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…


Sandra Dempsey


Hard doctor’s fingers
grab her tiny baby arm.
Failing tawny flesh
strained against the sharp until
he forces it in
a new hole
the size of a bullet.
Her final journey
paused impatient
blown vein leaking
infant red
into tissue and
flies flies flies
in the seared heat
of Iraqi last breaths.


Family gone, she is the only one left.
Not for her to know, no one notices
this home, this God
forsaken inhospitable dust
thanks be to the occupying infidels.
God help her and go yourself Lord
not Jesus this is no place
for children Lá iláha illalláh


Green lake of soldier urine
and poppies grow crimson
row on row the vital provisions
rushed out to relieve in   discretions
from distant lands so bombs bombs bombs
she is just culled lateral dam   age
name unknown concussed
internal organs blown butchered
Impatience interstitial fluid
will not replace blood
lost why bother mere moments
he must move on no longer
he speaks when
“A Gift from U.S.A.”
arrives it is not polite to
complain in horses’ mouths.


Supplies are supplies
are supposed so flies flies flies
no cries she also is polite
slipping away sixteen-gauge IV catheter
so-called sewer-pipe reserved for
major adult veins
major adult arteries
major adult surgeries
Needle one third
the size of her arm
exploding vein
and tearing humerus
muscle already that is cold
no more abductions here
statistics are needed not in
formation of actual people


And now she
these tiny baby
three months is
but one more.

With a keen sense of drama and a formidable wit, SANDRA DEMPSEY writes complex plays and poetry inhabited by articulate, richly drawn and emotional characters. Uncompromising and vital; powerful, compassionate and impassioned.
Website: http://www.SandraDempsey.com