Issuu on Google+

Tomlit Quarterly.

Vol. 2 No 1


Tomlit

Vol. 2 No 1

Contents 3. Editor’s Note

5. 6. 8. 10.

Fiction Office Party by Tom Mahony The Nature Law By Edward Rosodek Cold by Icy Sedgwick Welcome Home by Sarah Goodwin *Competition Winner*

Poetry 13. Three Poems by Harry Culhoun 17. One Poem by Howard Good 18. Two Poems by Peycho Kanev 20. Two Poems by David Kowalczyk 23. One Poem by Essie Gilbey Etc. 25. Editor to Editor: Robert McEvily 27. Relentless Compassion by Alex Thornber 29. Photo Book: Sarah Returns Home 40. Contributors

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

2


Tomlit Editor : Alex Thornber Fiction Advisor: Teresa Stenson Poetry Advisor: Daniel Hughes 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 © 2010 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 Bliss Braoudakis © 2009

Editor’s Note Hello again, Well I don‟t think I can introduce this issue before thanking everyone who read the first one, the response has been overwhelming. The ability to reach so many people is definitely one point to the wonders of modern technology. One of the things I have learnt this quarter is that submissions are never even and will rarely produce a nicely balanced issue. This time round we have significantly more poetry than last time and slightly less fiction. However, we are ecstatic with the quality level of all the work collected in this issue. We also have the first Tomlit Competition winner which is Sarah Goodwin, congratulations Sarah. Through a complete accident we actually have two features from her this issue, check out her photos in the back. We also have a wonderful new story from Tom Mahony, three excellent poems from Harry Calhoun and a couple of different style interviews for you. Also, if anyone would like to send us a letter, email or anything please get in touch at the usual address. We would love to hear your thoughts, feelings or suggestions. So, for another issue, we hope you enjoy. -Alex Thornber

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

3


Fiction

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

4


Office Party by Tom Mahony

My cubicle-mate and I sulked in the back corner of the office party. Our coworker danced on an impromptu stage. Two dozen employees gathered around clapping and laughing and shouting requests: Funky Chicken, Robot, River dance, that Russian squat-leg kick thing. He performed them all flawlessly. “What‟s with that guy?” my cubicle-mate said. “Beats me.” “What the hell‟s he so happy about? Always smiling and laughing in the office. Cheering people up. Now this.” “I don‟t know,” I said darkly, shoving a fistful of pretzels in my mouth. I chewed slowly and watched the dancing, cheering, and howls of delight. “But I don‟t trust him.” The guy walked over and reached for the bowl of pretzels. “What‟s up boys? Why the long faces?” I shrugged, defensive. “What‟s wrong with long?” “That‟s what she said, right?” My cubicle-mate laughed. I guffawed involuntarily. Felt a little warmer inside, a little better about the world. The guy winked and returned to his groupies. I cleared my throat of levity and tried to muster some stoic conviction. “I still don‟t trust that guy,” I muttered.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

5


The Nature Law by Edward Rodosek

A sharp morning frost woke me from a restless slumber. I rose, stamping my benumbed feet, and put a thick branch on the glowing embers of the fire. Only one great stump remained on the pile of firewood I'd gathered the night before. Soon he has to set off to the shore and look for some driftwood, to– I shook my head without finishing my senseless thought and looked at my sleeping father. When I stooped down I noticed his eyelids were trembling. “Why don't you sleep, father? You should rest so you can be back on your feet soon.” Father‟s turbid eyes stared at me. I felt he sensed my deceit, as he did when I‟d tried to lie to him as a child. “Do you remember–” A spasmodic cough interrupted his sentence, he had to wait until he recovered his breath before starting again. “Do you remember, many years ago, when you and I searched for something edible all day long? But we found nothing except a tiny squirrel.” “How could I forget? You let me to shoot it, but I missed – what a shame!” My father shook his head. “No harm done, sonny.” The squeeze of his hand was surprisingly firm. “And then we suddenly–” Again his gasping prevented him from finishing. “Yes, we heard the distant howling of a wolf. There must have been more than one, probably a whole pack of wolves. Oh, God, how we ran! And then I stumbled and hurt my knee so you had to keep me from falling, and you carried me up to our hamlet. Uncle emerged with a burning branch in his hand and the wolves took flight.” My father nodded feebly. “The wolves are not afraid of yelling or drumming, even shooting doesn‟t scare them for long. Only fire…” He sighed and released the squeeze of his hand. Only the barely audible gurgling from his throat showed he was still alive. I stepped to the dying fire and managed to roll the last stump on to the embers. If I waited any longer it probably wouldn‟t inflame at all. I put my snowshoes on. My dogs leapt up, shaking the snow from 1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

