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Tomlit Quarterly.

Vol. 1 No 1


Tomlit

Vol. 1 No 1

Contents 3. Editor’s Note

5. 6. 8. 9. 10.

Fiction I don’t know her name. I want it to be Nerissa by Teresa Stenson Discarded Jeans Were My Saviours by Jessica Patient SS. by Daniel Hughes Uncle Jim’s Last Hurrah by Kelly Stapleton Number 14 by Nik Perring

Poetry 16. One poem by Rachael Hawkins 18. Two poems by Noah Champoux Features 20. Interview: Barry Graham talks to us 22. Photo Book: Bliss in Chicago 30. Contributors

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Tomlit

Editor’s Note

Editor : Alex Thornber

Tomlit started as a web based project, trying to provide a place to display the work that we believe in.

Readers: Daniel Hughes Laurence Berridge

Since then it has somewhat taken off, to become the Tomlit you now have in front of you. Now, we are still very young and just about learning how the world works but, I think the response so far has been staggering. I truly never thought that it would get to a place where I would be putting together actual pages.

Tomlit publishes short stories, flash fiction, poetry, essays, articles, photography and art. We accept submissions all year round, see website for details. http://tomlit.webs.com/s ubmit.htm © 2009 by the authors. All work appearing in this magazine does so with the consent of the authors. All rights remain with the authors. Cover photo by Alex Thornber © 2009

This first issue marks a big step for us, a beginning. It has been a great year so far, making new friends via writing and creativity is what we always wanted from this. For this issue we didn‟t simply want to reproduce the content from the site but provide something fresh for you all. A relatively thin volume has resulted but one I hope you will agree is full of great writing. So, for all of you who have submitted work, read the website or expressed your interest in what we are doing in general, I thank you. This modest first issue, goes to you all. -Alex Thornber

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Fiction

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I don’t know her name. I want it to be Nerissa by Teresa Stenson

Her hair is somewhere between brown and blonde, between washed and unwashed. I want her to be lying on my bed, examining a strand of hair and saying, 'Oh, I just don't know what to do with it.' I want to say things like, 'Tea, honey?' and 'Call in sick today'. I want her to ask me what my biggest fear is. I think we'll have one day a week where we just stay in the house and eat all our meals in bed. I think she'll try to stop us watching so much TV and read more and we'll have fake arguments about it. Sometimes a fake argument will turn into a real one and she'll look beautiful when she cries. I wish she had bigger eyes. That's the only thing.

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Discarded Jeans Were My Saviours by Jessica Patient

My Girlfriend was always telling me off for leaving stray socks or two dayold boxer shorts abandoned on the bedroom floor. She would give me a lecture and launch into a monologue, saying that we did not live in a shantytown and maybe I should consider others who need to get up in the night to visit the toilet or get a of glass of water because having boxer shorts caught on your foot was most unseemly. She would never stop for a breath. She believed punctuation was so last century. But that night when the invasion happened, when we were starting to drift off to sleep after a wine induced evening, a shrieking siren clawed its way into our sleep. At first I thought it was our next-door neighbour because he had a thing for doing DIY late at night, or maybe it was the kid down the road with the wasp sounding motorbike. But The noise got unbearable and the my girlfriend stomped downstairs to get a coffee and her beauty magazine. “Get down here now,” she commanded. I thought she had found her magazine with one of my tea-ringed stains on the front cover. But when I had found my slippers and got to the living room and found her staring at the television as if she were a zombie. The News was stuck on a loop. The only words I could hear were „evacuation,‟ „shelters,‟ „emergency.‟ The redundant sirens from World War Two wailed like a baby wanting attention. Slipping on my discarded jeans and crumpled t-shirt, and I was ready before the double-decker buses arrived to file our street out of harm‟s way. My Girlfriend was still in her tight negligee when the bus rambled down our cul-de-sac. Soldiers shouted their orders through speakerphones, and blocked off any exits with crowd control barriers and tried to herd our neighbours towards the buses. She pleaded for them to take her even though she had no proper clothing, not packed any supplies and only had a pout to offer the new regime. At least my scruffy carrier bag of baked beans and damp smelling jumpers and tracksuit bottoms could be used for trading or even better, survival. 10/18/2009

