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…

Ricky Lee

Ann Howells


He’s that rubber ball bouncing, a captive tiger.
Cleared twenty grand selling concert balloons –
nitrous liberated from a dentist.
He’s one neighbours describe: keeps to himself,
as police dig for bodies.
We watch, wait lest we release the djinn,
roiling virulent colours of a bruise.
He keeps a mastiff, three large pythons,
reads classifieds: Free to good home,
hefts each kitten, makes kissy-face,
scores two, even three, mewling furballs.
He savours the snake’s sinuous stalk;  
it devours prey face-first,
swallows slowly till only a plumy tail remains.
Tell-tale bulge creeps its narrow length.
He once thought he’d been burgled:
blinds twisted, screen ripped,
but found a python missing: Easy come, easy go—
another in the south’s growing infestation.
Least normal in our family of outcasts and misfits –
furthest off-centre –
when timing is right, he’ll devour us all face-first.

ANN HOWELLS’ poetry has recently appeared in Crannog (Ire), San Pedro River Review, and Spillway among others. She has edited, Illya’s Honey, since 1999, recently going digital and taking on a co-editor. Her books are: Under a Lone Star (Village Books) and Cattlemen and Cadillacs, an anthology of DFW poets which she edited (Dallas Poets Community). Her chapbooks are: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag) and Letters for My Daughter (Flutter). Her manuscript, Softly Beating Wings, won the William D. Barney Memorial Chapbook Contest for 2017.