6


their fur with eagerness to haul my sled. They knew they‟d have their first meal of frozen fish only two hours into the trip. At that moment I heard in the distance that sound I knew so well; the dreadful howl of a wolf pack leader. Trying to keep my voice from trembling, I said, “You have two dried salmons within reach.” My father‟s eyes avoided mine. “Off with you, Kanak. You have to catch up with them before dark–” A fit of coughing interrupted him once more. I didn‟t look back, I shouted at the dogs and cracked a whip over their heads. I heard the wolves howl again, nearer than before. I wiped my eyes with the backside of my fur gloves. Luckily, my tribe was far ahead so nobody could see my face, upholding my image as their best hunter and bravest warrior.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

7


Cold by Icy Sedgwick

Cold. Horrible, insidious, bone-chilling cold. Jemima blew on her hands in a futile attempt to keep them warm. Her breath puffed into the air in small fluffy clouds. “You still not got your heating sorted?” Brian lounged on the threadbare sofa, still clad in his DMs and parka. The fur-trimmed hood obscured most of his face. “Clearly not,” replied Jemima. “Why?” “Costs money, doesn‟t it?” “So? Get your landlord to do it. That‟s what you‟re paying him rent for, isn‟t it?” “Yeah, but it costs him money.” “Yeah? And?” “He doesn‟t have any.” “What about your rent?” “He pisses that away at the Four Bones.” “What?” Jemima refused to answer any more questions. It took too much effort, and she wanted to conserve her energy for keeping warm. Brian moved slightly, peering out from inside the hood. All Jemima could see was his Roman nose, thin lips and wide jaw peppered with stubble. “Ah well. I‟m not surprised, really. There‟s a barmaid in there with the most amazing cleavage. You could park a bike in it. Still, it‟s a crap name for a pub.” He idly scratched his chin with a bony index finger. “Eh?” “I said it‟s a crap name for a pub. You know, the Four Bones? Whose bones are they on about then?” “I dunno. Patrick did tell me once, but I‟ve forgotten. I think Cecila said it was something to do with the Church.” “Isn‟t it always?” Brian almost sounded wistful. Silence descended, broken only by the steady drone of traffic outside. Jemima 1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

8


tapped her fingers against her novelty Simpsons mug, struggling for something to say. Brian‟s presence unnerved her. “Was there something you actually wanted?” “Not really. Why do you ask?” Brian moved again, shoving his hands deeper into his pockets. She could hear him fiddling with something; she guessed it was his lighter. “Well you came over twenty minutes ago, and so far all you‟ve done is complain it‟s cold. Did you want something?” “Just thought you might need the company.” “And why would I need or want company?” “You know, after...after Jake left. We all heard about it, and we were worried.” Jemima glared at Brian‟s hood for a second, before dropping her gaze to her mug of tea. “I don't want to think about Jake. Why do you think I would want someone around just because he isn‟t here anymore?” “I thought you might be, you know, lonely. You might want a man around.” “You mean you wanted to fill his shoes.” “His shoes, your knickers, it‟s all the same to me.” Brian shrugged; the sound of the nylon against her sofa made Jemima want to scream. “You‟re such a charmer, Brian.” “I know. So you don‟t want any company?” “Not from you.” Brian sat up. He pushed back the hood and ran his hands through his oily black hair. Jemima wished he would get it cut; it was forever flopping over his face. Brian thought it was cute; Jemima found it irritating. “Guess I‟ll be going then.” “I think you should.” Jemima took a sip from her mug, but the tea had already gone cold. She grimaced as she slammed the cup down on the table, slopping cold tea into the saucer. “Ooh, someone‟s testy. You sure I can‟t do anything to alleviate that tension?” A sly grin crept across Brian‟s face, never quite reaching his dark eyes. “You could start by going home.” “You‟re about as cold as your flat.” Brian stood up. He looked down at Jemima, but she refused to meet his gaze. Rolling his eyes, he left the living room. Jemima listened to his heavy footsteps thud down the hallway. She waited until she heard the front door slam before she allowed herself to cry. 1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

