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…

Detective Poetic Johnson Here

Michael Lee Johnson


December 1st 2016,
Detective Johnson here.
I see my shrink for the first time.
I’m low maintenance, one every 3 months,
Dr. Pennypecker.  He is a tight-ass conservative type
with a raisin-dry personality who tries to keep sober
and focused so he can focus on me.
I’m a grade 3 drop out with a degree
in elementary school bullshit.
I ask him how his children are.
“I only have one, let’s focus on YOU!”
Nice haircut, Dr. Pennypecker;
have you ever noticed how the poor people
who usually come here are Mexicans,
and they all can afford a $60 a month cell phone?
“Let’s stay focused!”
I tell Dr. Pennypecker I love Jesus, I love the Holy Ghost,
I love the Father; most of these Mexicans do too.
With all these rain clouds up above outside this window here,
I believe we are all together until I pass.
“Now that is interesting, let’s focus on that!”
I tell Dr. Pennypecker when I get upset about something
I know is my fault, and I do have problems
sleeping but I don’t dwell on that too much.
“Let’s focus on that!
Is 20 milligrams of Citalopram, antidepressants, generic,
enough or should we cut it back?”
Oh no, don’t do that Dr. Pennypecker.  By the way, Dr. Pennypecker,
how do you cut your hair in the back when you have your own Wal-Mart
Pro Clipper Haircutting Kit set on # 2?
“I put a paper back there and I put a mirror back there and I sort of do–
no, no, let’s not focus on that!”
I walk out the door ready for my next appointment, 3 months down the road.
I open the door for a stranger ready for his appointment; I say, “have a good day.”
He is so self-centered, his long hair and the way he moves back and forth
sways, swings, doesn’t say anything, he is so damn self-absorbed in his own grey cloud.


This was my day with Dr. Pennypecker.

MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON, Itasca, IL. nominated for two Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015, nominated Best of the Net, 2016. He lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, editor, publisher, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 935 small press magazines in 33 countries, he edits 11 poetry sites. Michael is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book), several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 130 poetry videos on YouTube. He is also the editor-in-chief/publisher of anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530456762 He is also the Editor-in-chief of a 2nd anthology, Dandelion In A Vase Of Roses released in April 2017: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1545352089
Links: http://poetryman.mysite.com/
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