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…


James Penha


Although a banyan grows in the arms of its host
tree, it does not stand to be called a parasite –
if you want to find parasites, it would say,
look to the wasps that will inhabit my figs –
for a baby banyan is nourished from the air alone
until its own roots can drop down into the ground
like beautiful beaded curtains to surround
and entangle the other until it chokes to death.

A native New Yorker, JAMES PENHA has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his LGBT speculative story “Leaves,” also set in Indonesia, was a finalist for the Saints and Sinners Short Fiction Contest and so appears in the Saint & Sinners Literary Festival 2017 anthology. His essay “It’s Been a Long Time Coming” was featured in The New York Times “Modern Love” column in April 2016. Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. @JamesPenha
Website: http://jamespenha.com