9


Welcome Home by Sarah Goodwin

I always thought about what she would be like. I imagined her to be beautiful and successful. I imagined that when we met, she would hold me in her arms and cry for giving me up. She would tell me she had always loved me and thought of me everyday. She would open up her purse and show me a small, crumpled photograph from when I was born. She would tell me how every year, on my birthday, she would cry for me, the child she lost, the child she chose to lose. She would ask if I could forgive her, which of course I would, and we would become a family. My 16 years of hurt would be healed with one moment. My mother would want me again. The day I finally met her, I stood at her front door for an hour before I built up the courage to knock. I had found her address on the internet and she didn‟t know I was coming. I figured that it would be best if I surprised her, I‟d be like an early Christmas present for her. I imagined her shock at seeing me on the doorstep before she embraced me and said „welcome home‟. I knew there was someone inside, I could hear the television and someone shouting. It sounded like I had brothers and sisters! A ready made family all for me. I knocked and waited for her. As the door began to open, I felt sick. More sick than I had ever felt in my life. I felt my heart racing with anticipation, my stomach in butterflies. A tall woman stood before me, with a baby attached to her side and a cigarette in her hand. Her hair, which I thought would be shiny and perfect, was scruffy and unwashed. Her eyes, not the vivid blue of mine, but grey and sunken. Her clothes were creased, her fingernails were short and dirty, her feet bare. She knew who I was. I know she did. She couldn‟t take her eyes off me. “Mum?” 1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

10


She didn‟t reply. A man‟s voice echoed through from the back, asking who was at the door. This was it, the moment she would say “my daughter” and I‟d be with her at long last. “Just an annoying sales call” And then she slammed the door shut.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

11


Poetry

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

12


Three poems by Harry Calhoun This old house. My father who once taught me to toss perfect football spirals in the huge eternal back yard of my youth now lies unable to rise more than an inch or two above flat on his back in his hospital bed my wife and I drive nine hours and stay in his house, the ground floor freshly carpeted and tiled and newly furnished but we sleep upstairs where even before the hospital because of limited mobility he hasnâ€&#x;t ventured and cobwebs and dust have taken over and my sneezes and nosebleeds define our trip, that and my wifeâ€&#x;s fatigue, driving and the draining necessity of just being there, feeling death so close in that old house, where my mother nearly died, musty, moldy as the tomb and we finally escape back to our modest suburban home that looks like a castle to us

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

13


our suburban palace where something wakes me at 3 a.m. thinking of my father, no longer even in his old house who taught me to throw perfect spirals and I hope someone can teach me patience and faith

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

14


A record of the human condition. I donâ€&#x;t know whether the hoot owl woke me with its mournful coo or if I first heard it after my dog nosed playfully at my side of the bed asking to go outside. Memory is such a quirky and human thing, like death, like life or what we know of it. As little as we know of death we probably know less of life, we suspect, all our life is suspicion, guessing and we all wish that death will somehow make it more certain, make it better even. Even if better is the simple end to speculation. Regardless, we dream and write of afterlife. I wanted to tell you how the owl hooting in the night with my big black dog by my side and the thought of my father perhaps dying soon touched me. I almost cried for him but I failed. Such is life. This is what we live with. Good night.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

