Brutal Poetry


HCE received a lot of high-quality submissions for The Brutal Issue – sadly, too many to fit inside the magazine! So we offered some of our shortlisted contributors the chance to be published on our website.

Keep an eye on our social media for more great writing like this, in the run up to the release of The Brutal Issue…


Urvashi Bahuguna

Bir, India


I am standing in the center of what rattles 
me, the way a dog in a storm never would. 


I am circling a temple, multiplying myself
‘til there are enough of me to keep all


the prayer bells swinging at the same time.
Faster & faster ’til it only requires a handful,


‘til it only takes one of me. I am going so fast 
I have become the rattling. I turn my head to 


observe what I have willingly willed out of 
my grasp: grass, gravestone, mountain dog, 


‘til the rattling rests its vortex in my palm.
Lately, I have been running from you. 


I am not sure why, I left you a long time ago.
Wait – you left me. I was the one who stayed 


gone. I am afraid of flying anywhere wrinkling
the distance between us, where you can place 


a wet snout to the ground and trace a path to
me. The worst part is I cannot smell you back, 
I cannot see you coming. I think I am prepared, 
that I hold the vortex in my hands. The rattling


begins again. I confuse my metaphors and 
compare myself to a house sparrow perching 


on the edge of a puddle a Himalayan mutt 
has just vacated. I must then enter this puddle, mud 


or no mud, dung-filled or otherwise. My socks will
get wet, my red shawl will shrivel. When I step cleanly 


through the surface, I have no socks and no shawl. 
The person I am running from is here. He is holding


my shawl in one hand and a house sparrow in the other.
I am afraid he will close that fist, snuff the life out. 


URVASHI BAHUGUNA’S poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Nervous Breakdown, Jaggery, Read Wildness, Marsh Hawk Review, Vayavya, Cadaverine and elsewhere. She was recently shortlisted for the Beverly Prize. She has a poetry pamphlet forthcoming from Eyewear Books.