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She gave me that look that said „leave me and the marriage is off,‟ as I boarded the bus. The soldiers told her that „orders were orders‟ and every one needed to obey the evacuation rules and they weren‟t going to get stuck in no-man‟s land because some lady tried to seduce them with her flickering hair and fluttering eyelids. Wriggling to free herself from the soldier‟s grip and force her way onto the bus but all the seats had been taken. The old lady from number twenty-four and her yappy dog had taken the seat next to me. I tried to reserve the seat with my supplies bag but the driver demanded I move my stuff or he would move me. No standing room, either. She kicked her legs as they lifted her off the bus and plonked her down on our front lawn. An engagement ring flew at the bus but only left a tiny chip in the window as we set off.

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SS. by Daniel Hughes

After she finished reading it she took a deep breath before starting over again. Five times it seemed, had not been enough time to take it all in. The ink smudging under thumb as she flicked through. Rain and tears congealed and pooled from the journal, turning the gravel below her feet a fantastic shade of peacock blue. How could a colour so beautiful come from such hate, she wondered as her hand lingered on the insignia stamp, pressed hard into the bound leather. 'Cause and effect' The words barely escaped her lips, a low hum as she traced the symbol with a gentle index finger, chipping her nail on the top of second S. 'Cause and effect', she uttered again slightly more prominently as she tore down through the books spine. It's death much less painful than theirs.

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Uncle Jim’s Last Hurrah by Kelly Stapleton

Uncle Jim wasn‟t just an alcoholic. He was a proper drunk who lived the hell out of life. It could have been any number of things that drove him to drink: finding his parents murdered when he was sixteen, his tour in Vietnam, his wife‟s death from a deep-fryer explosion, or his son dropping out of school to become a preacher at one of those snake-handling churches out in the boonies. At some point he stopped needing reasons and just drank because he drank. Despite the crappy hand he was dealt, he could see the humor in everything, and he told the stories of his life in such a way that even the most sullen jackass would end up pissing his pants laughing. No one could keep a straight face when he talked about pouring his wife‟s ashes into a brand new deep-fryer: “This time I got the expensive one so I wouldn‟t blow her up again.” He was a good man through and through, so when he asked me to pour Jack Daniels into his feeding tube on Christmas Eve, I did it without hesitation. He hadn‟t had a drink since the surgery and was dying anyway -- I wasn‟t about to deny him one of the few pleasures he had left in the world. When the booze hit his system, his face beamed as if he were communing with God. Turns out he was. But I regret nothing. Anyone who knew and loved Uncle Jim would have done the same, except for that son of his who smelled of pomade and carried around snake venom in a Mason jar. No, that creep pressed charges, and now I‟m serving six months. I wish Uncle Jim was still around to tell my story. He‟d make it sound funnier and a lot less tragic than it is. I miss that drunk bastard.

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Number 14 by Nik Perring 1.

The woman‟s house was a rainbow of squares. Its walls were a patchwork of Post-it notes, all equally spaced, almost aligned. Her walls were covered. Each note, each square of fuchsia, cornflower, scarlet, emerald or lemon, bore a message, and each message was addressed to the person who‟d written it: the woman. The messages had been written in biro or marker, usually in black ink; black ink provided the best contrast, made the words stand out, made them louder. The woman was in her kitchen: hair up, wearing a vest top and three-quarter length trousers. She was barefoot and warm. She‟d finished a bowl of Greek yoghurt and banana. She ran her index finger around the bowl, collecting the thin film of yoghurt like a tiny snow plough. She put her finger in her mouth and sucked. She was happy. She placed the bowl and the spoon in the sink, then looked at the note (yellow) by the toaster. She read what it told her, and then she looked at the one next to it (green) and smiled slightly. She made coffee then, milky and sweet and she went outside to the front of her house. The house, from the outside, looked like every other house on that street; if people saw it they would not think of walls covered in Post-it notes, they would not have a clue. The woman did not like what she could see from her gate. She saw a woman pushing a buggy, a line of houses, pavement, walls and bushes. Not friends. She would have liked to have seen friends. She went back inside, spilling coffee on the back of her hand as she hurriedly locked the door. The blue note by the light switch, the colour of her mother‟s eyes, told her to KEEP SAFE. She walked back into the kitchen and let herself out through the back door. In the fields beyond her garden she saw sheep and lambs and grass. She sat in her garden, her shoulders resting against the stone wall, her backside on the ground and her legs stretched out in front of her, toes pointing to the sky. She drank her coffee in the sun, watched birds in 10/18/2009