15


The world of Sunday afternoon. in the late afternoon, two-thirds drunk working a crossword and ready for a long late-springâ€&#x;s nap, the alcohol rolling away the stones of death and work and weight gain and approaching the eternal crossroads the cross we meet and bear and choose or reject, but today even without listening to Bukowskiâ€&#x;s beloved classical music that I love too, the world seems for a time, to be a reasonable place to live

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

16


One poem by Howard Good The Ghost of Something Missing. With a pint of Tango someoneâ€&#x;s older brother bought us 40 years ago neon orange like the whoosh of a flamethrower we climbed into the darkness me and Neil and Steve and Andy behind the school and when drunk enough walked into the dance in the gym and unsteadily up to girls named for months and flowers their secret torn places tomorrows weâ€&#x;d never know

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

17


Two poems by Peycho Kanev Passion. Do it slowly, while you breathe under the stars, and although I told you that you are sister of the moon, I was wrong, she is only your insipid semblance. Do not stop breathing, I want to watch the nakedness of the stars, their eternal arousal, do not cover the universe with your sparkling veil what matters now is in the water and under your skin. slide.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

18


Farewell, fools. Old bench, on which I‟ve carved my heart! so long ago – forgotten! I say goodbye autumn leaves, I say goodbye to the rocks and the stones, bending in the dirt, picking up the rose and toss it back into the empty grave where it belongs thank you for all the pain thank you for the missed moments. come fly with me, my friend – let‟s fly away below the ground and believe me – nobody will miss us. empty time I don‟t want anything from you just let me be, dreaming, like I doall my life.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

19


Two poems by David Kowalczyk Goddess of Frostbitten Reptiles. On a face meticulously sculpted from melancholy memories, her smile remains one of cool poison, of beauty carefully woven into pain. Her dreams always take place in January, in fields of snow. She dreams of giving birth to an octopus, to a head of cabbage, to the shadows of herself. Once a month, she dons a wig and sunglasses and buys a round-trip Greyhound ticket to a city one hundred miles to the south. There she changes into a nunâ€&#x;s habit and wanders the streets, loudly praying the rosary in French. After five minutes, her menstrual flow begins and her eyes sparkle as the strawberry blood trickles down her thighs, making mystic swirls.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

20


She prays so loudly not so God might better hear her, but because this is the one time in her life when she believes every word she says. This is the only time she is ever free, the only time she can see herself for what she truly is: infinitely tired, eternally frightened. Half here, half gone.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

21


Social Class as Secular Religion. I look into your eyes, painted with privilege, and see the history of the Spanish Inquisition. I look away, and pretend that I am blind. Which is how most of us manage to survive.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

22


One poem by Essie Gilbey I Never Thought It Would Come To This. I never thought it would come to this, That I would ever get so confused or so old, Dying amongst strangers; homeless. Oh how I can stand this loneliness? I was always timid, never bold. I never thought it would come to this, Left in the care of the careless – But I don‟t blame them for the cold. Dying amongst strangers; homeless. It‟s a dark night, tonight, so starless That I think my death is there foretold – I never thought it would come to this.

And when you leave me, you leave me voiceless, Living my greatest fear, never to be told – Dying amongst strangers; homeless. So will you visit me still, when I‟m lifeless, Separated from you by death‟s threshold? I never thought it would come to this – Dying amongst strangers; homeless.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

