch
only to floor six     From windows             
on nine, a hundred feet up, they jump

to keep from being burned alive, bodies
thudding as they land
bodies piling up outside

Others burn to the bone
charred skeletons bent
over sewing machines

One hundred forty-six die

Phyllis Wax muses on the news and history from a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI.  Her poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Your Daily Poem, Wisconsin Poets' Calendar, Ars Medica, Out of Line, Verse Wisconsin, Seeding the Snow, A Prairie Journal, The New Verse Newsand many other journals and anthologies.  She can be reached at poetwax(at)