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…

Ferguson, MO, 2014

Henry Reneau, Jr.


There was just no way I could describe
what was in that box. No way. And I just
wanted the world to see.
—Mamie Till Bradley, mother of Emmett Till, 1955


spent shells  
chalk outline
the black body &
racist fear
holstered at the hip  
the emptied magazine
totally engrossed in reloading
still menacing more &
tempers bubbling to
the surface of separate &
like so much Flood
so close to home.  the blue
murder minus mercy metallic
clamour of anger
like chickens
come home to roost  
alligator foot-pounds
of torque:   will walk
up one side
of yo’ ass & down
the other.  the aftermath
blued animosity
of black faces like
jagged glass
in pale moonlight.

HENRY 7. RENEAU, JR. writes words in fire to wake the world ablaze: free verse illuminated by courage that empathizes with all the awful moments, launching a freight train warning that blazes from the heart, like a chambered bullet exploding inadvertently. His poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press, 2014), was released in September of 2014. He also has an e-chapbook, entitled physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014), which was released in December of 2014. Additionally, he has self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and is currently working on a book of connected short stories. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee.