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…


Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

Michelle Brooks


Sometimes the world is so beautiful
I could just die, and then there are other
times like when I hear a story about a cop
who got called out on a domestic. No one
answered the door. He glanced around the yard,
mistaking a dead woman impaled on a fence
for a Halloween decoration, a bloody scarecrow.
Can you imagine the grief he took at the station?
someone asks. All too well, I say. Sometimes I’m
the woman, dolled up like a decoy designed to scare.
These guises lure and repel, leaving me hollow,
a projection for others to interpret. And sometimes
I’m the cop, missing what’s right in front of me,
the shadows overpowering the light. As for the man
who left his wife to bleed out, I can’t speak for him.  
He made his point. Now I will make mine. Fuck this shit.  

MICHELLE BROOKS’ work has been published or is forthcoming in Threepenny Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Iowa Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Natural Bridge, and elsewhere. Her poetry collection, ‘Make Yourself Small’, was published by Backwaters Press, and her novella, ‘Dead Girl, Live Boy’, was published by Storylandia Press.