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Poetry Adult category winner 'Like a Pack of Wolves' by Martin H

Ten P.M.
I can hear the rapid rat-tat-tat-tat!
Talking in Spanish
Sarcasm jokes, teasing, bullying,
Threats of violence
And then the dreaded,
"Thump, thump, thump"
When I hear my neighbour - a handsome, youngish, asylum seeker immigrant from Pakistan (Living in the bottle)
Making muffled sounds of submission,
I sit up to investigate:
Four Spanish policemen, Guardia Civil; Franco’ s henchmen.
Standing next to me like a pack of wolves
Cornering their prey.
My neighbour
(Also homeless)
Lying in the foetal position, facing the wall, breathing heavily.
This police brutality
Has rendered him
Speechless.

Ali's silence is most unusual.
He comes into our cardboard-city usually
Effing and blinding, angry at something or someone
Usually drunk.
Now this

Deafening silence.

All I do is stare at this crime scene.
One policeman sees me looking,
Reminds me - with one practiced gesture using the middle finger -
To wear the mascarilla properly; over and ABOVE the nostrils.
I do as I am told. carry on staring.

Like the big bad cat
That has had its fun,
The four policeman stride off into the night
Looking for the next mouse to play with
Like the untouchables they are -
Oblivious to the harm caused.
Out on the prowl ...

Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:

“Sadly, police brutality (we recall George Floyd’s agonisingly slow death in front of the cameras) is all too common. H. Martin’s Like a Pack of Wolves encapsulates an episode when four callous Civil Guards, protected by their uniform and a repressive regime which rules by fear and the threat of violence beat up a poor, defenceless asylum seeker.

The first line with its reference to time, Ten P.M., focuses the reader’s attention, which is then drawn to the babble of voices, casual, inconsequential, sarcastic, a prelude to the unleashing of violence, ‘Thump, thump, thump.’

The words, ‘pack of wolves,’ ‘submission,’ ‘prey,’ ‘foetal position’ all point to a cruel world where human beings are regularly degraded, treated worse than animals, robbed of their dignity and reduced to a quivering mass. Disturbingly, the speaker of the poem is also threateningly admonished to comply with the Covid-19 regulations. Ironically, the police themselves have created the crime scene: they themselves are the malefactors, the criminals.

The last verse leaves us with a feeling of apprehension and despair- they are off ‘on the prowl’ again, looking for another, probably innocent, victim. The ominous atmosphere of this poem is almost tangible, frightening and fully credible. It’s spine-chilling in its cold portrayal of man’s inhumanity to man. This is a very striking poem indeed.”

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