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…

Barnum & Bailey Chaos
David Lohrey

There is nothing sadder than an old elephant at the zoo.
All alone, the colour of tarmac; a gigantic mouse behind bars.
She stands at the ready, to turn around and around. By the end
of the day, she’ll be fit for a shower and a long cry.
What’s an elephant to do, chained to the ground, with a 6-year child
the only one who understands her pain?


I say, throw a peanut at her head. Pick up a chunk of rock. Hop
on its back and stick its ear. That’ll teach it to dance. Shout, “Go!”
Hit it over and over again, the way you do your wife and kids. When
you’re through with the elephant, you can move onto more important things,
like burning churches and killing doctors. Take it out on them, too. Why
stop with the dumb elephant and your shitty family? You too can be effective,
get yourself all worked up if you are of the mind, pour gasoline all over and
set yourself on fire.


When we kill elephants, we kill ourselves. These killing sprees are assassinations.
Don’t kid yourself. It’s murder. Whoever said so, and it’s probably your daughter, is
right. The decimation of the elephants, and that goes for gorillas and anteaters, too,
is self-destructive. It’s annihilation of the soul. It’s a catastrophe of thought. Pure
Neanderthal, a spasm of base instinct. But then so is the murder of man. Keep in mind,
it is happening every day of the week and it is not because they are poor.


He murdered his sister because he has no money is a sinister joke told by the devil.
Our heads need to be examined. Here, it’s becoming a killing field
like Rwanda or Cambodia before it. Incredibly,
decent people are confused; they are not sure it’s wrong.
One thing for sure, it’s a lot of fun. Put a cap in his ass. HAHAHAHA.
Now that we’ve stripped our youth of their humanity, what’s next?
I’ll tell you what’s coming: mass killings.
Human life is worth nothing in a place like this.
You might as well drive the herd over a cliff.

DAVID LOHREY grew up in Memphis. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Easy Street and New London Writers. In addition, recent poems have been anthologized by the University of Alabama (Dewpoint), Illinois State University (Obsidian) and Michigan State University (The Offbeat). Work can also be found in The Stony Thursday Book (Limerick) and Hidden Channel Zine (Mall Sligo). David is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective in Houston. Recent fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Brilliant Flash Fiction and Every Writer. He teaches in Tokyo.