23


Etc.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

24


Editor to Editor: Alex talks to Robert McEvily

Robert

McEvily is Creator and Editor of the New York Times recommended writing site Six Sentences. It is a wonderful site for flash fiction which has attracted its very own network of writers and readers who commune around the site and affiliated social network. Updated daily, Six Sentences provides a unique space for writers to hone their prose, receive valuable advice and discuss with other writers. Robert was nice enough to answer some questions put to him by Alex Thornber. Hello Rob Hi. So, I have a few questions for you. Fire away! What made you decide to start Six Sentences? Maybe I'm wrong, but back in 2006, there didn't seem to be a lot of short-form writing sites around. Most showcased long-form pieces, which don't work for me online. I prefer books and magazines for longform. Online, I like chunks. Quick pieces. I wanted to create a neat little place where you could always find a tasty treat. How did you go about it? I grabbed a brick and placed it. Then I did it again. Then I just kept on doing it. 6S gets bigger and bigger, brick by brick, piece by piece. The key is consistency. Did you ever expect to have the success you have? I was hoping it might catch on in New York City. Writers and artists are always on the prowl for new venues. I never expected international submissions. A very cool surprise.

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

25


What is the best part about running 6S? When a writer or reader tells me they enjoy the site - that's the best part. That, and all the hot 6S groupie chicks. Do you have any future plans for 6S or any other enterprise? That's Top Secret, Alex. You'll have to stay tuned to the site to find out! (But here's a hint: YES I DO!) Get your daily six at www.sixsentences.blogspot.com

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

26


Relentless Compassion. by Alex Thornber In this current world of social networking and ubiquitous self promoting blogs, it was refreshing, and admittedly a little irritating work, trying to locate Mr Campbell. The only information I could gather from the internet was that he can down a pint of Guinness in one, he recently read the short stories of Richard Yates and he has his own short story collection „Broken Doll‟ out now on Salt. Having finally tracked him down the old fashioned way, through his publisher, I caught Campbell in the process of preparing to move house. But, he was happy and eager to talk. I asked Campbell how he got into writing to start it all off, "A bloke I used to drink with gave me a copy of Cathedral by Raymond Carver. I‟d never heard of [him] before, and I‟ve never seen that bloke again.” After a short banter like discussion it became clear that Campbell likes things done the old fashioned way. Inspiration comes from inside, to be immortalised on paper. Writing is never easy but it shouldn‟t be forced by any „”morning pages bollocks.” He believes that “If you write, you will continue to write. [But] if your ambition is to be a writer then that‟s different, that‟s egotistical bullshit” Campbell says he is uncomfortable with self promotion, and that was certainly evident in some of the answers he gave regarding his work. But his lack of vanity is certainly endearing. It is the topic of another writer‟s work which loosened Campbell‟s tongue; one writer in particular, the subject of his 1999 dissertation, Raymond Carver. When I raised the topic of Carver as an inspiration on his work, Campbell replied, “I‟m always happy to talk about Carver. Funnily enough I‟m about to start reading Beginners. I‟ve decided to read all of Carver again in the Library of America Edition. It must be ten years since I last read „Are You a Doctor?‟ I think his first book is just as good as the rest, if not the best. Though, I love them all. It is hard to pick a favourite.” Neil Campbell is proof that writers should be great readers. 1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

27


He possesses an extensive trivia-like knowledge of both literary figures, and works. What is most remarkable is the way he can work his knowledge seamlessly into conversation. “The first chapter of [Cheever‟s] Bullet Park is the highest art” he began when we got onto the topic of other short story writers. “Carver and Cheever [actually] used to drive to the liquor store together in Iowa.” It is this ability to express things perfectly in the briefest sentences which dominates Campbell‟s prose. He has an unflinching and precise view of things but he feels no pressure to explain everything to you. Some people make themselves the object of their fiction, to try and make people understand them or empathise with them. Campbell is definitely in his stories but not as a character, or ever as a narrator, but as the prose itself. He is the entity overseeing the lives of his characters and pointing you in their direction. His writing is confident without being arrogant, direct without being blunt, relentless but compassionate. Broken Doll is out now on Salt Publishing

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

28


Photo Book: Sarah returns home by Sarah Goodwin

“All the photographs were taken in my home town of Scarborough. Growing up here, I didn't realise how beautiful the place was and only now, on fleeting visits, can I really appreciate it. Coming back as an adult, I get to see aspects of the town that I was previously blind to and I get to capture its essence to share with others. All but two were taken by the sea - my favourite place to be."

