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…

The Poetry of Cruelty

Paul Ilechko


The poverty of cruelty, with gravelled drug
along the stony earth, blood mixed with fleshy
dirt, the mutilated corpse is tossed
aside. There are no limits set or heard.


Feet high and hung, aloft with battered chains
above a blaze of fragrant wood. Humanity
or brutality, can they be sundered? The dog
that bit is bitten back in turn; a tender feast.


Grease the longer pole, slide it through and find
the better pathway for a longer time to suffer.
A gathering by the bridge, this sad spectacle
for all to see, a feast along the river’s edge.


Centuries of pain: look back and watch the
quartermaster ply his bloody trade. Machete
slashing down the stick-like stalks of figured
bold and brittle bone, through fields of green.


It never ends. This wretched, sickening history,
reviewed by lonely heads on castle walls, eyeless
peering over tongueless speech, a voluntary time
when all is free. Where quiet opportunity abounds.

PAUL ILECHKO was born in England but has lived much of his life in the USA. He currently lives in Lambertville, NJ with his girlfriend and a cat. Paul has had poetry published recently by Dash Literary Journal, Gravel Magazine, Gloom Cupboard, MockingHeart Review and Slag Review, among others.