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…


Rachel Burns


Watching a Paula Rego documentary,
the abortion paintings haunting
more than sexual exploitation,
the girl squatting over the bloody bucket.
Waiting. For what? The horrors
of the voyeur’s imagination,
the mind stripped bare
like the drawer of knives
in Larkin’s poem,
saying out loud
what everyone
already knows.


She says she can’t hear.
Will you listen for her?
You say yes.

RACHEL BURNS has poetry published in several literary magazines including Ambit, Other Poetry, Brittle Star, South, Obsessed with Pipework, The Interpreter’s House, Picaroon, Message in a Bottle, Ink, Sweat & Tears. Her poetry has been shortlisted in competitions Mslexia, Writers’ & Artists Yearbook and The Keats- Shelley Poetry Prize 2017.
Website: https://rachelburnssite.wordpress.com