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the trees above her and spiders, hanging like spit, in the bushes. She said to herself, as she picked off the small pieces of grit that had stuck to the skin of her feet: I think I’ll go into town. The walk’ll do me good. She locked her back door, put her mug in the sink, with the bowl and the spoon, and then pulled on a short jacket. She slipped her feet into pumps that made her think about ballet, and then she left her home. 2. She met a man in town. He seemed sweet and caring and had a warm and handsome face. She let him buy her coffee; she knew him so it was okay he delivered her mail. He made her smile when he told her her: name, address and postcode, and he made her giggle when he called her Number 14. „We see it all,‟ he told her. „Number 58 likes his porn. 71 has a Shopping Channel addiction, and I think the woman who lives at Highgate House is an artist.‟ The woman said nothing, she just sipped her coffee and watched his mouth, enjoyed the shapes it made as he spoke. „And you,‟ he said, setting down his cappuccino and pressing his hands, flat, onto the glass tabletop, „You like stationery.‟ She told him, with lips that looked soft and French, „It‟s so I don‟t forget.‟ She reached into her pocket then and produced a pack of Postit notes and a pencil. „Here,‟ she said, „Write your number on this, and your name.‟ She wanted to ask for more, wanted to demand he wrote down everything. She wanted his address, his email, where he went to school, grades, brothers, sisters, friends and references. She wanted to know about his first time, whether he was slow or fast in bed, what he liked to eat and what he thought about before going to sleep. She wanted a poem written just for her. There were plenty of Post-its there in that deck. He could fill them all if he used his imagination. But, when he slid the pack back to her, all he had written on the pale yellow square on the top was, „Eddie Fertig,‟ and a phone number. „Foreign name?‟ the woman asked him. 10/18/2009

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„German.‟ So that was it. That was all she was getting. She was disappointed. „So, are you going to give me yours?‟ asked Eddie Fertig eagerly. „I‟ll call you,‟ he was told. Besides, she thought, you know where I live - and if you’re not going to tell me what I want to know then that’s probably enough. She finished her coffee and left. 3. The woman saw Eddie Fertig twice over the following two weeks, once when the parcel was too large to fit through her letterbox and another time when she had to sign for the delivery; she used the marker she already had in her hand, it was heavy and awkward on his clipboard. The woman refused to meet his eye, and as soon as he‟d gone she returned to her notes. 4. She was making coffee when she decided to give him another chance. He seemed sweet. She was returning the milk to the fridge and as the door swished closed she noticed a note she‟d stuck to it a while ago, the pencil words on its lemon background told her a name and a telephone number. She moved over to a drawer and pulled out a fresh pack of Post-its. She wrote neatly and slow, imagining she was writing on his back. „Mr Eddie Fertig,‟ she began, black on pink. And when she‟d finished she smiled and pulled the thin paper away from the pack, sticking it to her little finger. Then she began a second note. 5. Eddie Fertig pulled a face when he read what was written on the pink note stuck above the letterbox on Number 14‟s door. „Please come in?‟ he read aloud, talking to no-one but himself, „Sure.‟ The door was open. He stepped inside and took off his shoes as instructed, laying his mailbag next to them in the hall. Then he walked into the kitchen, where he found her, in a baby blue robe, soft and furry. 10/18/2009

