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 Beast That Knows

Gene Fendt


The beast that knows steps into the moving stream,
steps out, and knows he can step in again,
but never where he was – for stepping in,
he knew, and knowing means his stream
is not the moving one: the one he knows
is not.  
   Knowledge is the jelly of brain –
a cataplasm atop an open spine –
bubbling, trenching deep grey furrows,
pulsing on the unfused end
of what might have been a circle:
Self-wrought, the standing accident
bumps its wound against the hard edged world:
a bloody club, revolting, mad with pain,
a murderous force, the wandering mark of Cain.

GENE FENDT teaches philosophy at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. “The beast that knows is a (more brutal) version of a traditional definition—the rational animal. The poem is a (more brutal), perhaps bastard, son of a poem of Auden’s titled ‘Able At Times To Cry’.”