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

29


Tomlit Contributors -Writers Tom Mahony- Visit him here Tom Mahony is a biological consultant in California with an M.S. degree from Humboldt State University. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in dozens of online and print publications, including Surfer Magazine, Flashquake, The Rose & Thorn, Pindeldyboz, In Posse Review, Boston Literary Magazine, 34th Parallel, Diddledog, Foliate Oak, and Decomp. His short fiction collection, Slow Entropy, was published by Thumbscrews Press in 2009. He is looking for a publisher for several novels. Read Slow Entropy here.

Edward RodosekEdward A. Rodosek is a Construction Engineer and Senior Professor in Faculty of Civil Engineering, Ljubljana, Slovenia, European Union. Beside his professional work he writes short fiction. He is author of four novels and twelve collections of short stories in Slovenia. More than fifty of his stories have been published in magazines in USA, UK, Australia and India. He has recently published a collection of his short stories: 'Beyond Perception„ in the USA.

Icy SedgwickFond of bad 1980s rock music and Venetian masks, Icy Sedgwick lives in West London where she writes short stories and knits up a storm. She is currently redrafting her first novel, a young adult adventure about a teenager and a Cavalier ghost. She has been previously published on Bending Spoons, SilverBlade.net, Gloom Cupboard, and Noctober.

Sarah Goodwin"I'm slowly becoming a fully fledged Mancunian but I'll always be a Yorkshire girl at heart. My life is writing and photography, if I couldn't do either, I could never be happy. My camera and notebooks go everywhere with me and I can usually be found, by the sea or in a busy city park, scribbling my thoughts and taking photographs of anything and everything . I can be found at www.sarahgoodwin.blogspot.com which links to my Facebook, website and photography blog�

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

40


-Poets Howard Good Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of 11 poetry chapbooks, including Still Life with Firearms (2009) from Right Hand Pointing, Visiting the Dead (2009) from Flutter Press, and My Heart Draws a Rough Map (2009) from The Blue Hour Press. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and four times for the Best of the Net anthology. His first full-length book of poetry, Lovesick, was released in 2009 by Press Americana.

Peycho Kanev Peycho Kanev loves to listen to sad music while he drinks his beer slowly. His work has been published in Welter, Gloom Cupboard, Off Beat Pulp, Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, Outsider Writers, Mad Swirl, Side of Grits, Southern Ocean Review, The Houston Literary Review and many others. He is nominated for the Pushcart Prize and lives in Chicago. His new collaborative collection "r", containing poetry by himself and Felino Soriano, as well as photography from Duane Locke and Edward Wells II is now available at Amazon here

David Kowalcyzk David Kowalczyk lives and writes in the small cannery town of Oakfield, New York. He has taught English in South Korea and Mexico as well as at Arizona State. His fiction and poetry have been published in seven anthologies and over one hundred magazines, including Istanbul Literary Review, California Quarterly,St. Ann's Review, and Taj Mahal Review.

Harry CalhounHarry Calhoun‟s articles, literary essays, book reviews and poems have been published in magazines including Writer’s Digest and The National Enquirer. Recently, his online chapbook Dogwalking Poems and his trade paperback, I knew Bukowski like you knew a rare leaf, were published. The latter is now available from Trace Publications and on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers. He has had recent publications in Chiron Review, Still Crazy, SNReview, Orange Room Review, Bird’s Eye reView, Abbey, Monongahela Review and many others. Recently, he was one of 12 poets invited to LiteraryMary‟s anthology, Outstanding Men of the Small Press.

Essie GilbeyEssie Gilbey's work has been published in various publications, including Everyday Fiction, Everyday Weirdness and Static Motion Online. She blogs here: http://essygie.blogspot.com/

1/11/2010

Tomlit Vol. 1 No. 2

41


Tomlit Vol.2 No. 1