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She was leaning against the worktop. She shushed him and pointed to the table. Eddie Fertig did as he was told. A mug waited for him there and the note stuck to it said, „Eddie Fertig. Two sugars – I remember, see?‟ As he lifted it he noticed that it had been resting on another note, but the writing on that was obscured slightly by the faint outline of a ring. „Well?‟ asked the woman. Eddie Fertig read it and then nodded. „Sure I still like you,‟ he said. She smiled and adjusted her position. It looked like she was preparing herself, breathing in. She pulled her robe open. There was a note stuck to her skin, it was sellotaped to her at one corner. Eddie had to move closer to read it; it hung between her naval and her breasts. It said, „If you want me, I‟m yours.‟ The yellow of the note intensified the colour of her skin, made it richer, browner, and made her hair look fierce and black. Of course he wanted her. 6. The woman cried that morning. She cried hard and she cried deep. She‟d been prepared to – she‟d wanted to give him a chance, to see if her body could be opened again. And it wasn‟t as though he‟d been unreasonable. „I like you, Number 14,‟ he‟d said, „very much. But I have one question.‟ She should have known, should have seen it coming. „What‟s with the walls?‟ he‟d said. „What‟s the deal with all these notes?‟ „They‟re so I don‟t forget,‟ she‟d told him. „Then why‟s the same thing written on all of them? And who is Enoch anyway? Why “Enoch” over and over?‟ The woman took Eddie Fertig‟s mug from him and placed it in the sink. She thanked him for the mail and then showed him out. She closed the front door and locked it then ran back to the kitchen, collapsing - crying and half naked – on the floor. She cried hard and she cried deep, thinking of Enoch, knowing she could never forget him but knowing, also, that she was almost ready to try again. 10/18/2009

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So she stood, after some time, and moved to the sink where she cleaned the residue of tears from her face. She made herself coffee, fresh and milky and sweet, and she walked out into her garden to look at the birds and the grass and the sheep.

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Poetry

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One poem by Rachael Hawkins The Swallows.

When I told him that he'd ruined me He replied He couldn't if he tried Two years later I received a letter From his fiancĂŠe, Saying the love between them had died. That if I see men as a challenge There's always one on the other side. Did I start the fire that burnt them out? Directed an electric current of attraction? Plant the flowering seed of doubt? The words so carefully constructed To destroy my now happy house of cards That once concealed a King Now crushes the Queen of Hearts I don't believe she knows, that I know That she played that card. I believe in karma To execute revenge requires a plan That the word is mightier than the sword As it twists and lingers in the heart of man

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So this is how it came to be I was unaware that somewhere, in Tennessee A woman cried because of me. And I'm sure she knew I thought deeply. And I am sorry. Now when I see the boy A deeper yearning kicks inside But I will only ever hold his hand Because of the bitterness Of a certain would-be bride.

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Two poems by Noah Champoux of gluttony when liquor lined my throat, I swallowed lit matches to burn away the sin which only spread the flames; as they consumed my skin, I laced my tongue in smoke and cried for more like a marshmallow on the tip of a stick ready to tickle the chocolate on a bed made of graham crackers. of clocks Clocks tied to rockets whiz past then explode with no metal left behind; the smog trails, thick, cluttering clouds' pages with time-release ink soon to disperse. Be sure to read the words the flame coughs out: if you shut your eyes, I have burnt out for nothing.

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Features

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Interview: Barry Graham talks to us... Barry Graham is a writer of fiction, poetry, and other mixed-media. His work has appeared in the likes of Pindeldyboz, Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, and Wigleaf and his debut short-story collection, The National Virginity Pledge was released in February 2009 by Another Sky Press. He is also creator and Editor-in-Chief of the lit mag Dogzplot. Barry was nice enough to answer a few questions that we put to him: When did you start writing and what inspired you to do so? I started writing in high school. I had this girlfriend who was obsessed with Charles Manson and we used to write letters back and forth in school and she used to end the letters with little Charles Manson quotes. So I started ending my notes with little philosophies of my own rebutting him. Then I started reading Manson, then other philosophers: Malcolm X, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, etc, then I started writing longer essays in response to them. All this in my spare time, for fun. I know I know. I have no idea how I had a girlfriend. So that was that. Then I started reading and studying and writing poetry for a bunch of years, then fiction and non-fiction. Which genre of writing do you prefer? [Poems, flash, essays?] The majority of things I've written and published have been short stories / flash fiction. I don't prefer any one genre over the other, its just that the words coming out from me right now happen to be most coherent in short fiction form. How long do you spend writing every day, if that often? Iâ€&#x;m not disciplined enough to put myself on a writing schedule. I know people who are and their output is far greater than mine, but right now I just donâ€&#x;t have time. I write when I can. You have been compared to the likes of Bukowski but who are your literary influences? Hemingway and Seuss. 10/18/2009

