HCE received a lot of high-quality submissions for the Toys & Games 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. Below are just a few of the pieces we loved. Keep an eye on our website for more great writing like this, in the run up to the release date of Toys & Games…



Patrick Walsh

A Lionel locomotive,
No. 736 –
the brawny Berkshire engine
hauled every car I had.
I’d nod off gazing at it;
that train could take me anywhere.
A BMW 7 Series
luxury sedan:
as big as Connecticut
and all it can do
is shuttle me
between home and the office.

Patrick Walsh‘s poetry has appeared in Barrow Street, Evergreen Review, The Recorder, and War, Literature & the Arts. Beyond America, his work has also featured in venues abroad, including The Malahat Review, THE SHOp, Poetry New Zealand, and The Quadrant Book of Poetry, 2001-2010. Currently, he has poems in Kelsey Review and Tales from the Forest. Patrick lives and writes in Princeton, New Jersey.


Kara Dennison


“What do you think happens to us when we die?” he asked.
   She shrugged, her head bobbing. “Surprisingly little.”
   “That’s awfully defeatist.”
   “Well, how do you expect me to be? We see it every day. Both of us. It’s commonplace. What am I supposed to think? That it’s some strange, mystical gateway to something else? It’s old hat at this point.”
   He wiped his nose on the back of his hand. “Not every day. There was a respite of about two weeks, remember?”
   “Oh, yeah. Two weeks. But it always starts again. Just when we think it’s over, the old mess has been abandoned, it all starts up again. Bang bang click, there we are on the front line again.”
   “It’s not fun to you?”
   “Fun?” She leaned back. “You have a strange definition of ‘fun.’”
   “I don’t think so. There’s something exhilarating about it. Freeing, almost. You let loose.”
   She smirked. “And then you die.”
   “Well, the plan is not to.”
   “Right, and things don’t go according to plan, do they? Someone has to die. It’s the way of things. Some live, some die. The ones who live go on to fight another day. Die another day.”
   “Wasn’t that a movie?” he mused.
   “I’m not the movie-watching type, I’m afraid.”
   They fell silent. Staring at each other. Waiting. Watching.
   “Do you think they forgot?” he asked.
   “We’re secondary to them.” She rolled her head, loosening her neck. “You know them. Probably getting drinks or having a chat or something. Sending us to our deaths is an afterthought.”
   “You want to talk about ‘fun’? That’s what this is to them. Fun.”
   He grins. “I do believe that’s the whole point.” And he drew his fists up to his face defensively.
   “So it would seem.”
   She stood straighter, balancing on one foot. “Best of luck.”
   “And you.”

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, illustrator, and presenter from Newport News, Virginia. She works as community manager for Onezumi Events, where she interviews celebrity guests and performs outreach for fans and attendees. Her work can be seen in “Associates of Sherlock Holmes” from Titan Books, various “Doctor Who” spinoffs from “Obverse Books,” and the light novel series “Owl’s Flower,” which she co-created with illustrator Ginger Hoesly. She works from a converted NASA lab, which she shares with four guinea pigs and a bass guitar.

The Cold War Games

Jerry T. Johnson


it was late October 1997 in Moscow
my tour of duty in Russia was winding down
my boss and I just finished dinner at a restaurant
positioned just four miles from the Kremlin
after dinner we sipped vodka and talked
about fast-moving sports cars
the car he owned was very sporty,
it was a slick silver American model
he left at home in the USA because
it was much too costly to bring it into Russia
it would take too much money to retrofit it
to meet requirements for vehicle operation
plus he was afraid to have it stolen
stolen like many other fine western cars
owned by many other westerners spending time
building factories, refurbishing warehouses,
furnishing distribution centers, buying delivery trucks,
installing computers, configuring software,
counting Russian rubles, counting Czech crowns,
counting Polish zlotys, counting Hungarian forints,
wherever the former Soviet Union abode
there we were with all our technical toys
playing round after round of business roulette
deluded into thinking that the Cold War games were over

Jerry T. Johnson is a new writer to the Connecticut/New York area. He began writing in the early 1990’s, had one poem published and then took a 21 year hiatus to pursue corporate work overseas. In the spring of 2013, Jerry restarted his writing career. Since then his poetry has appeared in several literary journals and he published his first self-published poetry chapbook, “Good Morning New Year!” In addition to his written work, Jerry does poetry readings in a variety of venues in the New York City area. Jerry currently lives in Danbury, Connecticut with his wife Raye.