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Your book TNVP was released in a very unorthodox and exciting way, how did that come about? I really dig the Another Sky Press publishing model. Basically, they pre-release the book in pdf form, then continue to make it available online for free even after the book is in print. As far as the print publication itself, you have the option of buying the book at cost directly from the publisher then donating whatever you think I deserve. I have no idea how ASP editor, Kris Young came up with this model, but I respect it very much. How did people react to the book and its ways of distribution? I‟ve not received any feedback regarding how people felt about distribution and I believe in the cliché that no news is good news. Is finding new ways of distributing fiction something you get involved in often? I wouldn‟t say new ways. I‟m not s trendsetter. I work within confines that people who are smarter than me have already established. I just bend and shape trends to fit my own style, wants, and needs. I think this is what a lot of people do.

What made you decide to start Dogzplot? My first experience with literary journals was helping Aaron Burch read submissions for Hobart. It was a lot of fun, we would meet once or twice a month and discuss submissions over Greek food and cheap beer. We had great conversations and great fun and that‟s what inspired me to start my own journal, using literature as a means to promote great writing and great conversations and great fun. Are you working on anything new at the moment? I‟m working on a collection of urban legends, contemporary takes on the classics. Sort of like Rob Zombie does with horror movies.

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Photo Book: Bliss in Chicago by Bliss Braoudakis

“Chicago has been that 'home away from home' since I was a child. Of course I have family there, but just the feeling and adventures of being there never grow old. The city is alive at all times. The summers are hot but eventful, and the winters are pale but beautiful. I feel like I'm set free from my birdcage when I'm there.�

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Tomlit Contributors Daniel Hughes- Visit him here "The winter that I was five my sister and her friend encouraged me to pick up a stick they'd spotted in the back garden. Keen to prove I was a good brother I ran off to retrieve it. They watched from the window as I plunged my hands into a half frozen dog turd, conveniently covered mostly by snow, ruining the mittens my mum had made me. I hated life for a whole two hours that day. I've spent the last sixteen years trying to get those hours back."

Teresa Stenson- Visit her here "My hair is somewhere between brown and red, dyed and undyed... I've been writing 'properly' for about 4 years since I gave up a more conventional career in EFL teaching to do this writing thing. So I work in the same place I did when I was 18 - a cinema/bar/art space. It's working out okay. I've been published widely in print and online and you can read more of my work, rejections and acceptances, or sometimes just transcripts of conversations I've scribbled down in coffee shops when I should have been writing, over in my blog."

Nik Perring- Visit him here Nik Perring is a writer and workshop leader from the UK. His short stories have been published widely, in places including Smokelong Quarterly, 3: AM, Ballista and Metazen, and heâ€&#x;s the author of a childrenâ€&#x;s book. See his website here

Jessica Patient- Visit her here Jessica Patient was born in the year of Live Aid and the first British Glow Worm day, 1985. She won the WorldSkills Uk Gold Award in Creative Writing in 2008 and has several short stories published widely. Links to her published work and updates on the progression of the novel she is writing can be found on her blog. Jessica lives in Bedfordshire, England.

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Kelly Stapleton - Visit her here "I guess you could call me a late bloomer. Up until the age of 38, I mostly just talked about being a writer. Now I‟m actually writing. I live in Denton, Texas, a poorlyplanned college town with labyrinthine roads and weirdos all around. I always see something worth writing about when I go out. I have a blog, and I promise to update it more frequently if people start reading it."

Bliss Braoudakis - Visit her here “First off, my real name is Bliss. My life is made up of all of my passions together. I cut hair, I do makeup, I write out of my wild mind, I model fashion & design fashion pieces, and most importantly I photograph the beautiful people in this world. I do photo shoots a couple times a week and on in on Mondays in Orlando I take photos for www.partyfoulz.com My cameras are my life and I carry my faith in them. I honestly don't think it will ever grow old.”

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Profile for Alex Thornber

Tomlit Vol.1 No.1  

First issue of Tomlit Quarterly

Tomlit Vol.1 No.1  

First issue of Tomlit Quarterly

Profile for tomlit
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